What spring asthenia is and how to fight it
The short version: take care of yourself like your mother and your gym teacher always told you to: exercise, eat a healthy diet and drink water.
What is spring asthenia?
The scientific name leaves us stumped, but this condition’s regular English names are clearer: spring fatigue or springtime lethargy. There you have it: the spring sun is shining and you don’t know why you’re drowsy, apathetic, in a bad mood, anxious or have joint pain or headaches.
Spring asthenia is a form of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a condition wherein the change of seasons affect people at a physiological level.
One cause of spring fatigue is that the body’s supply of serotonin has been exhausted over the course of the winter. In spring, your body ramps up again, but you’ve hardly got any “happiness hormone” to give it. Nutrition deficits don’t help either. If you need to produce increased energy levels, your cells need the right vitamins and minerals to work with.
Other reasons for springtime lethargy are downright bureaucratic. Your body doesn’t perceive the seasons as hard and fast as the calendar on the wall and daylight savings means that your inner clock has no idea why it’s just been jerked an hour into the future come March. As the days grow longer, you even feel like being awake earlier and staying awake longer with the gradual creep of sunrise and sunset into the wee hours.
One more kicker is that spring is also synonymous with allergy season. Plants are budding and creating the flowers that will later produce fruit, which means a lot of human allergens in the air. The histamine blockers everyone is taking is just one more reason we’re all drowsy.
Shifts in season additionally make short-term weather patterns less stable. While rainstorm patterns are normal this time of year, this natural instability can still leave you zonked as your physical self deals with this added layer of complexity.
Where’s the good news? This condition eventually fades as your body adapts, usually within only a few weeks.
How to deal with spring asthenia
Fortunately, the answer is pretty simple: be healthy. Beyond that, you just wade it out as your body adapts. It’s a good time to take it easy, so go light on yourself. Here are some tips to help out:
Make sure to get in some moderate physical activity
And not just when springtime hits, but beforehand too. Studies have shown that regular exercise throughout the winter will help you adjust to the change of seasons. That’s just one more reason to get out there and shed any extra holiday-food weight. It turns out that getting fit in time to enjoy your summer wardrobe will also make you happier, no matter your fitness goals.
Getting fresh air and increasing blood circulation have the added benefit of helping to get all the right hormones where they’re going to fix this state in the first place. There’s just no down-side to taking a brisk breather out of doors.
Just because there’s more sun doesn’t mean more partying and junk food. You know when your body craves a crunchy, savory salad or sweet fresh fruit. Give it what it wants.
There’s extra good news: more fresh produce and natural foods start to become available in spring. Foods like seeds and nuts as well as the complex carbohydrates in veggies and fruit are a natural energy boost. See, Mother Nature has already got your back.
Also remember to eat the right kind of proteins, such as fish, and ensure a balanced dairy intake if you’re not lactose intolerant.
Coffee is a diuretic, meaning it makes water leave the body, dehydrating you and leaving you even more tired. Try tea instead of coffee if you really need that caffeine fix to pull through the morning, but water from then on. Your body will thank you in so many ways.
Take care of yourself
It’ spring! Go outside and re-introduce your body to sunlight after the winter dark. Stretch, take a stroll with friends, meditate or let your creative side bloom by drawing or painting your natural landscape. Take an afternoon nap in the warm sunshine and it will be easier to shake this off.
Some experts have compared springtime lethargy to mild jet lag. Your body’s just asking you for the recuperation it deserves after processing your food, working a full shift, hitting the gym and thinking all day long, on top of the weather and the sunlight and the nutrients and hydration and the allergy medicine...
Seriously…. where’s my blanket?