Waking up to spring

Since the Germany-wide sun flood at the end of March at the latest, I think we all have spring on our minds. My walking route is now lined with crocus meadows, where there was still snow a few weeks ago, daffodils, where mud puddles had spread and the sun can be seen more and more often. It is much easier for me to concentrate again, I am in a better mood and I notice more and more how much more energy I have left at the end of a working day.

And while I was recently doing my rounds through the living room with the vacuum cleaner to Whitney Houston’s “I wanna dance with somebody”, the question came into my head, what is actually going on in my body, that I’m from a couch potato living in yoga pants I’ve mutated into a karaoke cleaning fairy dancing uninhibitedly. Look familiar to you? Then this is where it gets interesting!


We’ve all probably come across melatonin and serotonin, at least by name. But here again a little recap of the chemistry lesson: Melatonin is a sleep hormone, serotonin is a neurotransmitter, i.e. a messenger substance that has a mood-enhancing effect. And then testosterone comes into play, the male sex hormone is increasingly released in the spring, which increases the desire for completely different activities than living room dance sessions. If you are wondering what happens to the ladies: Unfortunately, mother (hormone) nature did not put such jokes in our cradle, but there are still enough studies that show that women also have an increased libido in spring. But let’s be honest: do we really need studies to find out, or do we trust our own experiences? Just saying …

But back to the point: Spring increases the desire for physical contact. In addition, the increased sunlight suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin, which really boosts our metabolism. In addition, the sun’s rays cause the messenger substance serotonin to be released more, which can even trigger a real euphoria. The result of this wonderful interaction: We are more active, more energetic, feel better and develop an affinity for 80s dance music (or is it just me?).


How does nutrition play a role in this?

From a holistic perspective, several studies have already shown that the brain and our digestive system are in close contact with one another. What we ingest affects our bacterial landscape in the intestines, and these in turn affect what happens in our brain. So it goes in one direction, but it goes the same way in the other direction; an interaction. When we are stressed, for example, it changes the bacteria in our digestive tract, which in turn affects our entire metabolism AND our brains again. A simple example that we probably all know: We are stressed by exams, deadlines or the general workload and more often feel like something sweet or greasy, something with which we reward ourselves for enduring the stress. Very dangerous! Because: Sugar or fried foods have the exact opposite effect. We pretend that we are rewarded while we actually expose ourselves to stress and, in the long term, even depression and other negative phenomena.

Realistically speaking, however, completely removing the variable stress from life is not really feasible. But how we react to this can be changed with relatively simple means. A balanced diet is essential: lots of vegetables, pulses, fruit, only a few, but wholesome grains, avoiding sugar and other sweeteners as much as possible, replacing bad fats with good ones, but in moderation – keyword nuts and olive oil. Fermented foods such as kimchi, miso or tempeh are also a great support for the microbiome in our digestive system, as they are rich in probiotics. These mood-lifting nutritional advice also have a very positive effect on our skin!

Crocus meadows

Sun / daylight

We have already learned that the sun gets a lot going in our body. Endorphins are released, serotonin becomes more active, we feel relaxed and happier. However, the sun is responsible for the production of a very essential substance: vitamin D. We normally know that we take in vitamins through our diet, such as vitamin C. With vitamin D, however, the body produces it itself and for that he needs sunlight. So what exactly is going on? The sun shines on our skin, where the cholesterol is converted into provitamin D. This hormone is then transported to the liver via the blood, where it is finally stored as vitamin D3 or passed on to other organs. A healthy liver is therefore a prerequisite for us to be able to produce this important vitamin naturally. All the more reason to rethink your own diet accordingly.
Because this vitamin does a lot for our body! It supports bone formation, which is of course particularly important in children, and plays a key role in our immune system. A sufficient supply is therefore more relevant in the current pandemic than it has been for a long time. The positive properties of this powerhouse vitamin don’t stop there. It supports the health of mother and child during pregnancy and shows a certain preventive protection against colon and breast cancer in particular.

So a lack of vitamin D is not only bad, it can also be harmful. It has even been researched that a lack of sunlight, and thus also vitamin D, favors some forms of depression. Pretty illuminating when you look at the information.

With all the sun worshipping, I would also like to warn of the risks. It’s no secret and everyone here is probably aware that the sun’s rays can also be very dangerous as they can cause skin cancer if left unprotected for too long. How long this is exactly is very individual and depends heavily on your own skin, so it can be 10 minutes, or even 20 or maybe even more. In general, it is recommended to go into the sun for a few minutes three times a week with your arms, legs and face free.If you want to know exactly whether enough vitamin D is getting into the body, you should do a blood test. No matter how weak or strong the pigmentation of the skin is: Sunscreen should definitely be used after a few minutes of refueling with vitamin D, preferably before you notice the first slight reddening. Then it’s best to go into the shade and apply lots of lotion, because yes, UV radiation can also reach the shade!


The active lifestyle

I know, especially in winter, it’s just difficult to get out of bed, off the couch or generally back into real life, but that’s the crux of the matter: movement. In 2020, walking and running has become a popular sport and, at least according to my observations, has held up pretty well in the top 3 lockdown activities – even in winter! I think we were all at the point where we couldn’t see any more banana bread, yoga and meditation sessions either in the Instagram feed or in our own kitchen.

Now that I have dealt in-depth with what spring triggers in our body and how it gets into our heads, I am firmly convinced that walking (or even jogging for the more ambitious) in the fresh air was some people’s safety line to keep us mentally sane. Or what do you think? Just go outside, see something other than your own four walls, ideally enjoy nature or the urban architecture, get your limbs going, start up the cycle and and and.

Of course, it is no longer so difficult for us to move around and to lead a more active life now, in spring, especially when the sun is shining and we are already scratching the 25 degree mark in March. Let’s try to maintain this motivation, because there are guaranteed to reappear days when the cloudy skies, you count the raindrops on the window panes and debate with yourself whether or not you should get up to go to the toilet or if one can last a few more minutes. So, even if it is difficult: Let’s stick with the exercises, and that at any time of the year!

Chin up and smell the spring in the air

The eyes slowly get used to the bright colours that gradually appear in meadows, in flower beds and in public places in the form of spring plants. But nature speaks to more than just one sense of sight. The sense of smell is just as happy! “Spring is in the air”, who doesn’t know this phrase? The fresh, flowery and fragrant smells cheer up and ensure that we can breathe freely again. So let’s get outside and out off to the apartment.  And enjoy the fresh air and the flowery smell. And open those windows – ventilate, ventilate, and ventilate!

This tip may not be particularly suitable for allergy sufferers. All those who tend to deal with blocked noses, watery eyes and shortness of breath during this time have to be careful. The following applies here: Depending on which pollen is critical here, or whether you live in the city or in the country, different times apply when it is best to open the windows. Pollution levels are higher in urban areas in the evening and in rural areas in the morning. If you want to be extra careful, you can attach mosquito nets in front of the windows. Incidentally, they also keep uninvited spider guests out of the house, a win-win situation. For more relaxed nights, it is recommended to ventilate the bedroom accordingly and only go to bed with washed hair to keep the pollen away from the pillow.
You don’t have to do without the wonderful spring scent completely. Fill your vases with fresh flowers, decorated with indoor daffodils or if you like the extra intense dose of spring: hyacinths! Bring spring into your house and it will find its way into your mind and onto your skin!

But if all the springtime fails, create a playlist with songs that are real mood boosters for you (Hello 80ies), crank it up, grab the vacuum cleaner, mop or whatever cleaning tool you prefer, and really get started. Guaranteed to raise the mood and if not, you will at least have a clean apartment in the end – and if that doesn’t make your heart beat faster, then I don’t know what to do next.

With this in mind: Happy Spring Time! And in Whitney’s words: “Still enough time to figure out how to chase my blues away… Oh, I wanna dance with somebody!”

Enjoy the catchy tune!

Longer days and beautiful nights