Smart tricks help you outsmart common Fall health woes so you’ll sail smoothly through even the most challenging days. Check them out below.
This type of book curbs stress.
To unwind, reach for a novel that describes a community, like the 19th-century British social classes in Pride and Prejudice. You’ll feel more emotionally connected to groups of people rather than a single character, which University at Buffalo scientists say absorbs your attention and shifts your mind away from your worries, markedly easing stress.
Achy knees? Reach for a sesame wrap.
When sore knees make it difficult to climb stairs or enjoy a walk, giving your joints a spa-aah treatment makes a world of difference. Just rub two drops of sesame oil into each knee, then wrap them in warm towels. Doing this for 10 minutes cuts swelling, stiffness and pain by 59 percent, a study in Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine found. Why? The oil’s sesamin and sesamol compounds speed the repair of damaged tissues and rein in the production of pain-triggering compounds so you feel ache-free fast.
Or channel Elvis! For the 63 percent of women with knee pain, relief is just a song away. Singing one of your favorite tunes from your youth, like Elvis’ “Hound Dog” or The Beatles’ “Hey Jude,” triggers fond memories that ease aches as effectively as if you’d taken an OTC pain reliever!
Feeling drained? Enjoy a caramel apple.
When you’re feeling tired and draggy before the day is halfway done, your instant pick-me-up is just a crunch away. Fall-fresh apples are loaded with antioxidants that rapidly soak into your body’s cells and increase the production of a key energy enzyme called ATP. It works so well that British investigators report savoring a caramel apple chases away tiredness in as little as 20 minutes so you can breeze through the rest of your busy day with ease.
Or wash your hands! Barometric pressure shifts this time of year leave 60 percent of us feeling sluggish. To the rescue: holding your hands under cool running water for 60 seconds. Swiss researchers say the sudden temperature dip in your extremities sends energizing oxygen to the brain, plus releases the revitalizing hormone norepinephrine to erase sluggishness for up to two hours.
Trouble focusing? Listen to rainfall
When you feel your attention flagging, cue up a free online playlist of nature sounds, like falling rain or rustling leaves. Investigators at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York found that folks who listened to nature sounds were notably more focused and productive than those who listened to white noise or silence. Nature strikes the perfect balance between “patterned” and “stray” sounds, which creates the ideal backdrop for sharper thinking.
Or shift your eyes! For 30 seconds, slowly move your eyes from side to side. British scientists say that doing so boosts short-term memory and recall by 42 percent for an hour by upping communication between brain cells.
Stubborn cravings? Say this simple phrase.
If sweet treats are always calling your name, there are four words that help you resist the lure: “I don’t eat that.” Boston College scientists found that women who said that instead of “I can’t eat that” doubled their ability to step away from the temptation and lose weight. Scientists say that “can’t” makes you feel deprived, whereas “don’t” helps you feel in control, shoring up your willpower.
Or take a whiff of chocolate! To quash a sweets craving, smooth on a cocoa-scented hand lotion. Danish researchers say the scent suppresses the hunger hormone ghrelin.
Can’t sleep? Slip on a baggy shirt.
Trouble dozing off? Your sleepwear may be to blame. Snug-fitting pajamas block the escape of body heat, Japanese scientists say, an effect that may be compounded by the extra blankets we use in the fall. And when your core temperature rises, production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin lowers, making it harder to drift off. But simply opting for looser-fitting pajamas is all it takes to sidestep the problem and fall asleep with ease.
Or sip chai tea! Cozy up with masala chai tea, and you’ll feel drowsy in as little as 20 minutes, UCLA scientists say. The unique blend of spices releases calming theta brain waves that lull you to sleep.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.