Keep allergy symptoms at bay during nature walks this spring.

Keep allergy symptoms at bay during nature walks this spring.

Daffodils and crocuses are just beginning to bloom. The sun is bright, and all types of pollen are swirling through the air. Spring, Mother Nature’s most difficult season for many allergy sufferers, is upon us.

 But there’s no need to let your fear of sneezing and sniffling keep you indoors during this lovely time of year. Here are a few allergy fixes to try out this weekend and over the next few weeks:

Time your nature walks. One of life’s greatest joys is strolling on a gorgeous spring day and turning your face toward the sun, unless of course you’re sneezing every 30 seconds along the way.

 Pollen counts are highest in the early morning and the evening, so some experts suggest scheduling outdoor activities between 2–3 p.m. The other great time to venture out is on a rainy day. Rain clears pollen from the air.

 Calm your nerves. You guessed it. Stress — the culprit that seems to exacerbate nearly every health problem — also increases the frequency of allergic reactions. New research from Ohio State University reports that people with higher levels of stress and more “negative moods” have more allergy flares.

Stress is an inevitable part of life, so find ways to cope. Meditation and prayer are wonderful stress busters, but if you are really under pressure, consider counseling or therapy. It also helps to spend time with positive, agreeable people. Steer clear of folks that drive you nuts.

Pick up some natural relief. If you have mild-to-moderate allergies, browse the vitamin shop aisle this weekend for these supplements. Some studies have shown that the herb stinging nettle reduces allergy symptoms. European studies have found that butterbur may work as well as some antihistamines, but be sure to purchase a brand that is labeled “PA-free” (this means the pyrrolizidine alkaloids have been removed), such as Swanson Vitamins or Petadolex, to avoid side effects.

The flavanoid quercetin may also reduce the release of histamines and other chemicals in the body that contribute to allergy symptoms.

Filter out triggers: Do a little spring cleaning. Change your air conditioner and furnace filters. Replace them with filters that have a MERV (efficiency) rating of 8 to 12 to make sure you’re doing your best to keep pollen and other allergy triggers out of your indoor air. Once you have your new filter in place, use your air conditioner, not a window fan, to keep indoor allergens to a minimum

Sleep clean: End your day with a quick, relaxing shower to remove the day’s pollen deposits (they’re  there, even if you can’t see them) from your skin and hair before you climb into bed. You’ll sleep deeper and breathe easier all night.

 About Fierce Fridays — Tips for Weekend Well-Being

We each cherish those precious days off at the end of the week, but increasingly those of us who are charter members of the sisterhood of the stressed and overworked are losing our Saturday and Sunday leisure time to weekend work and domestic duties.

To make sure that you do something every weekend that’s just for you, we’ll be sharing a little advice to make those 48 hours a great time to recharge your batteries, bring a little good news into your life or discover a quick and easy way to improve your health.