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Every spring, the world seems to awaken from hibernation all at once. People are out and about on the streets as the weather gets warmer, especially in a place like Wisconsin. There’s finally lots of activities to do with friends when even walking and breathing fresh air sounds like a fun day. Spring cleaning is also a common event where many people uproot their entire home to deep clean. Why are all these acts of hope for the future associated with springtime?

[bf_image id="rwwf3q7k3ttmrpk658mgk5rz"] There is tons of research regarding how our bodies react to the amount of sunlight we receive and how that can affect our overall mood. These studies are focused on the influence of sunlight on our levels of serotonin. Serotonin is the chemical hormone that controls our feelings of happiness. In seasonal locations, people’s overall happiness tends to be much lower during the wintertime likely due to the decreased sun exposure (Sansone 2013). Remarkably, many people even joke about how instantly they feel much better after Daylight Saving Time ends in spring and the amount of daylight becomes longer.

[bf_image id="kwhbk463hmqv4b32k2mj9hk"] Spring has always been my favorite time of the year, surprisingly making me an odd one out as most people would choose summer or fall. This year, “spring fever” hit particularly hard. This phenomenon is not scientifically proven but is associated with the laziness that occurs due to excitement about being outside in the sun (Davis 2002). I resonate with this greatly as all winter, especially during a pandemic, it has been difficult to find COVID safe activities. Now, I find myself deciding to “study” outside, but never getting any work done and enjoying the weather instead. It’s become a terrible cycle of feeling the need to go out in nice weather, but nearly every day has beautiful weather. Anything above 40 degrees is nice weather in Wisconsin at this point!

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Spring represents a time of new birth and new hope. While this may stem from biological life cycles as many species have more offspring in spring (pun intended), humanity also recognizes the drastic shift in societal mood as the sun stays out longer. The extra light every day energizes us and can bring us out of the metaphorical hibernation of a long winter. Next time you’re deciding between sitting in your room all day or attempting to enjoy the weather, remember that science literally proves that your overall mood will be better simply by spending time outside. Take the opportunity to soak in the sun, your mental health will thank you for it!

 

Sources:

Davis, Jeanie Lerche. “You Give Me (Spring) Fever.” WebMD, WebMD, 2002, www.webmd.com/women/features/you-give-me-spring-fever.

Sansone, Randy A, and Lori A Sansone. “Sunshine, serotonin, and skin: a partial explanation for seasonal patterns in psychopathology?.” Innovations in clinical neuroscience vol. 10,7-8 (2013): 20-4.

 

Soumika is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying zoology and environmental studies on a pre-veterinary track. She loves reading, hiking, and adventuring with friends when she's not busy studying or cuddling with animals.
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