Getting out among the flowers By Rachel Kelly
There’s nothing like the spring season for jump starting your health. Spring brings with it fresh new produce rich with nutrients, longer days full of sun, and short rains that are invigorating for the air and your body. The smell of wet earth, the return of the birds in the trees, and the heavy scent of new flowers only seen during this season bring with it an overall feeling of hope and well-being. This season, spring into health during everyone’s favorite time of year.
One of the most delightful aspects of spring is its longer days. Not only is the sun out longer, but with spring forward we have the illusion of even longer days. This is perhaps due to there being more daylight at the end of a workday. With the sun still up, after dinner is a time of carefree energy. During the winter the dark signals exhaustion and early bedtimes. In the spring, we find ourselves wanting to get out in the evenings. Maybe it’s a picnic to watch the sunset, a family walk, or a brisk before-dinner exercise. Perhaps the warm weather encourages you to play hooky and get outside that much more often, whether it be for a midday hike or a weekend staycation. The extra sun just makes getting outdoors easier. Whatever encourages the renewed activity, extra energy is a welcome change. Spring is a time for getting out and soaking in some of that vitamin D!
Another distinguishable aspect of spring is the fresh air. The steady rise in temperature signals to nature that it’s prime time for growing. Buds on trees bloom, birds return, and the ground literally begins to vibrate with life and growth. This means that there’s a rise in oxygen, and the renewed plant growth absorbs carbon dioxide. Ultimately this means more food—which I don’t think anyone could possibly complain about. This abundance in food prompts an abundance of animals, from baby bunnies everywhere to new does in the fields. It also means that new, fresh and cleansing produce is available from the area's local farms. Produce best in spring include favorites such as asparagus, spring mixed greens, spring mushrooms, sprouts, peas and pea shoots, and spring onions. If it’s green and fresh, it arrives in the spring. Eating according to this season means antioxidant-rich foods and tender sweet produce. A spring smoothie might include frozen cherries, beets, a few beet greens, and honey. A favorite side dish are garlic scapes, which are the green sprouts that come from garlic and need very little seasoning on the grill (since it tastes just like garlic).
Spring also brings with it a shy beauty. Crocus, daffodils, tulips, nettle, berry shoots, cherry blossoms and tree buds seem to arrive slowly and then all at once. Suddenly the house smells of faint perfume and rain, and the world bursts with color. Spring is a time for cleansing renewal; earth's bounty seems to reflect that. Heavy winter foods such as stews with root vegetables may make you feel heavy. Winter is also spent drinking coffee and nights out at the local “watering hole.” Spring is a good time to go on a cleanse. Nothing extreme is necessary. No coffee enemas or juice detoxing that basically puts the body into shock. A simple cleanse that can be done at home is hydrating with lemon water. Lemon water can be enjoyed hot or cold, and even combined with a bit of raw honey. Lemon soothes digestive inflammation. The same is true for teas of various types that can be bought according to what you are trying to cleanse. For this, maybe visit your local tea shop or health food store for some advice from the experts. Make this spring one of renewal.
The absolute best thing that you can do for your health this spring is to join nature in taking a moment to breathe and grow. Taking a moment to practice thankfulness at the end of a long season can do much for our awareness of all that is new and lovely. It’s time to take a break for the sake of our health. This could mean making a point to take daily walks, or preparing a healthy meal at home with your favorite people. It could mean having a glass of wine, or soaking in the sun with a seltzer. You could treat yourself to your favorite restaurant, or go to your favorite getaway for the weekend. There is a lot of beauty to take in, and a lot of joy to be found in our community. Whatever rest means to you, it’s time to make that a priority.
With all this going for it, it’s no wonder that spring encourages a boost in mental health. The healthy nutrient-rich produce, the longer sunny days, and the energy to get out of doors all encourage a lifestyle of abundance. This season brings with it a feeling of hope. Everything seems to be growing, birthing and breathing. The long dark mysterious winter is over; we can’t help but join in nature’s song. Any opportunity we have this time of year to go see or experience something unique or lovely, we do. With wide eyes and deep breaths, we take it all in. With the general feeling of well-being comes a boost in physical health that follows as a natural product of just feeling alive. This spring, let’s feel alive.