8 gentle ways to spring clean your body and reboot your mind
10 min read
With this long winter almost over, and a glimmer of hope on the horizon over lockdown easing, it’s time for a much-needed spring clean, but not of our homes, not yet, today we’re talking about our bodies and our minds.
We’ve accumulated a lot of “stuff” over the last few months. We’ve been eating stodgy comfort foods, sitting for hours at end at our kitchen tables hunched over laptops, juggling a hundred different things at once and doubtlessly feeling stressed and anxious about keeping it all together.
But now’s the time to give yourself a break, to let go of some of the things that just aren’t helping, and to gently reboot your body and your mind so you can put this winter behind you, and get on with enjoying spring...when it arrives!
Eat with the season
Eat your (spring) greens
It’s not been an easy winter, and if you’ve turned to comfort foods to help you through, you're forgiven! But now it’s time to start thinking about how you can freshen up your meals to give yourself a healthy boost of vitamins and minerals to reboot your body and your mind.
Spring brings us so many amazing, nutrient-packed vegetables that are starting to fill our supermarket shelves. Next time you go shopping make sure you stock up on seasonal fruit and veg like spring onions, spinach, spring greens, purple sprouting broccoli, radishes, watercress, asparagus and rhubarb. These are jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, and iron, giving you a much-needed boost after the long, dark winter months.
To help you boost your spring veg intake, why don’t you try swapping one or two of your meat-based meals for veggie ones? It’s so easy to do and is a great way to give your body a boost of vitamins and minerals and gives your digestive system a bit of a break at the same time.
Make sure you mix your seasonal veg with whole foods like nuts, beans, lentils and chickpeas to give your body even more of a boost. They’re packed with iron, magnesium and B vitamins, which are all great for energy levels and putting that spring back in your step.
Show your gut some love
Eating all those comforting, but stodgy foods, maybe drinking a few too many glasses of wine and being stuck indoors over the winter will not have done your gut health any favours. But with spring around the corner, and all those lovely fresh vegetables in your supermarket trolley, it won't be long until your gut flora is flourishing again.
Become a fermented foody
As Dr Sarah Brewer, author of Eat Well, Stay Well advises, “your gut bacteria appear to play a key role in maintaining a healthy immune system so include live bacteria in your diet with yoghurt and fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir kimchi, and kombucha.”
You can also support your gut health by taking a daily, good-quality probiotic. Probiotics can help boost your digestive health, support your natural cleansing processes, and can also help boost your immune function.¹
Enjoy a gentle cleanse
If this winter has left you feeling a bit sluggish, springtime is the perfect time for a gentle cleanse. But please, note the use of the word gentle. After what we’ve all been through, now is not the time for brutal regimes or tortuous boot camps.
It is time for self-care and nurturing your body and your mind, and letting go of what’s no longer serving you so you can rebalance your energy and reboot your mind. A gentle cleanse will help you rebalance your gut, boost your absorption of vitamins and minerals, and boost your energy levels.
Ideas for a gentle 7 day cleanse
- Think about cutting out alcohol for a week. Replace your tipple with lots of water and herbal teas, or kombucha if you want something special.
- Steer clear of caffeine and drink herbal teas instead. Teas that are great for a cleanse contain parsley, peppermint, chamomile, stinging nettle leaves, ginger and dandelion.
- Try to avoid refined sugars.
- Replace saturated fats with raw, unrefined organic oils. These will help you detoxify your body, improve tissue flexibility, and boost your immune system.
- Limit red meats to a bare minimum and replace animal proteins with fresh veg, whole grains and legumes.
- Try and eat as much organic food as possible to reduce your body’s toxic load.
Supercharge your body with springtime vitamins and minerals
Vitamin D has rightfully taken a starring role in helping us through the winter. It’s helped us keep our immune system healthy; our calcium levels tip top alongside a whole host of other wonders.
But even though spring is just around the corner, and the sun should soon be returning to our skies, it’s still worth taking a supplement to help give you a springtime boost because sadly we can’t rely on our unpredictable weather.
The one vitamin most likely to help prise you out of your lockdown slumber is Vitamin C. This superpowered treasure is a natural antioxidant that can strengthen your body’s natural defences and protect your cells from harmful free radicals. This, in turn, helps you avoid oxidative stress and enables you to fight inflammation.²
Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant that may help reduce free radical damage and slow your cell’s ageing process. It can also help keep your skin and eyes healthy, as well as your muscles and your bones.³ So if you’re looking for a bit of a springtime sparkle, a boost of Vitamin E might be just what you need.
Also known as retinol, Vitamin A helps strengthen your body's immune system and enables you to keep your skin healthy.⁴ If you want to boost your vitamin A (retinol) naturally, make sure you include plenty of these foods like eggs, oily fish, milk and yoghurt in your diet.
Zinc helps to keep your immune system healthy, and it supports healthy cell division and the formation of DNA and proteins.⁵ Zinc is an excellent immune support booster, which we all need at the end of a tough winter, and it’s also an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.
After months of living indoors, with the heating on full, maybe drinking a few too many glasses of wine, you’re probably dehydrated. But one of the best, and easiest ways to boost your energy and get a spring back in your step is to drink plenty of water.
Drink 2 litres of water a day
Try to drink at least 2 litres of water a day. Drinking plenty of water and being properly hydrated helps on so many levels:
- It boosts your metabolism.
- It helps you absorb vitamins and minerals.
- It improves your digestion.
- It improves your skin’s elasticity.
- It supports a more release of toxins.
And if you find plain water boring, try adding a slice of lemon, a sprig of mint or a cinnamon stick to spice things up or, sip on decaffeinated, herbal teas.
Get ready to spring forward
If the longer days and lighter mornings aren’t giving you the boost you expected, don’t worry. There’s a strong biological reason behind it.
Sleep expert Dr Craig Hudson explains: “Our brains are set to operate on a 24-and-a-half-hour cycle – not 24-hour. So when the clocks go back in autumn, we have an easier time as our brain prefers a longer day, but the ‘leap forward’ in spring is more difficult as we’re in effect shortening our natural day.”
Going to bed half-an-hour earlier can help you get back on track sleep-wise, as can snacking on foods rich in tryptophan, which the body turns into the sleep hormone melatonin that makes you drowsy. Foods rich in tryptophan include nuts like cashews, pistachios, and almonds.
It’s time to move it
What with the freezing weather, and lockdown, spending a lot of time outside hasn’t been at the top of most people’s agendas over the last few months. But getting outside, and getting active can have a huge impact on boosting our mental and physical health.
The natural health service
Getting outside and doing some gentle exercise in nature, whether, in your garden, the park or the fields around your house, spending time exercising in nature is great for your body, and it also helps boost your endorphins and clears your mind.
According to a study by Essex University,⁶ getting outside can reduce depression and boost self-esteem. Often called ‘forest bathing’, the practise of immersing yourself in green spaces can also lower blood pressure and boost the immune system.
Yoga is excellent for boosting your mood, and of course, helps strengthen your body. It also helps to release tension and can help clear toxins from your body.
If getting out to a yoga class is still impossible, local studios are offering online classes, and there are hundreds more on Youtube. Any type of yoga will be great in helping you spring clean your body and your mind, but Restorative, Yin or Kundalini yoga might be worth exploring if you’re looking to gently nurture your body and boost your energy levels.
Reboot your mind
We’ve been through a very stressful time, and it’s important to acknowledge that. But with spring on the horizon, now is a great time to reboot your mind and calm your nervous system. Here are some ideas that might help you reduce stress in your life but remember, don’t make destressing stressful!
Have a mental spring clean
Clearing out mental clutter is a huge energy booster, and a great way to clear all the noise in your head is to get it all out on paper.
Journaling is a great way to clear all the accumulated mental clutter out of your mind. Setting aside 10 or 20 minutes a day, preferably in the morning before life takes over is best, but if that’s not realistic, or it’s overwhelming, try to take 5 minutes before bed to scribble down anything you want to let go of from the day.
Breathwork can help your mind relax and let go of stressful, anxiety-inducing thoughts. It can also reduce fatigue and increase your blood’s oxygen levels, helping tissue repair.
And the bonus is that it’s very, very easy to do!
Here’s a super simple exercise that will ease your mind if you’re feeling stressed. Simply breathe in deeply, hold it for 8 seconds, breathe out, and rest for 8 seconds. Repeat this a few times until you feel calm.
And of course, there’s meditation. It might seem impossible to imagine yourself meditating when you’re trying to be teacher, boss, agony aunt and chief cook and bottle washer all at the same time, but there are some super simple, and very effective ways to build meditation into your day, so you reap the rewards, without realising you’re even doing it.
Here a few ideas for building meditation into your day without even trying:
- Take 5 minutes out of your day to listen to some good music. Really listen to it, be present and forget everything else that’s going on around you.
- Go for a walk, and notice everything around you, the clouds, the birds, the colour of the grass, the smells in the air, the sound of your footsteps. Let everything else go and focus on the world around you.
- Cook a healthy meal. Shut yourself in the kitchen and take your time to prepare and cook a healthy meal. Look at the colours, notice the smells and focus on stirring and turning your food.
And of course, there are all the great apps like Headspace and Calm that you can use at any time of day or night to make sure you work a bit of meditation into your day, without stressing about it!.
Have a healthy, happy, lighter spring
We hope these ideas for giving yourself a bit of a break, and gently spring cleaning your body, and your mind will help you feel a little bit healthier, a little bit happier and a little bit lighter going into spring. There really is light at the end of the tunnel, and you want to be feeling good so that you can enjoy the longer days, the warmer weather and fingers crossed, a few more freedoms.
What are you most looking forward to this spring, when we’re all allowed back to play again?