Getting to the Bottom of Spring Fatigue

As we enter the spring season and bid adieu to winter, we us feel a certain sense of fatigue in our daily lives. Most people I talk to simply attribute it to the change in weather. When I try to dig deeper, they simply shrug their shoulders.

So, I decided to do some of my own research on the subject and share my findings here. For starters, I found that this is not a phenomenon confined to one corner of the world. I have read about people complaining about it from all corners of the world, all the way from the US to Australia.

It turns out that we, like animals, regulate our metabolism and hormone levels in response to external stimuli like temperature and light. In fact, our core body temperature is slightly lower in the winter than it is in the summer, which results in a slowdown in our metabolism. During this period, our body also produces a higher amount of the hormone melatonin, which regulates our sleep.

When spring comes around all of a sudden, the sun starts rising earlier and we get longer SFhours of sunlight accompanied by rising temperatures. The body naturally reacts to this change in external stimuli by raising the core temperature, thereby dilating blood vessels and causing a resulting drop in blood pressure. The body also reacts at the hormonal level, causing the release of more serotonin, the activity hormone. All these changes throw our body’s rhythm off-balance.

This slightly weakens the body’s defenses and also makes us more vulnerable to infections. Temperature changes back and forth, accompanied by an adjustment to the clock due to Daylight Savings Time tend to exacerbate the effects. Large day-night temperature swings put added strain on blood vessels and circulation. These are drastic changes for the body and it takes a couple of weeks to adjust and adapt. Depending on individual circumstances, the effects might also include headaches, irritability, tiredness, dizziness, and a tendency to drift towards a sad mood. (On a side note, while weather or spring fatigue is common, the severe version of this problem is referred to Seasonal Affective Disorder and often requires treatment.)

However, instead of simply riding out the fatigue, there are things you can do to fight it. For example, exercising activates the whole body. Consumption of fruits and vegetables supplies the body with vitamins and minerals that consequentially help strengthen your defenses.

Knowledge is power. And now that we know, we can do more than simply suffer through weather fatigue. Besides, every cloud has a silver lining and this is no exception. Suffering through a few weeks of fatigue will bring us the warm embrace of summer.

Here’s looking forward to an activity filled summer!


Day Trip to Vilanova i la Geltru

With spring right around the corner, it made a preview appearance last weekend-a welcome change after months of cold weather. Not wanting to waste such a beautiful day, we decided to make a day trip out of it.

We visited the nearby town of Vilanova i la Geltrú. About an hour and a half from Barcelona city, this small town of around 70,000 people has a rustic small town charm that draws you in. Located close to the beautiful beach town of Sitges, this town is also located on the waterfront. However, we chose to skip the beach entirely and spent most of our time walking the town’s small tile paved pedestrian only streets, lined with 1 story buildings with houses and shops. There was also a local festival in progress, in celebration of which the streets were decorated with creatively recycled and colored objects like plates, water bottles and water barrels.

We also walked along the main rambla, a much wider and airier pedestrian only avenue, which was filled with families enjoying an afternoon walk and children playing. This avenue was also lined with numerous stores, but unlike in the smaller streets these were branded chain stores.

After lots of walking, we wrapped up the evening enjoying a sunset at the main square (Placa de la Vila). This main square houses a number of beautiful and iconic public buildings. It is interesting to note that this square has a bronze statue of a former prominent resident, Josep Tomàs Ventosa Soler, a textile magnate that made his fortune in Cuba. 2 identical statues were forged in Cuba, of which one was brought to Spain, while the other still stands in Cuba.

Since it was a weekend, there was a lively outdoor market staged at the main square. The square was bustling with activity. Some people strolled around casually looking at the merchandise on sale, while others sat in one of the many cafes lining the square, sipping on their cold beers or hot coffees. We were in the latter group, enjoying chocolate croissants, olives and drinks.

All in all, it was a day well spent. We’re hoping for more beautiful weather over the coming weeks so we can leave the city and make more day trips. I’d definitely recommend visiting this town if you happen to be in the Barcelona area.

Taste Memories

Isn’t it amazing how we have memories tied to certain a taste, or smell or song? And isn’t it funny how you don’t realize you had that memory until something triggers it?

Yesterday, after enjoying a nice evening walk the Honey Bee and I were headed home for dinner. We happened to cross a new Mexican restaurant that we’ve been meaning to visit, but never have. On an impulse, we decided to dine there.

I ordered a burrito and on the very first bite, as soon as it hit my tongue, I was immediately transported back some 10 years to when I was a student in the US. The university cafeteria had a burrito that tasted just like it.

The burrito was good, but nothing I’d write home about. However, the memory it triggered made me relish the burrito. With every bite I took, I was re-living my care free university days. I was enjoying it so much that the Honey Bee had to ask me to keep the noises from my foodgasm down. 😛

While writing this post, I did some quick desktop research on the subject and was pleasantly surprised to find research on the subject. Here’s an extract of a summary of one of the findings:

A functional link between the brain region responsible for taste memory and the area responsible for encoding the time and place we experienced the taste had been found. The findings expose the complexity and richness of the simple sensory experiences that are engraved in our brains and that in most cases we aren’t even aware of.

Suffice it to say, I liked the memory it triggered that I was unaware I had and that we will definitely be going back to that restaurant.