5 ways springtime renewal can promote health and happiness

Excerpt: Spring is the season of hope, transformation and renewal in cultures around the world. As more older adults get vaccinated and outdoor activities open up, find hope and renewal this spring by spending time in nature, doing yoga or tai in the fresh air, and reflecting on your resilience. Revitalize and reconnect socially with more outdoor visits and brighten your outlook with safe doses of sunlight.

Spring is the season of hope, transformation and renewal in cultures around the world and through the ages. The festival of Isis in ancient Egypt, the Hindu festival of Holi in India, St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, Easter in Christianity and Passover in Judaism are all spring traditions* that celebrate these themes in their own distinctive ways.

In earlier times, the vernal equinox, on or before March 21, was considered the start of the new year.* Gradually, the sun warms us, the days lengthen, the air seems fresher and cleaner, seeds are sown in freshly turned soil and plants start to grow.

Amid the long COVID-19 pandemic, many older adults in Canada hope and expect to be vaccinated by the end of March or through the spring months.* Although people will need to continue following Public Health safety precautions before and after being vaccinated, some restrictions may start easing. As opportunities for outdoor recreational, social and nature activities open, we can look forward to a world that may feel a little bigger, less confining and brighter.

Here are some tips to help find hope, transformation and renewal this spring season:

  1. Spend time in nature
    Taking 20 minutes each day to stroll or sit in nature lowers stress cortisol levels,* reported a Frontiers in Psychology study. Spending time in nature also improves and contributes to a more hopeful outlook,* according to a University of Regina study in the Journal of Positive Psychology.

  2. Heal and grow from adversity
    People who experienced and overcame some adverse life events reported better mental health and overall well-being than those who experienced either no or many negative life events,* reported a Journal of Personality and Social Psychology study. Reflect on challenges you overcame in the pandemic, how you did it, and how the resilience gained can make you feel stronger and more hopeful about the present and future.

  3. Do yoga breathing in fresh air
    As the days get warmer, try doing mind-body activities such as yoga, tai chi, or mindfulness meditation alone or in physically-distanced groups outdoors. People who exercised outside reported greater feelings of revitalization, increased energy and positive engagement than those who exercised indoors,* according to an Environmental Science and Technology study. They were also more likely to repeat the activity.

  4. Revitalize and reconnect with outdoor visits
    In spring weather, embrace opportunities to visit more often and for longer periods with family and friends outside for a walk or festive picnic lunch at a safe physical distance. Socializing boosts feelings of well-being,* according to University of Toronto. Face-to-face social interactions have an even greater positive impact than video or phone calls, especially among older adults,* according to Psychology Today.

  5. Brighten your outlook with sunlight
    Moderate sunlight exposure helps improve your mood and alertness by boosting your body’s levels of serotonin,* also known as the “happiness hormone,” advises Cleveland Clinic. Be sure to take proper skin care precautions.

*The following sources provide references for this blog, in order of appearance:

1. learnreligions.com. “Spring equinox celebrations around the world.” (2019), online: https://www.learnreligions.com/spring-equinox-celebrations-around-the-world-2562486
2. motherliving.com. “A history of spring traditions.” (1999), online: https://www.motherearthliving.com/gardening/a-history-of-spring-traditions
3. Government of Canada. “Vaccines for COVID-19.” (2021), online: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19/vaccines.html?adv=2021-0071&id_campaign=396401482&id_source=1243548182394785&id_content=&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=7001-SE-0042%7CCovidVaccine%7CHT399-204073-001-CZ%7C2021-0071%7CGC%7CHC%7Caor%7CQ1%7C2021%7CEN%7CSEM%7C&utm_term=covid%2019%20vaccine%20canada&utm_content=mass%7CMASS%7CCanada%20National%7CNAT%7CSEM%7CBIN%7CTRA%7CCovidVaccine%7CSEM%7C%7CREG%7CTXT%7C%7CdCPC%7CEN%7CDrugs%20vaccines%20Covid
4. Harvard Medical School. “A 20-minute nature break relieves stress.” (2019), online: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/a-20-minute-nature-break-relieves-stress
5. CTV News. “New study shows spending time outside can improve one’s mood.” (2019), online: https://regina.ctvnews.ca/new-study-shows-spending-time-outside-can-improve-one-s-mood-1.4276078
6. Scientific American. “Adversity is linked to lifetime satisfaction.” (2010), online: https://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/adversity-is-linked-to-life-satista-10-10-16/
7. Science Daily. “Benefits of outdoor exercise confirmed.” (2011), online: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110204130607.htm
8. Psychology Today. “The health benefits of socializing.” (2016), online: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/living-mild-cognitive-impairment/201606/the-health-benefits-socializing
9. Psychology Today. “Face-to-face social contact reduces risk of depression.” (2015), online: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201510/face-face-social-contact-reduces-risk-depression#:~:text=The%20study%20also%20found%20that%20when%20comparing%20face-to-face,frequent%20face-to-face%20contact%20with%20friends%20reduced%20subsequent%20depression10.
10. Forbes. “Why sunlight is actually good for you.” (2018), online: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nomanazish/2018/02/28/why-sunlight-is-actually-good-for-you/?sh=3c4fb5a15cd9