These natural, easy, and powerful strategies deliver feel-great side effects times two!
Flowers: Boost Happy + Cure Colds
Taking a few minutes each day to enjoy spring blooms — like lilacs and peonies — could boost your happiness by 65 percent. Explains Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, the sight and aroma of flowers slashes the production of stress-inducing cortisol, plus boosts your brain’s production of the antidepressant hormone serotonin.
Bonus: Serotonin spikes energize virus-killing immune cells, cutting recovery time from spring colds by 30 percent if you enjoy “flower power” daily!
Cool Rubs: Nix Knee Pain + Squash Diet-Sabotaging Cravings
Nice weather means more time spent on outdoor activities, doubling the risk of knee inflammation and pain. The good news: Canadian researchers say you can cut achiness by 60 percent in 10 days with twice-daily massages using wintergreen oil (just mix 8 drops into 2 Tbsp. of lotion). Credit a wintergreen comound (methyl salicylate) that relaxes tight muscles and calms overactive pain nerves.
Bonus: The minty smell of wintergreen oil can eliminate cravings for 90 minutes.
Pesto: Speeds Slimming + Rejuvenates Skin
We’ve shed warm pants for cute shorts and would love to shed winter water retention and puffiness too! To release up to 1 pound of trapped fluids weekly, enjoy a few tablespoons of pesto daily. Stanford University researchers say the healthy fats in pine nuts and the vitamin K in leafy greens, like basil, ramp up your liver’s ability to flush out bloat-triggering toxins and fluids.
Bonus: A daily dose of plant fats and vitamin K encourages skin healing, helping you look up to five years younger.
Pine Bark: Stops Sniffles + Lowers Blood Pressure
If spring pollen makes you miserable, taking 100 mg. of Pycnogenol daily can cut your symptoms by up to 50 percent, suggests research in the journal Panminerva Medica. Study co-author Gianni Belcaro, MD, says the pine bark extract is a natural anti-histamine, plus it reduces airway inflammation and bronchial spasms.
Bonus: Pycnogenol relaxes arteries to trim up to five points off your blood pressure.
Stargazing: Deepens Sleep + Tames Tension
Until your brain adjusts to longer days, that extra light exposure doubles the risk of restless sleep. Thankfully, Cornell University researchers say by relaxing outside for 10 minutes before bed can improve sleep quality by 55 percent and add 40 minutes to your slumber, since looking at a starry sky while inhaling fresh night air boosts the production of sleep inducing melatonin.
Bonus: Scientists say the strategy can cut tension by 65 percent.
T-Shirts: Up Energy + Banish Back Pain
Summer fun is right around the corner, yet 80 percent of us still feel winter-weary and blah. To increase your energy by 60 percent, step outside 20 minutes daily — ideally, while wearing a short-sleeved shirt so your arms can soak up the sun’s rays. According to Boston University scientists, UV light prompts the release of the energizing hormone dopamine.
Bonus: A daily dose of sun boosts the production of painkilling endorphins, cutting back pain risk by as much as 67 percent.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.