So here we are starting off our new Spring Season, although I have to say it still feels very much like winter with that cold wind blowing through! I read a quote the other day and it feels quite true:
The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month. – Henry Van Dyke
However the sun is out, mostly! The skies are blue and clear again mostly, and the washing is getting dry and of course colour is starting in the garden and the woods are full or beautiful white Wood Anemones …it’s all a case of new beginnings!
In ancient times, rituals were performed at the spring equinox and people would cleanse old energy. This is where our tradition of ‘spring cleaning’ came from! We feel more energized and want to plant seeds of vision in our lives or for our gardens. We may feel the urge to open the windows, clean and prepare for a new, warmer and brighter season. We might make plans to get outside more, develop a health plan for ourselves, or set some new goals to birth, both personally and professionally.
The holistic human health system is constantly trying to maintain a functional balance especially during adaptive changes that can create shifts and even stress on the body and mind.
With the increase in light, as it hits the retina and enters the pineal gland and slows the production of melatonin, we may notice a change in the way we feel and the energy we have. As the melatonin recedes and the light begins to affect the brain, we can get a light “spring” in our step, we become more alert and experience increase feelings of happiness. The fresh air, scents and visual displays of bloom and birth, feel good as we consume them with our senses.
The Equinox reminds us that even though we may perceive light and dark as being separate, they only exist because of each other. When we embrace this idea of holistic oneness, we can mindfully check in with ourselves… body, mind and heart and the constant changing experiences, we have.
We’re just so excited for long-anticipated springtime that we simply forget to prioritize sleep, too. We can experience a desynchronization when we have an increase in activity in response to warmer temperatures and longer days, changing our behavioral rhythm. We like routine, so our sleep-wake cycle is very responsive to this change. It’s hard to ever erase or completely compensate for the deficits from sleep deprivation, but like we do with other aspects of our health and our life, it’s within our power to try and prioritize sleep in our daily lives.
If the spring excitement is causing you forget to log those eight hours of sleep each night, try sleep tracking to increase your awareness of your habits. From high-tech electronics to pen-and-paper journaling, making a conscious effort to monitor when you shut down at night and wake up in the morning can help you understand the links between your sleep, your environment and your behavior, and what factors seem to promote better sleep.
The impact of light
Light is hugely impactful on the body. Through the connections made through the eyes and the brain’s biological timeframe, lighting influences the chemistry and behaviour and keep us in functioning with the pattern of our day.
Consider this: humans have evolved from being outside, where they have been exposed to light beginning with the rising sun. In the modern world, we spend lots more time inside, but sunlight still aids us in regulating our sleep patterns.
When you wake up in the morning, exposure to natural daylight alerts the brain and gets you up and running. Then, when it’s time to unwind, factors such as having blinds in the bedroom, being comfortable, having quality bedding or even wearing an eye mask can help you immerse yourself in complete darkness. As you awake, pull your blinds and eye mask back to bathe the room in glorious sunlight and let the cycle start again.
Whilst talking about the impact of Light we are now entering a new season, but do you feel tired and out of sorts? There is a apparently a reason for this and it is called Spring Fatigue! But is tiredness in Spring real and if so what’s the deal?
This state of tiredness is often described as a reverse seasonal affective disorder. Typically, we think of tiredness and depression being linked to short, cold winter days, but springtime can create these symptoms too. The theory is that as the days get longer our bodies automatically readjust their hormone levels. In the winter, we’re busy producing more of the sleep hormone melatonin. But when spring comes along, our bodies react to the increased levels of light and release more serotonin, the activity hormone. The change can be a heavy burden on the body, causing us to feel more tired for a few weeks as we adjust.
Typically, it affects sufferers for about 2-3 weeks, between March and April, as we get used to the new world clock and the longer days.
Springtime lethargy symptoms are different for everyone. Most often, sufferers feel:
- Increased headaches
- Heightened sensitivity to weather changes
- Feeling down or depressed
If spring fatigue has taken hold of you, there are some easy solutions you can put in place.
- Spend more time outdoors to release more serotonin
- Exercise to keep your body active
- Eat healthier options like fruits, vegetables, and anything with vitamins and minerals
- Stay hydrated
Ultimately, the symptoms should dissipate by mid-April. Your body will be accustomed to its new rhythm, and you’ll be back in the full swing of things. But if you are feeling these spring lethargy effects, know that it’s normal and will pass on its own in just a few weeks.
The seasons are a wonderful way of enjoying Nature, so whatever you do this season, whether the clocks Springing forward at the weekend takes you a while to adjust or you are one of those that just gets on with the hour change – just try to embrace the fact we can see the changes around us, whatever it is that makes you smile and enjoy a new day – do it, enjoy it, love it!
I love the washing drying on the line and the scent it brings indoors, and at this time of year I really do enjoy the start of “pottering” in the garden and even the dusting and cleaning becomes easier to do!
Don’t forget the Clocks go forward this coming weekend, keep to your bedtime routine though!