Cold and dreary winter days got you down? You could have a mild form of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Put a little spring back in your life by surrounding yourself with warm-weather aromas, flavors and sights. “There’s no question that esthetic changes can soothe the soul, at least temporarily,” says Dr. Michael Terman, a professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University and director of the Center for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms at Columbia University Medical Center. Read on for five expert-recommended — and healthy — ways to stimulate spring.
• Grow your garden: “You can start pansies, snapdragons, parsley, thyme, lettuce and garlic indoors and move them outside in March and April. If the ground isn’t frozen or saturated with water, put on the boots and gloves and get busy. Rake up debris that accumulates in your beds, as this reduces insects and disease. Then weed, turn your soil and add compost.” — Joe Ziccardi, Pennsylvania certified horticulturist
• Read your way to warmth: “When I think of spring, I think of baseball. And Steve Kluger’s The Last Days of Summer and William Kinsella’s Shoeless Joe, set among the cornfields of Iowa, are two that I try to reread every February or March. There are also some cozy mysteries that are garden-centered, including a whole series by Susan Wittig Albert. A good one to start with is Rosemary Remembered.” — Nancy Pearl, author of the Book Lust series and contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition
• Bring the outdoors in: “Decorating with crisp, clean and fresh elements is an instant mood-booster. If your pillows have warm, dark colors and heavy patterns, I’d replace them with soft, green shades that mimic the color of new growth, or coral, a grown-up alternative to pink. Feathery plants such as maidenhair ferns soften tabletops and look fresh. And incorporating natural elements like wood, wicker, and branches is a seasonless way to bring life into your home.” — Michelle Verdigets, ASID, interior designer and owner of MVM Interiors in New Orleans, Louisiana
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• Eat like it’s spring: “Spring fruits and vegetables like strawberries, asparagus, mangoes, broccoli, cabbage, spinach and mustard greens can be delicious when frozen. Frozen vegetables are highly nutritious because they are picked when the nutrients are at their peak, blanched to inactivate the enzymes that would help them deteriorate when stored over time and then immediately frozen. A great way to freshen up frozen vegetables in the winter is to add fresh herbs. Basil, parsley, cilantro and mint are all good choices, and you can grow them year round.” — Martica Heaner, Ph.D., nutritionist and food and fitness expert for MSN.com
• Sniff uplifting scents: “In our research, we’ve found that people particularly enjoy the scents of fresh air and flowers, and that these smells tend to remind them of the springs and summers of their childhoods. There’s no question that smells can have a positive impact on your mood, especially when you’re stuck inside and you surround yourself with aromas like these that remind you of being outdoors.” — Dr. Alan Hirsch, neurological director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, IL