Flu season, less local fruits and vegetables, less sunshine, and even the holiday stress take a toll on many of us as we find ourselves at the end of our rope by springtime. I often catch myself kind of envying the nature – after stumbling through months of winter half-asleep, she springs back in full force, filling gardens and squares with beautiful colorful blooms, painting the streets rich green, even the air feels lighter! How can we emulate her?
During the colder months, we tend to spend more time indoors and, as a result, may experience a (hopefully) slight drop in muscle tissue. This means that springing back into shape can be a fairly simple first step to spring back for spring.
Change up your exercise routine, join a new class, pick up jogging or even make a habit of taking the stairs at all times for a month. If you are competitive like me, you can really benefit from finding an exercise buddy or using one of the step tracking apps. An average person in Japan walks 10,000 steps a day, you say? Surely, I can beat that!
Another step to feeling and looking better in spring is seeing if there’s any room for improvement in your nutrition. Whether you are doing a vegan, paleo or simply reasonably healthy approach, you can always check nutritional value of your food to figure out if you are consuming enough vitamins and microelements. Vitamin B12 and iron are popular deficiencies so you want to make sure you are not too far off the recommended daily intake with those, among others. And if your answer to this is just supplements – that’s where your nutrition can be improved once again, since it’s always better to err on the side of getting more nutrients from their natural sources rather than fully relying on their synthesized or otherwise processed versions.
Moreover, I’ve learned to keep in mind that even nutritious foods vary in quality – the amount of sunshine and nutrients available to the plant during its growth period as well as the time between harvesting a fruit or a vegetable and you eating it impacts how nutritious your food really is. This is why we can’t stop hearing about the benefits of local produce.
Once that is done, there are so many more boxes to tick – are you overeating or undereating the healthy stuff? Is your food bringing you joy and fulfillment? Is it varied enough in taste, color and consistency? Do you eat in a positive, serene environment or are you stressed and in a rush? Do you take time to cook and share meals with your loved ones? Healthy eating is not just about what’s on your plate, it’s about what’s on your mind as well.
This brings me to my next point – treat your mind. In our daily routines we sometimes forget to take a minute and watch our surroundings, relax and become aware of all the invisible beauty surrounding us, stop and listen to the birds singing, smell the roses, watch two dogs playing, observe people in a cafe, take a walk in the park… What really helps me find pleasure in noticing all these little things are books – they paint a vivid picture of life we never experienced and they have to tell us everything we would be noticing ourselves in that brand new world, so books are perfect tools to teach us how to take a healing pause, sit back and just observe for a moment.
Mary Ivanova is a freelance writer