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Happy young woman in front of a blossom tree to show spring season

Celebrate spring: wellbeing tips and changes for the new season

The days are getting longer, and the clocks go forward at the end of the Month.  As spring arrives, now is a good time for fresh starts and re-evaluating your health regime.

Editor Jane Garton looks at ways to make the most of the changing season including new habits to adopt and healthy switches to improve your wellbeing.

 

Seek out some green

Woman walking in a park during her lunch break

Whether you are a city or country dweller spending time somewhere green is guaranteed to boost your spirits especially now as nature starts to wake up after the long winter. Even it is still cold or pouring with rain being close to nature and the elements seems to improve our wellbeing, enhancing mood and self-esteem. Meanwhile if the sun is out, you’ll be boosting your body’s stores of vitamin D naturally.

Try meditation

Older lady meditating

Aim to build in some meditation to your daily schedule. “It reduces stress and anxiety, helps improve sleep and banishes insomnia, boosts the immune system and can even improve relationships,” says Jillian, author of Why Meditate? Because it Works. “It also helps boost clarity of thought and decision making,” she adds. If you are short of time, try at least to set aside one minute of complete silence to clear your mind at the end of every day,

Love your gut

Woman making a heart shape wiht her hands over her tummy to represent gut health

A well-balanced microbiome, (the name given to the collection of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and other microorganisms that inhabit the digestive system) is vital among other things for good immunity, a healthy heart and weight control. Up your intake of fruit and vegetables and make sure you include a variety of colours on your plate. Fermented foods such as Kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir and yogurt are also beneficial.

Laugh out loud

Group of female friends laughing and socialising

Numerous studies suggest that a good chuckle helps reduce levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and boosts immunity, so strengthening your resistance to disease. Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s own feel-good hormones.

Choose a funny film on Netflix, make your next night out with the family a funny film or comedy show.  Pick up a funny book, share some funny jokes or embrace your inner child and get laughing in the playground with the kids or grandkids. Finally, if you find something funny, don’t hold back – laugh out loud and share the humour.

Keep moving

Close up of woman enjoying a spring run outdoors

Now that the weather is warming up consider taking your exercise routine outdoors. Aim for 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity aerobic activity (30 minutes, 5 days a week) – think brisk walking, cycling, dancing, gardening, and swimming. Alternatively aim for 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity, such as walking uphill, fast swimming, cycling, or dancing, tennis, skipping or heavy gardening.

It’s also a good idea to include some strength training each week– try weights, resistance bands or bodyweight activities such as yoga or Pilates. And spend less time sitting – if working from home get up every hour or so and walk around. If you use public transport, get off the bus or train a stop early.

Focus on now

The word mindfullness written in sand on a beach

You can’t change the past and you can’t predict the future. So, train your mind to stay in the present. Baking, reading, sewing, and knitting are all good mindful activities.

Play games

Close up of a hand of cards during a card game

Board or card games are a great way to spend the evening as the days get longer. They engage your brain, test your memory skills and provide a distraction from day-to-day worries as well as strengthening your cognitive flexibility (the ability to think about different concepts at the same time).

Research shows that those who play games such as chess, crosswords, or cards are more likely to stay mentally sharp. Puzzles such as sudoku and mind teasers are also great solo games to get your mind working.

Cut back on meat

A range of vegan protein sources

Try the 5:2 way of life which means eating a vegetarian diet five days a week.  Experiment with swapping meat for other proteins and pulses such as lentils, chickpeas, and kidney beans. Reducing your intake of meat also means you are reducing your intake of saturated fat which is good for keeping a check on cholesterol levels

Do one thing at a time

Close up of a work planner / diary

Switch from being a multi-tasker to doing one thing at a time. Chances are you could end up being more productive. Plan your day ahead, work out a to-do list and focus on the most important task first, then work down the list.

Keep an eye on blood pressure

Woman using an at-home blood pressure monitor

High blood pressure (BP) increases the risk of heart disease or stroke but has no symptoms which is why it’s so important to keep an eye on yours.  Get yourself a blood pressure monitor and measure yours at home. If your numbers are consistently high (at or above 140/90mmHg) it’s time to see your GP for advice on how to bring it down. Meanwhile, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and controlling weight all have a huge role to play in keeping BP at a healthy level.

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