Spring Fatigue – what is it?
So what exactly is spring fatigue? To many of us, spring is the most beautiful season of the year, remarking renewal and growth after a long and dormant winter. As the new season rolls in, the inactive nature of our winter lifestyle wakes our body up to meet a new productive start. This natural process is beautiful, however, adapting to a new regime does not often come without strings attached when it comes our physical and mental well-being. Scientists have long studied the effects spring fatigue brings, when our circadian rhythms are turned completely upside down, and our bodies find it hard to cope with the extra amount of sunlight in the day and spring fatigue kicks in.
There is still no clear evidence as to why it happens. Research suggests the reason lies in external changes and internal changes taking place concurrently. As our bodies have a tendency to take any change as a threat to homeostasis, which is the stability of the internal environment, our body works an extra mile to repair the weakened immune system after the winter season, when our body is stripped bare of the beneficial hormones, such as serotonin (the happiness booster) and dopamine (so-called motivation hormone), and increases the production of cortisol (the stress hormone).
The increased demand of energy in longer spring days, however, can exceed our body’s capacity to cope with this change, making us feel more tired and stressed than ever. The symptoms of this change often occur at a high cost, varying from changes in appetite, difficulties with concentration and disrupted sleep patterns to negative impacts on memory, critical thought to mood swings and anxiety.
That terrible feeling of fatigue may be only one of the body’s signs indicating things have gone a bit awry…
Spring fatigue can be a threatening catalyst for a cycle of recurring health concerns. Many of us are facing this seasonal problem and go through waves of stress due to the change of body clock. There are a few tips that can help you cope with the transition period, while the body shows resistance to the inner body clock’s change in its operation, and feel more energised by the active summer months.
How To Lower Your Stress Levels and Gain Your Energy Back:
Changing to A Healthier Diet
One way of getting your energy levels back is to have a balanced, strict nutrition plan. In most cases, poor nutrition only adds to the feeling of tiredness in the middle of spring. If you really want to move the situation off the dead end, you should do your best to restore the body’s reserves of all necessary vitamins and minerals.
You can do it quickly by increasing the intake of fresh vegetables, fruits and oatmeal for breakfast on a regular basis. Oatmeal is the best choice for breakfast, thanks to the protein, Magnesium and Vitamin B nutrients it contains, boosting your energy levels from the morning hours. The intake of iron is essential when it comes to energy production, and one of the best health foods that contains it is spinach. Try adding spinach to green smoothies that are also an easy, nutritious option to introduce into your diet. Pomegranate is another ‘miracle food’ that helps to stimulate the appetite and fight fatigue. Finding natural minerals from food is the most effective method, yet sometimes, taking additional supplements can help you break the dead circle.
It is advised to eat small portions of nutritious food frequently rather than have a heavy meal to digest 3 times a day. Make sure to plan your meals properly beforehand – at least 1/3 of your meal should include fresh vegetables and fruits to help to absorb the necessary vitamins and minerals.
Focus On Hydration
In addition to an organised food plan, the role of hydration shouldn’t be overlooked when trying to combat spring fatigue. Plus, it’s strongly recommended to drink more water in order to get rid of toxins accumulated during winter and boost metabolism. Dehydration can lead to frequent headaches, exhaustion and lethargy. It is recommended to drink 6-8 glasses per day (1.5-2 litres per day) to get the hydration needed.
In addition, taking cold showers in the morning will not only do good for your blood circulation, but also helps to cope with tiredness.
Know Your Vitamin Supplements
The supplements our bodies need is fairly individual, depending on multiple different factors, such as our health condition, age and already existing everyday diet.
However, lack of vitality could be due to your body lacking the necessary vitamin reserve. For example, getting the most important energy boosters, such as vitamins D and C, are dependent on our exposure to sunlight and the intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. We often have less of both in winter.
The wide variety of different supplements on offer may often seem confusing, leaving us unable to decide what meets our body’s actual needs.
The most crucial vitamins we shouldn’t be lacking are –
- Beta-carotene: improves vision, guarantees a functioning immune system, beneficial for skin
- Calcium: mostly found in dairy products, this mineral is relevant to maintaining healthy bones and prevent osteoporosis
- Folic Acid: prevents neural tube effects, such as spina bifida, in babies, and is found is found in breakfast cereal, dark green vegetables, citrus fruit juices, pasta and bread
- Iron: liver and other organ meats are the highest in iron, but you can also get it from spinach, beans and dried fruit
- Potassium: helps to lower blood pressure, fix irregular heart rhythms, and balance out sodium intake. Found in bananas, leafy greens, raisins and milk
- Vitamin C: energy-booster that helps to prevent cold, found in citrus fruits, broccoli, green peppers and berries
- Vitamin D: necessary for bone health as it helps to absorb calcium, Vitamin D is mostly accessible through exposure to sun, rather than food, but foods, such as fatty fish, cheese and soy milk also contain this vitamin
- Vitamin B12: performs several important functions in the body, such as keeping the nervous system healthy and helping to prevent anemia
Any kind of exercise, combined with a healthy diet also helps people fight symptoms like difficulty in attention and concentration, anxiety and low energy levels.
Go out and exercise. Even 15 minutes spent in the outdoors can fill your body with an adequate amount of energy for the day. As a daily practice, engage in moderate aerobic exercise, such as taking a 30-minute pacy walk or jog. Resistance training using free weight is also effective, but shouldn’t be practiced daily. Mindful movement and walking in the nature are another effective way to boost your inner energy and calm the mind.
However, don’t forget to stretch your muscles for 5 to 10 minutes after exercise to prevent soreness.
Although fatigue is not exactly considered an illness, taking cosiderate steps to avoid experiencing the signs, which make it impossible to focus and stay positive.
- Set consistent daily and weekly routines. Pre-planned schedule helps your body and mind adjust to changes in a more progressive way. This is the time to avoid pushing your limits. Any sudden changes to the pre-set schedule can be translated into ‘stressors’ by your body. Regulated patterns minimise additional stress to your body, while it is coping with fighting the fatigue and restoring energy.
- Balance it, don’t over-do it. It is essential to make changes bringing the best benefits – this means finding a balance between diet, exercise and relaxation, and not undertaking particularly strenuous tasks. Leave them for the time your body is prepared for it.
- Listen to your body, so you can actually pace yourself in work and physical activity. Take regular breaks for rest, and indulge in enjoyable activities.
- Sleep well and take regular naps. Make sure your sleep environment is comfortable, peaceful, light and airy.
- Try to find a strategy for emotional stability, such practicing meditation, yoga, any kindness practice, or relaxation program.
It is worth keeping in mind that the key strategy to combat spring fatigue is to minimise stress catalysts and boost internal energy levels. This way, you can maintain your body’s energy balance, emotional stability, and sleep pattern.
If you still find it a struggle to combat chronic or recurring seasonal fatigue, our functional medicine specialist and nutritionist can help you with planning a lifestyle change, adapting to a healthy nutrition plan, or planning out any necessary lifestyle changes that can help you guide the way to an improved, balanced lifestyle leading to a more peaceful mind.