Spring has sprung

Ready to do some spring cleaning?
Ready to do some spring cleaning?

Now that spring is here the flowers are blooming, the days are longer, the temperatures are mild, and everything feels new. In Southern California we know when spring has arrived. In the eastern and northern states where there are truly 4 seasons, the arrival of spring is much more dramatic. I was born and raised in Pennsylvania so I do remember how wonderful it was when spring arrived. Even though it has been many moons since I lived in Pennsylvania, I still appreciate the arrival of spring. It is my favorite season of the year. (Although, when I was growing up on PA, I sure loved the fall as well.)

What do you things do you associate with the coming of spring? Easter? Longer days? Spring fever? Spring cleaning? We’ll talk about the benefits of spring cleaning. But for some people, there is downside to the blooming of all the plants. Those people who suffer from seasonal allergies might not enjoy the blooms as much as people who don’t start sneezing. It is estimated that 40 million Americans are affected by seasonal allergies. Sometimes, the sufferer has dark rings under the eyes, a clogged or runny nose, and wheezing.

What can seasonal allergy sufferers do to make the season a little less sniffly? Let’s look. Remember, that everyone’s allergies are unique. Identify the triggers that cause your sneezing and wheezing. Your doctor can help you figure out what the offending agents are. This allows you to notice where they are and avoid them when possible. Some seasonal “allergies” are not caused by pollen or mold. These are the typical cause of springtime suffering. Non-allergic rhinitis acts like hay fever, but comes and goes with humidity and temperature changes. These don’t respond to allergy treatments.

Think about getting treatment. Some doctors may suggest a treatment called immunotherapy. This involves injecting gradual doses of allergens into the blood- stream. I remember doing these injections on patients at one of the clinics where I worked. Each vial of allergen was specifically formulated to the individual patient and they were given at least weekly with gradual strength in dose increases. We’d keep them a while after their shots to make sure they didn’t have an anaphylactic reaction. By starting small and increasing the strength, the immune system has a chance to adjust to the allergen.

Decongestants and antihistamines can help reduce the symptoms. As allergy sufferers know, these aren’t permanent cures. Don’t use for extended lengths of time. Some nasal sprays may stop allergic reactions by giving the nasal membranes a protective coating. Sometimes, Mother Nature has some treatments of her own, even if nature is causing the problems. Supplements that contain quercetin and Vitamin C have been found helpful in fighting symptoms.

Some people feel a little more energetic when it spring arrives on the scene. More energy, more willingness to get things done. Think about spring cleaning, for example. When I was growing up spring cleaning meant my dad was out on the ladder changing the storm windows out. The furnace was cleaned and turned down. We went through our closets and got rid of things as well as cleaning the house deeply from top to bottom. The heavy winter blankets made way for the cotton sheets and the light chenille bedspreads. I am happy to say that I didn’t live in the time when there were coal stoves and spring cleaning meant rolling some goop up and down the wallpaper to get the soot off. Not my kind of fun.

Here are some things we can do that doesn’t involve rolling goop up and down the wallpaper. Open the windows. Sweep under the refrigerator. Dust away the cobwebs. Toss out old newspapers and magazines. Not only will you be able to find things easier that have been hidden under old piles, but there are health benefits. I am not kidding.

Clutter actually can make stress work. The more messy a place is, the harder it is to focus or relax. Clutter is a reflection of the chaos in your life. Who needs to compound the chaos in their lives? Cleaning and tidying can clear your home of things you really don’t need and will help simplify your life. And what if the things you are getting rid off are in good enough shape to donate to a thrift store or give to a shelter? Double the blessings, right? My children are tired of hearing me talk about Feng shui, which is the Chinese practice of harmonizing your home.
Need ideas? Put some decorative pieces on an end table, etc., where you would otherwise toss mail, keys, and junk. Have a place for those items. Then you won’t spend frustrating time searching for something. Clean out your fridge once a month at least. Keep halls and staircases clear of clutter. No trips, no falls, no ugly. Make your bed everyday and don’t use it as a place to stockpile clothing, etc.

Light physical activity such as cleaning eases tension in your muscles and provides some aerobic benefits. As you reach into crevices, bend down to scrub the tub, vacuum, etc., you are actually using many muscles and circulating blood to the brain. This promotes mental clarity. (I am going to have to use this strategy on my children and myself to get us motivated to clean. We’re not slobs, but seriously, who wants to clean out a toilet?)

As the saying goes, cleanliness is next to godliness. You may not sprout angel’s wings because there are no dust bunnies under your bed and couch, you are making life a little more infection and germ free.
PS – don’t forget to get your heating and AC units serviced to cut down on toxins, mold, and dust when it isn’t in use.

Make this your new mantra – Spring Cleaning is fun and a great way to enjoy calm and health benefits. Anyone have a toilet scrub brush available?

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