Spring into Summer with Dr Hilary’s top tips

Guest post by

Dr Hilary Jones

Manuka Doctor is proud to have a long-standing association with TV’s Dr Hilary Jones. Now as part of his busy schedule, Dr Hilary will be writing a guest blog for this website every month.

Author views are not our own.

This coming weekend marks the first day of Spring (20th March) where we can look forward to longer days, more time outside and hopefully some warmer weather!

Some of us may be emerging from a semi-hibernation state over the Winter. As Covid guidelines have rightly prevented us from venturing too far from home, and not everybody will have been able to take up the daily exercise that was available.

So how can you get a spring in your step with the new season?

Here are some simple tips and advice on how to have a healthier Spring.

1. Get outside for some Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones and in this country we get most of what we need from sunlight exposure starting around late March to the end of September.

We also get some vitamin D from a small number of foods, including oily fish, as well as red meat and eggs but at this time of the year, it really is good for you to get some natural sunlight.

It's not known exactly how much time is needed in the sun to make enough vitamin D to meet the body's requirements, because there are a number of factors that can affect how vitamin D is made, such as your skin colour or how much skin you have exposed.

But most people can make enough vitamin D from being out for a stroll with their face, forearms, hands or lower legs uncovered and without sunscreen for short periods of time.

As Spring turns into Summer, you should clearly be careful not to burn in the sun, so take care to cover up or protect your skin with sunscreen before your skin starts to turn red or burn.

2. Watch your posture

A cosy Winter spent indoors catching up on the TV or speaking to friends online may have affected your posture.

Very often just thinking about how you are holding your head and shoulders can bring good improvements.

If you work at a desk and chair, remember to keep your back straight and relax your shoulders. They’ll naturally fall towards your back which will in turn bring your chin up. You can try this right now as you’re reading if you like, it’s how your body would prefer to be and as well as being better for your muscles, it just feels a lot more natural.

Remember, everything about your body from the head down is designed to move. And you can trick yourself into doing this more. Walk around the house while on the phone, or put your laptop on something higher than your desk to encourage you to stand while you work.

And now the light is here for longer, try and use the early evening hours in an active way. If you’ve got a garden, now is the time to commit to spending a few hours a week so you can enjoy it fully this Summer. Use your knees to bend down rather than bending your back, and remember to breath deeply as you potter around. I bet you will feel good for having done it!

3. Think about your sleep

We all know a good night’s sleep makes you feel refreshed, but how often are you getting a really good one? Well, with a little bit of thought and effort you can train yourself to sleep better.

The light from TVs and screens in the bedroom have been found to disrupt sleeping patterns, so give yourself a set time to begin your wind down and turn off your devices. You should also try and go to bed at the same time every day so your body gets used to the pattern.

Relaxation is also very important. Have a warm bath, listen to a podcast or music or do some light yoga to relax your mind and body.

Try not to eat right before bed, but a drink is fine as long as it’s not caffeinated or alcoholic. While alcohol will initially help you to fall asleep, it will disrupt your sleep pattern later in the night. Some people say a warm drink helps, with milk, cocoa, honey and lemon all common things to try.

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