One morning this week, you wake up and hear birdsong. The sun is shining, the snow is melting and there’s something different about the air. Outside, you notice that tiny green daffodil tips are pushing out of the ground and there’s a bird nest in the bush outside your kitchen window. With spring comes the urge to renew and refresh your life. Many people channel this extra energy into cleaning their homes. However, spring is also the perfect opportunity to change your habits and create a healthier life. Here are seven steps you can take to have the healthiest spring ever, inside and out.
1. Spend Time Outside
One of the very best things you can do for your health is to spend more time outside. Nature is incredibly restorative and offers opportunities to strengthen your body and calm your mind. Spending time in forests can be particularly beneficial, as trees give off calming aerosols known as terpenes. To increase your outdoor time, try eating lunch outside. You can start incorporating walks into your evening or morning routine and go outside for breaks during the workday. Over the weekend, plan to go hiking or spend time working in a garden. The more contact you have with the ground, the better you’ll feel.
2. Get Off Your Phone
To give yourself more time outside, you’ll need to spend less time on your phone. Social media and news accounts are designed to become addicting. They suck up your time and mental energy with very little reward. You can break the cycle this summer and plug into the real world instead. Start by deleting apps from your phone. You can also download programs designed to block sites after a certain period of time. If you use social media for work, the timer option will work better than quitting cold turkey. Stay off social media for a full month to see how this affects your mental health. You may never go back!
3. Exercise It Out
Exercising has a number of health benefits for your body. Regular exercise helps to improve your mood by increasing feel-good hormones in your body called endorphins. If you’re feeling unmotivated or depressed, exercise can help reduce feelings of anxiety and shift your mindset. Working out is so good for your health that there’s not really a good reason to avoid it. Moving your body helps to regulate insulin and reduce your risk for disease. When you stimulate your body with exercise, your skin gets healthier and your bones stronger. Cognitive functions like memory and focus also get sharper with exercise. Try working out outside to reap the benefits of nature and movement together.
4. Reduce Sugar Intake
Sugar might taste good, but too much of it can make you sick. When you eat processed sugar, it causes mood swings and energy crashes. It’s also addictive, so once you start eating sweets it’s hard to stop. Sugar causes inflammation throughout your body, putting pressure on your immune system. For example, inflammation makes your skin age more quickly. It can also aggravate acne and slow down your skin’s ability to heal. Eating excess sugar puts stress on your heart and raises your blood pressure. This summer, create strategies to lower your sugar intake. Stop drinking sugary soft drinks and replace desserts with fruit.
5. Prioritize Sleep and Rest
Sleep is an incredibly important component for your overall health. While you sleep, your body repairs itself so that you’re ready to function well the next day. Research suggests that during a good night of sleep, the brain washes itself with fluid to remove toxic substances. Adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night to function well. In addition to getting enough sleep, you should also plan time to rest. This will look different for everyone, but some ideas for resting include reading a book, calling a friend or doing something creative like painting. Taking time to rest will improve your productivity, but it’s also really good for your mental health.
6. Journal Your Thoughts
If you’ve never tried journaling before, now is the time. Writing out your inner dialogue can help you sort out your emotions and find patterns in the way you respond to others. Journaling with a pen and paper helps you slow down, or you can type if you have a lot to say in a short amount of time. Copious amounts of research show that journaling isn’t just a trend. It can reduce anxiety and depression, improve memory and create optimism. There’s no one right way to journal, but consistency will bring the best results. If you start seeing patterns in your writing and aren’t sure how to grow out of them yourself, consider seeing a therapist.
7. Forgive Someone
If you really want to go deep and strengthen your health, make a commitment to forgive someone. Life is hard and it gets harder when you hold onto bitterness or internal pain. Although you can’t control how others treat you, you can choose how you respond to their behaviour. Anger may feel like the only right response sometimes, but it negatively affects your health from the inside out. Forgiveness is a choice you can make – with practice, your emotions can heal and bitterness will lift out of your life. Many people can also benefit from forgiving themselves for past mistakes and regrets.
Healthy and Happy This Spring
You can cultivate health this spring by making daily decisions that benefit your body and mind. Start with reducing screen time and spending time in nature instead. Incorporate exercise into your schedule and find creative ways to reduce your sugar intake. Make sure you’re getting enough rest and try journaling to improve your mood and mental clarity. Finally, consider your relationships to see if there’s anyone you need to forgive, including yourself. The choices you make to prioritize your health will quickly add up. This spring, you can be the happiest and healthiest version of yourself ever.