Spring has sprung! And it’s supposed to be a glorious time of new beginnings and fresh starts and sweet sun. So why do I want to scream my head off and punch holes in the walls? Maybe it’s because over the winter, I got too cozy. Maybe it’s because I spent too many cold nights snug in bed watching TV (Hello, Netflix Marathon!) with an endless buffet of junk food, and now the sound of my alarm clock in the way-too-bright mornings makes me want to hurl it across the room. Hmmm, is there such a thing as spring depression?
Now that I think about it, though, it’s no wonder we’re grumpy in spring. When winter finally subsides and we get a long-awaited glimpse of sun, we find ourselves saddened by rain and gloom. Here we are, ready for relief, and there’s work to do. Way too much work. We’re disorganized, out of shape, and feeling lower than ever.
It didn’t start out this way. I decided that April was the month to get active again. Active as in regularly active. Not just on the rare occasion that I could muster the energy to get out of bed and lace my shoes for a brisk walk that I passed off as my morning jog. So I set my alarm early every morning and declared April The Month I Got My Groove Back.
Then April passed and with it, spring reality hit. Instead of springing up at early sunrise to face the day with zeal, I felt massive resistance. Massive, hit myself against a brick wall resistance. And as much as I tried to think my way out of this pit by reminding myself how good I’d feel if I just did it, my brain wasn’t having it. And I beat myself up for not living up to my goals to get fit and feel better.
What the hell? We all know about Seasonal Affective Disorder but that’s a winter thing, no?
To purge, I confessed my shame over my failed fitness attempts over dinner with girlfriends. I described how I am now spending evenings questioning my inability to get moving, which has mushroomed into my inability to get just about anything done at all. Out of nowhere, I’m also weirdly snappy, losing my temper over the littlest things that wouldn’t normally faze me to the point where I can feel rage bubbling inside of me for no good reason at all. Surprise, surprise. It turns out I’m not the only one feeling like spring is turning out to be a shit show.
One by one, my friends shared their own stories of frustration, the feeling of darkness that’s inhabiting their souls and that undeniable anger that’s hard to shake. According to traditional Chinese medicine, spring is the time of the liver and gall bladder. And guess what? The predominant emotion felt during this time of year is explosive anger. Emotions that have been buried over the winter are now bubbling to the surface. In fact, it turns out we’re likely to feel our angriest in spring. Other emotions we might relate to: impatience, frustration, resentment, rudeness, resistance, edginess and aggression. Oh hell, yes—check, check, and check! So what can we do to beat spring depression?
4 WAYS TO BEAT SPRING DEPRESSION
1. Prioritize, sister.
Take an honest look at all the spring things you want to get done and decide what can and can’t wait. We get all gangbuster on getting out with the old and in with the new with spring cleaning and all that. We put far too much pressure on ourselves to do everything right now. Tucking away the winter gear, cleaning the house, getting the yard ready, and generally switching our thinking from indoors to out is overwhelming. If we prioritize our spring to-do list and lower our expectations about how fast to accomplish, we’ll relieve a lot of the pressure we feel at this time of the year.
2. Remember that anger is powerful, and you can use it.
We can get anger to work in our favour if we can harness it. It allows us to let go of the stuff that’s burdening us, holding us down—so long as we use it constructively. Like forcing our legs to go for that jog we can’t bear the thought of. Or showing up to yoga when it’s the last thing we want to do. Getting into our bodies is the perfect way to work off any negativity we might be storing.
3. Eat better to feel better.
Ditch the buffet for a healthy, well-portioned meal. Limit your intake of processed food and eat more of the veggies and whole grains you know will give you energy. Bitter and sour tastes are also detoxifying to the liver and will help. So consider starting your day with a tall glass of water with either half a lemon or a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Other bitter foods include rye, romaine lettuce, asparagus, amaranth and quinoa. And don’t forget your bitter greens. Kale, parsley and collard greens will help build and support the liver while you’re in the angry phase of spring.
4. Get out and smell the roses.
The most important thing we can do at this time of the year is to really enjoy the budding and green springing up everywhere. Make it a habit to take short breaks during your day for a walk outside. It sounds cliche but take a look at what’s happening around you—the flowerbeds popping up, the birds singing and the sun shining. We can often miss these signs of spring and that’s the saddest part of all. Getting back into nature can really help to dull the frustration and anger we’re feeling when the seasons change.