Winter can do a number on the brain and body. Those dark days, that chilly weather, those months of hibernation—all can leave us feeling drained, unfit, even lethargic.
But with spring in the air, now is the time to bring some sunshine into your life—and start feeling fantastic.
Here are five savvy ways to prep your mind and body for the new season so that you can savor every moment of it:
1. Get Your Move On
5am runs, evening yoga classes, Saturday bike rides—all are tempting, if not necessary, to skip during winter, when the comforts of home are far more enticing than braving the inclement weather.
But now that the sun is peeking behind the clouds—in more ways than one—there’s no excuse to stay inside, draped in layers.
Instead, work a healthy dose of exercise into your daily routine. Happen to be an early riser? Greet the day—and build up a sweat—with a morning jog or walk around your neighborhood; the fresh air and signs of life will contribute to a more joyful, relaxed day. Need a pick-me-up at the end of the afternoon that requires more than a stop at Starbucks? Enroll in an evening vinyasa class, where power moves will send your stresses flying and restorative poses will invite inner calm.
Can’t summon the energy? Look at it this way: Exercise is, in essence, giving your brain and body a gift that keeps on giving, through heightened strength, increased stamina, better circulation, and enhanced happiness. (Thanks, endorphins!) Fitting into your summery dresses? That’s just a natural—and welcome—byproduct.
2. Cool Down
In Chinese medicine, foods have either warming or cooling properties. Cinnamon, potatoes, squash—all foods we usually enjoy during the colder months—help stave off the chills (and bring enormous comfort).
The balmier weather calls for a shift to foods with, well, cooler qualities. Refreshing salads filled with colorful produce (cherry-red tomatoes, yellow bell peppers, green cucumbers, orange carrots, purple beets) will give you a taste of spring while also giving you a number of key, wonderful nutrients. What’s more, “cooling” foods can help eradicate toxins, bolster digestion, and enrich overall vitality.
3. Go Green
With tea, that is. Studies have shown that green tea can be a boon for those eager to achieve optimal well-being. It naturally supports cardiovascular health and, when combined with a well-balanced diet and a consistent exercise routine (see #1), may boost metabolism.
What’s more, green tea is rich in polyphenols—an antioxidant that helps shield your cells from free radical damage and has the potential to lead to a more radiant complexion, more lustrous hair, and better brain health.
Peach tea more your thing? Reach for green tea in capsule form and reap the same benefits you would find in a cup.
(A word of caution: Green tea contains caffeine, which will bolster your energy levels but more than a cup per day may lead to sleeplessness and other symptoms if you’re sensitive to its stimulating effects.)
4. Grind On Grains
Holiday pies, Valentine’s chocolates, movie marathons over buckets of buttered popcorn—by the time spring hits, our bodies have dealt with months of giving into comfort foods and sugary treats.
Salute the sunnier weather with a revamped diet that eschews empty calories and includes more fiber.
Fiber is an excellent substance that can fill you up (rendering you less likely to munch on potato chips and leftover Hershey kisses) and improve digestion.
Additionally, fiber contributes to keeping your blood sugar on an even keel and supports bowel regularity—a huge bonus when it comes to sweeping away unwanted substances from your body (they don’t call it spring cleaning for nothing). Plus, increasing your fiber intake is simple and satisfying with a few easy tweaks, from swapping your usual afternoon snack for sliced apples to tossing chia seeds into your morning smoothie to reaching for whole-grain breads in lieu of muffins or croissants.
Other top choices? Beans (including lima, black, garbanzo, and pinto), oats, quinoa, green peas, spinach, almonds, kale, and prunes. Or, seek out some springtime fruit. After all, there’s no better way to celebrate spring than with a bowl of fresh, juicy strawberries.