Spring is just around the corner, so it’s time to come out of our warm and cozy homes and leap into the outdoors, fresh air and sunshine. But after being holed up all winter bundled up and eating heavy comfort foods, that leap may feel more like a stumble.
So, how do you put that spring back in your step and start the season fresh? Well, naturopath Heidi Billington says start the new season with a “clean slate” and a “clean plate.”
“This means forget about all those stodgy foods that kept you safe and warm all winter and start afresh with a clean eating policy,” says Billington. “Put aside the slow cookers and soup pots and stack up your plates with fresh, whole foods that will fill your body with the nutrients it needs to produce more energy. Easily digestible foods like green leafy vegetables, lean protein, nuts and seeds, can take the burden off your overworked digestive system.”
Another way to start the season with literally a spring in your step is to take a daily walk in the sunshine and fresh air.
“Not only does this give us our daily exercise requirements it also lets the sun touch our skin and produce vitamin D, ” says Billington. “This vitamin, which is actually a hormone made by the body, is crucial for bone health, a healthy immune system and keeps us happy and full of energy. One cause of the winter blues can actually be due to reduced sunshine and lower vitamin D levels in the body. After months of cloudy skies and layers of clothes it’s time to let the sun do its job.”
And Monterey County is the perfect place to enjoy the sun and get walking, whether that’s just a simple stroll on the beach or a strenuous hike in one of the county’s many parks and hiking trails.
Billington suggests grabbing a friend to go along or get a group together for a regular walking group.
“It’s easier to make the commitment to walk if you know someone else is waiting for you,” says Billington. “If you are concerned about the effects of aging the sun can have, then either get out when the sun is at its weakest or take a supplement of vitamin D to replenish what was lost over the winter months.”
Another way to shake out the cobwebs is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is described as focusing one’s full attention on the present, experiencing thoughts, feelings and sensations without judging them. Researchers say that mindfulness lights up parts of our brains that aren’t normally activated when we’re mindlessly running on autopilot.
Mindfulness has many benefits, including calming your mind, lowering stress, helping you connect with others, reduces anxiousness, enhances performance and helps us gain insights into the world around us.
And the beauty of it is you can practice mindfulness anywhere that is quiet and calming, such as a beach, park, garden, river or mountaintop. And Monterey County is blessed with those.
Billington also recommends not forgetting your immune system.
“Just because the winter months are over doesn’t mean our immune systems should be left to defend for themselves,” she says. “Did you know that garlic and vitamin C are excellent for strengthening our immune systems but also helps slow down the release of histamine? This could help bring relief to those suffering from seasonal allergies and keep the immune system in tip-top condition at the same time.”
The bottom line is that springtime allows us to get out, take a look around and appreciate the gifts that nature provides us at this time of year. Just to get out, smell the new growth of flowers, the fresh air, and soak in the sunshine, will put a spring in your step and make you want to jump for joy!