Winter months often come packed with comfort food and a disproportionate amount of couch time. But the yin to winter’s yang is the onset of spring: here, we move outside, reconnect with nature, sunshine and longer days.
For some, the change in season delivers new enthusiasm to detox and recommit to healthier eating and exercise.
But what about the brain? It, too, can benefit from a springtime reset in order to deliver increased calm, greater clarity and a more restful night’s sleep.
Here are 3 ways to kick-off your ‘headspace cleanse’.
#1 Drink (more) water
Our brains require a balance of water and other nutrients in order to function optimally. Becoming dehydrated affects our brain’s efficiency and can impair decision making, as well as short- and long-term memory.
As brain researcher Dr Joshua Gowin writes in Psychology Today: “Of all the tricks I've learned for keeping my mind sharp, from getting enough sleep to doing crossword puzzles, staying hydrated may be the one I follow most closely.”
Our bodies lose water even as we sleep, so begin each day with two glasses of water, and continue hydrating throughout the day.
#2 Get om-to it
Research suggests that among those who meditate for a period of two months, improvements start to surface such as reduced stress, enhanced memory, a better sense of self and an ability to empathise.
As author and meditation guru Deepak Chopra writes via his Centre’s site: “Meditation provides experiences that the mind can achieve no other way, such as inner silence and expanded awareness.”
Dr Craig Haseed from Monash University suggests joining a class or taking a course to kick-start a habit of meditating or mindfulness. “There’s nothing better than learning from a well-trained teacher, and learning with a group – you can learn from each other’s experiences as well,” he says.
Alternately, commit to nine minutes meditation each morning shortly after you rise, breaking up your meditation into three parts. For the first three minutes, in a seated position, close your eyes, focus on your breath and do a slow body scan, noting anything that hurts or feels tight. For the next three minutes, focus solely on your breath, following your inhale and exhale. And for the final three minutes, tune your ears to the sounds in and beyond the room.
#3 Lock in a de-tech
Constant interruptions in the form of notifications, texts, calls and emails can eat into our concentration and make the task of getting things done much more drawn out than its needs to be.
Not only does this leave less time in the day for healthful pursuits, it can also impact your brain. Medical Daily reports on researching linking excessive screen time – social media in particular – with stress and burn-out.
A recent survey conducted by the mental health charity RUOK? also found that Australians spend around 46 hours of their weekly downtime looking at TVs and digital devices. On the flip side, they average just six hours engaging with family and friends.
Start small and turn off the net, your phone and other devices for one hour a day (say, after 9pm) for one week. Then, if you’re feeling positive effects, increase the ‘tech-free period’ the following week to two hours before bedtime.