You can feel it in the air. A lightening of the weather, a lingering sun, and the fresh sneezes of hayfever sufferers everywhere. Spring, ahhh how you creep up on us…
We’re coming out of the SADS that winter provided, but sometimes it can be hard to jump out of the sluggish hibernation period. I mean, trackies, heaters and slumping on the couch is where it’s at, for realz. But, doing that for too long can leave us feeling stuck in the slump. So how do we kickstart ourselves for spring? Here are 5 quick tips:
1. Move it
Yep, get up and at ‘em. Just moving can shake off the winter blues but also get our moods lighter. It contributes to healthy sleep, stable moods and general wellbeing. And with the warmer weather coming, there ain’t no excuse, right? Research has showed getting in sports has wellbeing and thus economic benefits for society (Downward & Rasciute, 2011), and you don’t even need to really bust a gut. Even gentle exercise and movement can have a positive impact on mood.
2. Wear brighter colours
I know. Sounds like uttery wankery, right? But it’s true. Research has found if you wear warmer, brighter colours- it actually releases dopamine in our brains. That glorious happy juice we all crave. The principle hues of red, yellow, green, blue and purple all rated highly in research, with green found to be the prime people pleaser (Kaya & Epps, 2004). Just don’t go the green-yellow shades as that’s more associated with vom, kay?
3. Get out of your own head
When we get caught up in our own shit, it can really get us slumped. But you know when we actually start doing stuff for others, it not only helps them, but it helps us too. Just a simple smile at a passer-by, offering to help someone with their heavy bags, giving a child a high-five in the supermarket aisle, it can all contribute to our own spring, while giving someone else a spring in their step too. If we want to get technical, we call it altruism and it’s a pillar of wellbeing.
4. Eat your probiotics
Huh? I know. But research has shown eating probiotics actually builds immunity to sadness. As do fruit and veggies, dark chocolate (HELLO), and green tea. Steenbergen and colleagues (2015) found in their studies that participants offered a probiotic supplement were less reactive to a sad mood, than those who received a placebo. By eating more fruit and veggies, participants in a British study reported feeling more calm, energetic and happy (White, Horwath & Connor, 2011). What we put in has a massive impact on how we feel, and food is more than just energy for the body, it’s a regulator of the mind too.
5. Smile and laugh, even if you don’t feel like it
To me, if someone told me that I’d flip em the bird. But you know, it actually works. There’s laughter therapy groups all over the world, and research has shown that laughing helps release our happy juices and can actually promote happiness, even when we’re not initially feeling happy. Hang around someone who is a serial laugher and try not to laugh yourself. Impossible, no? Research conducted by Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman (2012) found that even when instructed to smile, participants reported lowered heart rates in stressful situations than those who were not instructed to smile. Thus, smiling during brief stressful moments can help to reduce the intensity of the body’s stress response, regardless of whether a person actually feels happy. And overall, that leads us to feel better. Take that, SADS!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find a loud pink shirt, while downing a probiotic and laughing at nothing.
How are you embracing spring?