An Integrative Approach
An Integrative Approach

Sustaining Health: Spring Edition

The changing of the seasons denotes the start of new energetic cycles within our bodies, our minds and outside ourselves in the environment. Each season brings about change. Not only that, but each seasonal shift serves as an excellent opportunity for reflection and growth for each of us. Seasonal models of living are commonly discussed in holistic living practices and have become quite popular as more people embrace the unique wisdom that nature provides. From seasonal solutions for exercise and sleeping rhythms to diet and food choices, each season can teach us a great deal about how sustainable, healthy living is not a stagnant process.

Lessons From Winter

As Winter draws to a close, Spring marks the transition to Summer. This means more daylight hours, warmer weather, spring fruits and vegetables, blooming trees and flowers, the last frost, and inspiration for new projects or adventures. Winter provided us the opportunity to slow down, retreat, and dream up new ideas, possibilities, and goals. With shorter days and cooler temperatures, Winter encouraged us to rest and make time for rebuilding our foundations, both physically, mentally, and perhaps spiritually. Winter invited us to draw nearer to our loved ones, relying on the handful of close connections we already had rather than expending energy seeking new communal relations. It was our time to look back on the previous seasons and reflect on what served us, what we were able to cultivate, and what inspired us. It may have also been an opportunity to take stock of things that did not serve us during those times-activities, engagements, projects, or commitments that failed to give back to us, did not fulfill us, or drained us of our finite energy. From these reflections, we could gleam understanding and an appreciation for the things we want to foster and what we want to let go of as we move forward.

Winter also inspired shifts in our dietary choices and physical activity habits. Following the Fall harvest, much of what was seasonally available included warming, comforting, and energetically dense foods such as meats, squash, potatoes, root vegetables and other tubers, hearty greens like kale, and preservable foods like dried nuts and seeds or pickled/fermented foods. Traditionally, most fruits and certain vegetables and greens (e.g. spinach, arugula, or lettuces) are no longer available come Fall and Winter. The Winter diet was centered around foods that were heavy, warm, and calorically/nutritiously dense- which makes sense if you think back to the times when humans had to hunt and gather. During Winter, our bodies shifted to relying on slow burning fuel (i.e. healthy fats, starches and protein)- eating less frequently while choosing foods that would keep us satiated longer. The availability of certain seasonal fruits and vegetables clued us in to other aspects of seasonal living. During the Winter, our physical activity was more limited. Winter was an excellent time to engage oneself in activities such as yin yoga, breath to movement activities such as Tai Chi or Qi Gong as well as strength-building activities focused on the legs to build strong roots. Winter was a time for prioritizing our physical foundation and engaging in mindful movement that built up the body without depleting its precious energy stores.

Looking to Spring

In contrast, Spring is the time where we emerge from the dark, cold, stillness of winter and begin a sort of energetic expansion- much like the blooming of trees and flowers. Spring serves as an excellent opportunity to begin setting in motion the dreams and goals that we reflected on during the Winter months. With increasing daylight hours, warmer weather, and the anticipation for Summer, we find a new sense of motivation to go out and make good on our new goals, intentions, and aspirations. We open up our hearts and minds to the possibility for new connections with others, new opportunities, and new adventures. Spring is our chance to begin again and put our time and energy towards the life that we want to create for ourselves in the coming months. Spring is our time for growth, expansion, and trying new things. It is when we try out new, healthy habits before the business of Summer sets in.

Spring also marks an important change in our dietary habits and physical as well. As we approach Summer, certain fruits, vegetables, and greens can be reintroduced into our diet as we crave less and less the hearty, dense foods that we enjoyed all winter long and move towards lighter, more quick-burning fuel. Our activity level changes in tandem with our dietary shifts. As different seasonal foods become available (those that are easily digested and richer in carbohydrates), our lifestyle also demands different types of movement. Come Spring and Summer, we begin to engage ourselves in more energetically intense, cardiovascular exercises such as hiking, running, biking, swimming, gardening, and walking as we enjoy the warmer weather and the longer days. Our daily life also demands longer work days, more travel, and general activities that require a more constant, accessible supply of energy. Due to this shift, our bodies start to crave foods that can provide us with quick, easy-to-use fuel from healthy sources that are naturally rich in glucose/carbohydrate and less so from heavier foods that are rich in fat and protein. As the season continues on, we have a greater abundance of these kinds of foods to match our increased energy expenditure meaning we can enjoy less calorically dense foods more frequently to meet our needs. After building up our physical foundation, resting, and turning inwards during the Winter, Spring is our time to branch out, begin acting on the projects and dreams that we pondered over the past few months, and engage ourselves in more creative and energetically intense activities.

How will you move through this next seasonal transition? If you’re looking for more inspiration during this new season, consider taking some time to reflect on what you dreamed about over the Winter months and what you hope to cultivate or change as you move into Spring and Summer. Below are just a few reflections for you to reference should you want more guidance!

If you’re wanting to commit to some healthful, sustainable changes this Spring, then join us for our Spring Wellness Program in April! During this 5-week program, you will have the chance to learn key tools for adopting and sustaining, healthy lifestyle alongside a supportive community. Themes will include mindfulness and meditation, batch cooking and seasonal eating, goal setting, and tools for navigating seasonal changes. For more information, cost, and sign up, click here or visit our Events page!

Reflections for Spring:

  • What is it that you want to cultivate over the next few months?
  • What are your intentions for yourself as you transition from the still, quiet Winter and into the exciting, hustle and bustle of Summer?
  • Are you hoping to grow your community? Are you open to making new connections and exploring new relationships with others? OR Are you open to rekindling old relationships that have, because of life circumstance or otherwise, been neglected in some way recently?
  • Are you hoping to shake off the stiffness of Winter- quite literally- and embrace more intentional, energetic movement throughout the Spring?
  • What seeds of intention do you wish to plant and nourish in your mind? How might you improve the thoughts and/or actions you have toward yourself? How can you be kinder to yourself this Spring?
  • What is something new that you want to try, see, or experience? How can you make that happen for yourself?
  • What is needed for you to make your goals, dreams, and hopes for Summer a reality? What can you do now to set those things in motion?
  • How will you choose to move and eat more mindfully and in tune with the season? How may that positively impact you and your health?
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