04/10/2018 Mind-Body Health
It’s time to spring into action! Read how you can take advantage of the season of beginnings and tweak your mental, physical, and emotional habits so that you can flourish.
Spring is the period between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. It's considered a symbol of rebirth and is associated with new beginnings. Farmers and gardeners plant their seeds as temperatures slowly rise. The formerly frozen ground grows softer and more yielding. Gentle rains tease new life into dormant grasses and help seeds take root, leading to buds and blooms that look and smell spectacular. Nature blankets forests with new colors. Animals emerge from hibernation and soon there are babies being born or hatched. It’s a time of festivals and celebration. In Robert Orben's words, “Spring is God’s way of saying, ‘One more time!’”
Here are a few seasonal suggestions to let spring help set the tone for optimal energy.
Treat Your Mindset Like a Garden
In every garden, there's a time to pull weeds, a time to sit back and enjoy, and a time to plant. Spring is a wonderful time to tend your mindset. In neuropsychologist and author Rick Hansen’s book, Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence, he says, “You can enjoy, tend, or plant for your brain too.”
Here are some ways to tend your mindset:
Be present with your thoughts, noticing when they are positive and when they’re negative—without judging. Heightening your awareness of your thinking patterns is something you can do every day.
2. Pull Weeds
Examine the negative thoughts that come to mind. Like weeds, you can decide to pull them. Your brain takes shape from what it rests upon, so if you keep resting your mind on worry, anger, self-doubt, hurt, or stress, your brain will be shaped for vulnerability, reactivity, depression, and anxiety. Like how a gardener tending weeds requires focused conscious effort or else the weeds will just keep sprouting up again, so will cultivating your thoughts require time and practice. First you need to notice the weeds you want pulled, then you need to make sure you have them by the roots before pulling.
Don’t forget negative experiences can still have value. We just want to ensure that it's not all pain and no gain.
Taking this analogy a little further, in order to plant fresh flowers in your garden, you need to first decide what you're planting and then you need to cultivate a practice. There's so many positive mindset practices, but I'll suggest three:
- Three Good Things: Every evening take time to notice three things that happened in your day that were good. Write them down or share with a partner.
- Reframing: Pick an incident or interaction you perceived as negative and change the story to have a positive outcome, perhaps a lesson learned or something good that came from the bad.
- Random Act of Kindness: Do something unexpected and good for someone. Feed an expired meter. Buy coffee for someone. Bring someone at work flowers from your garden.
Get Outside and Get Playful
Channel your inner puppy. Take a hike in the woods or go make sandcastles of the beach. Have a bonfire. The days are getting longer so instead of staying in and watching television, get a group together for a basketball game or dust off your tennis racquet. Time outside clears the cobwebs from your brain and allows some mobility back into joints that can seize up in cold winter weather.
There’s never a better time to focus on fueling your body with fresh, local foods. Do a little research and see what’s seasonal in your area and incorporate it into your diet. Here are some of the spring foods I love:
- Leafy greens like Romaine, red leaf lettuce, and arugula are springing up, and they are rich in vitamins A and K as well as chlorophyll, folate, fiber, and even water. They're known to reduce inflammation while detoxifying your body.
- Asparagus is even more abundant in vitamin K, which is helpful in heart and bone health and encourages healthy blood clotting. Asparagus also contains selenium copper and vitamin B.
- Beets of all colors are known to lower blood pressure and support detoxing. They are a unique source of phytonutrients. They also look fabulous on a plate and come in so many gorgeous colors. I love the candy cane ones best.
- Mint is a powerful herb. It is best fresh, not cooked, and is wonderful in tea, water, or lemonade as a natural flavoring. Not only can it refresh your breath, it has healing properties and antioxidants that can relieve seasonal allergy symptoms. It also contains a natural decongestant.
- Radishes are great at removing toxins from the stomach and the liver. They're also a natural diuretic. Typically found in salads, I was surprised to discover that they're pretty great when roasted like a potato as well.
Make time to declutter your life. Choose a room, a drawer, your car, or anything that lacks a system. Separate stuff into three piles: one to keep, one to give away or recycle, and one to throw away. Figure out how to store things you don’t use frequently. It’s amazing how energizing it can be to start fresh with clear counters and shelves.
You know that class you’ve always wanted to take at the local college or that sport you think looks fun? New beginnings are perfect for spring. Register. Join. Create a new healthy habit. Use the habit formation tips below to put your plan into action.
- Put it in your schedule.
- Do it with someone, that way you have an accountability partner.
- Choose a convenient time/place. You are way more likely to follow through if it’s easy.
- Build in a reward system to motivate yourself.
Spring to action! Take advantage of the season of beginnings and tweak your mental, physical, and emotional habits to allow yourself to flourish. You’ll feel lighter and more energized too!
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