You’ve decluttered your closet, washed the windows and deep-cleaned the carpets. Now, it’s time to tidy up one more often-neglected area: your mind.
Between an ongoing pandemic, extreme weather disasters and political strife, the last two years have been tough on our psyche. Let’s not forget about the inevitable period of time when Uncle Sam comes to collect what he is owed—taxes! For some, it’s pretty easy to sit down and file taxes, but for others, the process is tedious and time-consuming. When you tack that on top of everything else mentioned above, it’s probably safe to say the year has been pretty overwhelming, to say the very least!
Even if you think you’re handling everything okay, chances are, your mind is crying out for a little R&R. And what better time to refresh your mental health than spring? Why spring, you ask? It’s quite simple really. Spring is the time when everything is renewed and refreshed. The cold, gloomy muck of winter has been driven out by the lush and lively landscape that is spring! We can apply that same concept to our mental health.
To help you get started, we’ve rounded up a few mental health tips to usher in the changing of the seasons. We hope these suggestions will help set you up for a healthier and happier spring!
Make sleep a priority
Good sleep is incredibly important to our mental well-being. But according to the CDC, one in three American adults isn’t getting enough shut-eye.
While sleep can be elusive for many reasons, a poor sleeping environment is often to blame. Little things such as artificial light, noises and an uncomfortable bed can mess with our sleep and leave us feeling tired and groggy in the morning.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to create a more restful sleep environment. These include:
- Investing in a comfortable mattress, bedding and pillows.
- Blocking out noise with a comfortable set of earplugs or a white noise machine.
- Installing black curtains or using a soothing eye mask to block out evening light.
- Keeping the temperature cool.
It may sound overly simplistic, but these small changes can make a huge difference to your sleep quality and quantity.
Swap carb-heavy meals with healthy spring foods
Winter comfort foods are delicious, but they can be tough on our mental health. In fact, researchers often refer to the gut as the “second brain” because it contains its own network of neurons that influence how we feel. Research shows that eating carbohydrate-rich foods can trigger an inflammatory response, which has been associated with increased symptoms of anxiety, depression and other psychiatric disorders.
Instead of reaching for your usual winter staples, it’s time to start fueling your body with healthy spring dishes. Take advantage of seasonal produce, such as asparagus, strawberries, avocados and apricots. Using fresh ingredients will not only make your meals healthier, but also cheaper and more satisfying!
Do some actual spring cleaning
Yes, you read that correctly — one of the best ways to spring clean your mind is to actually clean your home. That’s because the act of tidying up our living spaces can do wonders for our mental health. Not only does cleaning provide an outlet for excess energy (the average person burns 170 to 300 calories per hour cleaning), but it also results in a clean and comfortable space that makes us feel more relaxed.
Taking the first step is always the hardest part of spring cleaning, so start small by tackling one room or one area at a time. Once you get the ball rolling on your spring cleaning, you’ll build momentum and have a tidy home in no time.
De-stress from the day with weighted products
If you tend to feel gloomy and on edge in the spring, you’re not alone. Busy schedules, inconsistent weather, impending tax-filing deadlines and final exams can make springtime super stressful and overwhelming.
The good news? Combating the “spring blues” may be as simple as snuggling up to a weighted blanket. Weighted blankets use something called deep touch pressure, a science-backed therapy technique that uses firm but gentle pressure to counteract stress and put you in a calmer, happier state.
For best results, consider sleeping with a weighted blanket at night or cozying up to one in the evening while you read or watch TV. Alternatively, you could wear a cozy weighted robe immediately after taking a warm bath.
Find ways to give back
You probably knew that volunteering is good for your local community, but did you know that it can also benefit your mental health? Indeed, some evidence suggests that giving your time and skills to help those in need can give you a “Helper’s high,” which is a term used to describe the boost in happiness people get after volunteering.
Why is giving back so good for our mental health? It’s simple. Taking the time to help others makes us feel good. Signing up for volunteer opportunities can also boost our social connections, as well as our sense of purpose and belonging.
Enjoy springtime activities with the people you love
After a long and isolating winter, it’s easy to fall into a social rut where you forget to make plans to spend time with friends and family. But humans desperately crave connection and going too long without some form of contact can wreak havoc on our mental well-being.
Instead of waiting for your loved ones to reach out to you, why not take the reins and get something in the books? Consider taking advantage of warmer weather by going for a stroll in the park or riding your bikes together. You could even rent an Airbnb with a couple of friends and explore a new area together. If the weather is iffy, you could check out a brewery or take a fun class with your friends.
Refresh Your Mind This Spring
When springtime rolls around, we tend to zero-in on the clutter in our homes — but what about all the clutter taking up space in our brains? With these tips, we hope you can sweep the cobwebs from your mind and kickstart better mental health for spring!