Self Care for Advocates Presents, Self Care and Spring: New Beginnings

Self Care for Advocates Presents: 

Self Care and Spring: New Beginnings

Spring is universally associated with newness. A new season, as winter ends and we say goodbye to frigid temperatures and dreary weather. New growth, as plants begin to bloom and grow and in many cases whole landscapes can change to verdant green. The first day of Spring in 2024, coinciding with the Spring Equinox, will fall on March 19th/20th. Even the year feels like it’s still in its new phase, as we’ve barely put two months behind us since New Year’s Eve and many people take up resolutions in Spring instead of at the end of the calendar year. We’ve even marked the time to stand up and shake the dust off, in some cases literally, with the concept of Spring Cleaning. 

Today we’re going to take a look at what Spring means to people, and how that brings us new opportunities to practice self care. We’ll be providing links in this post, so don’t hesitate to learn more and always do your own research to fuel your self care journey. 

Many people are fascinated with the movements of celestial bodies and astronomy. Spring is heavily associated with its parent month, March, and is home to the Spring Equinox, when the sun returns to its highest point over the Equator. This will not happen again until September, and at that point the world is turning back toward the cold days of winter. March is also when Jupiter and Mercury are going to be at some of their most visible points in the night sky. With so many astronomical events, it is no wonder that astronomy and astrology can be a great source of self care for many people, and organizations like Astronomy for the Development of Mental Health exist. Many people take comfort in astronomy and astrology, and it’s a great choice this spring to find a new interest that serves our self care needs. 

To many people, Spring also carries with it enormous spiritual value. For those that follow Christianity, Spring is home to the Easter holiday, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This religious holiday has had a large impact on the secular landscape of the United States, and now serves as a largely cultural celebration. 

Easter can trace its origins and inspirations to many cultures. Saxon’s were known to bake a signature treat, hot cross buns, to honor their goddess Eostre. The four sections on the buns represented the four phases of the moon and the four seasons. This is also the origin of the iconic rabbit imagery associated with Easter. The rabbit symbolizes fertility and new life

To many, Halloween is closely followed by Easter in terms of access to sugary treats. We celebrate the beginning of spring with confections of all kinds, both store bought and homemade. Germany is the home of one of the most classic Easter traditions, the eating of chocolate bunnies! This was a popular practice that was then adopted around the world. You can enjoy spiritual or secular spring festivities, including these Bird’s Nest cookies right at home. 

Even in the virtual world, Easter and Spring make their mark. In the digital landscape of the video game, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons,” the latest in the globally impactful super series, “Animal Crossing,” Spring (for those players based in the Northern hemisphere), brings an end to Winter on the player’s islands. Each player is given an island to maintain as they see fit, welcoming cute anthropomorphic animal residents of all shapes, sizes and species. With the coming of Spring, that means that the snow on the island has melted and new flowers, bugs and fish begin to proliferate on the island. There is even a “Bunny Day” celebration in the month of March to celebrate the new season.

 Animal Crossing: New Horizons or ACNH has had a tremendous impact on people all over the world. Released in 2020 mere weeks before COVID19 shutdowns began, ACNH was a lifeline for people who found themselves quarantining at home. Though it has been four years, Animal Crossing’s ability to provide a space for mental well being and virtual socialization has not diminished. 

Rebecca Cano, of Metairie, LA was a self described latecomer to ACNH, and to the idea of video games in general. 

“I didn’t grow up playing video games, and I never really understood the appeal. Then, this past fall I bought a previously owned Nintendo Switch, and it just so happened to be the Special Edition ACNH model. I’d never even heard of this game before, and then after receiving [Animal Crossing] New Horizons for Christmas,” she laughs. But Rebecca quickly fell in love with the game, and the gorgeous little deserted island the game tasks her with maintaining. “It’s really about being able to go into this little world, and I can leave my worries behind. It’s been tremendous for my mental health. And I’ve learned so much from the community online. There’s always going to be toxic elements to fans of anything but, Animal Crossing has been a blessing in my life.” 

And Rebecca is far from alone in feeling that way. Researchers at the University of Maryland have noted that, “Since access to mental health care is difficult due to financial and geographical barriers, [we should] also promote the use of specialty games to fulfill Americans’ unmet counseling needs.” 

The Nintendo Switch has also been lauded for i’s more forgiving learning curve for those unaccustomed to using gaming controllers, and its robust security systems for both adults and children. 

Among the new ways we can implement healthier activities, there are those that we absolutely dread. For many their first thought is exercise, but right now we’re looking at how Spring inspires us to pick up another annoying yet essential practice. Namely, Spring Cleaning. 

Spring Cleaning can trace its origins all the way back to the Persian Empire. In Iran, the practice of  “khaneh tekani” or “shaking the house” coincides with the Persian New Year. In ancient Hebrew tradition, rigorous cleaning was commonplace before the celebration of Passover. Practitioners of Catholicism thoroughly cleaned the church altar and everything associated with it on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday, in March. 

“In North America and northern Europe, the custom found an especially practical value due to those regions’ continental and wet climates. During the 19th century in America, prior to the advent of the vacuum cleaner, March was often the best time for dusting because it was getting warm enough to open windows and doors (but not warm enough for insects to be a problem), and the high winds could carry the dust out of the house. This time of year is also when coal furnaces would not run and one could wash the soot from the walls and furniture left by the furnace.” 

Cleaning and maintaining can be one of the healthiest practices we have. Many people work from home or virtually, and cleaning our living spaces can have a profound impact on our mental well being regardless of how much time we are spending there. Spring can be a good time to institute new routines to better regulate how often we clean and maintain our homes, bodies and minds. 

It is beyond exciting to think about what new ways to practice self care can bring us this year, and this Spring is just the beginning. Keep supporting Self Care for Advocates, and our vital work to educate communities of Self Care and Burnout.  

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Andrea Patten

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