This article originally appears in The New Daily (www.thenewdaily.com.au). It is reprinted here with permission.
Spring is the time when buds burst and the skies brighten – and spring cleaning hits households everywhere.
This time-honoured practice has a long history and has been traced back through several different cultures.
The Chinese like to sweep out any bad luck just before the Chinese New Year.
The Catholic Church cleans the church altar in preparation for Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday, which is start of Spring in the northern hemisphere.
Meanwhile, there is the ancient Jewish practice of cleaning the home in the lead-up to the memorial feast of Passover.
Today, non-denominational organisational experts including MaryAnne Bennie, author of From Stuffed to Sorted and the international best-seller Paper Flow, say humans have an innate need to reduce, renew and organise.
“Spring cleaning is a natural part of that process. Once the gloom of winter is over, spring’s blue skies and fresh air propel us into action,” Ms Bennie explains.
Here are some good places to start…
“Spring is all about the liver as it starts working harder to renew and replenish the body,” according to chef, clinical nutritionist and author Samantha Gowing.
She says the liver plays the role of digestive dishwasher – among many other tasks – so it’s important to eat foods which support its function.
“You need lots of bitter foods like watercress, alfalfa, artichokes, beets, onions and garlic. And keep the food you eat as simple and honest as possible.
“It’s about integrity. Keep it real,” she enthuses on the phone from her Byron Bay office.
“Lemon juice and warm water in the morning is the best start to the day, then a cleansing juice with beetroots, lemon, ginger, alfalfa sprouts, chilli and honey, will get your day underway.
“A salad with beetroot, fennel and orange is another terrific liver-cleansing dish.”
Liver-boosting ingredients make for perfect summer salads. Photo: Getty
During winter’s long, cold days it’s easy to become lazy in our melatonin-induced stupor, but now is the time to get outside.
Gerald Quigley, pharmacist, herbalist and media health commentator, stresses we use spring, not the new year, to look at the renewal of our health.
“Where do you want to be this time next year health-wise?” he asks.
He proffers research released last week by Health Australia 2016 that reveals 65 per cent of Australians are living with at least one chronic disease. It would seem we are hardly ‘the lucky country’.
Quigley cites the fact that experts around the world, in particular the United States, believe that a Vitamin D deficiency is linked to chronic disease.
Quigley is a huge fan of the Mediterranean Diet, which has three foundations – good food, exercise and a wide social network.
“We are living longer but not better. Get outside in the sunshine and connect with nature. Do some gentle exercise – best done with friends – eat properly, including regular dairy – I’ve never seen a low-fat cow,” he quips.
“But most importantly get outside.” Don’t forget your hat and some sunscreen.
Having a picnic with friends is the perfect way to get some Vitamin D and have some fun. Photo: Getty
When it’s cold and wet outside, it’s easy to binge on Netflix and over-indulge in social media so now is time to rewrite the rules.
From adults to screenagers, we all need to ‘drop out’ from the constant bombardment of emails, phone calls and social media with a digital detox.
Begin simply by switching off all electronica at meal times, according to Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, child, adolescent and family psychologist.
“Next, turn off the phone and get down on the floor with your kids and ask them about their day. Set aside time to do this every day,” he urges.
Adults too. Time needs to be set aside for communication each day. Couples should never take their phones or computers to bed.
“Bad idea,” says Dr Carr-Gregg.
He advises all electronica be kept in a room away from bedrooms and once docked should be left there to charge overnight.
“Limits need to be set. Two hours a day is the maximum amount of screen time adolescents should be getting yet the research shows they are checking their phones 56 times a day.”
Ditch the phones to get some real talk. Photo: Getty
Spring into Yoga
Yoga’s benefits are well documented and spring is the perfect time to try a class or deepen your practice.
Melbourne’s The Retreat Yoga Studio Founder Pru Trundle says that from a yoga perspective, spring is a time for renewal, for new beginnings.
“We see the world around us start to blossom and bloom and when we pay attention we feel the energy within us doing the same,” she explains.
“Spring is an opportunity to let go of what is no longer serving us with the intention, to create space for what will.”
Take up yoga and perfect your downward-facing dog. Photo: Getty
Get outta town
Early bird airfares become available from September through to November. So now is the time to book your overseas trip for travel from now until July next year.
“You can save a lot of money booking in this period,” says Val Galanou, Personal Travel Manager at Travel Managers Australia.
“Agents, not the internet, get a lot of inside information and can jiggle things to get the best possible travel deals for you.
“Know your dates and where you want to go and book now. If you don’t know where to go, I can highly recommend Vancouver and the west coast of Canada.”
Hit the road. Photo: Getty
Don’t forget your four-legged friends
According to Australia’s leading animal expert Laura Vissaritis, flea and tick treatment is essential at this time of year.
“Dogs will start to present with allergies and we believe that this may be one of the worst allergy seasons because of all the rain,” she says.
“So for those dogs who are prone, avoid areas with high grasses, wash dogs in products that are allergy-relieving and non-irritating and if need be, ask your vet for an antihistamine medication to alleviate the symptoms.”
Dogs need a fresh start too. Photo: Getty