Spring is a time of fresh starts and new beginnings - and of course spring cleaning our homes. So let’s look at ways we can apply this fresh perspective to our mental health and wellness too.
The arrival of Spring always feels like a new chapter in our lives. As the weather warms up and the nights draw out, it’s almost like an invitation to clean out our closets, spruce up our homes and get outside into the fresh Kiwi air.
But the traditional values of giving our houses a good spring cleaning can also extend to the way we think: decluttering our minds of all the unnecessary baggage we’ve accumulated along the way, and resetting our focus on the things that really matter.
Stuck in a rut
Given the last few years especially, we’d all be forgiven for finding ourselves stuck in something of a routine. But as many clever people have reminded us throughout the ages, if we continue doing what we’ve always done, then in all likelihood we’ll end up getting what we’ve always got.
Our lives risk becoming stale and boring when we do the same things every day, and it can often take a watershed moment to make us reevaluate. Cue Spring.
A clean slate
Spring is the perfect time to start a clean slate. A chance to shift our attention from what is going wrong in our lives to what is going right. So we can reset our positive attitude, simplify the way we think about things and redefine just what it is that makes us tick.
It’s also fair to say that any general overhaul of our health and wellness is always going to be a combination of body and mind. So with this in consideration, here are a few of our top tips for refreshing your thinking this Spring:
1) Get a good sleep
Let’s start with the basics. A good night’s sleep not only leaves you feeling refreshed, it’s also vital for your brain’s health. As well as making you better able to deal with stress, it also helps you process memory in general. In fact some research even shows that sleeping after you learn something new actually helps you remember it better.1 So if you’re trying to refresh your thinking, a good, healthy sleep regime is a great place to begin.
2) Focus on fitness
We know that regular exercise has a wide range of benefits for your physical health. But research also suggests it is an essential part of keeping your brain healthy and active too. One study found that people who were generally fitter in their 20s had better cognitive function when they reached middle age2; another that those in poor physical shape by their 40s also experienced a greater loss in brain volume. And one study suggested regular exercise can even make you smarter.3 Another great way to clarify your Spring thinking.
3) Eat right
Food is fuel for your body, and mind. So it follows that if you’re missing some types of nutrition in your diet, your thinking can suffer too. For example, fish, nuts and seeds are good sources of fatty acids, essential for brain function. Fresh fruit and veges are also rich in the antioxidants your brain and nerve cells require.4 Eating in season is also a good way to embellish your Spring thinking, with spinach, broccoli, asparagus and rhubarb all fresh on the menu – and cheaper too.
4) Get outside
As humans, we’re programmed to love the outdoors: it engages all our senses and can have a big effect on our mood and self-esteem by raising our serotonin.5 In addition, the chance to get out and about in the (hopefully) finer Spring weather isn’t just an opportunity to up our fitness. It’s also a great way to boost our Vitamin D levels from sunlight, for healthier bones and immune system – something that has perhaps been sorely lacking during the darker winter months.
5) Take time out to focus
Moving onto more mental tips now, practicing mindfulness can play a huge part in helping you reset, relax, reduce your stress levels and improve your positivity. And whether you prefer yoga, meditation or just some simple breathing exercises, the potential benefits speak for themselves, including better memory retention, sleep and concentration levels.6
6) Make plans
Finally, let’s talk plans. We are what we do every day, and all of us perform better when we have a goal to work towards. So whether it’s better fitness, better health, a professional aim or a personal passion you’re looking to achieve, write it down and keep it on view. Preferably somewhere you’ll see it on a daily basis - like the screensaver on your phone - to help keep you motivated and focused.
We hope you found these tips helpful. Remember, if you are truly looking to make a change in your life, then Spring can be the ideal springboard, so to speak. Just remember to keep things simple, then your brain will find it much easier to focus on what’s important. And with any luck you’ll feel much happier, and healthier, for it.