“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”
-Anne Dudley Bradstreet
Back in 2016, I published a round-up of eight of my favourite self-care habits and practices for winter and it’s been one of my most popular posts ever since!
In it, I mentioned taking a walk outdoors, getting to bed earlier, cozying up with warming foods and beverages, and nourishing ourselves with seasonal foods, among other ideas that are practical and easy to add into our day-to-day.
These are all EXCELLENT self-care practices in any season of course, although winter can tend to be a slower, more deliberate, more contemplative season for many of us. This contrasts with spring, which for me is all about newfound energy and movement and getting things done.
In that spirit, I thought I would share some of my favourite self-care habits and practices for spring.
1. Fill Your Plate with Spring Greens and Vegetables
Asparagus, peas, lettuces, fiddle heads, salad greens like spinach and arugula, Swiss chard, baby bok choy and other Asian veggies: there are so many spring vegetables and greens to love! And let’s not forget the ever-trendy superstar, kale.
Ah, my heart truly sings when fresh kale appears in the markets!
Kale is one of my favourite greens because it is so hearty, so nutritious (vitamins K, C, A and manganese, among others), and so versatile. In early spring, you can enjoy it steamed in a pan with just a bit of broth or water and it cooks so quickly.
On my busiest days, it’s a go-to breakfast for me and I enjoy it with eggs or last night’s dinner leftovers and whatever homemade dressing or sauce I happen to have in the fridge. Right now, I’m loving my kale with a riff on this luxurious ginger-lemon cream sauce that remains one of my favs.
You can also enjoy kale and other spring greens raw and there are plenty of recipes online to enhance or downplay their robust flavours. For kale in particular, I love “chopping” it in small batches in the food processor, which helps break down its tough leaves. Salt, lemon juice and lots of massaging will help kale become even more tender and ensure it’s in steady rotation on your plate!
Here are some recipes to enjoy your spring vegetables and greens in:
- Dairy-Free Potato Salad with Purslane and Fresh Herbs
- Tangy 10-Minute Raw Bok Choy Garden Salad
- Spring Vegetable & Greens Pasta with Chive-Kale Pesto Dressing
- Creamed Greens with Lemon-Ginger Cashew Cream Sauce
- Spanish Salsa Verde
2. Celebrate the Spring Equinox
A time of renewal and rebirth, the Spring Equinox is a powerful time to celebrate the season it is ushering forth. Most years it occurs around March 20 or 21, or the calendar day when day and night are roughly the same length at 12 hours each, and the sun is directly above the equator.
From the Latin word “equinoxium”, equinox refers to “equality between day and night”. But depending on where you live, you may experience a bit more day or a bit more night!
2020 is a unique year because the Spring Equinox happens early on March 19, and apparently this is the earliest it has occurred in 124 years.
To me, that sounds like an extra reason to celebrate this sacred seasonal day in a special way!
3. Meditate, Contemplate or Spend Time in Quiet Reflection
It may seem counterintuitive against the backdrop of the energizing nature of spring, but meditation is absolutely one of my favourite self-care habits and practices this spring.
I had never consistently meditated, but after my son was born, I decided to see if it might help improve my sleep, relax my nervous system that seemed “always on” all of a sudden, and maybe even alleviate some of my new fears and worries about this vulnerable little person I was suddenly, and permanently, responsible for.
I quickly fell in love with meditation and it remains one of ways I take extra good care of myself.
Whether you’re frustrated, angry, happy, sad, stuck and wading through difficult or negative emotions, or some combination of all of these, meditation can help. It can help re-frame our thoughts toward a happier, healthier perspective and help re-connect us to what’s most important. Recently I even described it to a friend as feeling like “I have had the absolute BEST nap!”.
Meditation truly helps me feel r-e-c-h-a-r-g-e-d!
4. Get Growing
Whether you’re growing fresh superfood sprouts in your kitchen, planting young plants in your garden, or embarking on an ambitious plan to grow all your own food this year, growing and gardening can be a very rewarding self-care practice.
Gardening always marks this time of year for me and starting seeds is something I have been doing for many, many years. I have even used a complicated set-up of grow lights and grow mats in my basement to start seeds extra early in late winter so they’re ready to plant outdoors as soon as the snow has melted and the soil has warmed up.
Even last year, at over six months pregnant and no longer able to touch my toes, I had a garden full of veggies! But spoiler alert: I mostly had weeds by the time my son was born on Labour Day weekend. I had high hopes to tend my garden through summer, but a late-summer due date plus a lack of air conditioning at home definitely sapped most of my limited energy! Oh well, better luck next year 🙂
Growing some of your food is a remarkable self-care practice for those who enjoy it and, best of all, you get to eat the fruits of your labour!
5. Open Windows and Water a Plant or Two
Did you know that the air inside your home, car or office is often a lot unhealthier than the air outside? And this is true regardless of where you live!
Indoor air quality is affected by everything from your furniture to your household cleaners to a wide range of temperature, humidity and ventilation factors, all of which either improve or reduce the air quality inside closed spaces.
One thing that I find interesting is that the air inside newer homes is often LESS healthy than the air inside older homes. And why is this? Well, the argument is that older homes tend to be draftier, with more cracks and crevices for exchange between indoor and outdoor air to happen.
So, in early spring, fling open your windows and let the outdoor air freshen and bathe your space with new life. Wake to the sound of birds chirping and take a few deep breaths to inhale sweet spring blooms. That is, in itself, a kind of meditation!
You can read more about indoor air quality and NASA’s research on the ability of plants to clean the air and improve indoor air quality in my previous article on 4 Easy Yet Scientifically Proven Ways to Boost Health in Your Workplace.
6. Get Outside and Get Moving
Walk, hike, run—just get outside. Jump on the trampoline or rebounder. Explore a new park or area in your town or city. Bring your camera and snap some candid shots of yourself and a loved one, or a beauty shot of Mother Nature in all her glory. There are lots of ways to get moving and have fun at the same time!
Getting moving also helps boosts our lymphatic system. You may have heard that the lymphatic system is a complex network in our body and one that doesn’t come with its own “pump”. As such, exercise helps us activate and move waste out so that it can be naturally eliminated.
All types of exercise help, but I am especially fond of using a rebounder or trampoline, both of which are very effective! This is so needed after winter and for most of us, a season spent more indoors than out and a lot less time being active.
7. Spring Clean Your Home, Office or Car
Our homes, offices, cars and bodies can always benefit from a good spring clean or tune-up!
I like to de-clutter any items I haven’t been making full use of and donate them to others who can actually use them. After a bit of de-cluttering, cleaning from top to bottom with homemade, non-toxic cleaners and lots of good old-fashioned elbow grease is always high on my To-Do list!
If cleaning the whole house isn’t needed (or it is, but you’re a busy mom of a babe like me!), you can start small with some simple spring cleaning. You might toss any expired foods, jars or unrecognizable condiments in your fridge or pantry, get rid of clothes that no longer fit (or feel good!), and discard expired or old cosmetics, beauty and other household products.
8. Set Goals for the Coming Season
Would you like some forward momentum to set new goals or get back on track with goals made earlier (New Year’s Resolutions anyone?)
I always find more sunlight + warmer weather + more time outdoors and in nature all help re-energize me and catalyze my goals.
Here are a few ideas for your health and overall wellness goals:
If your goal is to get a clearer snapshot of what your day-to-day meals look like, you can set a goal to record your meals, possibly in a food journal, which is an easy way to do this and it provides valuable insights.
You can download my free food journal templates here (one for a basic food journal and one that combines your food with your moods). You can also learn more about how a food journal can help you reach your health goals.
If your goal is to make mealtimes easier, you can set a goal to plan your meals for the week, or even just one particular meal (such as all your dinners, or all your breakfasts). Check out the tips in my article, “10 Key Do’s and Dont’s of Healthy Meal Planning”.
If you need a bigger roadmap for your big goals, you can download my “Look Ahead” Goal Planning vision exercise. I originally designed it for the year-end, but it works well any time of year when you want to do some long-term goal setting and planning.
I hope you enjoyed this round-up of a few of my favourite self-care habits and practices for spring.
What’s your favourite way to give yourself some extra love as spring arrives?
Life is a plate… Eat up!
P.S. I was motivated to write this article this weekend… and then delighted to realize that today is a Full Moon in Virgo, which is all about self-care, health habits and goals. I must have been divinely inspired!