The sun’s shining, the temperature’s rising, and nature’s bursting into life. Spring is here, and the days are getting longer again. But some people enjoy this time of year less than others. For many, the first days of spring bring fatigue, oversensitivity to changes in the weather, and problems with their circulation. According to the Gesundheitsförderung Schweiz public health organisation, spring fever hits around half the Swiss population every year. Between mid-March and mid-April those affected feel lethargic, groggy and irritated.
Spring fever isn’t an illness. It’s a condition brought on by the transition from winter to summer time. A hormonal change in our bodies is said to be one of the main causes. Serotonin, the so-called happiness hormone, is produced under the influence of light. Serotonin levels decline in winter when the body’s exposed to less light, and rise again when the days start getting longer. At the same time, spring sees a decline in levels of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleeping/waking cycle, which is produced in greater amounts in winter. It takes several weeks before the body has restored the hormone balance.
The change in temperature can also be tough on the system. When it starts getting warm again the blood vessels dilate and blood pressure falls, resulting in tiredness and exhaustion.
What you can do
Spring fever isn’t a threat to your health and will go away by itself. But you can help the process along by following a few tips:
- Begin the day with alternate hot and cold showers to get your circulation going.
- Get plenty of exercise in the fresh air. If you work in an office, try to go outdoors over lunchtime.
- Make sure your workplace is well lit (at least 500 lux).
- Eat a healthy diet with plenty of vitamins, and drink a lot of liquid. Avoid heavy meals that make you lethargic.
- Try and reduce day-to-day stress and get enough sleep.
Heed the warning signsSpring fever is nothing to worry about, but you should keep an eye out for more serious forms of tiredness and exhaustion. If you experience fatigue for protracted periods regardless of the season you should arrange a check-up with your doctor. Chronic tiredness is often a symptom of illness, deficiency or mental or emotional overload.