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20 ways to spring-clean your mind and body for a happier and healthier life

Mirror logo Mirror 10/03/2017 Caroline Jones

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1. Overhaul your gut health

The friendly gut bacteria which aid digestion can be depleted by a winter of stodgy processed food, too much alcohol and – if you’ve suffered one of the many seasonal infections around this year – a course of antibiotics.

Replenishing these bugs with a daily probiotic will see you step into spring with more energy and stronger immunity.

Registered nutritionist Rob Hobson advises taking a supplement containing both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria strains.

Try Healthspan Super20Pro (£17.95 from healthspan.co.uk ), and, he says, “add a few servings of prebiotic foods, such as onions, garlic, leeks and bananas, to your diet to ensure these healthy

bugs flourish”.

2. Sack off the sugar

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Sugar may be good for a short rush of energy, but if you want to beat fatigue, you should cut right back on the sweet stuff.

Rob suggests swapping sugar for more protein in the form of lean meat, fish, nuts and dairy, and filling up on the fibre found in fruit, veg and wholegrain carbs.

“This helps balance out blood sugar levels to avoid energy slumps and the urge to snack,” he explains.

“ Vitamins and minerals found in these foods will also top up your iron, magnesium and B vitamin levels – vital for good energy levels and restoring your va va voom!”

3. Boost your Vitamin D intake

GP Dr Sarah Brewer says of the nutrient which supports healthy teeth and bones, and boosts immunity: “As it’s made by the action of sun on our skin, our vitamin D levels are lowest in spring after the long, dark winter, so it’s important to give them a boost.

“Keep your levels topped up with a supplement and, once the sun is strong enough (usually after April), enjoy 15 minutes sun exposure without sunscreen to boost your levels naturally.”

Try BetterYou Dlux 1000, 25mg (£6.95, from betteryou.com ).

4. Give your ears an MOT

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TV’s Dr Hilary Jones warns: “Spring is the perfect time to schedule any routine medical checks, but while many of us see the optician and dentist regularly, few think about getting our hearing checked, yet hearing loss affects one in six of us –particularly as we enter our fifties and sixties.”

Get a free hearing check at hiddenhearing.co.uk

5. Sort out your sleep pattern

We expect to feel more energised in spring, but there’s a strong biological reason this doesn’t always happen.

Sleep expert Dr Craig Hudson explains: “Our brains are actually set to operate on a 24-and-a-half-hour cycle – not 24-hour. So when the clocks go back in autumn, we have an easier time as our brain prefers a longer day, but the ‘leap forward’ in spring is more difficult as we’re in effect shortening our natural day.”

Going to bed half-an-hour earlier can help redress the shortfall. Dr Hudson advises: “To get you in the mood for sleep, have a snack an hour before bed containing tryptophan, which the body turns into the sleep hormone melatonin that makes you drowsy.”

Good sources include a handful of nuts or try Restbites – specially blended pumpkin seed, oats and chocolate balls (£14.99 from zenbev.com ).

6. Spring-start your fitness

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“With the weather warming up, it’s the perfect time to head outdoors for your workout,” says personal trainer Nicola Addison

( eqvvs.com ).

Indeed, a recent US study found that people who exercised outside felt more energised and were more likely to repeat the experience. So whether it’s running, cycling or just walking with the family – get out and get moving!

7. Tackle troublesome teeth

“Pastel lip colours may be on trend this spring,” says dentist Uchenna Okoye ( londonsmiling.com ), “but they are particularly unforgiving if teeth look yellow. So give your smile an MOT by ditching brush heads or old toothbrushes, which should be changed every three months.

“And remember to use a straw for drinks other than water – as even ‘healthy’ smoothies and juices can destroy the enamel on our teeth and stain them.”

8. Be sure to ease the sneeze

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While spring is blooming beautiful, for many it means the start of hay fever season. “To reduce allergy symptoms, try adding spices to your cooking,” recommends nutritionist Frida Harju ( lifesum.com ).

“Not only will they make your food taste delicious and help speed up your metabolism to burn more calories, eating fresh garlic and ginger will act as a decongestant, reducing the inflammation that can lead to an allergic reaction.”

9. Sniff yourself happier

“Whether you want to lose weight or just adopt a healthier lifestyle, try this simple mindfulness trick to help motivate yourself,” suggests David Brodo, founder of self-improvement app Remente.

“Stand outside and focus on how warm the air feels, the smell of fresh grass and flowers, the sound of birdsong and how much more energised you feel.

“Actively engaging all the senses in this way will make you feel more present and positive about whatever you’re trying to achieve.”

10. Declutter your mind

“It’s the season to spring clean and declutter our homes, and the same principle can be applied to our minds,” says David Brodo.

“Even small things like streamlining your email and unsubscribing from irrelevant subscriptions can make your life feel a lot easier,” he suggests.

“Similarly, keeping a calendar of reminders and an effective to-do list at hand will stop you feeling overwhelmed.

“The more information you keep outside of the mind (in apps or calendars), the more decluttered and calm your mind will be.”

11. Laugh a minute

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“Laughter has been proven to help boost your immune system,” claims Dr Sarita Robinson, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Central Lancashire .

“So whether you choose to watch a comedy film or have a night out with fun friends, getting a few more giggles into your life could do wonders for your health.”

12. Try some animal magic

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“Pets are amazing for your psychological wellbeing ,” says Dr Sarita Robinson. “But if you can’t fit an animal into your life permanently, think about borrowing a dog from a friend once a week and taking it for a walk in the spring sunshine.”

Visit borrowmydog.co.uk to find local dogs that need walking or contact dogstrust.org.uk to register as a volunteer.

13. Go nuts

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“Almonds are not only crunchy and delicious, they’re really easy to include in your daily diet as a simple way to increase your nutrient intake,” says nutritionist Lucy Jones, from Channel 4 ’s Food Doctor.

“They’re particularly high in magnesium, a nutrient which reduces tiredness and fatigue, making a handful the perfect tasty snack to give yourself a spring energy boost.”

14. Bring music to your ears

If you’ve ever fancied strumming a guitar or playing the piano, then spring is a perfect time to book your first lesson.

“Learning and playing a musical instrument at any stage of life not only improves mental performance and memory – helping to ward off dementia – it also builds confidence, relieves stress, and creates a sense of achievement and satisfaction,” advises Dr Emer MacSweeney, medical director of Re:Cognition Health memory loss clinic.

15. Get mixing with others

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“Being in a sociable environment and mixing with others is a good way to stimulate the brain, keeping it agile, active and young,” argues Dr MacSweeney.

“Our brain needs exercise and challenges to keep it fit – just like any other part of the body, and research shows that fostering good friendships helps reduce anxiety and depression.”

16. Eat the seasonal offerings

“Make the most of the spring fruit and vegetables in season,” advises nutritionist Linda Foster. “Spring onions, spinach, Savoy cabbage, asparagus, broccoli and rhubarb are jam-packed with vitamins, minerals and iron, giving your body a much-needed boost after the dark winter months.

“To up your intake, aim to include fruit and veg at every mealtime, covering around 50% of your plate, and swap two meat-based meals a week for plant alternatives, for instance, nuts, beans, lentils or chickpeas.”

17. Beat the winter bloat

All that winter comfort food can leave us feeling bloated and uncomfortable, so steamline your tum.

“Great diuretics to expel excess water and help soothe the digestive track include sipping dandelion tea, adding asparagus to your dinner and using parsley at dinner time,” says Chris James, author of new book, Mind Body Cleanse (Penguin books, £14,99, from June).

18. Slather on the SPF

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“As soon as the weather warms up, wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen of at least SFP 30, which contains UVA and UVB protection, every day is the single most important thing you can do to prevent sun damage and skin cancer ,” says Dr Maryam Zamani, consultant oculoplastic surgeon at the Cadogan Clinic, London.

“Apply liberally, not forgetting the ears, chest or hands – and don’t forget to use a lip balm with added SPF too.”

19. Bathe in the woods

Enjoying the great outdoors can reduce depression and boost self-esteem, according to a study by Essex University.

Researchers found that a walk surrounded by nature lifted mood. Often called ‘forest bathing’, the practice of immersing yourself in green spaces can also lower blood pressure and boost the immune system .

To find details of local parks and woods, type your postcode in at visitwoods.org.uk.

20. Spring-clean your mind

Want to throw out some mental clutter? Try this simple brain technique from life coach Jerry Sargeant.

“When you wake up, sit on the edge of your bed, take 10 slow, deep breaths and sit there in silence,” he says. “Observe the thoughts entering your head. Be aware of your body and energy levels.”

Practised daily, Mr Sargeant promises it will stop the “constant stream of incessant thoughts clogging your brain and controlling your life, leaving you calmer and with more energy for spring”.

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