The Physical and Mental Health Benefits of Spring
Updated: Apr 5, 2022
Sunday, March 20th marks the first day of spring. It’s a time of moderate temperatures and longer days, encouraging you to get outside again after the chilly winter months. Your windows are open; flowers are in bloom; and farmers’ markets and grocery shelves are stocked with fresh produce. It’s no wonder that many of us consider this season to be our favorite!
Here are five physical and mental health benefits of spring:
1. Sunnier days allow for a sunnier you!
Seasonal depression, or the “winter blues,” leads to more than just mood fluctuations. It can also cause decreased energy levels, trouble sleeping, changes in eating habits, and changes in social behavior. Moreover, vitamin D deficiency plagues many of us, with symptoms like bad moods, aching bones, and brain fog. With the warmer weather, you can now show a little more skin outdoors (with sunscreen, of course!), allowing for a much-needed dose of vitamin D. In other words, that “spring euphoria” you feel is very real!
2. You have more opportunities for socializing.
Research shows the three in five Americans report being chronically lonely — a feeling that has been exacerbated by the pandemic. It’s no surprise, then, that anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts are all on the rise. Given this link, scientists believe that loneliness is worse for our health than obesity, smoking, and lack of exercise. The solution? Making time for human connection, something that is much more accessible as the weather warms up. The winter chill makes us stay indoors, but now, we can head outside for some much-needed socialization with family and friends.
3. It gives you a caffeine-free pick-me-up.
You’re not just imagining that extra boost of energy that comes with sunnier days and warmer weather. Humans are programmed to rest in the dark and be active in the light, making you feel more vibrant on the longer, brighter days of spring. As an added benefit, you can squeeze more physical activity into your day too. Plan for a lunchtime walk with a co-worker or a neighborhood stroll with your family after dinner.
4. It’s the perfect time of year to stop and smell the roses.
It’s more than just a saying! Researchers found that spending time in your garden (even pulling weeds) can decrease blood pressure, increase brain functioning, and improve your sense of wellbeing. Make an effort to notice the greenery and bright colors of springtime. Take deep, purposeful breaths by inhaling for four seconds, exhaling for four seconds, and repeating four times. You’ll feel your mind and body relax.
5. It allows for nature-based therapy in eating disorder treatment programs.
Studies show that time spent outside has a positive impact on eating disorder treatment outcomes. In a 2020 study, participants report that nature helps them reconnect with their bodies and feel a greater sense of calmness. Plus, a 2018 study reveals that patients believe that nature-based therapy helped decrease their binge eating episodes and increase their self-esteem and overall wellbeing.