It’s that time of year again! We’re drawing closer to the official first day of spring, and after slogging through February, it feels great to have more options for self-care. Here are some ideas for making the most of your March:

March Madness

Okay, no, we’re not suggesting that sitting in front of the TV and stressing about your team’s performance is a great lifestyle choice. We do think a low-stakes bracket with friends and family can create a fun environment—socializing is good for our health. We also think that many people glued to their screens haven’t touched a basketball in weeks (if not months, or even years). Why not give it a try? You don’t have to have a proper court, or play a full game, to have a great time. Even just dribbling up and down a neighborhood driveway and shooting into a cheap hoop provides a cardio workout. If you convince more people to join, you could create a mini March Madness bracket with a tournament of Horse.   

If you reside in the Great White North and it remains too chilly to go outside, many rec centers, schools, and churches have basketball courts available for public use.

Saint Patrick’s Day

Again, no, we aren’t suggesting that the most common St. Patrick’s Day activity fits nicely with a healthy lifestyle (in fact, we recommend enjoying your Guinness in moderation). Also, definitely prepare for any travel by finding a designated driver or a ride service. But there are other ways to celebrate!

Instead of the usual corned beef and cabbage, try making a lower-sodium version found here. But, did you know that the Irish prefer eating bacon or lamb for Saint Patrick’s Day? I found a fascinating article from the Smithsonian magazine delving into the origins of the “traditional” meal (amazing how much immigrant experience can affect culture). If you want a more “Old World” meal, try any of the other healthy Irish recipes EatingWell features! They even include a recipe for gluten-free soda bread.

Saint Patrick’s Day also has a fun form of exercise to try. Most people know about Riverdance, a popular Irish dancing show, but did you know that Irish step dance began as a simple social dance? Legend has it that in the days of occupation, the British forbade dancing. To resist, the Irish developed a dance that held the arms and upper body perfectly still, leading to the name of “step dancing.”

People around the world learn how to step dance, and you can too! It takes practice, but Irish folk dance at its most basic only involves hopping and skipping. If you want to try, start with the basics from Riverdance star Jean Butler. You can learn an easy jig here , or an old, traditional social dance here.

Gardening

This depends somewhat on weather, but you can do a lot with a garden in the middle of March. Gardening is wonderful for your health. I don’t have many gardening skills, but being outside, working hard, and focusing on something that gives you pride does wonders for both physical and mental health. For those of you who have green thumbs, or want to try, Costa Farms has some recommendations for what to do with an early-spring garden.

For people without space for a garden, try gardening on a smaller scale! Indoor herb gardens require less work than the outdoor kind. This means that you won’t get as much exercise, but a herb garden does give you some fresh seasonings to add to healthy meals. It’s still a win!