Goodbye Winter Blues; Hello Spring Fever!

This week’s weather prediction is for temperatures to go as high as 65 degrees, possibly even more, this week! 65 degrees! That’s jacket weather…not coat weather…jacket weather!

I realized I’m really restless with a severe case of Spring Fever.

I’m tired of seeing my breath escape in white puffs every time I step outdoors. I’m weary of bundling up in several layers to take my dogs for a short walk. I’m tired of shoveling snow and scraping ice off my car’s windows. I’m ready to say goodbye to chapped hands and lips, fly-away hair, and dry, itchy skin!

And I feel something else, too. I feel guilty for wishing these long days of winter to be over already. I know that soon enough, spring will be here accompanied by its own drawbacks. I really don’t like wishing my life away, just because “now” has some negatives or I’ve become bored with the sameness of the days and nights.

I know that springtime frequently delivers rain for days in a row, which means I’ll be wiping off three sets of muddy paws every time I bring my dogs in from the yard. And springtime means a yellow haze of pollen blanketing the deck furniture and clinging to my clothes whenever I work outside. It means scratchy throats and eyes, while sneezing and sniffling through much of the day.

But springtime also means bright splashes of yellow daffodils dotting my yard and pink cherry blossoms and white dogwood trees in bloom all over the neighborhood. It means the sun will rise earlier providing us with longer days as an incentive to get outdoors for welcome activities and exercise. It means afternoon picnics and backyard weekend barbecues with friends.

I really try not to put weight on in the winter months, but the pounds often creep on despite my best intentions. Especially since menopause, just looking at certain foods makes the number on the scale climb! So right about now – mid-February each year – I feel sluggish and frustrated by the extra weight. I really dislike that it makes my clothes tighter and less comfortable.

By March, I’m so ready to hop on my bicycle for a long ride, take my dogs for a fast-paced afternoon walk around the lake at the park, or clean out garden beds that you’ll often find me outside even when the mercury has dropped again. I am not easily daunted by the brisk March winds when the sun is shining strong.

As the saying goes, “March comes in like a lion, but goes out like a lamb.”

By April, I’m often so antsy that I tend to overdo my bike rides, long walks and vigorous yard-work. I end up paying the price for my over-exuberance with a few sore, achy muscles. But honestly, after so much sedentary time over the winter, I sort of relish those aches and pains because I feel more alive and in some odd way, even younger! Plus, it makes me crave more exercise because I know the fastest way to feeling better is to get moving again!

What causes this surge in energy and the increased craving of physical activity in most people at this time of the year? Long ago, poets and artists alike recognized the effects of “spring fever” on people’s behavior, though they had little scientific evidence to back up their perceptions that people in the spring act differently. Dozens of poems, songs, plays and paintings pay homage to the effects spring has on people.

There is, however, actual science behind the rise in our libido and energy levels during the months of March, April and May.

Specifically, hormonal changes in our bodies are triggered by the increased daylight being taken in through the retinas of our eyes. As the days grow longer and we take in more light, a very significant hormonal change occurs. Our levels of melatonin begin to drop. Melatonin is a hormone responsible for our moods and how much sleep we need. In winter months we produce more melatonin, but as the days lengthen melatonin production slows.

With that drop we feel greater energy, require less sleep, have an increased sex-drive and desire less food. Additionally, with more exposure to the sun, we get more Vitamin D which is vital for strong bones and teeth. All these changes have a direct impact on our desire to be outdoors which inevitably increases our physical activity and for some people, those winter pounds simply melt away.

Spring is a time of renewal and is felt by people of all ages.

Children yearn to be out of the classroom and want to play outdoors well into the evening hours. Adults of all ages feel bitten by the “love bug” and romance abounds. And Mother Nature responds with animals of all types turning to procreation and plants bursting forth with extraordinary speed from heretofore barren looking soil.

I am always overjoyed and amazed by the transformation in my yard day-by-day. I look forward to strolling around in the early morning or evening. I make mental notes about which plants grew the most, which trees have buds popping open and which shrubs have new shoots appearing. Seeing these noticeable changes gives me great satisfaction and high hopes for the coming growing season.

All my restless and pent-up energy from the winter doldrums causes me to feel what my mother would have called “ants in the pants.” I literally can’t sit still sometimes! One of my favorite ways to channel my spring fever is to do a major spring-cleaning. That’s right! I’m one of those oddballs who just love to turn everything in the house upside-down and inside-out to freshen things.

There’s nothing like airing out the house, dusting off the window blinds, freshly laundered window treatments, sparkling clean window panes, steam-cleaned carpets and maybe even organizing a closet or two to make one feel alive! I get into every nook and cranny, room-by-room and by the time I’m done, the house looks and smells refreshed and I feel so satisfied with the results of all my hard work.

No, Spring Fever is not just in our heads!

Go on! Get out there! Order plenty of seeds from the catalogs. If you’re not an avid gardener like me, then join a CSA this spring. Nothing is better than fresh produce in the summer! Pull out the lawn mower and the bicycles for tune-ups. Pump up the basketballs, buy some new tennis balls, and pull the garden hose out of the garage. Buy a new pair of sneakers and break them in.

Toss some bright, splashy throw pillows on the sofas. Put some fresh cut flowers from the market in vases throughout the house. Retire the cinnamon scented candles for something light and citrusy. Hang a colorful wreath on your front door and plant some pansies at the doorstep.

Go ahead: Think Spring. It’s right around the corner!

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