I find each season of the year provides different ways we can look after our mental health and wellbeing. I thought I’d share what I tend to find helpful during spring.
Spring clean / De-clutter
It may seem like a cliché, but I enjoy having a good old de-clutter during spring. People often talk about how a de-clutter and clean helps them feel refreshed, focused and “lighter”.
But the benefits of a spring clean for our wellbeing aren’t just anecdotal, research has found a link between these. Cleaning can help us de-stress, boost our mood, help us focus and even have benefits for our physical health https://www.verywellmind.com/how-mental-health-and-cleaning-are-connected-5097496
While having a spring clean and de-clutter, I also like to think of the philosophical ideas of letting go of what weighs me down, clearing away what no longer serves me and making space for new things to come; fresh starts. Spring is a nice time to do this, but really we can do this at any time of year!
We don’t have to be perfect in de-cluttering and spring cleaning, or get it all done in one day. It’s ok to do it a little bit at a time, and do as little or as much as we like.
Go for a walk
I like to take a short walk on most days to take time out and boost my wellbeing. But over winter, I tend to fall out of this habit and stay in (as if I’m hibernating in a way). The gloomy days and cold, wet weather don’t make going outside appealing. So I pick this habit up again in spring, as the weather becomes milder and more inviting.
I enjoy a walk as a way to take time out because it means I’m away from my computer (so no temptation to respond to emails when I hear them come through), and I put my phone away to have some time away from screens. It also gets me out of the house, so I’m not getting drawn into housework either and I can really just take the time to let my mind rest and enjoy my surroundings.
It’s also worth noting that when we go out for a walk in the daytime, the sunlight boosts our mood and helps to regulate the body clock for better sleep.
Going for a walk also provides opportunities for the next two points…
Connect with nature
When I’m on my walks, I love to notice the nature around me; birds singing, squirrels running around, flowers and other plants. I pause often on my walks to take notice of these and to just admire the scenery.
Research has shown that connecting with nature has a lot of benefits for our mental health. With flowers popping up, and baby animals starting to appear, spring is a great time to connect with nature.
There are lots of ways to connect with nature. We can notice the trees, plants and animals around us (even in urban spaces there are usually trees and shrubs planted here and there), or spend some time near nature e.g. a woodland, a field, a mountain walk, streams, rivers, the sea. We can nurture nature through gardening or keeping a houseplant.
Take a look at our video on this to find out about the benefits of connecting with nature and more ideas on how you can do this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpGD0Nllgms
While I do my best to stay active during winter, I feel a natural slowing down in the colder months (again, as if I’m hibernating!). With the mornings and evenings becoming lighter, and the days a little brighter during spring, it’s easier to get myself moving. I’m more motivated to go for a quick morning walk now and then or do 10 mins of gentle morning yoga before the day begins. I also stay active later into the evening as it doesn’t get dark so quickly – even if this is just pottering around the house.
In spring, there are more opportunities for walks and outdoor hobbies that may help us stay active, which has so many benefits for our mental and physical health. One of my outdoor hobbies that helps me stay active is wildlife photography, which I’ve written more about here https://valleyssteps.org/mindful-photography/
Being active is not just about us physically moving. We can also think in terms of being actively engaged in our lives. With the increased daylight giving us a bit of a boost, we can use this momentum to re-engage with things we enjoy and get out and about in our community, which can have extra benefits for our wellbeing, such as connecting with others.
For example, when I go walking more, I ‘bump in to’ neighbours and old friends to chat to, who I don’t see so much when “hibernating” inside. I also start getting more involved in local events, classes or just making plans to meet up with friends. These are things which, again, I don’t feel like doing so much during winter. Even though they may seem like little things, these baby steps add up to me feeling more engaged and motivated again, which in turn boosts my wellbeing.
What steps could you take to look after your wellbeing during spring?
If you’re searching for some inspiration, we have lots of information about mental health and how we can look after our wellbeing on our free courses. See what’s on in the community at https://valleyssteps.org/community-sessions/ or online at https://valleyssteps.org/online-sessions/