Oh, spring! What are you doing to us?
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Oh, spring! What are you doing to us?

Translation: Katherine Martin

All of a sudden, we’re back to lounging around on the grass, moseying through the streets with a spring in our step and feeling flirty. Spring is a feast for the senses – and the hormones.

The animal kingdom isn’t the only thing waking up from hibernation right now. We, too, are turning our heads towards the sun again – and it’s giving us butterflies in our stomachs. Spring brightens our mood and perks us up. But how come? Here are seven reasons.

1. Hello, happiness!

The days are getting longer and it’s doing wonders for our mood. This is because light plays a central role in producing the happiness hormone serotonin. Sunlight reaches our very own feel-good-hormone factory, our brain, via our eyes. Serotonin is then released, lifting the spirits. Spring light also readjusts our dopamine balance. That, by the way, is the hormone that gives us our drive and motivation. It’s also the reason why we feel joy upon hearing chirping birds or seeing blooming flowers and lush green meadows.

2. Who’re you calling a couch potato?

The extra hours of sunlight are encouraging us to head outdoors into the fresh air. All of a sudden, we feel like going cycling, inline skating or taking a stroll, leaving the TV to gather dust in the corner at home. While winter forced us to wrestle the devil on our shoulder, spring has turned it into an angelic playmate. Been meaning to shed a few extra kilos for a while now? Want to follow my editorial colleagues’ lead and run a half marathon? Now’s the time to make the decision and follow through on your resolutions.

3. Meet up with friends and make new ones

The great outdoors isn’t just for sweaty workouts. Our social lives have also started to move back outside. We arrange to meet up with friends for coffee, chat with the neighbours over a glass of wine or catch up with old acquaintances we bump into on a stroll. Spring provides the ideal backdrop for deepening existing relationships and meeting new people. Keen to share the energy of spring with others, this contributes significantly to our mental health.

Coffee tastes all the better when you drink it with a friend outside.
Coffee tastes all the better when you drink it with a friend outside.
Source: Shutterstock/Aliaksei Kaponia

4. Spring fling

The idea that we feel flirtier in spring has generated debate in the scientific community. This time of year doesn’t seem to be directly linked with sex hormones. Spending more time outdoors and getting more exercise, on the other hand, does. As Karsten Müssig from the German Society for Endocrinology puts it in Swiss newspaper the «Aargauer Zeitung» (article in German): «If, for example, a man goes back to doing more exercise in spring, he’ll usually produce more testosterone as a result. But that’s more to do with the physical activity than the season.» In an interview with «Der Spiegel» (in German), German doctor and hormone expert Holger Willenberg flagged the importance of spring’s visual stimuli. At this time of year, «we start seeing other people more and don’t go out all bundled up in as many layers». One thing’s for sure: spring is a flirty season. The dating site Parship.de sees an 11-per-cent increase in registrations in spring compared to autumn, while its competitor Elitepartner.de sees sign-ups rise by 17 per cent.

5. Mother nature pulls out her paintbrush

Speaking of visual stimuli, one of spring’s loveliest effects is the sea of colour it creates. Plants shoot up from the earth in shades ranging from purple to yellow to red. And that’s before you even factor in the buds on the trees and the rich blue sky. Being surrounded with colour has been proven to positively impact mental health: «The variety and stimulation of our senses through colour keeps us mentally stable,» says German colour psychologist Klausbernd Vollmar in an interview with the «Süddeutsche Zeitung» (in German). Vollmar goes on to describe that researchers in the Arctic, who go long periods without seeing many colours, often struggle with psychological problems as a result.

No one: how much colour is too much colour? Spring: yes!
No one: how much colour is too much colour? Spring: yes!
Source: Shutterstock/Joshua Raif

6. Smells like springtime

Whether it’s freshly cut grass, the sweet, fruity scent of lilac, the earthiness of a flowerbed, or your neighbour’s barbecue, there’s always some aroma in the spring air. It’s the smell of holidays and freedom. Even the exhaust of a passing moped can’t detract from that mood-boosting scent. On the contrary, exhaust fumes suddenly smell pleasant, reminiscent of your Mediterranean vacation last summer. This is no coincidence – your sense of smell is connected to the centre of memory and emotions in your brain. And because spring has positive associations for most people, the smell of it makes them feel good.

7. The anticipation of summer

The arrival of spring means summer’s not far away. It’s dancing tantalisingly in front of us, hinting at all the wonderful things soon to follow. Barbecues, days at the pool, flip-flops, festivals, summer vacations, watermelons ... It’s less than 80 days until the official start of summer on 20 June. Crazy, right?

Of course, for some people, spring leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Looking at you, hay fever and seasonal tiredness! But for now, we’ll block all that out and enjoy the season.

Header image: Shutterstock/Tatevosian Yana

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Mom of Anna and Elsa, aperitif expert, group fitness fanatic, aspiring dancer and gossip lover. Often a multitasker and a person who wants it all, sometimes a chocolate chef and queen of the couch.

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