7 ways to spring clean your health
Spring is the season of new beginnings, and there's no better time to start taking control of your health.
Spring brings a time of new beginnings and longer days. There’s more sun, wildlife, and, if you haven’t heard, it is also the time for spring cleaning.
Spring cleaning might immediately make you think of cleaning out kitchen cupboards, but spring cleaning isn’t just for your home – it’s for your health too.
After the dark and cold of winter, our bodies (and diet) are usually ready for a refresh. The cold can make us feel sluggish; we’re in rest, even hibernating, mode. Spring is a new opportunity to get a bit of heat and movement back into our bodies.
We’ve put together seven ways to spring clean your health.
1. Fill your plate with colour
Spring is a fresh start for nature and can be a fresh start for you, too. Just as nature buds and blooms full of colour, so too should your plate.
The colour of your food can often be an indicator of the positive health benefits it provides :
- Dark, leafy greens are rich in iron, B vitamins, minerals, and fibre.
- Yellow and orange foods are often rich in carotenoids (which our bodies can make into vitamin A).
- Purple fruits, such as blueberries and blackcurrants provide anthocyanins (a type of phytonutrient), which have excellent benefits to our heart.
Increasing these colourful foods can help boost immunity and energy levels, helping you feel healthier and more motivated. But, if you want to go one step further to help spring clean your health with your diet, try ditching those stodgy foods (just as you ditch your winter coat for the warmer weather)?
Removing heavy, stodgy, ultra-processed foods (such as pizzas and biscuits) and instead fuelling your body with a variety of fruits and vegetables, rich in natural colour, can help boost your energy levels and leave you feeling fuller for longer.
If you are interested in seeing the impact your current food choices are having on your inner health, we suggest using our Nutrition Blood Test. This test can help you to uncover your levels of essential nutrients such as iron and vitamin B12. If any are outside of the normal range, you will receive expert advice on the changes that you can make to help improve them.
2. Move your body
With spring comes lighter mornings and the reappearance of sunshine. Light is proven to make us feel more awake (as it helps regulate our circadian rhythm),  and therefore, the brighter mornings can mean more motivation to get moving.
Getting moving doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym and sweating your way through a HIIT workout that you hate. For you, it could mean getting out on a morning walk, now that it’s lighter, or attending a yoga class in the evening (now that you don’t have to shiver your way to the car in the dark).
The key to feeling healthier and exercising is moving your body in a way that you enjoy most.
If the gym isn’t for you, then there are many other ways to move your body and get those endorphins flowing:
3. Reduce stress
Stress is the body’s response to a demand or threat. In the right circumstances, stress can help you stay focused, energetic, and alert. It keeps you on your toes at work, drives you to study for an exam, or gives you extra strength to defend yourself.
When the stress response is triggered, a hormone known as cortisol is released.
Cortisol plays a role in most bodily functions, including regulating :
- Blood sugar levels
- Salt/water balance
- Blood pressure
For many people, stress isn’t just an occasional reaction to a threat but rather a daily occurrence due to a hectic lifestyle.
When stressors are always present, the body’s fight-or-flight response becomes chronic. If this occurs, cortisol can constantly suppress functions such as the immune system, leading to health problems including:
- Digestive problems
- Heart disease
If you’re using spring to improve your health, making a conscious effort to reduce your stress levels can help.
There are many effective ways of managing stress, such as:
- Spending time in nature
- Deep breathing exercises
You can read more about managing stress levels in our top ten ways to de-stress blog.
If you are frequently stressed and feel that you are experiencing symptoms due to high cortisol levels, you can easily check your levels with a simple at-home test. With our simple Stress Cortisol Saliva Tests (4), your results will come with advice from our expert team on cortisol levels and next steps.
4. De-clutter your home and mind
There really is no place like home – your home is where you can go to unwind and feel at peace. You may have heard the saying ‘tidy home, tidy mind’, and there’s science behind it showing that less clutter can leave you feeling less stressed .
There is a reason that the likes of Marie Kondo have been so successful in sharing ways to tidy and organise your home and life. The positive impact of clearing space, getting rid of things that are not needed, or fixing your broken blind, can leave you feeling refreshed.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the thought of de-cluttering, then give these tips a try:
- Make a list of everything you need to do – seeing everything that you need to do means that you don’t have that constant worry that you’re forgetting something.
- Split your list into smaller tasks to make it less overwhelming – if you’re fixing a blind for example, write smaller tasks down such as charging up your drill or buying wall plugs.
- Tick off your tasks – ticking off tasks can give you a sense of accomplishment and make you feel productive.
And remember, when you’ve finished, you can lie back and enjoy your new, fresh, and inviting living space. Never underestimate the power of a good de-clutter – it can give you a new lease of life this spring!
5. Get a health check
Using spring as a season of new beginnings may be the nudge you need to check that you are as healthy on the inside as you are on the outside.
Getting a health check enables you to easily track any changes, safe in the knowledge that you are doing everything in your power to achieve and maintain good health.
There are many reasons to have a health check (even if you feel well and aren’t experiencing any symptoms), and our Advanced Well Woman and Man Blood Tests can help you check a variety of conditions, including:
- Heart disease
- Liver and kidney function
- Thyroid health
- Iron status
These blood tests come with expert advice and can be a vital tool in helping you understand your health.
Our Health and Lifestyle Blood Test is a finger-prick option, which can give you an overall assessment of your health. It checks your liver and kidney function, heart health, and key nutrients – allowing you to cover many of the main lifestyle-related risk factors to health.
6. Awaken your social life
As animals are waking from their hibernation, so should we. With lockdowns becoming a distant past, and the brighter days sweeping in, it’s time to scrap the slippers and rediscover those dancing shoes.
Getting out and socialising with friends can be crucial for mental health. Laughing with friends can decrease stress hormones and alter dopamine and serotonin activity – making it the perfect therapy for boosting your mood .
7. Reconnect with nature
Spring brings warmer weather, resulting in more time outdoors (without the need for wrapping up like a human burrito). Being outdoors and spending time in nature has been proven to reduce stress levels . And there are endless opportunities to enjoy it.
You don’t need to run a marathon, hike, or brave outdoor swimming to gain benefits from being outdoors. Just being surrounded by nature, getting some sunlight (and vitamin D), and taking in the sights and smells has been shown to reduce stress levels and boost your mood .
Spring clean your health
If you’ve been hibernating your way through winter and are ready to make a change to better your physical and mental health, then these seven ways could be exactly what you need. So, which one are you going to try this spring?
- Winneshiek Medical Center. 2022. The Importance of a Colorful Diet. [online] Available at: <https://www.winmedical.org/our-services/clinics/family-medicine/healthy-eating/the-importance-of-a-colorful-diet/> [Accessed 11 February 2022].
- Medicalnewstoday.com. 2022. Why does light keep us awake and darkness make us sleepy?. [online] Available at: <https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318123> [Accessed 11 February 2022].
- Thau L, Gandhi J, Sharma S. Physiology, Cortisol.In: StatPearls [online]. Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538239/> [Accessed 11 February 2022]
- Saxbe, D. and Repetti, R., 2009. No Place Like Home: Home Tours Correlate With Daily Patterns of Mood and Cortisol. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36(1), pp.71-81.
- Yim, J., 2016. Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter in Mental Health: A Theoretical Review. The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine, 239(3), pp.243-249.
- Ewert, A. and Chang, Y., 2018. Levels of Nature and Stress Response. Behavioural Sciences, 8(5), p.49.