Think of a seed germinating – what does it need to crack through the surfaces and grow into a flower? Water. Sunlight. Nutrients.
Winter is a time of going inward, of slowing down. As you come out of this more dormant time, you are like this seedling and the right care and support will help you flourish.
I encourage a gentle process of unfolding rather than a strict drastic change that can be a shock to the system and hard to maintain. When you approach a change with small steps that stretch you a little bit each time, you are more likely to enjoy the process and create a new habit that is long lasting!
Think about how you can start making steps toward these nurturing activities:
Tip #1: Water – Drink Your 8 Glasses a Day
I know you’ve heard it a million times before, but that is because drinking enough water is so helpful for your body to work optimally and flush out toxins.
Your muscles, including your heart, need water for electrical impulses that make your muscles work. Water helps your blood have the volume it needs to carry nutrients throughout the body. It is vital for your kidneys and digestive system to have enough water to do their job in filtering out toxins and waste. Water is critical for brain function – memory, processing, concentration. Your joints need water for lubrication and your skin will be supple and clear with the right hydration.
Small Step – Start your day by drinking a 16 ounces glass of water when you get up in the morning, after brushing your teeth. After a night of rest you can be a bit dehydrated, so a nice tall glass of water is helpful. And by drinking 16 ounces, you will have already drunk a quarter of the general recommendation of 64 ounces.
To test if you are drinking enough, look at the color of your urine; it should be a light yellow color. You can also test your hydration level by how supple your skin is: pinch a bit of skin at the top of your hand and see how quickly it returns to a flat surface without creating any “tent” shape.
Tip #2: Sunlight – Get Outside and Move
The weather is warming, there is more daylight and the sun’s intensity is increasing. Fresh air, being in nature and exposing yourself to sunlight are great ways to wake up your body to the new season (and decrease stress)! We have been hunkered down for the winter – it is time to get outside and move.
What do you enjoy doing outside? Gardening, biking, walking, hiking? Look at your daily schedule and find at least 20 minutes to get outside and enjoy some movement.
Small Step – Go outside first thing in the morning to breathe some fresh air and expose your eyes to the morning sunlight. This helps your circadian rhythms to be in line with the natural light and helps your body produce the right hormones at the right times of day.
Tip #3: Nutrients – Rejuvenating Foods
The change of seasons is a good time to get out of an eating rut, you know, that feeling of being on autopilot eating the same things day after day. Springtime is a great time to shift your focus from the more grounding and comforting foods of winter to the vibrant fresh vegetables that are in season.
Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that help your body run optimally. Eating a variety (different types and colors) of fruits and vegetables is helpful to make sure you get a full range of nutrients.
Increasing the amount you are eating is also important (5 servings a day is the USDA recommendation and 7-10 servings is best especially in helping reduce inflammation). Aim for eating 2 fruits a day and having more vegetables on your plate than grains or protein at a meal.
Small Step – Look for vegetables in season now at your grocery store like asparagus, cabbage, artichokes, and cauliflower. Find a new recipe and incorporate a new vegetable into your diet each week.
Enjoy the awakening of Spring and treat yourself with compassion as you come out of winter hibernation. Remember, a flower doesn’t instantly break forth in full bloom, it grows incrementally from a seed, to a shoot, to a stock with leaf and bud, to a slow unfurling of its flower. Allow yourself the same graceful unfolding.