Spring is upon us. Have you noticed? Suddenly the world outside is vibrant & alive with gorgeous green foliage. It’s overflowing with flower buds and sunshine is finally starting to prevail!
Spring is when we pack away our heavy winter coats and stop to smell the roses. But if you experience seasonal allergies, spring can also mean itchy eyes and endless sneezes & sniffles!
The good news? You don’t have to settle for artificial turf and fake flowers. Here are some simple tips to help you manage your allergies and greet spring with a happy heart instead of watery eyes!
What are seasonal allergies…?
A seasonal allergy is when our body’s immune system identifies things like grasses, weeds, tree pollen, or molds as harmful foreign invaders and responds inappropriately.
One of the most common triggers is pollen. Pollen is at its peak in spring which is why so many people can experience a flare-up of pesky allergy symptoms at this time of year.
Let’s take a look at the allergic response process. We’ll pretend, for a moment, that pollen is a trigger for you.
This is the basic process of an allergic response regardless of your individual trigger – it could be dust mites, mold spores, certain foods or even animal hair. It’s not much fun. So how can we curb these symptoms and embrace the beauty of spring? Read on to find out!
Tips to reduce your symptoms & enjoy the changing seasons…
1. Don’t stress it
Stress can influence our allergic responses. Often when we’re stressed we can react badly to various allergens and then come into contact with them when we’re feeling happy and relaxed and not react at all (or a lot less severely). A wonderful way to reduce symptom severity then is to actively promote and prioritise relaxation in your life! Make time for things that help you feel calm and nourished. This will increase your buffer when stressful situations arise. Remember you’re worth it! Try learning ways to work with stressful situations too. Are there steps you can take to change or remove the stressors in your life and alleviate some pressure? If not, can you make peace with the stressful person/situation – stop resisting, accept and let it be?
As a gentle & holistic healing modality, aromatherapy can form a beautiful part of stress management. So it also has the potential to help with allergy management. Look to essential oils that are calming and soothing to you. Some good options include lavender and chamomile which are said to have a relaxing effect on body and mind. Diffuse, inhale or use them in a compress or bath to enjoy some peace and calm.
2. Identify your Triggers
You can also ease those sniffles and sneezes by identifying your triggers and minimising contact with them. Triggers can be identified via testing, but also by becoming aware of your body and how it reacts after exposure to certain things. A diary can be helpful in tracking this. (If you do decide to have allergy tests done, it’s best to have them done just before allergy season begins).
If pollen is a known trigger, try to minimise outdoor activities when pollen counts are at their highest (generally between 5 and 10 am & again at dusk). If possible, delegate lawn mowing and gardening.
It also helps to give your home a thorough (and natural!) spring clean 1-2 weeks before allergy season rears its congested head! Make your home a toxin-free haven by using earth-friendly cleaners (See our Cleaning your Home Naturally post for natural cleaning recipes & tips!).
Given how much time we spend indoors now, the quality of air inside our home is also really important. But unfortunately, it can be super polluted – even more-so than the air outside! Never fear though, there is a simple and affordable way to purify the air in your home or office – house plants.
Plants are powerful air cleaners that naturally remove pollutants like formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene from your home. A study by NASA on this revealed Peace Lily to be the perfect air cleaner. Other lovely choices include Aloe Vera, spider plant, snake plant, Boston fern and bamboo. (* Though it may seem quite contradictory, research definitely supports the benefits of house plants and allergies. However, if you find you are reacting adversely we advise against continued use).
You can also use an air purifier for an extra boost. It’s a good idea to clean the air filters in your home regularly too and use a damp cloth to bust any dust on ceiling fans, behind beds and cupboards and any other places where it tends to accumulate. Vacuuming more regularly during spring also helps, and if needed try using hypoallergenic covers for pillows and mattresses.
3. Build Immune Integrity
Avoiding your triggers is a great place to start. However, to truly address your allergies we should look at the underlying cause. Incessant allergies can be a sign that your immune system is in overdrive and lacking resilience. So it’s important to prioritise the integrity of your immune system. When nourishing and strengthening your immune system, a multifaceted approach is always best!
So what is the key to incredible immunity? An optimised diet, adequate rest & relaxation and intestinal integrity.
Did you know that approximately 80% of your immune system is in your gut? Good digestive health and strong immunity then go hand in hand. For healthy digestion, work on healing and sealing your gut. Look to probiotic and prebiotic rich whole foods like coconut yoghurt, kombucha, miso, kimchi, garlic, apples, onion and asparagus. Also, opt for unprocessed, locally grown or organic foods and those rich in immune-boosting vitamin D.
Eliminating inflammatory foods like refined sugars, grains and dairy while boosting your intake of anti-inflammatory foods such as flaxseed, walnuts, sweet potato and broccoli is also really beneficial. Vitamin C helps reduce the amount of histamine in your blood. Because histamine triggers allergic responses, the less histamine you have the less likely you are to experience allergic symptoms! So dose up on vitamin C-rich foods too!
Aromatherapy can help with immunity as well! Lemon essential oil, in particular, is said to have immune-stimulating properties. This means it has the potential to stimulate the production of white blood cells. Eucalyptus is a known decongestant. Diffuse it to help clear the air and your head.
To help your immune system by creating a fresh, clean environment, try spritzing around some Breathing Space Room Spray.
4. Aroma Assistance…
Want to help reduce uncomfortable allergy symptoms even further? Diffuse essential oils with expectorant (mucus expelling), anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties!
German Chamomile – it’s a beautiful antihistamine and anti-inflammatory oil.
Sandalwood & Cedarwood – offers anti-inflammatory and soothing effects when inhaled.
Frankincense – has expectorant properties – it dries up mucus membranes and opens up the airways.
If you’re experiencing redness and inflammation around the nose, try popping on some Beautiful Baby Bottom Balm, which will help reduce redness and discomfort with its calming and restorative blend of calendula, shea butter, lavender and German chamomile.
You can also try spritzing Soothe Fine Tuning Solution over your face (with eyes closed) to help reduce redness and irritated eyes.
Dab some Breathe Easy Blend onto a tissue or hanky and inhale from it as often as needed to enjoy the purifying & decongesting effects of pure pine, eucalyptus, lemon and peppermint essential oils.