There's a scientific reason why you're feeling impulsive and restless this time of year. An expert explains

Spring is a time of renewal and growth. It’s when the birds chirp more, the sun shines longer, and temperatures feel much more bearable. But why is it that despite all these things we’ve waited months for, we still don’t feel 100% “right?”

Here’s the reality: spring means change—whether it’s in the weather or within us—and change is uncomfortable. Especially when we aren’t prepared for the jarring adjustment between winter and spring.

“Spring gets good, but it doesn’t start good,” says psychiatrist Dr. John Sharp.

Sharp, who wrote the book, The Emotional Calendar: Understanding Seasonal Influences and Milestones to Become Happier, More Fulfilled, and in Control of Your Life, says each season has three parts: early, full, and waning. The early part—the part where the weather is typically the most unpredictable—can be particularly hard mentally.

“In early spring, there’s an increased turnover of serotonin in the brain and our metabolism kind of gears up. But we’re not fully ready for it yet, so we get this restless feeling like something has to change,” Sharp tells Fortune.

This is why spring may feel like a time for finally pursuing delayed resolutions, like feeling the desire to get out of a relationship, or to move, or to quit your job, Sharp says.

“The ‘I have to change something’ feeling is very disorganizing and difficult to handle,” he says. “But it passes.”

But don’t consider this restless, weird inner feeling the end all be all; spring is still the time of year where things bloom, and you can too—if you want to. Sharp shares his suggestions to limit the overwhelming discomfort of change that often gets brought up this time of year.

Avoid impulsive decisions

Many people feel the desire to chop their hair in the spring, or to get a fresh wardrobe. Though these decisions are sometimes impulsive, they are usually harmless. But Sharp warns against more impactful impulsive decisions, like uprooting your family. Be aware of the feelings you’re feeling, but try not to act immediately on them.

“Don’t overreact or try to reach some conclusion impulsively,” he says. “If it’s something you really need to do, you’ll be able to do it later when your energy can be better put to use.”

Try telling yourself that if a change truly needs to happen to improve your mood and overall life experience, taking a beat to do so won’t be a problem in the long run.

Do more of what works for you

You don’t have to take on a new habit or hobby in the spring just because the weather is nicer and there might be more of a push to.

“If you’re not into yoga, you don’t have to start yoga. If you don’t go to the gym, you don’t have to start going to the gym,” Sharp says.

“But do whatever works for you, and maybe even do it a little more. Use the power of the familiar to try and assure yourself that this is going to be okay, that you’re going to figure this out.”

Sticking to a routine, no matter how simple, can greatly impact mental health, as it can lower stress levels and improve sleep.

Welcome spontaneity

It may seem silly, but welcoming a new season and its quirks can actually positively impact your outlook on the changing seasons. If you look at the unpredictable early spring weather negatively, you’ll likely have a harder time than if you keep your mind open to the idea of newness everyday.

“It can characterize you as a person, whether or not you like the inconsistency,” Sharp says.

“Are you cool with an unscripted plan? If you’re better with spontaneity, spring might be more appealing to you.”

Don’t put away your winter wardrobe just yet

The moment temperatures begin to rise seems like the perfect time to take your warmer weather clothes out of hibernation, but don’t be surprised if they need to return there just as quickly.

“Get out your spring clothes, but don’t be mad at them when it gets cold again,” says Sharp.

This is similar to when spring flowers, like daffodils, pop up early spring despite the weather not being fully nice yet. Though they are a harbinger of spring, their presence can be confusing when we’re still waking up to frost.

Perhaps we think we can manifest the warm weather by putting away our winter coats and grabbing out the sandals, but having clothes at the ready that you just can’t wear yet could actually lead to more disappointment. Plus, it’s added clutter for your spring cleaning.

Instead of migrating it all to your closet or dresser, maybe grab out a couple transitional pieces to get you in the spirit of spring.

Get outside

When you’re feeling down, the last thing you may want to do is leave your bed. But it’s true that being outside improves your mental health. Even spending five minutes outdoors changes your vantage point.

Though the early part of spring brings inconsistent weather, Sharp says even being outside when the weather is unfavorable can improve the way we feel, much like the previous point. Even if you have to romanticize the moment.

“If the weather is cold, think of how you’d feel when you’d come back and get warmed up and make yourself a nice cup of tea, put your hands on the outside of the hot mug, and maybe even light a candle? Boy, you’d feel so happy.”

Having to do something that forces you to leave the house, like walking your dog or getting groceries, is also great when the motivation just isn’t there. 

But if you can’t seem to shake a persistent bleh feeling, it might be rooted in something more serious than just uneasy feelings about change.

Seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), happens this time of year, too. It’s a persistent feeling of sadness typically associated with dark, cold winter days though, making its continued presence into the spring surprising for some. Studies actually also show that symptoms for people with mental illness and mood disorders often become more apparent and worsen during the spring season.

This is partly due to changes in the amount of light we’re exposed to, which impacts our circadian rhythm, so even though more sunlight seems to be a surefire cure to seasonal depression, it creates an imbalance that can feel overwhelming or exhausting. 

Feeling sad or off in the spring—or any season—is normal and not necessarily something that should shoot off warning bells. But like any other medical concern, mental health issues shouldn’t be pushed under the rug. If you’ve tried any or a combination of these tips and you can’t shake a constant sadness, it may be time to talk to a doctor.

“The worst thing is when somebody feels isolated and alone. Things will get better for most people but if you don’t feel like that’s you, reach out for help,” says Sharp.

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