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Have You Cauhgt the Fever?

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Real or fanciful, spring fever can affect us all

Ah. Spring fever, when our thoughts go to romance and our hearts open to the possibilities. Poets, writers, and even psychotherapists cite the "powers" of spring fever. But, is spring fever a reality or just an iconic fantasy of dreamers everywhere?

Let's start with some of the common characteristics of spring fever. They might include:

• An increase in heart rate

• A marked decrease in appetite

• A loss of concentration and episodes of wandering thoughts

• Restlessness

• Enhanced mood

• Thoughts of hope and positivism

It all sounds wonderful doesn't it? Researcher Norman Rosenthal, with the Institute of Mental Health, states that spring fever is a body's reaction to a changing environment due to an increase in the levels of sunlight. Other researchers suggest that spring fever is nothing more than changes in climate that triggers changes in our melatonin and serotonin level, which creates a "lighter" sense of self. This brighter view of life opens us up to seeing the possibilities and opportunities that surround us.

With flowers blooming, warm breezes, and chirping birds, how could we not be happy?

Americans tend to feel optimistic and the possibility for change and a promising hope for us to succeed is predominant. This change in psyche is very different from the dark days of winter that tend to create depressive symptoms and feelings of worthlessness and disharmony.

Just like the end of long hibernation period, spring fever awakens us. Our biological clock seems to turn on and we tend to have an increase in energy and a feeling of well-being. Anthropologists believe spring fever is an evolutionary passage for humans to gather, hunt and procreate. Perhaps that's why so many of us feel the need to clean our dwellings, hunt for new fashion collectibles and have thoughts of romance.

But, amazingly, April has the highest rate for suicides. That doesn't fit into our pretty little scenario. Perhaps there are thoughts of new beginning for others around us, but some people can not visualize a more positive worldview for themselves. Caught in hopelessness, spring brings the realization that things may never change and life might be dull, unfulfilling and perpetuating depressing. For those souls, this might be the time to reach out to for assistance to create a change.

Whether it's a poetic illusion or a reality, there are some biological and mental health changes that occur for most Americans at this time of the year. Here are some tips that can cement the change and carry us into an empowering spring.

• Focus on the new beginnings. No matter what is happening in your life, you can always find an aspect that you can influence to create a change. Start today to create the life you desire.

• New beginnings begin with your mindset. Spring fever is powerful because it marks a change in thinking and within your belief system. If you believe something will happen, the possibility for seeing what you desire increases. Opening your mind to "the potential" is the key to success.

• Focus on gratitude. Those who are grateful tend to see life in an optimistic framework. Spring tends to offer beauty, fresh images, sights, sounds, and smells that can awake our gratitude. Slow down and take in your surroundings.

• Reach out. If you are feeling down and can't seem to break the hold, then reach out to someone around you. There is a possibility for a change, but you must take the first step to move out of the darkness. Remember that there are many trained professionals who can assist you in your life journey.

• Spring fever opens our hearts. Don't waste this time of increased energy and enthusiasm... use your openness to open the lines of communication with those you love. Spring fever isn't just for new lovers... it is for everyone who opens their heart to others.

Joy Erlichman Miller, PhD, LCPC, is president of Joy Miller & Associates: Counseling and Wellness

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