This winter has been a bit too cold, long and confining for this native, ‘California girl’! I must admit, I’ve caught spring fever, a common woe that strikes when the days begin to get longer and warmer. This time of year it is customary for people to blame spring fever for their restless or lazy behavior, distractions in the workplace and studio, sudden spurts of spring-cleaning and love struck dazes.
While watching the snow melt and waiting for flip-flop weather, I find my mind wandering and daydreaming about the beach, plein air painting in green pastures and feeling lazy, uninspired and wanting to ‘play’ instead of work and paint. Normally, I am an extremely industrious person, so why do I feel overwhelmed and so unproductive? I am sure some of you are feeling the same way, so decided to do a little research about spring fever and thought you all might enjoy reading what I learned:S
Spring fever is: ”A feeling of restlessness, excitement, or laziness brought on by the coming of spring.”
Historians believe that American colonists coined the term spring fever to refer to the weakness, fatigue and irritability many felt after a long winter without fresh fruits or vegetables but actually, the colonists’ symptoms were that of scurvy.
Today, scientists have discovered that long days of rain or snow and the lack of outdoor activities can make some people feel restless, and sometimes even depressed. Medical research has attributed the phenomenon of spring fever in humans to seasonal changes. The change of seasons cause a realignment of the body’s chemistry with sunlight. These changes during spring can readjust our body chemistry, specifically the internal body clock that responds to sunlight.
Statistically, at least half of the people who live in the northern latitudes of USA and Canada experience the symptoms of spring fever more intensely. Longer sunny days seem to have a direct impact on people’s psychological and physiological responses to the passage of the seasons. So, scientist now know that spring fever is not just in the head. It is caused by an adjustment in body chemistry and seasonal biology!
Artists also have the added challenge of working alone most of the time. No wonder we want to stare out of our studio or office windows on a beautiful sunny day instead of work!
Here are some ideas to help combat Spring Fever:
1. Get out into the sunshine and get some much needed Vitamin D, exercise and fresh air. Exercise benefits your body and mind as it burns cortisol which reduces the negative effects of stress, and releases endorphins that block pain receptors and give you a feeling of euphoria. Many studies have shown that exercise reduces anxiety, even during short periods of exercise, such as aerobics, walking, and jogging. Just a few minutes seems to help.
2. Check Your Work Habits! Spring is a good time to reevaluate your work habits. If your routine is not working for you, try mixing it up. Often times, a small change to your work schedule will help to make big changes in your productivity and happiness.
3. Give yourself permission to take a break. Most artists are workaholics and don’t know when to stop. Be flexible. Flexible scheduling will allow you to balance your work life more effectively.
4. Sign up for a workshop. This is a great way to expand your artistic knowledge and another way to meet and network with other likeminded people - I am going to treat myself to a workshop next month!
5. Put all that daydreaming to work and use this time to create in your head. Jot down some quick notes in a journal or sketchbook to record the great imaginative ideas that come mind!
6. Bring the outside in - open the windows! Fresh air does wonders. Experiment with bringing the outside in and decorate your workspace with flowers and house plants. Many houseplants naturally purify the air. This freshness will help yield new ideas and perspectives.
7. If you have the time and money, nothing beats spring fever and work fatigue like taking a trip. However, a trip can be as simple as a weekend get-away, a day at a favorite museum, aquarium or zoo, or an elaborate cruise or island retreat. The options are endless, but the common denominator is just ‘getting away’ from your work for at least for a full day.
Or, take time and enjoy the last bit of winter. That’s right – maybe you haven’t taken the time to enjoy yourself this winter! Now is a good time to get out and enjoy the snow and brisk weather before it is all gone. Be sure and take your camera for some added inspiration.
8. If you are not a member of Facebook or Twitter, give social media a try. This is the best way to combat loneliness in the studio! Social media connects you with other creative individuals who are willing to offer support, inspiration and information in their networking circles. Twitter and Facebook are easy ways to meet other artists and promote your art or business.
9. Spring clean your workspace – this is important! Again, I know from personal experience that a messy, cluttered studio or office adds to the feeling of dread. A clean workspace makes for better productivity!
10. Try something new or how about a new medium! Maybe you have always wanted to try sculpting in clay, or abstract painting – I knitted a scarf. Or, how about planning a garden or building your own outdoor painting pochade box? Pick up your old sketchbook and doodle. Or, maybe it’s time to put down the paint brushes and give yourself permission to read a good book. This is something I need to do for myself from time to time. I know from personal experience, that a great book can teleport your imagination and lift your spirits in ways that will reflect positively in your artwork.
Many of the above ideas are helping me and I am feeling productive again. I have taken some much needed breaks, cleaned my studio and even went on a four day trip to Canada! Now, I am ready to get back to painting and blogging.
If you find yourself feeling blue or suffering from spring fever, it is interesting to note that science proves that social connections are one of the best deterrents to depression, anxiety, and even disease. Study after study confirms that people with strong social connections live longer and are happier along the way. No wonder why Twitter and Facebook are so popular for artists! Remember, even though most of us work alone, being an artist does not have to mean a life committed to ‘solitary confinement’!
Please leave a comment if you have a tip to help with us spring fever!
Meanwhile, you might like some of these helpful articles:
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