Let’s face it, surviving the cold winter months hasn’t been easy — those dark, dreary days can do a number on our mental health. With limited sunshine and reduced motivation to move, falling into a seasonal slump is totally normal (it’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder, and it affects more people than you think). But, fear not — Spring is here, and brighter days are on the horizon! And what better time to reset your mind and body!? Just like you’d clean your house or yard, the transition into longer days, warmer weather, and the sprouting of all things green and fresh is the perfect opportunity to “spring clean” your mind. So, say goodbye to the winter blues — it’s time for a fresh start!
Ahead, we’re sharing simple tips and tricks to boost mental health after winter and renew your wellness goals. Read on for all you need to know.
11 Tips to Boost Mental Wellness This Spring
#1 Get a Daily Dose of Sunshine
Think about your mood on warm, sunny days. You might feel happier, even more motivated to move or be social, right? Well, there’s a science-backed reason for that! Exposure to sunlight has been shown to increase serotonin (our happy hormone) levels, regulate our sleep-wake cycle, and boost vitamin D (a Vitamin associated with mood and mental health). So yes, there’s a reason we gravitate toward the sunshine! The best part? According to the World Health Organization, all you need is a mere 10-15 minutes of sun exposure per day to soak in all the benefits.
Try siping your coffee in the morning sun, taking a 10-minute mental health work break and going for a sun-soaked walk, or taking your workout outdoors and sweating it out in nature. Trust us, your mental health will benefit from this simple hack!
#2 Take Your Workouts Outdoors
Speaking of taking your workout outdoors, this is one of the best ways to boost mental health coming out of winter. Aside from getting the mood-boosting benefits of the sunshine, outdoor exercise can benefit mental health by lowering stress. And, it doesn’t have to be a strenuous workout, either! Research shows various exercises such as running, biking, swimming — even walking and gardening — increase blood flow to the brain and reduce the risk for depression and stress. The takeaway? Find what works for you and switch up the scenery!
#3 Try A New Form of Transportation
It’s totally normal to spend more time in the car during the cold winter months. But, now that spring is here, consider switching up your form of transportation! Do you live close to work? Maybe you bike instead of walk! Is the local coffee shop within walking distance from your house? Make that your new weekend ritual! Switching up your form of transportation to a more mobile form of movement (such as biking, walking, or even rollerblading) will benefit both your mind and body. You’ll release more feel-good endorphins, reduce cortisol levels, and even support the environment! Sounds like a win-win-win.
#4 Soak Up Seasonal Spring Flavors
Eating with the seasons isn’t just good for your body — it’s also good for your mind! For starters, seasonal foods (especially if they’re local and organic) contain more nutrients than their out-of-season counterparts. Think about foods that have to travel across the globe to get to your plate — the longer the transit time, the fewer nutrients they contain! And since we know diet plays a huge role in mental health, we want to absorb as many nutrients as possible!
While the majority of seasonal spring foods (in their whole food form) play a role in overall health, certain nutrients specifically benefit the mind such as Omega-3’s, fiber, folate, vitamin C, B vitamins, flavonoids, and lycopene.
Here are some seasonal spring favorites:
- Bell Peppers: Rich in lycopene and vitamins C and B6
- Asparagus: Rich in folate and fiber
- Strawberries: Rich in vitamin C and fiber
- Tomatoes: Rich in lycopene, folate, and vitamin C
- Broccoli: Rich in flavonoids, folate, fiber, and vitamin C
Mental health benefits aside, local and seasonal foods are more flavorful, delicious, and environmentally friendly. So, hit the farmers market and load up on those spring flavors.
#5 Don’t Snooze On Sleep
Daylight Saving time has passed, but you’re still getting adjusted to the springtime change… sound about right? While your body will adapt with time, disrupted sleep is no fun. In addition to feeling fatigued and groggy, skimping on sleep can be costly for your mental health. Sleep deprivation increases cortisol levels and affects our mood, resulting in increased feelings of anxiety, irritability, and even depression.
The good news is that regulating your circadian rhythm is easier than you think. Try these simple sleep hacks, such as developing a healthy sleep routine, snacking on sleep-supporting foods, and soaking up the sunshine. If you follow these tips, you’ll be snoozing away to better mental health before you know it!
#6 Reduce Stress
The seasonal transition from winter to spring isn’t always easy. Between daylight saving time, the change in weather, and new schedules, it’s normal to experience increased feelings of stress or anxiety. But, that doesn’t mean you have to let stress take a toll on your mood and mental health!
Looking for simple ways to take action and combat those seasonal stressors? Try these tips:
- Use the change of season as a time to start anew — let go of old drama and change your perspective as you step into spring
- Start or end the day with a gratitude journal and record one thing you’re grateful for
- Try a morning meditation or yoga flow
- Develop healthy boundaries — it’s ok to say no!!
- Load up your diet with stress-busting foods
#7 Create a Daily Routine
Maybe you plan your schedule to the minute, or maybe you go with the flow and make decisions on the fly. Regardless, creating a daily routine can benefit your health.
Aside from reducing stress and regulating sleep, research shows regular routines support mental health by boosting motivation and encouraging healthier behaviors and habits. It doesn’t have to be anything drastic, either — we’re not saying you need to build a routine overnight and totally uproot your life. In fact, it’s best to start small and build sustainable habits over time!
Maybe you dedicate one hour per week to meal prep, maybe you wake up earlier 3 days per week, and press play on a morning workout, maybe you read for 10 minutes at night rather than scroll through social media. Individually, these habits seem pretty approachable, right? Well, if you stay consistent with these small changes, with time, they turn into habits. From there, you add on, and slowly but surely, you’ve got yourself a healthy daily routine!
#8 Move More
After a long winter, spring is the perfect time to amp up the movement and increase your physical activity. Take advantage of those long days and warm weather! Movement — in any form, not just a workout — has been shown to increase your feel-good-hormones and benefit your mental health. It can boost your mood, reduce the risk of depression and anxiety, and help you reach your health and fitness goals.
Here are some simple ideas to get you inspired:
- Take multiple trips from your car when carrying your groceries
- Walk in to order your coffee or meal instead of using the drive-through
- Park farther away from your destination
- Take a 5-10 minute stretch or walk break every hour that you’re working or studying
- Perform 10 squats or calf raises every time you walk into the kitchen or use the bathroom
#9 Declutter Your Space
If you need to clear your mind, start by clearing your space. According to research, a messy environment can increase feelings of stress. So if you’ve been putting off your spring cleaning, here’s your friendly reminder. You don’t need to tear your closet apart and toss every unnecessary item, but try a little organizing and decluttering. Maybe you donate some clothes, organize your desk drawer, clean your pantry, or vacuum your car. Try tackling one space at a time and build from there.
#10 Try Something New
When was the last time you tried something new? Spring is the perfect time for new beginnings, so why not find a new hobby or passion project? Do something for yourself. Have an evening of self-care with just you + a new facemask, sign up for that cooking class you’ve always wanted to try, or hit the road and adventure to a new city for the weekend! On top of being fun and memorable, trying something new can help foster motivation and self-confidence, inspire positive thinking, and boost our mood and happiness.
#11 Invite Green Into Your House (Or Yard)
Did you know surrounding yourself with green plants and nature can boost your mental health? Try growing a home garden full of spring greens or brightening your space with a new houseplant or two. After all, the spring season is notorious for new growth and all things green!
Spring Into Better Health
If you’ve been struggling with your mood, motivation, or mental health, Spring is the perfect season to start anew. Use these simple tips to refresh your goals, shift your mindset, and boost your mental health as you spring forward into longer, brighter days. From seasonal foods and sunshine to spring cleaning your mind and body, you’re on your way to a happier, healthier you!