What is this phenomenon?
The arrival of spring is a positive time for most people. However, some people also suffer during this time, when allergies and increased light and temperature cause mood swings and decreased physical energy. This feeling of fatigue and weakness is clinically referred to as spring asthenia.
It is not exactly a disease, but a symptom associated with a temporary disturbance that is very common at this time of year when various weather changes occur.
Spring asthenia is more common in people between the ages of 20 and 50 and affects women more than men.
Fighting Spring Asthenia
The symptoms associated with spring asthenia are multiple. The most common are a feeling of physical and psychological fatigue, weakness, lack of appetite, muscle pain, headaches and unexplained sadness.
Alterations in sleep, difficulties in concentration and memory, irritability and a decrease in libido may also occur.
Although spring asthenia is not a disease and its symptoms are transient, it eventually becomes a problem that affects quality of life, reducing the ability to perform even the simplest daily tasks.
The causes of spring asthenia are not well known, but it is thought that they may be related to the climatic changes associated with this season.
The most widely accepted hypothesis to explain this phenomenon associates spring asthenia with changes in the production of certain neurotransmitters and hormones, namely serotonin and endorphins. On the other hand, exposure to natural light increases the release of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep.
These factors, combined with the drop in blood pressure that occurs when the temperature rises, cause the body to consume more energy and promote the onset of feelings of fatigue, weakness and drowsiness.
The root of all this is the need in the spring for our bodies to adjust to the new schedule and the effects of increased sun exposure. This period of habituation lasts between one and two weeks and involves a modification of our circadian rhythm, a sort of biological clock that functions in 24-hour cycles.
When the sun starts to decline and the day gets darker, our eyes send this information to an area of the brain called the hypothalamus, which in turn communicates with the rest of the body by releasing melatonin, which makes us feel tired and sleepy.
The circadian rhythm also influences the regulation of blood pressure, appetite, body temperature and hormone levels.
Factors such as an unbalanced diet, with an insufficient intake of vitamins and minerals that ensure the proper functioning of the body, an overly stressful life and a sedentary lifestyle (little physical activity) also seem to contribute to a greater propensity for spring asthenia.
Treatment and prevention
The symptoms of spring asthenia usually disappear after a few weeks, without the need for specific pharmacological or psychological treatment.
However, there are some things you can do to restore your energy and thus relieve the symptoms. Here are some tips:
1. A varied and balanced diet
Eat foods that are richer in vitamins and minerals (for example: vegetables, fruits, cereals or nuts) and that provide a lot of energy (bananas, royal jelly or eucalyptus honey).
The diet should provide the body with the necessary amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fat, minerals, vitamins and water.
Reduce consumption of high-calorie foods, as they increase the feeling of sleepiness.
2. Stay well hydrated
Drinking at least six glasses of water a day will keep your body hydrated. You can also choose to drink juices and herbal teas.
Avoid coffee and energy drinks or alcohol.
Moderate, daily physical activity has benefits for people with springtime asthenia, including promoting the release of endorphins, which enhance feelings of vitality, by promoting pleasure and relaxation.
A 30-minute walk five times a week may be enough to relieve physical symptoms and mental fatigue. On the other hand, physical exercise also predisposes the body to rest at night.
So get moving, it’s good for you!
Good sleep practices
Sleep between seven and eight hours each night, depending on your needs. If you can’t do this every day of the week, take advantage of Saturdays and Sundays to get a little more sleep.
Avoid heavy foods so that digestion does not disrupt sleep.
Have a program
Set fixed times for your meals and rest. This will help stabilize your circadian rhythm, which will help your body adjust to the changes brought on by spring and the time change.
Plan your workday well, set priorities and, if possible, delegate tasks, whether at home or at work.
Do things that give you pleasure. Adopt relaxing habits in your daily life. For example, meditate, take hot baths, and do slow, deep breathing exercises (preferably while sitting).
In some cases, in addition to a good diet, a vitamin or mineral supplement may be recommended. However, these supplements should never replace a balanced diet and should be taken on the advice of your doctor or dietician.
If the symptoms persist for more than one or two months, it is recommended to consult a doctor. The goal will be to establish a diagnosis and to exclude or treat other conditions that may be causing the symptoms, such as allergies, anemia, thyroid problems or celiac disease, among others.
In addition to all the preventive measures mentioned above, it is important that your diet includes a number of foods that, thanks to their nutritional characteristics, help to strengthen the immune system and control spring asthenia.
Here are some suggestions:
- Lemon, orange and kiwi: fruits rich in vitamin C and antioxidants ;
- Mushrooms: source of antioxidants, B vitamins and selenium;
- Pumpkin seeds: rich in zinc, which regulates the function of immune system cells;
- Almonds: their vitamins E and B3 strengthen the immune system and fight the effects of stress;
- Yogurt: contains “friendly” bacteria that help fight inflammatory processes in the digestive tract;
- Garlic: stimulates cellular activity of the immune system;
- Spinach: good source of fiber, antioxidants and vitamin C;
- Sweet potato: contains beta-carotene and vitamin A;
- Banana: is an energy food and rich in tryptophan, an amino acid involved in mood regulation.