When it comes to bursts of energy, enhanced moods, even productivity – the three go hand in hand. Spring offers prime fuel for a refreshed state of being and new enthusiasm to tackle tasks. What other benefits does this season offer (besides those famous April showers and May flowers)?
There are endless healthy possibilities that arise as the calendar changes and warmer weather sets in. The first week of May marked Air Quality Awareness week. With that in mind, here are three tips to help you breathe easy this spring.
1. Spring cleaning
Just 20 minutes of housework has been shown to relieve stress and anxiety by up to 20 percent. (Although not scientifically proven, wearing snazzy socks or dancing slippers may enhance your cleaning mood even more, especially when scrubbing along to your favorite tunes!)
In all seriousness, spring cleaning can help increase productivity. Organizing and decluttering will help you save time looking for and replacing lost items around your home. And eliminating household toxins like asbestos, motor oil, paints, formaldehyde in certain cleaners, dust mites and more will reduce allergens while also preventing illness and hazardous accidents.
When dusting, use a ladder and dust-catching or electrostatic charge cloths to clean hard-to-reach spaces such as ceiling fans, light fixtures, shelves, vents and windows. Speaking of windows, open them up, especially while vacuuming often-forgotten corners, cracks, closets, underneath sofas and between sofa cushions.
Keep in mind that clothing, blankets and bed sheets shed fibers year-round, which contribute to dust. By changing towels and bedding frequently and by putting away winter clothing, coats and blankets (or storing them in garment bags), you can minimize clutter and dust. Don’t have time to take the blankets and bedspreads to the cleaners? Take them outside and give them a good whack. You can even assign your oldest child this task – and while they’re at it, rugs and cushions can take a good beating, too.
Lastly, don’t forget to upgrade furnace filters and to disinfect shower curtains, shower heads, door knobs, cabinets, refrigerators, pantries, cupboards, keyboards and shoe racks.
2. Sleep, stress reduction & relaxation
All that spring cleaning means you'll gain peace of mind resting your head on clean bedding! You might also try increasing your daily sleep by 30 minutes as needed to achieve 7 to 8 complete hours of rest at night. Sufficient sleep reduces stress, works wonders with hormones, boosts energy levels and aids your ability to lose weight.
Studies suggest that aromatherapy and scents are another great way to relieve stress. Use a candle or place a pot of water sprinkled with cinnamon, cloves, lavender, chamomile or lemon grass to boil in on the stove. You’ll be surprised with how nicely and naturally you can influence the scent of your home in just minutes.
If you haven't already, start using essential oils. Add a few drops of a calming scent, such as lavender, to a diffuser in your bedroom to create an ideal sleep atmosphere. For extra relaxation, take a warm bath enhanced with a relaxing essential oil blend before bedtime.
Bonus tip: People who make their beds daily are 19 percent more likely to consistently sleep well, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Additionally, listening to music can help create calm, as music triggers biochemical stress reducers to assist in relieving stress.
3. Strong, healthy lungs
With a clean home, improved sleep and less stress, you'll be well on your way to breathing easy this spring. Often times, however, we forget to care for our lungs. The average person inhales about 20,000 liters of air. Every time we breathe, we are at risk of inhaling dangerous chemicals that have found their way into the air.
The Environmental Protection Agency urges caution and prevention when it comes to pollutants and toxins such as radon gas from the ground, secondhand smoke, airborne asbestos fibers and manmade sources such as chemical compounds emitted by factory smokestacks or benzene fumes emitted while pumping gas into your car.
Being "air aware" will help to strengthen and keep lungs healthy while avoiding common lung disease as reported by the American Thoracic Society, such as asthma, bronchiectasis, emphysema, bronchiolitis, pneumonia, cystic fibrosis, COPD, respiratory failure and disease of the pleura and chest wall (such as mesothelioma).
Strengthen lung health by breathing clean air! Limit your exposure to pollutants (especially cigarette smoke), take steps to improve indoor air quality and get some exercise. Thirty minutes of exercise a day also strengthens the lungs and cardiovascular circulation for a wide variety of health benefits, beyond just lung health. Take a walk outside, climb some stairs on a break from work, walk the dog or schedule a walk date with friends or family whether you walk, job or go for a bike ride – your lungs will thank you later.
Also, be sure to enrich your diet with antioxidant-rich foods. A diet rich in ginger, grapefruit, beans, seeds and nuts, carrots and red bell peppers naturally encourages lung and overall health.
These three tips should help you to enjoy the smell of fresh-cut or lush green grass, budding blooms and so much more this spring.