April is the cruelest month, breedingT.S. Eliot, The Waste Land
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain
For the last three months we have been exposed to cooler temperatures, a decrease in daylight hours and a desire for heavier comfort foods. Now we are noticing subtle changes. Some of us may feel a little buzz – an increase in energy that was lacking in the winter months. Leo Tolstoy called Spring “the time of projects and plans.” There is a lot going on.
The expectation is that we should all feel fantastic. On FaceBook everyone looks like they are having so much fun in the sun!
For some people, the onset of spring brings feelings of anxiety, lack of ambition and sadness. Feelings of depression can start in the spring and subside in the winter. Treatment is strongly recommended if symptoms disrupt functioning. Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder is less common than its more popular counterpart and more mysterious. There are increases in serotonin and dopamine, the “feel-good” neurotransmitters. More daylight hours cause a decrease in melatonin, theoretically increasing energy. Testosterone levels rise in both men and women. All good, right?
Like all mood disorders, in addition to biology, there are psychosocial components.
Psychologically, the change in season represents the passing of time. It is already March? As we get older, time seems to be racing. Existential questions arise about whether we are where we want to be right now. Have we made positive and healthy changes? This particular time of year can trigger anniversary reactions.
Warmer temperatures mean less clothes. Our clothing serves to hide imperfections in addition to other social and cultural functions. Wearing less means showing more. It may be difficult to own it.
There is pressure to go out and interact, a challenge to some. Excuses to stay indoors require more imagination. The introvert goes largely unnoticed in the still of winter. The choice to stay in is more acceptable.
I approach the change (admittedly) with some anxiety. This winter was quiet and introspective. I spent more time on my own. The early onset of darkness, combined with cold temperatures, meant maximum binge watching. Spring brings the timeline closer to big changes personally and professionally. It also means socialization. And the reappearance of bugs.
At the same time, I am experiencing the internal rush of the impending arrival of spring. I examine my yard looking for new growth sensuously peaking out in the dirt. My pre-work morning ritual has changed to suit my spirited mood – waking up early, naked yoga, followed by drinking a bottle of water in the shower. In the evening, I light unscented tea candles. I blow them all out at once before bed. It feels so much like a birthday that I make a wish.
The change of season just is. Let us resist the need to judge it as good or bad. The television weather team frequently assigns a value to the state of the weather instead of simply reporting the facts. Videocast: Rain, Rain Go Away. So very non Zen!
It just is. Let go of the expectation that spring = spring break. Like all animals, seasonal changes affect us. It is an indication that we haven’t lost touch with nature. While we have no control over the weather, it can have a large affect on us. It challenges us to adapt and be present. Whatever emotions we attach to it come from within. Being alive on this day and every day is nothing short of a miracle.