banner image

Feeling On Edge? It Might Be Spring Anxiety.

"The wind and roller coaster temps are driving me up a wall this month. I need help!"

I barely survived my first winter in Colorado. I was working and living outdoors and really didn’t know how to dress for zero degree and below temperatures. Accustomed to the wet mild winters of the Southeastern US, I was clueless when it came to handling the wind and snow blasting across the Colorado Plateau. Sure, the North Georgia woods had its share of ice storms and weeks of rain, and nothing ever dried out…but for this native eastcoaster, Colorado winter was a different animal. 

As the weather warmed, I felt immense relief. One windy spring day I was at work and noticed it was sort of cloudy, but like…a brownish cloudy? At some point I put out my hand and realized it was semi-raining. The rain looked like dirt. A few hours later, all the vehicles in the vehicle fleet where I worked were covered in muddy dirt rain. I asked a friend and seasoned Coloradan if dirt rain was normal. "Oh yeah," he said, "we got through winter, but now it’s time for mud season and wind season."

Wind season?! As a gal who prior to moving to Colorado spent most of her days on the east coast or living in another country, I was familiar with bone-soaking cold, ice storms, torrential rain, thunder and lightning, humidity, tornadoes, floods, and a host of other weather phenomena. But like dirt rain and sub-zero temps, I’d never experienced wind like Colorado wind.

A while back, I wrote a blog on the different flavors of anxiety and how anxiety is like ice cream. I wrote the post in late November, headed into the dark days of winter. I thought of all sorts of flavors of anxiety: worst-case scenario anxiety, health anxiety, "I'm a bad person" anxiety, and "I'm going to fail" anxiety. At the time, spring anxiety never even crossed my mind as an anxiety flavor. It was a flavor out of season, so to speak. 

This year as we’re clawing our way slowly into spring I’m remembering the specific type of springtime anxiety unique to Southwest Colorado; an agitated and unsettled feeling that for me usually shows up around March and persists through late May. If you're feeling chaotic, restless, moody, and unsettled, you too might be experiencing the particular anxiety that comes with spring in the Four Corners. 

Signs of spring anxiety include: 

  • Overdoing/Overcommitting
    At the first sign of spring, do you dig out all the projects you let languish during the winter months? Overcommit to social engagements? Decide to clean all the things, or fit in more activities than there are hours in the day? Tackle a huge task you’ve been putting off? 

    The spring transition can mean excitement, and excitement and anxiety often show up the same way in the body. Normally I’d say people mistake excitement for anxiety and let the feeling hold them back from doing something important to them. In the spring I’d say the opposite…that what feels like excitement can actually have an underlying anxiety, and this anxiety inspires overdoing behavior. 

  • Restlessness and Impulsivity
    In the spring you might notice having a hard time sitting still, or difficulty focusing on activities that held your attention during the winter months like reading a good book, crocheting hats, completing a puzzle, or diving into a particularly good TV show. Now you find you can barely stay stationary, let alone engage in any of the hobbies that kept you occupied through the dark winter months. 

    You might also notice yourself wanting to make a big change in your life—perhaps a desire to change jobs, or reclocate geographically, or end your current relationship. Urges to make impulsive decisions small and large arise, like impulse-buying a new bike or deciding to drive to Mexico for spring break. There's nothing wrong with spontaneity...and if you find it's wrecking havoc on your life, it might be based in anxiety versus a value of new experiences.  
  • Appetite Changes and Body Image Issues 
    Because of the busyness of spring and the aforementioned overdoing/overcommitting, it can at times be difficult to remember to eat. You also might notice an overall decrease in appetite. Most people’s food desires also start to shift in the spring, from the comforting and warming soups and stews of summer to all the new green stuff coming out of the ground. Because Colorado’s growing season doesn’t really pick up until later in the spring, pinning down what you want to eat can feel challenging and may result in you feeling ambivalent about food or skipping meals. 

    Spring can also be a time when disordered eating gets inflamed as we start to wear fewer layers and potentially assess our bodies in a negative light after the winter. The health and wellness industry is always bombarding us with marketing, and in the spring the fad diets and admonishments to lose weight for "swim suit season" can get especially toxic. 

  • Ungroundedness
    This is a place where spring winds can come into play in a big way. I think wind can be hard on our nervous system, agitating us and making us feel battered around and unstable. We start to feel ungrounded—disconnected from ourselves, our bodies, and the earth underneath us. 

    Ungroundedness can contribute to many of the behaviors we’ve already discussed like overdoing, restlessness, and impulsivity. It also just feels…bad to be dysregulated day after day. Nervous system dysregulation can lead to other symptoms like muscle tension, difficulty sleeping, and irritability. We also don’t make the best choices when we’re ungrounded, disconnected as we are from ourselves and our values. 

Overdoing, restlessness, impulsivity, ungroundedness, forgetting to eat…sounds like a recipe for mental and emotional chaos. If you notice yourself getting unbalanced and feeling any of the above, spring might be a time when it would be beneficial to increase your self-awareness and self-care in order to stay well. 

How to stay stable when spring anxiety hits:

  • Pace Yourself and Remember to Rest
    I often have to remind myself that the warmer seasons are a marathon, not a sprint. Even though winter-inspired scarcity would have us believing the warm days are limited, I try to remember we have months of sunny, dry weather ahead, and that if I overdo when the crocuses first peek their heads out of the ground I end up exhausted and burnt out by June. 

    Rest is also important for staving off the mid-summer energetic crispies. If your days are getting full, make sure you’re taking breaks, and try not to use the extended daylight hours as an excuse to stay up forever and get less sleep. 

  • Practice Experiential Acceptance
    Experiential acceptance is an ACT term that means willingly turning towards your experiences no matter how uncomfortable. Practicing experiential acceptance in the spring might mean noticing how you feel when the wind and weather get turbulent. Are you experiencing anxiety? How do you know? Do you clench your jaw or teeth, or hunch your shoulders? 

    Personally, I’ve tried to start treating the wind like any other intense or uncomfortable emotional experience. There’s nothing I can do to control it, so why not practice my turning towards or willingness skills and be with sensations I dislike? Then, I can work on relaxing my body and taking deep breaths instead of tensing up every time a gust hits. (I admit, I’m not very good at this yet.)

  • Attune to Seasonal Transitions
    Ayurveda, or the “Science of Life” is, according to The Ayurvedic Institute, the “oldest healing science.”1 Something I appreciate about Ayurveda is the awareness and honoring of seasonal changes and the attention to the lack of separation between humans and nature. (I am very much a dabbler when it comes to Ayurveda, and there are Ayurvedic doctors who study for years and years, so I apologize to them in advance if I butcher their science.) 

    At some point in my Ayurvedic dabbling, I learned that covering your ears, neck, and feet can help with springtime agitation, as well as eating warming, settling foods and spices. It might take a little experimenting to see what types of foods work for you. 

    Since Ayurveda is all about the balancing of imbalances, try doing the opposite of whatever the weather is up to. So, if it's windy and dry, some type of moisture like a sauna or hot springs could be an antidote. If it's cold and wet, try staying dry and keeping warm with enough clothes and blankets. Sounds simple enough, but it's easy to forget sometimes in the midst of go-go-go spring energy. 

  • Be Gentle With Your Body
    A critique I have of Ayurveda is that it can encourage very restrictive eating in the form of hard dietary boundaries and cleanses. We talked earlier about the way in which spring can exacerbate existing body image and disordered eating patterns. Struggling with body image and eating is f**king tough, and there's no way one or two paragraphs is going to do the pain of it justice. 

    That said, if you're struggling with body image and disordered eating this spring, know you're not alone. Try talking to a trusted friend or journaling, or reading a book like Breaking the Binds of Weight Stigma2 or The Body is Not an Apology3. Seek out professional help from someone experienced in eating disorders and watch out for spring dietary changes that are restrictive and rigid. 

  • Take Time to Ground
    What calms you? What grounds you? What helps you to feel settled, open, and curious? Maybe it’s lying under a weighted blanket, or casually digging in wet dirt, or working with a medium like clay or playdough. It might be as simple as planting your feet on the floor (or in a warm patch of grass) and feeling the earth underneath you, or going for a slow, mellow walk. 

    My mind tells me you'll think this is a silly suggestion...and I find microwavable rice socks easy to make and a great grounding tool. Fill any sized cloth tube with rice, sew up the openings, and microwave it for 30 seconds to a few minutes depending on the size. Then, you can put the rice sock on your shoulders or legs, or across your eyes (checking the temperature first of course...don't burn yourself with that s**t.) The increased weight and warmth can help you feel more anchored and settled when spring turbulence hits.

Despite the potential difficulties of spring, it’s also a season of possibility and hope. If you can remain aware of your potential spring emotional and mental ups and downs, you can use the knowledge to cultivate growth in yourself and your life. 

Noticing when you’re getting keyed up and imbalanced, slowing down, and taking the time to care for yourself and your nervous system are all important aspects of riding out the spring turbulence with some semblance of grace. And if you’re struggling, remember that seasonal transitions are hard…and therapy can help. 


1. The Ayurvedic Institute

2. Pegrum, S. (2023) Break the Binds of Weight Stigma: Free Yourself from Body Image Struggles Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

3. Taylor, S. R. (2021). The Body Is Not an Apology. Publisher. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.