Feeling Anxious Now Spring is Here? You’re Not Alone
Spring means longer days and warmer weather; it also generally means more time out and about socialising
If this fills you with dread, you aren't alone. Psychotherapist Lisa Daitz explains why spring is the most common period clients seek out therapy
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Now the clocks have moved forward and the spring weather is gradually setting in, there is a great deal of expectation for people to go out and make the most of the longer evenings. This year that expectation feels even greater, since it follows two consecutive summers of various lockdown restrictions. The prospect of the first ‘normal’ summer since 2019 has created a real pressure to go out and socialise. Yet we know that, for many people this can feel more daunting than exciting. And whilst winter is often associated with ‘the blues’, more commonly it’s spring and summer that can lead to unhappiness.
Whilst in winter we can hunker down and make the most of our homes – if we’re lucky – spring is a time to traditionally get out and about once more. With longer evenings and more light it can feel to many that there is ‘no place to hide’. And with this feelings often comes a realisation that something is not right; that there is a need to hide; that getting out into the world again isn’t such an exciting prospect.
Spring always prompts the most enquiries
As a psychotherapist working online and in-person in North London, I have seen first-hand that many people are struggling with the prospect of rejoining the world and no longer being able to hide away. Even before lockdown, every March and April would see an uptick in enquiries and marked a time when clients would be speaking about their feelings of anxiety and unhelpful thinking patterns in anticipation of this particular time of year. Whilst some can’t wait for the longer, hopefully warmer evenings, to get out and about and meet friends, for others, the idea causes anxiety and is sometimes a ‘wake-up call’ that something is not right.
For people living with anxiety or depression, with generalised anxiety disorder or social phobia, the combination of lockdown restrictions and winter weather created something of a safety net. Nobody else was going outside, nor was there any pressure to do so, which made it much easier to hide away from the world. Everyone else, after all, was doing the same. It gave us the perfect excuse to hide away and not feel bad about doing so.
“It is a joy to be hidden and a disaster not to be found”
Psychoanalyst, D W Winnicott’s quote resonates with many of us. How wonderful it is, if we are very lucky, to make the most of warm homes on cold, dark nights. Winter gives us the opportunity for much-needed downtime, without the pressure of being on the go, facing the world and socialising. However, with spring upon us, the landscape is different.
We might have friends who are extremely excited about ‘going out’ and pressuring us to make plans and arrangements. And this might highlight a number of responses. You might worry about not being able to feel the same excitement. You might just feel generally anxious at the idea of more activity in the streets and parks around where you live. Even if you can’t see them, you can somehow feel them – the great mass of people out and about and ‘having fun’. Many emotions are associated with this period; it is a particularly hard time for those struggling with their mental health. This is the time that can highlight how actually, some people want to stay hidden and not be found.
Understanding why we want to hide
When people begin to recognise that they find it difficult to face the world and they want to stay hidden, some are ready to make changes and it’s at this point we see them make the first move with a call, a message or an email. It’s a big step but it’s an exciting one. Great therapy offers the opportunity to explore with the client what’s going on. What are the challenges? What are the feelings? What are the patterns of behaviour? As we work with clients confidentially, kindly and without judgement, we can fully explore the issues they are facing and really understand what is going on. Together we can then see that there are choices, even when there seemed to be no choices before. And when choices emerge, change can become possible. For clients this is ultimately about leading the best life that they can life; a more fulfilling life. And through this we usually see improved relationships with those around them and a life lived with meaning.
As we embark on this spring period, it is important to remember to put yourself first – to not always give into the pressure and be kind to yourself. But if this time of year is daunting, if you realise that you want to stay hidden, this could be the moment to try to understand why. This could be the time to explore the reasons that stop you, if you prefer to hide, from fully participating in the world and from living your most fulfilling life. There’s a time to hide, to be cosy and to hunker down and there are times to be in the world with others. Therapy can help us understand how we function in the world throughout the seasons and in all the different parts of our lives and with all the people in it. And it gives us the opportunity to understand our choices and the possibility for change.