This morning my son and I were smiling as we watched a flock of birds set out to migrate north making tiny ‘V’ formations in the clear skies.
There is something about the expansive shift of spring that is exciting and yet unsettling all at the same time.
What is it?
This season brings about a surge in energy but simultaneously exasperates a bit of anxiety, stirring up a restlessness of everything that’s been stored away all winter.
It turns out Spring Fever is much more than the poetic symbolism in my horoscope explaining this little existential funk as “blooming new growth nudging me to have a sense of urgency about cleaning out clutter and reassess every crevice of my life”.
Spring Fever is real.
Scientists have been studying the link between seasons, behavior and mood for years, acknowledging that humans have a strong seasonal rhythm to their biological processes.
It is much more than the feeling students get when they’re anxious to get out of school and head to Cabo for spring break (although there’s definitely a scientific explanation for that as I’ll share in a bit).
According to Sandra Tunajek, Spring Fever is “triggered by the spring equinox, and refers to several sets of physical and psychological symptoms associated with the arrival of longer sunny days.”
Some feel it more than others. As Tunajek explains, “At least half of the people who live in the northern latitudes experience a pattern of mental changes” depending on the season.
It is not a medical diagnosis. However, multiple lines of evidence suggest that there are seasonal effects on mood and behavior.
Here are 6 symptoms of Spring Fever and the reasons you may be feeling them:
Studies shows that serotonin levels are higher in spring, possibly explaining why “many people walk around randomly smiling at strangers,” spend more time outdoors and exercise more.
All of these activities further elevate dopamine levels in the brain. In contrast to the lower levels in winter, the surge of serotonin may also explain the distinct euphoric feelings that emerge in Spring.
So much to do and so little time! Especially when clearing out clutter. Add to that ailments such as allergies, migraine headaches, insomnia and fatigue and there is little wonder you may feel somewhat restless.
Surge of Cheerful Energy
Good morning sunshine! Several studies indicate that early morning bright light is vital for body synchronicity. One study specifically found that bright light exposure significantly reduced plasma cortisol levels.
As the spring days get longer, melatonin starts to decrease and people become more energized. Sex drive, enthusiasm, and confidence all increase and apparently a man’s sperm count is higher. No wonder one study found that teen pregnancies peak in the month on March—the Spring Fling is a biological drive, hence that mass migration to Cabo every Spring.
The fresh outdoors may be filled with memories of the past going way back to childhood and the days of carefree romps in the freshly-cut grass. Aromatic flowers and soft breezes may trigger unexpected emotional responses. Senses that have been suffocated all winter “are assaulted in the spring by stimuli, which can make people unusually giddy.”
Unfortunately for those who suffer with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), spring causes distress as spring fever intensifies the sense of loneliness and hopelessness. Epidemiological studies find that SAD is more common in women and in younger adults. Awareness of SAD, especially in the spring is crucial, as hospitals report that suicides and depression peak during the spring months.
I for one feel rather poetic in the spring:
In The Spirit of Spring.
Blooming fragrance paints the essence of our being
all at once craving oneness and solitude
to the earth, to the air, to a soul that is shared.
Divine sanity questions itself, a beautiful crazy trellis, creative consciousness
higher than thoughts of a norm
A bed of roses, so involved with themselves, they invoke the selflessness of the universe
Wild vines, running free alongside risk of losing themselves, because captivity is never an option.
Proud unyielding palms, looking truth dead in the eye standing still and tall, their ego uprooted.
Spring renewal, not of purpose, but of grace, brilliant innocence and expectations.
The spirit of spring births immortal sense.
Basking in the beauty of existence.
However as a realist, I like to marry science with artful expression noting how one study summarizes the seasonal shift: “Poets may call it spring fever, but it’s just our brain’s chemical reactions to the light, warmth and scents of the season.”
Author: Lila Romero
Assistant Editor: Elizabeth Brumfield/ Editor: Sarah Kolkka
Photo: Biegun Wschodni/Unsplash