Spring wellbeing: entering into brighter months

The colder and darker months of the year combined with spending more time inside impact the body and the mind with the winter blues. As the weather improves, and we see the sun more regularly, people often enter the second quarter of the year with a spring in their step. A renewed sense of get up and go. Though April saw some showers, May is already shaping up to be sunny and bright.

Now that we have more hours of sunlight, here are some tips on keeping your body and mind happy and healthy.

Vitamin D

We’re in a fortunate time of year when we can enjoy lighter mornings and evenings. Embrace this and get outside for a stroll. A morning walk is a good way to invigorate your body before work, hear the birds and notice the changes in nature. Or a sunset walk can aid digestion after dinner.

Getting out in the spring sun gives us a much-needed vitamin D boost that many of us have lacked all winter. The sun is one of the best sources of vitamin D for the human body. When the sun’s rays hit the skin, our bodies begin making Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for the bones and teeth, the immune system, brain health, and for regulating body inflammation. It also regulates mood and helps reduce depression.

You do not need to be getting a tan for this to work. Just fifteen minutes outside will help. The more surface area of skin exposed, the more vitamin D the body can produce.

Increase levels of activity and connect with others

Getting out and about now feels more appealing, and doing so is good news for both our mental and physical health. Being active doesn’t have to involve going to the gym or on a walk or run. These longer days also mean we have more opportunities outside of work to socialise and connect with friends and family.

Below are some ways you can get your body moving that might not even feel like traditional exercise:

  • Get green fingered! If you have an outdoor space, gardening is a great way to enjoy being outside and keep active, all whilst being creative. If you don’t have access to an outdoor area, there’s plenty of volunteering opportunities across the country that will allow you to get involved in gardening or maintenance of outdoor spaces, such as helping out at National Trust or RSPB sites or seeing what opportunities your local council has to offer.

Our team recently visited the Moulsecoomb allotments, to volunteer for the Nurture through Nature project. Together, our green fingers tackled planting potatoes for sprouting in the summer and broke up soil for future plots. It was a fun way to exercise, enjoy the sun, and give back to the community.

  • Treasure trails. They don’t have to be exclusive to Easter or just for children. Did you know there’s free interactive treasure trails up and down the country? The ideal way to explore somewhere, connect with other people and have fun!
  • Socialise outside. Rather than meeting indoors, when it’s nice weather outside, suggest meeting friends or family at the local park, hosting a picnic or hiring some bikes.
  • Join a club. In the spring and summer, we tend to see many clubs or groups reignite their activity. Joining a group that revolves around something you’re interested in allows you to meet like-minded people and make new friends.
  • Physically reset. Research has shown the physical distraction of a busy environment can increase cognitive activity to a level that may induce stress and anxiety. With busy lives and conflicting priorities, it’s unreasonable to expect us to always live in a clutter-free environment. But if you do find yourself with extra time this spring, having a spring clear-out can help you to feel more positive and calm about your environment. Cleaning also counts as a form of exercise and releases the hormone ‘cortisol’ which naturally lessens feelings of stress.

Seasonal habits

In our winter seasonal blog, we discussed human’s natural circadian rhythms, which typically fall into a 24-hour cycle in line with the earth’s rotation. When it comes to external stimuli – known as exogenous zeitgebers – sunlight can prompt biological mechanisms.

When it’s dark earlier, our sleep and wake cycles can be interrupted, causing us to feel sleepier. In the summertime, increased light can cause repeated awakenings and make people struggle to reach deeper, restorative layers of sleep including REM. As a result, our endogenous rhythms can misalign with external light-dark cycles, causing sleep disorders for some.

That’s why it’s important at any time in the year to keep your sleep schedule consistent, often by dimming lights and closing curtains in the evening to rest before bed at night. It’s also helpful to step into natural sunlight in the morning, to help start your day with the sun, reduce your cortisol levels and boost your “happy” hormone, serotonin.

Make the most of spring this year!

Want to know more about seasonal health? Read our winter wellness blog.

Eve Dickie