Pool time and long days of sunshine near extinction as we make our way deeper into the autumn season. Kids are back in school, spooky season is in full swing, and the holidays are lurking around the corner. If you feel more anxious during fall, you aren’t alone because autumn anxiety is a real thing. Since there is no singular external trigger, autumn anxiety is unlike other forms of anxiety; rather, it tends to occur annually when fall rolls around.
Some people don’t realize how common autumn anxiety actually is, and some don’t even recognize the symptoms. If you notice that it occurs every year, the pattern is obvious and you should take steps to prevent it. Some of the most common symptoms of autumn anxiety include:
- Anxiety and excessive worry
- Lethargy, sleepiness, and fatigue
- Low mood and depression
- Loss of interest in everyday activities
What Is The Reason For Autumn Anxiety?
Experts point out that one of the primary causes of autumn anxiety is that there is less daylight, which decreases serotonin levels. Serotonin is a hormone that affects appetite, mood, and sleep patterns. The increase in melatonin, which is attributed to the darker days, also increases feelings of sleepiness and depression. Additionally, you may experience a decrease in vitamin D levels, and studies show that low levels of this vitamin increases the risk of depression and behavioral changes. Fortunately, you can tame autumn anxiety by identifying what your personal triggers are. Put a plan in place to manage these triggers before they overwhelm you. Hopefully, the following tips help you beat anxiety this fall.
Reframe Your Outlook
Don’t immediately view the fall season in a negative light, or you will surely start to head down an unhealthy path. Try to reframe your outlook and focus on what there is to gain versus what you lose during autumn. Instead of thinking, “Oh no it’s colder, darker, and I’ll have to be stuck inside,” try to reframe that thought to, “I’ll be warm, cozy, and with loved ones more often.” Establish a healthier environment in your home by hanging some fall decor, putting autumn-colored accent pillows on the couch, or draping a warm throw blanket on your chair. In doing so, you take what feels like a loss and reframe it in a more positive light.
Stop Anticipating Problems
If you want to stop dealing with autumn anxiety, stop anticipating problems. Don’t worry about autumn being awful or potential problems that may occur. By anticipating that things will go wrong, you start to spin out of control into an anxious flurry, if you will. You can only manage what happens in the present, so don’t try to jump into the future to manage things that haven’t happened yet. Several health experts recommend practicing mindfulness exercises to help manage stress and remain in the present. When you direct your focus to the present moment, you only worry about what happens in the now. If anxious thoughts about the future start to creep their way into your mind, bring your awareness to something that anchors you in the present. Follow your breath and take a minute to relax.
Get More Light
Lack of light is one of the primary reasons people experience autumn anxiety. Fall is not completely dark, though. There are many beautiful sunny days that give you the opportunity to absorb natural light, but it’s your job to get outside. Instead of a morning run, consider a walk on your lunch break. Researchers also suggest using a light box, which is a bright lamp that you use for 30 minutes a day to expose the eyes to extra light. If you suffer from seasonal affective disorder, you may also want to consider light therapy.
Talk To A Professional
There is no reason to feel shame about seeking professional help, and nobody should make you feel bad about doing so. Cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective way to help treat anxiety and seasonal affective disorder, which tends to start in autumn. This is because of the anticipatory anxiety you experience about the upcoming holiday season and the shorter days. Don’t wait until things spiral out of control and you have difficulty controlling your anxiety or depression. If you start to feel depressed or anxious, take action to improve your mood! There are so many services available and you don’t even have to leave your house to talk to someone.