The air is less chilly when you walk outside and the sun isn’t hiding quite so persistently anymore. Spring has arrived according to the calendar, but are you still holding on to those pesky lingering winter blues? I talked to therapists who suggested six mood-boosting ways to enjoy everything spring and embrace it at home.
A minimal amount of sunlight goes a long way and research shows that it helps you focus, improves your sleep, and reduces anxiety.
Therapist Nicole Arzt advocates for scheduling time to enjoy the outdoors. “Being in nature is psychologically good for you. As the weather gets warmer, make a more proactive effort to spend time outdoors. Even if it’s taking a quick walk around the block after dinner or drinking your morning coffee on the patio — small moments matter.”
Lauren Debiec, a therapist in Hawaii, agrees the outdoors can be a way to boost your mood. “Put reminders in your calendar to get outside when the weather is warmer,” she suggests. “A bike ride is a great way to get your physical activity in, as well as your daily dose of sunshine. Pick a new location to explore that you haven’t biked.”
Having a plant on your kitchen table or flowers on your desk can be an immediate mood booster. “It’s okay if the plants are low-maintenance. An alternative would be to purchase a dozen flowers the next time you’re out. They’ll boost your mood instantaneously,” Arzt says.
If you like to garden, the beginning of spring is a perfect time to “plant some flowers in your backyard or on your balcony. Once the flowers grow and bloom, they create such beautiful scenery,” adds neuropsychologist Alexander Burgemeester. “This helps to reduce stress levels and it can feel good to watch something you planted grow.”
If the weather is cooperating, it might be nice to schedule a friends’ night out, have family over for dinner, or make a day of exploring the city. You could also start working on travel plans for the summer.
“Research shows that anticipating an exciting event can be just as beneficial as experiencing the exciting event. So, consider planning a party or vacation in the next few weeks or months,” Arzt says.
The arrival of spring means many will decide to declutter their homes, deciding what to keep or donate. You could also apply the same strategies to your relationships.
“If you are in toxic dynamics with others, this will inevitably impact your mental health. So, this spring, commit to reflecting on who’s most valuable in your life. Do you need to set boundaries anywhere? Do you need to let go of certain relationships altogether?” Arzt asks.
Jod Kapilakan, CEO of mental well-being company Abundance No Limits, suggests lingering winter blues may be a symptom of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which he has advice for addressing: “To begin, brighten up your surroundings with bright colors. As soon as you wake up in the morning, turn on as many lights as you can to fill your environment with light. If you can afford it, get a lamp that resembles sunlight and use it on a daily basis.”
“One of the best things you can do to improve your overall health and bring sunshine back into your life is exercising,” says Dr. Brenda Wade.
When your body feels good you are more energized and able to deal with things in your life in a positive manner. “If you can exercise in nature you are boosting that ‘feel good’ part of your brain even more,” Wade says. “Nature has a healing energy, so incorporate outdoor activities into your weekly schedule. Walks, meditation, planting a garden — all of these activities are stress-reducing and help to boost your mood.”