Therapy

Why We Love That Spring Has Sprung!

Why We Love That Spring Has Sprung!

 

Chris had been struggling to wake up in the morning throughout the winter. When her alarm went off she could scarcely raise an eyelid to see that it was still pitch black outside. Between the darkness, the silence and the cold, all she wanted to do was sink deeper under her covers.

How things have changed for Chris over the past few weeks! With the time change and the early morning sunlight beaming through her window, she now opens her eyes before her alarm goes off.

“It’s amazing how my body wakes up when I can see the sun,” she commented. “Last Saturday, I even tried to sleep in but I couldn’t because the birds were too loud, they were calling for to me to get up.”

Psychology: Why We Love That Spring Has Sprung!

By SCOTT SMITH, For The Capital
Published 03/25/10

Chris had been struggling to wake up in the morning throughout the winter. When her alarm went off she could scarcely raise an eyelid to see that it was still pitch black outside. Between the darkness, the silence and the cold, all she wanted to do was sink deeper under her covers.

How things have changed for Chris over the past few weeks! With the time change and the early morning sunlight beaming through her window, she now opens her eyes before her alarm goes off.

“It’s amazing how my body wakes up when I can see the sun,” she commented. “Last Saturday, I even tried to sleep in but I couldn’t because the birds were too loud, they were calling for to me to get up.”

It’s hard to believe that scarcely six weeks ago we had more than 30 inches of snow on the ground. Remember the snow drifts and plowed snow mountains that were so large they looked like they would be around until the Fourth of July? With the vernal equinox ushering in a new spring season last weekend, it appears we have now officially left behind our cold and snowy winter for a season that we hope will be filled with blue skies, warmth and sunshine.

“Hope” is the operative word here because, like spring, it contains all of the promise of a new beginning and a fresh start. Hope is a powerful emotion and, psychologically, spring is undoubtedly the most “hopeful” of all of the seasons. For the generations of agrarian societies before us, the arrival of spring was no small matter. To see spring meant that they had survived another life-threatening winter and were now coming into the planting and growing seasons. That is why spring has always been filled with powerful spiritual themes of rebirth and regeneration.

The influential Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung was one of the first modern thinkers to emphasize the importance of people existing in harmony within themselves and their environment. He believed that humans are inherently spiritual and that too much emphasis is placed upon logical positivism to the exclusion of symbolic, emotional material. He maintained this leads to an unhealthy personal and societal imbalance.

Jung believed that by paying attention to both the logical and emotional themes present in our mind and trying to integrate them into our life, we could attain better personal balance. His theories about human psychological functioning considered involvement in religion, philosophy and art to be necessary for emotional health. In this way, spring is considered one of the most important seasons because people literally “wake up” out of their winter slumber to start living again.

With the arrival of spring we can see the theory of balance expressed in real life. One example of this is the compelling desire many of us have to organize our world at this time of year. Whether it is cleaning up the storm damage in our yards, putting our winter clothing away or undertaking a wave of spring cleaning, it compels us to unite our emotional and logical minds for a common purpose. These activities satisfy our need to prepare for the planting and growing season with its emphasis on the stirring of new life, rebirth and regeneration.

If we harness that natural tendency at this time of the year, we can jump into spring with our own personal plan for positive change. More than the midwinter New Year’s Day rituals, spring offers us the chance for real movement and real change. With spring we have the opportunity to organize and integrate our intellectual and emotional selves to prepare for a productive spring and summer. In order to do this we must shake off the burdens and demands of modern life to create opportunities for self-discovery and emotional integration.

What does that really mean? It means that we need to get in touch with our symbolically based, emotional selves and get out there and start having some fun. Just as nature is beginning to “reboot” and renew itself with budding flowers and trees, we need to follow suit and begin our own personal regeneration. That may start with personal cleansing of our body and mind, and end with rediscovery of the activities that we have always enjoyed in the past but may have forgotten.

Cleansing the body might start with a healthier lifestyle, including drinking lots of pure, fresh water and exercising regularly. This is a great time to start a walking program that emphasizes getting physical movement and fresh air. While you are out, take time to get back in touch with your senses. Make sure that you see the pastel colors of spring as they start to break out all around you. Concentrate on smelling the fresh air that mixes the coolness of winter with the coming heat of summer. Let your skin feel the warmth that the sunshine has to offer as it touches you and pulls you out of the winter doldrums. Taste the vibrant fruits and vegetables that never look or taste the same during the winter months. Celebrate the renewal of life and the opportunity to just be in the moment with all of your senses.

Part of regenerating this spring is to return to an activity that you have enjoyed in the past or, better yet, discovering a new form of personal expression. It might be hauling out your old bicycle from the garage and pumping up the tires for a ride or starting on a new mission like hiking the trails of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Try rediscovering the “kid” in you by going out and playing for hours without keeping close track of the time or worrying about all the adult things that can weigh you down. Play is one of the most important regenerative activities that we can do to balance our emotional and intellectual selves, and sometimes the more spontaneous it is the more fun it can be.

With optimism and hope in our heart and a plan to reconnect with playful activities, this spring promises to be a good one. Saying goodbye to a cold and snowy winter while embracing the promise of a new spring gives us a chance to renew who we are by balancing ourselves spiritually, emotionally, physically and intellectually.


Dr. Scott E. Smith is a licensed clinical psychologist with Spectrum Behavioral Health in Annapolis and Arnold. For services or ideas regarding this column, call 410-757-2077 or write to 1509 Ritchie Highway, Suite F, Arnold, MD 21012.

Leave a Reply