It doesn’t have to take a huge overhaul. For a simple spring reboot, check out these expert-approved suggestions…
Reset your body clock
Do you struggle to drag yourself out of bed in the morning and find yourself yawning by mid-afternoon? It might be time to sort out your sleep hygiene, so you can drift off promptly and enjoy the recommended seven to nine hours of slumber a night.
“It’s really important to get your pre-sleep routine right to have the best chance at having quality sleep,” says Dr. Roshane Mohidin, GP and healthcare pathways and behavioural change manager at Vitality. “Try having a warm bath before bed to unwind, or practice yoga or meditation to help aid relaxation.”
Switch off the telly and avoid scrolling on your phone for an hour before bed, he advises: “Exposure to blue light from smart phones, computers and TV screens supresses the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.”
Also, find your optimum temperature to sleep in: “The ideal temperature is around 18 °C, but everyone has their own preference on how hot or cold they like the bedroom to be.”
Make time for a daily walk
There are lots of reasons to get outside and stretch your legs during spring – even when there’s still a chill in the air.
“Walking is an excellent, low-impact cardiovascular exercise that provides a natural boost of energy and invigoration,” says Dr. Donald Grant, senior clinician at The Independent Pharmacy. “The added exposure to natural light and fresh air during spring increases your vitamin D intake, which is linked to improved mood, a reduction in stress levels, and greater mental clarity.”
Even a short loop around your neighbourhood or local park will do, Grant adds: “One study has even shown that an 11-minute brisk walk a day could significantly reduce the chances of heart disease, diabetes, and even certain cancers.”
Protect your skin
“For those who suffer from skin conditions such as eczema, you may notice more flare-ups due to the increased pollen count throughout spring,” says Grant.
Changeable weather that flits between warm and chilly may also be a factor. “Try to stay cool and dry, opting to wear breathable material like cotton to stop sweat from pooling on your rash,” Grant advises. “Also, ensure you hydrate regularly and wear sunscreen when appropriate, as eczema rashes can burn incredibly easily – however, avoid options with fragrances as these products will likely aggravate the rash.”
Even if you don’t have a skin condition, why not commit to wearing sunscreen on your face – or anywhere else exposed to UV rays – every day? There’s enough UV exposure even on cloudy days and during winter to increase your risk of skin cancer. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using a minimum SPF 30 when spending time outdoors.
Feed your gut microbiome
The gut microbiome is the collection of trillions of organisms that live in your intestines. Eating foods that keep the microbiome happy can have a huge range of health benefits, including potentially reducing the risk of certain cancers, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing inflammation and improving digestion.
“Your diet should also include foods that contain probiotics, or strains of live bacteria and yeast that aim to reach the gut and benefit the host,” says Ryan James, health and wellbeing advisor at Vitality. “Probiotics can be found in fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kefir and yoghurt.”
You should also make sure you’re giving your gut enough fibre and limiting excess sugar, which can be bad news for all that beneficial bacteria.
Drink more water
Staying hydrated is crucial in order to regulate your temperature, lubricate your joints, aid digestion and help you concentrate, amongst many other things. According to the NHS, adults should generally be drinking six to eight glasses of water a day.
And if you want to hit that hydration goal, you might want to cut down on caffeinated beverages.
“A common question I get asked is whether tea and coffee count towards your daily water intake,” says Grant. “Tea and coffee are perfectly fine as part of a balanced diet, especially if you avoid sugar or syrup.”
But, he adds: “Caffeinated drinks are thought to have a diuretic effect, which makes the body produce urine more quickly. This means you may dehydrate quicker than if you simply drank a glass of water, but this may only be the case for some people.”