Late summer is a time of preparation. It's still warm (even hot!), but kids and teachers are preparing to return to school, and before long we'll be enjoying shorter days and colder nights that invite us to spend time indoors with friends and family. Cold and flu season may seem distant now, but it's time to start thinking about how to keep our loved ones healthy in the months to come.

One of the best ways to prepare is by making small, achievable goals that will help you stay on track. To find out why goal setting is so important, we talked with Lindsay Leeder, ARNP, who also has some great tips on staying healthy during cold and flu season.

Achieve More with SMART Goals

“When we set meaningful goals, it can be a really empowering experience for us amidst the ‘roll with it’ mentality of daily life,” says Leeder, who recommends setting goals that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound). But most importantly, goals should be meaningful to the individual.

This season, think about SMART goals you can set for better health as we begin to move into fall. Not sure where to start? Here are some sample goals you can use to guide your journey to better health.

  • Exercise — Walk briskly for 30 minutes, five times a week
  • Nutrition — Incorporate at least one vegetable in every meal
  • Stress — Schedule 10 minutes for self-care, meditation, or mindfulness each day

Need more help? Your provider and Vera Whole Health Coach can help you set goals that are specific and meaningful to you. “When we walk our path with intentions and aspirations that are meaningful and achievable, it can bring so much more joy into our daily life,” says Leeder.

Fend Off Cold and Flu Season

One goal everyone should have this autumn is to avoid getting sick with a cold or the flu. The best way to do that is to have everyone in your family get their flu shots. Flu shots are specific to each year’s strain of flu, and they offer the best line of protection for you, your family, and your community.

Beyond the flu shot, Leeder recommends practicing the fundamentals of good health: proper nutrition, plenty of sleep, and regular exercise. Leeder adds, these common recommendations aren’t just easy sound bites; they’re critical to maintaining a strong immune system. “We all know those messages are out there. Ultimately, the trick is how do you make that meaningful for yourself.”

One way Leeder recommends helping your family practice good health is to have a family meeting and give everyone an official job, even little kids. Leeder says, “You can make a star chart or a chore chart, and tell your little ones that their job is to brush their teeth, go to the bathroom, get their pajamas on, and pick out a book every night so that everyone can go to bed on time.”

Make it your goal this fall to keep up your good health. It’s the best way you can support your family and your community. And don’t forget your flu shot!

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