Now that the vernal equinox is behind us, spring has indeed sprung.

In the winter, our lack of exposure to sunlight causes the pineal gland in the brain to produce more melatonin, a sleep-inducing chemical. This may slow us down during the winter months.

As we move into spring, the days get longer and the sun's rays become more direct. In response, the pineal gland produces less melatonin, leaving us feeling energized and renewed. For thousands of years, rites of spring in a multitude of cultures have acknowledged nature's regeneration and bounty.

An example of this is found in the Persian new year which falls on the vernal equinox. It's called Nowruz and is preceded by a period of intense spring cleaning called "Khouneh Tekouni," or "shaking down the house." This year, maybe you should consider capitalizing on your newfound zest by literally and figuratively shaking down your house. Here are a few ideas to help you do just that:

Reorganize, sort and toss: There's hardly a more liberating feeling than going through your files, your kitchen cabinets or those boxes in the basement. It's hard to get started, but once you do, you will immediately feel a burden lifted.

Revamp your wardrobe: It's time to put your winter clothes away anyhow, so why not revisit your old spring wardrobe and spend some time creating a new look? Add a pocket handkerchief to an old blazer, or complement a recycled dress with a different scarf. Small changes like this can make others believe you've invested in a new closetful of clothes.

Recharge your love life: If you're already in a relationship, take this opportunity to reinvigorate it.

Leave a love note in his lunch box or a rose on her pillow.

In sum, every spring reinvigorates us and opens the door to new possibilities.

Why not use this spring to your full advantage?

Maud Purcell is a psychotherapist, corporate consultant and director of the Life Solution Center of Darien. Write her at