Smells Like Spring

Dear Reader,

Happy spring! …or is it really?

If you live in a place like Boston, the transition to spring is noticeable. At the end of March, the evenings become longer, the days become warmer, and pollen is in the air. While many of these changes are gradual, they can build up and infuse one with a sense of “spring fever.”

According to a little process known as “science,” spring fever as a biological phenomenon, triggering changes in one’s mood and behavior has been proven anecdotal at best (and pure fiction at worst). However, feelings of restlessness and changes in mood have often been associated and documented with the earth’s change from a dark, cold winter to a bright, warm spring.

As I sit here indoors, typing on my laptop in the year 2021, I am feeling the pangs of spring fever. There are so many signs of good things to come! The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued updated guidance on travel for fully vaccinated people. Massachusetts will begin allowing the vaccine to all people (over the age of 16) on April 19th. Finally, in Boston, the weather is consistently above freezing (an accomplishment), and the foliage upon the bare trees is being born again. Despite my itchy eyes and irritated sinuses, I find these to be favorable developments.

Even though “spring fever” is not real, many people —myself included— are really feeling it. In my online classes, it is clear that students and professors alike are (maybe too) eagerly anticipating the end of the semester. This year, the university stripped the week-long spring break vacation from the academic calendar (likely to prevent students from traveling during the pandemic). Without this break, this semester feels like a marathon. We are staring out the window mentally listless, physically restless, and longing for summer and everything that that entails. In more than one of my classes, professors have informally cancelled a class session or two — we could all use a break.

Even though there is no spring fever, there are some seasonal changes that can help explain our change in mood in this corner of the year. In a study conducted at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics in Richmond researchers found that “the more time people spent outside on a sunny spring day the better their mood.” Spring coincides with daylight savings and the shorter nights, which can make our melatonin levels a little lower during this time (making us a little less sleepy). Specific to 2021, we may feel more excited and anxious this spring because the end of the COVID-19 madness (most hopefully! Fingers crossed! Knock on wood!) is near. With widespread vaccinations here in the U.S., you may see this spring as the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 dark ages (we’re just going to ignore the potentially worrying variants of the virus for now, yeah?).

So if you are feeling a little on edge, are imbued with wanderlust, are having trouble focusing, and are wanting to spend a little more time outside — you’re normal! Spring has sprung and this 2021 season is more momentous than most.

Enjoy the ride, dear Reader! Summer will be here soon enough.

Stay safe!



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