Springing into action

A change of season provides a fresh start after a long, bleak winter

SAIT journalism student Sarah Mang poses for seasonal portraits at SAIT campus in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. The photo was taken for the "Transition Season" article. (Photo by Quin Hauck/SAIT)

SAIT journalism student Sarah Mang poses for seasonal portraits at SAIT campus in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. The photo was taken for the “Transition Season” article. (Photo by Quin Hauck/SAIT)

Spring has arrived, and it’s a season to look forward to with hope, expectation and relief.

It’s a time filled with clichés, an opportunity for abandonment and joy to take precedence over originality.

There is a spring in our step, our spirits begin to lift with a sense of second chances and a boldness that was previously waiting for a more welcoming environment.

Morgan Alexander, former Olympic bobsledder, and co-founder of Revolution Human Performance said, “Winter is a time to rest and think about the things I want to get into.”

With the movements towards lighter, longer days, cleaning out homes, fresher produce, and a general sense of possibility, it can be easy to get carried away by it all.

But staying balanced during this time of transition time is an important part of the process, according to Tara Newbegging, a fitness coach, yoga teacher, and creator of the fitness program BooTy.

“It shouldn’t be such a drastic change that you go loopy,” said Newbegging.

Newbegging said spring is a time for finally saying goodbye to things that have been making us unhappy, a time for letting go and an urge to move towards lightness.

As we come into spring, a smooth transition can make the difference between embracing new habits and burning out.

“We often feel pressure to be intense and perfect off the get go and that’s a recipe for burnout,” said Alexander.

“Consistency and frequency of activity are key.”

Alexander said spring is the balance between winter and summer–it’s a transition– an anticipation of new beginnings.

Spring feels like a clean slate, it’s a time to begin and a time to put plans into motion said, Alexander.

Both Alexander and Newbegging highlighted consistency as the way to stay balanced.

“Do things you enjoy,” said Newbegging.

“To maintain [a habit], your new habits should never be too opposing to your original routine.

“Don’t give anything up.”

“Just because it is nice outside don’t give up the indoor classes,” said Newbegging. She said they help create a sense of community, bring focus, grounding and balance to outdoor actives.

Alexander decided to learn tennis this year and is using the winter/spring season to build a good base level.

“It’s good to try something new,” he said.

So what are things you can do to prepare for spring?

Ease into it, slowly pick up new habits, start introducing lighter foods into your diet, de-clutter your home and your emotional world at your pace and let go of things that have been weighing on your spirit and mind.

“Do what is right for you,” said Newbegging.

“If you don’t feel the urge to clean your house, or you are still stuck in a winter slump, don’t feel the need to fall into societal rounds.”

With warm weather comes more opportunity to get outside and spend more time in nature, which also has the added benefit of bettering mental health.

Gregory N. Bratman, a doctoral student at Stanford, found through his research that people who went for a 90-minute walk through a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination (repetitive thought focused on negative aspects of the self) compared to those that walked through urban environments.

It’s predicted that by 2050, 70 per cent of people will live in urban areas and that urbanization has been associated with increased levels of mental illness.

Calgarians are lucky enough to have access to a beautiful backyard, from the Alberta prairies to the Rocky Mountains, giving us the opportunity to enjoy spring to the fullest and improve our mental health at the same time.

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