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As the winter chills have now subsided and the foliage of a new season is upon us, now is the best time for a reset. The season officially begins with the onset of the vernal equinox, which marks the beginning of astronomical spring and occurs in the Northern Hemisphere around March 20th.
Spring is a short transitional season that ushers us out of winter slumber and gently lulls us into warmer temperatures in preparation for the hot summer.
But how can we best maximize this time? What are some of the best health practices we can undertake to help our bodies prepare for the transition into a shift in climate? I will share five tips that are easy to incorporate today that your body will appreciate later.
Wake up with the sun or before if prayer/meditation calls for it in your life.
Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. They respond primarily to light and dark. Every part of nature functions on a particular rhythm, and human beings are no different. Winter is a time of hibernation and slowing down. As a result, we may find that we sleep longer and wake later, especially with the late onset of sunlight on winter mornings. As spring enters, try setting your alarm clock so that you wake at the break of daylight to become more in sync with the sun. This will not only assist with energy throughout the day but can also help with sleeping in the evening as your body becomes in tune with Earth’s natural daylight patterns.
Move your body.
Just like animals that experience long periods of slumber during winter, many people find themselves becoming more stagnant during colder months. A shift in temperature means that this is the perfect time to begin preparing your body for months of outside activity. A simple five-minute routine of light stretching and body weight exercises (simple ones like jumping jacks and burpees count, too!) are a great way to reincorporate movement and encourage flexibility slowly.
Your body needs oxygen and your skin needs sunlight. Studies show that exposure to nature, even for as little as 20 minutes per day, is known to decrease seasonal affective disorder while also improving overall physical health. Try getting off the train or bus one stop early and get some fresh air. Take a walk to the local grocery instead of using your car. Even having your morning coffee on the front porch can be a great way to start the day off with fresh air and time in the elements. This is also a signal to your body that the indoor winter months are ending and it is time to return to nature.
Eat seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables.
Common foods that are seasonally ripe during spring include strawberries, pineapples, avocados, mushrooms, onions, broccoli and garlic. Eating food that is in season is not only a great way to save money (in-season produce is always less expensive because it is abundant), but it also helps to ensure that you have deliciously ripe ingredients for spring meals. Trade heavy stews, chilis and roasts eaten during fall and winter for light soups, salads and smoothies as you cleanse your body of heavy foods in preparation for lighter fare during the spring transition.
Clear the clutter.
Human beings often engage in nesting behavior when forced to spend long periods indoors. Clothing, papers, books,and other miscellaneous items can begin to take over space inside the home as we find comfort in activities that keep us content. Spring provides an excellent opportunity to clear closets, cabinets, and shelves of unnecessary items that take up space. Cleaning one’s space and reducing visual clutter also help support both physical and mental health. It may take a bit of time but breaking up larger decluttering tasks into 10-minute bursts of activity means that a large task becomes manageable and complete over time.
When we take advantage of the change in seasons to have health-focused preparation, we can have better outcomes. Spring is a great time to not just stop and smell the flowers but prepare the mind and body for the beautiful warmer months ahead.
Words by Kaba Abdul-Fattaah.