Many of us look forward to the advent of spring. We think of the season as a time of growth and renewal, and we look forward to the warmer temperatures, fresh produce and blooming flowers. We believe that making it through the winter was the hardest part and that better things are surely just around the corner.
Surprisingly, the transition from winter to spring can be one of the most difficult seasonal shifts. The physical and emotional effects of winter can linger well into the warmer months, and many people find themselves stuck feeling sluggish, hazy, or even depressed.
Karen Culpepper, Freed’s resident herbalist, has a lot of advice to give when it comes to holistically transitioning from winter to spring. Here are a few of her go-to tips:
1. Thaw out slowly.
Just because the sun is shining and your friends and colleagues are breaking out their spring wardrobes, that doesn’t mean you need to jump right into shorts and sandals. Underdressing before your body has had the chance to adjust to the temperature changes can shock the system and slow you down. Just as you would slowly start to add layers of clothing when the temp starts to cool in the fall, gradually remove those layers as the temperature warms up.
2. Focus on good gut health.
While there are herbal treatments, such as stinging nettles, that ease the symptoms of seasonal allergies, an often-neglected area of focus should be your gut health. Your intestinal system is full of good bacteria that aid digestion and fight inflammation, and reducing inflammation is key in combatting allergies as well as seasonal lethargy. If you’re not already, now is a good time to start taking a high-quality probiotic supplement and to increase your intake of fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kim chi, miso, or certain aged cheeses. And don’t forget your prebiotics, which feed the good gut bacteria and keep them around! Most high-fiber vegetables (think kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, etc.) will do the trick, though other sources do exist.
3. Cleanse gently, clean avidly.
Many people think they need to aggressively cleanse their bodies of the winter heaviness by undertaking harsh dietary regimens. In fact, as with clothing changes, you want your body to adjust to dietary changes slowly and smoothly. If you’ve been eating heavy food throughout the winter and want to lighten things up, slowly cut out one winter food at a time while gradually introducing the fruits and vegetables of spring into your weekly menu.
Instead of trying to aggressively cleanse your body, take that aggression and really go at it with spring cleaning. De-cluttering your living space or office will do a lot more for your mental clarity than a juice fast, and vacuuming away dust and pollen will also help keep allergies and inflammation at bay.
4. Be mindful of mental health.
Though it’s true year round, you need to make time for self-care and emotional hygiene in the spring. If you practice mindfulness or daily meditation, be conscious of what seeds you’re planting now that will manifest for the rest of the year. Make special time for activities that energize and enliven you, and preserve enough time to get adequate rest (it’s hard, we know!). Whether you’re feeling depressed or simply need a space to work out the emotions that come with changes in season, a session with a talk therapist is never a bad idea—our counselors are here for you!
Start preparing for summer now! It’s never too early to start preparing for seasonal transitions. Start thinking about the challenges that arise for you during the transition from spring to summer, and troubleshoot ways that you can overcome them. And look out for our next seasonal transition survival guide, on the blog in a couple of months!