Spring Ahead (But Look First)
Some people think of Spring and see bringing sandals out of the closet, flowering trees, and longer days. They would agree with Robin Williams’ statement that “Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’”
To others, Spring means pollen, weeds, and bringing out the bug spray. The trees are looking less bare, but that doesn’t mean you’re feeling your best. Seasonal Affective Disorder can shift your mood as the season changes, and studies have observed small but significant increases in mania particularly occurring in Spring.
All feelings are valid. Mark this ancient time of renewal by checking in with yourself to ensure that you’re getting what you need to thrive. Consider the following strategies as you jump into Spring:
Eat nourishing foods. Your body does its best to do whatever you ask of it, 24/7; it’s worth investing in its health by fueling it well. Consider the produce of the season and get the whole family involved with this fun children’s snack craft from the USDA: https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2017/04/11/spring-food-fun-kids-myplates-food-groups.
Move. Regular physical activity improves your quality of life, and Spring’s warmer weather allows for brisk walks, strength bands, and stretching outside. The endorphins boost your mood, your energy increases, and your quality of sleep improves. Grab an exercise buddy to increase accountability and get the added benefits of social interaction. A check in with your physician will make sure you’re primed and provide individualized tips on incorporating movement into your life.
Get outside. Getting out in the sun helps with vitamin D deficiencies that can contribute to darker moods and weaker bones. Most people feel better when they see and feel the sun. One study found that college students had better focus after looking at pictures of baby animals, and another found that being outside boosts creativity. Getting outside on your lunch break to watch frolicking baby animals is more fun than Facebook and may give you a productive edge.
Sleep. As the time changes and the days get longer, good sleep hygiene can be a game-changer for your energy levels.
Experts recommend a consistent sleep schedule beginning with a device moratorium at least thirty minutes before bedtime. End the day with quiet activity involving limited exposure to bright light, and avoid caffeine in the afternoon and alcohol in the evening.
Mentally declutter. What thoughts and habits are serving you and fit into the life you want to lead? Which thoughts may have helped you survive in the past but keep you tethered there now? Consider journaling – perhaps as a part of your sleep hygiene – to think about what’s going well, what’s not, and how you’d like your future self to feel. And if you find yourself drained by social media, consider taking a brief break as Spring trip photos begin to run through your feed.
Before you spring ahead, remember that change is difficult. Your current habits weren’t formed in a week, and they won’t be undone so quickly, either. Achieving small, SMART goals can give you the confidence to continue to move forward.
The professionals at Benjamin Holmes Counseling have experience in setting goals and building momentum, and we can help you find direction if you need a place to begin. Look back on this season as one of great beginnings. Please reach out if we can help you.
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