Perhaps you spent most of winter feeling stressed, being cooped inside, eating comfort food and rarely making it to the gym. You may have suffered a cold and gained a few pounds, and now you want to get your body back to being happy and healthy.
The good news is that warm weather is here and it’s a great time to get back out in nature and get nurtured. Here are nine easy ways to get started:
1. Get outside.
Spending a lot of time indoors often means spending a lot of time on your phone or computer. We now know that excessive screen time is detrimental to our health but spending more time in nature is good for us. Twenty minutes in nature — gardening, walking, or resting while lying on the ground — is all it takes to access the benefits.
You can spend time by the ocean, walk in a forest or picnic in a park. Many trees and plants are loaded with phytoncides — chemicals that stimulate or relax your brain and may even benefit your immune system as they lower your stress response.
2. Do some green exercise.
When you're outside, you are more likely to exercise. And what's better is that you're more likely to enjoy your workout when you're surrounded by greenery. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do it. Walk along the beach, take a bike ride, or play a game of Frisbee.
3. Enjoy some sunshine (with safe sunscreen).
While you’re out in nature, you'll also benefit from getting one of the sun’s healing remedies — Vitamin D. Do this safely and cover up so you don’t expose your skin to harmful ultraviolet rays for more than 15 minutes. Make sure to wear sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen that doesn’t have added chemicals in it.
4. Eat wild.
Take advantage of the beautiful weather and get yourself to the farmer’s market. Enjoy seasonal fruits and vegetables. Get filled up with antioxidants from berries or dark leafy greens. Try to live by the rule that if it’s not fresh, don’t eat it, and if it grows in nature, especially in the wild, do.
5. Sleep luxuriously.
Sleep is essential for your physical, psychological, and emotional well-being. A lack of sleep takes a large toll on your health. While you sleep, your stress system is turned down, your cortisol levels drop, your immune system gets stronger, your brain consolidates everything you have learned, and your body naturally releases hormones, most notably the important growth hormone as well as testosterone.
Not only will getting more sleep help prevent you from getting sick, but it will also improve your ability to get more fit and have a better libido. Practice good sleep hygiene, remove stimuli from your bedroom, try not to eat too much or drink alcohol about three hours before sleep, luxuriate in your bed and get those zzz’s.
Being out in the sun and exercising more means sweating and dehydrating. Remember, your body is predominantly water, so it needs to be replenished. Try and shoot for half your body weight in ounces a day, and more if you are sweating a lot.
7. Have fun with your friends.
Plan a barbeque, play dates or picnic outings with people you enjoy being around. When people feel a sense of belonging they not only feel better but also are healthier. Get that love hormone, oxytocin, working and spend time with people who help you feel good.
8. Get dirty.
Garden, go for a hike, or simply follow your favorite child around and do what he does. Not only is spending time in nature good for you, but allowing yourself to relax and play like a child will do wonders to lower your stress levels and put a smile on your face. Pretend you’re going on an adventure in your backyard — or gather up your things and travel on a real adventure.
Slow down. Practice the art of mindfulness, simply being present, appreciating of the beauty around you. Immerse all your senses in the present moment, enjoying the gentle breeze against your skin, the aroma of the flowers in bloom, and the beauty of the blue sky or shapes of the clouds as they pass by.