Mental Health, Self Care, and Nutrition: Spring
Maybe you’re starting to feel the seasonal shift physically, but do you know what’s being asked of you? Spring is the time to shake off the heavy feelings of lethargy, cleanse ourselves of accumulated imbalances, and rejuvenate ourselves in preparation for the warmth and vibrancy of summer.
As Mother Nature moves us through this transitional phase, a process characterized by a gentle renewal and revitalization, we can invite balance into our body through awareness – and practices that help us align ourselves with the dynamic rhythms of nature. As the world around you begins to buzz back to life, you might find yourself energized by the thought of longer days & sunshine, or clinging to your winter hibernation habits. In my opinion, the best way to roll with this seasonal shift is to let it open you up like the flowers.
With a little Spring cleaning, internally & externally, and an accessible new routine, you’ll feel mentally & physically ready for the demands of summer and the year ahead. If you really want to birth your visions, make sure you’re setting the stage for your own success.
As a farmer, the majority of my time is spent in the garden once summer is here, and spring marks the beginning of Neverending To-Do List 2.0. In order to stay ahead of the curve and maintain balance while keeping up with everything, spring cleaning is a vital necessity. Spring cleaning is more than dusting off the cobwebs and trading out the dresser drawers of winter clothes for lighter threads; it’s about clearing clutter, releasing stagnant energy, and making room for what’s coming next. It’s in these fresh spaces that new or expansive opportunities can bloom.
If you’re someone who is feeling mentally ready for change, show that outwardly by giving care to the living spaces that support your creativity, growth, and nourishment. When it comes to organizing or cleaning, you don’t have to go overboard if your life isn’t calling for a purge (but purge if you must, honey!). Start small and organize your wallet, purse, email, desk, or car.
Focus on one area that’s manageable and will give you a sense of accomplishment. If you want to take on something that requires a lot of attention, set a timer/playlist and get after it – or make it part of your routine for the week, and get it done over time. You might find that this process of cleansing your environment naturally guides your attention to your mental organization and your body’s need for the same sort of rejuvenation.
Find a Home for Things
I’m big on this one. Everything should have its place, and openly displayed if possible. When everything has found its way back to its home, it’s easier to feel like you’ve concluded cleaning. While our closets or dresser drawers may remain hidden, don’t let it be an excuse for a lack of organization – or avoiding finding the proper home for things.
Integrate Feng Shui
Feng Shui is a Chinese practice of organizing spaces that focuses on how humans interact with their environment and its energies. It offers guidance on how to best design your surroundings to influence harmony of natural energies. There are a variety of ways to incorporate Feng Shui principles into your living spaces, but one of the simplest ways to breathe or purify the Qi in your space is with plants.
I can tell you from experience that the aloe will be easier than the orchid, but here are a few options to see what fits right with you and your space. Here is a great list of resources related to Feng Shui, if you’d like to go a little deeper.
Stop Procrastinating Already
While procrastination means you’ll always have something to look forward to, it’s really not your mental health’s friend. Procrastination is often self-defeating and associated with avoidance, anxiety and depression (Good Therapy). If you find it’s difficult for you to ‘just do it’, take the time to address what’s triggering your procrastination. If you’re looking for a few insights on how to stop procrastination, click here.
Spring Cleaning & Nutrition
Our metabolism tends to slow down during this seasonal change, and you might notice a natural shift in your cravings from heavier foods to lighter fare, which is our body’s way of signaling that it’s time for some internal spring cleaning. In Ayurveda, a holistic system of Indian medicine, spring is considered the ideal time to detox and build up our immunity against illnesses that can be onset by internal & external changes in moisture and temperature as we move into the next season.
Spring doesn’t come without challenges to our health, but as we move through it, we can promote optimal wellness through adjustments in movement and diet. Seek out light foods that are easy to digest, with bitter & astringent tastes, which will help balance internal moisture levels and mucus production (Maharishi).
Structure your diet around warm foods, steamed vegetables, legumes, and spices, avoiding anything fried or greasy. Also, embrace the greens! Chlorophyll has strong antioxidant properties and helps to fight harmful toxins in the body.
To support your body’s needs, consider a dietary cleanse to purify and renew. This doesn’t have to be anything restrictive, but give your liver some attention. In traditional Chinese medicine, the liver’s job is seen as spreading and regulating Qi, or the energy flow of the body, detoxifying that which comes in.
In order to release blockages and enhance the liver’s function, take a break from processed foods, chemicals, saturated fats, and alcohol. One of my favorite detoxing beverages is a simple apple cider vinegar with honey and warm water, which helps to stabilize my internal pH and regulate my blood sugar (use soda water if you’re one for the fizz).
Spring Into Conscious Cooking
If there is any springtime specific activity I advise you to engage in (besides the obvious of getting outside to smell the flowers!), it’s conscious cooking. See, conscious cooking is more than just the meal; it’s about the alchemy of cooking – and recognizing that you & your body are a part of the seasonal shifts. This process asks you to be present in your meal prep, mindfully nourishing yourself on all levels, just as you need to have focused intentions in order to nurture your seeds & goals to cultivate a successful harvest.
If you’re someone who is always on the go, or eating out often, this is what you need. Set aside the time to shop, cook, and enjoy your meal. Start off at the local farmers market and see if you can find something you’ve never tried before, or maybe haven’t cooked yourself. Don’t always have time to shop? Have you considered a local Community Supported Agriculture Program (CSA)?
On a primal level, the gathering, preparing, and consumption of food is a source of joy & pleasure. Too often food is eaten on the go, while scrolling on a phone, or devoured between activities. I mean, it keeps us functioning, growing, strong against disease, essentially keeping us alive, yet it’s not always given the attention it deserves or respected as medicine for our mind & body. Where did the joy and pleasure go?!
In order to get a grasp on your health via nutrition, become familiar with the plants, fruits, and veggies that are going to take you far – and let cooking be the expression of gratitude for the nourishment delivered to your mind & body. At its basic level, conscious cooking is recognition of the amazing gift it life itself! You have to eat anyway; why not see how much you can engage with the vitality of seasonal rhythms through conscious cooking?