Each year, the transition from winter to spring is a miraculous occasion, especially if you live in an area with heavy snow or frigid temperatures. As nature begins to thaw, so, too, do many people. This might mean that you feel that you’re waking up and rejuvenating, and you might be more active indoors and outside.
This renewed activity feels great, and it is great for our wellbeing. Of course, since we’re human and as such can have difficulty adjusting to change–even positive change–this transition from winter to spring can also bring stress. Rather than floundering under the weight of change and experiencing negative effects of the increasing activity, take charge of your transition starting now. If you’re unsure of where to start, here are four ways to reduce stress when transitioning from winter to spring.
Why Changing Seasons Can Cause Stress
Before we explore ways to reduce stress, it’s important to understand why this fresh, invigorating time of year can bring unexpected stress. Unpleasant feelings of stress or anxiety are natural reactions to any type of change. We humans tend to have an uncomfortable intolerance of uncertainty Undergoing any type of change can be a troubling experience. When that change completely alters your lifestyle, as weather can, the results can affect our mental health, affecting mood, thoughts, and actions.
Transitions and their accompanying stress can also affect physical health. If you’ve noticed that you feel under the weather with the change of seasons, such as winter to spring, that’s because our immune system reacts to change. Changing weather can stress our system. New pollens and seeds make the air smell wonderful but also irritate our bodies, sparking allergic reactions. (While true, also true is the research-supported fact that aerosols inhaled during walks in the woods activate the immune system to fight infections and tumors.). New activities and routines sparked by the change of seasons also stress our systems a bit while we adjust.
Our entire bodymind reacts to change. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s a sign that your body is alive and alert to change, springing into action to make sure we’re safe and well. Unfortunately, the stress response doesn’t usually feel great mentally or physically, and while short-term stressors aren’t damaging to our total wellbeing, chronic stress is.
You, though, aren’t at the mercy of the changing season or your bodymind’s reaction to it. You can take charge of the change and enjoy the fresh, new season with energy and vigor by taking action to reduce stress when transitioning from winter to spring.
4 Ways to Reduce Stress in Spring
We truly aren’t passive victims of change, even change we don’t choose or control. Use this time of year to develop new habits and actively engage in endeavors that boost your wellbeing and reduce stress.
Brighten Your Living Space
“Spring cleaning” is a valid concept. Cleaning and organizing makes our life space healthy and less chaotic, which is good for us physically and mentally. Take this even deeper with some extensive home projects that bring joy and make your life easier.
Clear out old clutter and replace things that are key to your home’s (and thus your own) optimal functioning. Ensure that key systems like air conditioning, ventilation, and even appliances are working right (for your health, ease of living, energy bill, and environment). While you’re doing this, tend to your financial health, which is an integral part of your total health and wellbeing and is often a source of chronic stress. To brighten your living space and ensure that your home is operating well to nurture its occupants (you and your loved ones), consider looking into and learning more about a home warranty to make life easier now and into the future.
Move Your Body
Exercise is one key aspect to creating and maintaining total health and wellbeing. Studies show that incorporating movement into your daily routine, even just 15 minutes or so a day, benefits not just our physical health but our mental health, too, in powerful ways.
The transition from winter to spring affords us a fantastic opportunity to get out into nature and enjoy fresh air, blue sky, and sunshine. Make moving your body a daily habit by starting small and doing things that you enjoy—your ultimate goal is to reduce the effects of stress rather than creating more stress.
Mindfulness is the act of showing up for every moment of your life, no matter what that moment is like. It involves using your senses to pull yourself out of the thoughts racing around into your mind and into the present moment. Practicing mindfulness is a lifestyle choice that can be extremely useful when managing stress. Although the spring season also brings about more responsibilities that may induce tension rather than relieve it, you can still stay mindful while busy.
You can start by identifying your values that will help create the quality of life you desire. Knowing your why you are doing what you do helps you persevere. Living in the moment, attending to what is happening now rather than remaining stuck in thoughts and worries, will keep you focused and reduce the feeling overwhelm that comes from thinking of all that is on your to-do list for future moments instead of taking action in this moment. Pause for a slow, deep breath of fresh spring air to find inner quiet and reset your nervous system and turn off your body’s stress response.
Spring Into Healthy Eating
Winter doesn’t make health eating easy. Winter inspires hibernation, comfort foods, and conserving energy. Comfort foods may make us feel good while we’re eating them, but their long-term effects on our total health and wellbeing can be damaging. The transition from winter to spring is a fantastic opportunity to adopt healthy eating habits for an energized, healthy life.
As with exercise and any other habit change, start small. Identify one change you can make. What is one unhealthy food or drink that you can remove from your diet, and what is one healthy food you can replace it with? For some ideas to start, see 5 Foods that Calm Anxiety and Stress on HealthyPlace.
Enjoy Your Transition from Winter to Spring
While the changing season brings, well, change, it doesn’t have to create unwanted stress that negatively affects your mental and physical health. Take measures to actively reduce stress so you can feel great and truly en-JOY the new season.
Discover 101 useful ways to reduce anxiety now so you can truly enjoy your transition from winter to spring — and keep that enjoyment going year-round.