Can you feel it? Spring is most definitely in the air. The temperatures are beginning to rise, the sun’s rays are beginning to regain their strength, and you can start to think of leaving the house without five additional layers of clothing. Well, almost.

But what of the other signs of spring? The blossoming trees, the flowers poking their colorful heads above the earth…the sight of them may do wonders for your mood but, if you’re an allergy sufferer, they’ll play havoc with your respiratory system.

So many people report allergy symptoms, including breathing difficulties, coughing, sneezing and the puffy, itchy, watery eyes that can make this beautiful time of year an absolute misery. If you’re feeling well-rested after the human version of winter hibernation (you know, plenty of rest, lots of self-care, nourishing your body with warming, nutritious foods), you may just be ready to face the allergy onslaught. But for many of us, we already feel depleted before the first spring flower emerges. We’re hot on the heels of cold and flu season, we’ve subjected our bodies to harsh post-holiday detox regimes, or we’ve been pushing ourselves to too hard at the gym after making overly-ambitious New Year’s Resolutions.

Are you ready to spring into spring?

What with the baby birds chirping in the trees and the bare trees suddenly bursting with new color, it’s tempting to view spring as a new beginning, a time to jump head first into new experiences and set new goals.

But slow down for a minute and ask yourself, “Am I actually ready?” The flowers and trees have been slumbering peacefully during the winter — they’re replenished and full of the natural energy they need to burst forth. Can you say the same thing?

If not, don’t worry. It isn’t too late to strengthen and prepare your body to help it fight off the worst of the allergy symptoms. There are several strategies you can add to your allergy toolbox to help you finally enjoy this beautiful season.

1. Entertain the possibility of change.

The first thing I want you to do is to open your mind to the possibility that things could be different. It’s easy to despair if you’ve been suffering with allergy symptoms for years — the discomfort has become the new normal. Equally, if you believe that allergies run in your family, it’s hard to be positive. But the problem with the “it’s genetic” and the “I’ve always had allergies” arguments is that they take away your power. Take it from me (a former allergy sufferer!) you do have power; there is always the potential for change.

2. Make time for self-care.

You’ll likely find that your allergies are worse if you’re feeling less-than-sparkly in general. If you’ve viewed winter as a challenge to power through instead of appreciating the chance to slow your pace and rest your body, now is the time to tackle your energy levels. How is your sleep schedule? Are you over or under-exercising? Are you eating foods that serve your health? Are you looking at ways to minimize your stress levels? The healing potential of a well-rested, well-nourished body never ceases to amaze me!

3. Address your mood.

One of the most powerful aspects of Eastern medicine is the emphasis it places on the connection between your emotional health and your physical health; to improve one, you have to work on both.

Anger in particular can have a detrimental impact on your physical energy and working on releasing it in a constructive way makes your body more open to joy and positivity, which in turn has a healing effect on your physical self.

4. Make an appointment.

Because I’ve suffered from allergies in the past, I get real joy from helping clients who are experiencing the same symptoms that plagued me every spring.

I can help in two ways: symptom relief is a biggie, of course, and acupuncture can be hugely helpful on that score. But equally important are the conversations you have around your allergies. Together we’ll look at ways to reframe your thinking and how you talk about your allergies to avoid magnifying them and their effects. After all, the body so often goes where the mind takes it…

Allergies are horrible to live with — they’re debilitating and exhausting and can deprive you of the joy everyone else experiences at the changing of the seasons. Please remember that your course isn’t set; your past experiences of spring allergies don’t have to dictate your future ones. You do have power and you can have hope.