By Lauren Berger, MSW, RSW
After hibernating all winter, most of us welcome Spring with open arms. No longer does it get dark at 4:30PM (hooray!), and boots and hats become a choice rather than a necessity. Most are in the mood to socialize more and embrace what the city has to offer. Human beings are social creatures and we crave enjoyment activities; they are fantastic mood boosters.
As you “spring forward,” here are two caveats to be aware of:
1) Don’t over-schedule. When we finally have uplifting weather and (possibly) more free time, it’s tempting to squeeze every drop out of the weekends and post-work hours. Rather than having a full schedule of good times, this can sometimes have the opposite effect. Over-scheduling can leave you feeling drained, moody, and even resentful when attending a get-together. This can be regarded as “too much of a good thing.” Trading sleep and downtime for parties will likely catch up to you eventually, and may leave you feeling fatigued at work. Instead, focus on keeping your social life simple — pick and choose your commitments so that you look forward to the events and have time to rest and rejuvenate. Prefer the Sunday patio brunch with buds over your second-cousin’s bridal shower? Don’t squeeze both in; you’ll wind up enjoying neither. Pick your preference and politely decline the other. The show will go on without you, and you will benefit from having a balanced calendar. Let the good times roll!
2) Don’t over-iPhone. This is important all year round, however the Spring is a great time of year to check-in with yourself and evaluate just how much time you’re logging on your phone. Of course, it’s 2013: it’s natural to make and receive several calls, texts, and e-mails throughout the day, but if you notice that you cannot ride in a car without your Facebook or Twitter app open, chances are you’re missing out. Not only has your attention become focused onto a screen the size of a credit card for several hours a day, but you’re likely missing out on all the things that make Spring beautiful; the things we dream about All. Winter. Long. Trees budding, birds singing, and all the other lovely things that are featured in the beginning of several classic Disney movies. So, what’s wrong with missing out on these signs of Spring? For one thing, they help connect us with nature. In Toronto, we don’t always get a whole lot of nature among the streetcars and the skyscrapers, and so we must take what we can get as the weather heats up and greenery pops up once again. Elements of nature appear to have a very psychologically calming effect… Something especially helpful if you don’t heed Caveat #1. Also, many of us have gotten caught up in “documenting”: we photograph, status update, “check-in”, and otherwise try to capture moments to show others rather than living them. You probably have a friend who photographs every meal before indulging, perhaps even Instragram-ing it while eating those first few bites. Often people are preoccupied with logging a moment so they can return to it in the future as a photo, rather than live in the moment as it is happening and relying on your memory to remind you how you felt, rather than a status update or “I was here” check-in. Experience the special moments (including the everyday pleasures) without focusing on documenting them, and notice how you feel. Chances are you’ll feel a little more involved in your life rather than simply a biographer of the things you do, which often leads to a greater sense of fulfillment. What better time than during beautiful Spring to stop and smell (not Instagram) the roses!?
Lauren Berger is a Registered Social Worker providing counselling and psychotherapy at IHI. Check her out at www.laurenberger.ca drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @LaurenBergerMSW