The leaves are turning…. Pumpkin spice is brewing… Horror movies are streaming… Fall is in the air!
For many, fall is also a time when anxiety levels are on the rise. While the whole world seems to celebrate the fall season, others are forced to fight yet another annual case of autumn anxiety.
Much like the adoration for autumn has recently blown up in the mainstream, autumn anxiety wasn’t really brought to light until a little over a decade ago. Welsh therapist, Gene Scully, coined the term “autumn anxiety” as a specific sector of an overarching form of anxiety called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or S.A.D.
What makes autumn anxiety unique to its counterpart is that this time-related allergy is all based upon the human perspective of the season itself. Sure, there is beauty in the changing of leaves, but in reality the trees are dying. It’s a sign that the cold is coming, and being locked indoors is imminent and will be the way of life for the foreseeable future.
Coming to terms with the end of the party known as summer can begin a tailspin into depression for many people. That is what makes autumn anxiety such a real affliction.
Here are eight ways to relieve yourself of autumn anxiety:
Take on Less
School is back in session. For parents that means carpools, sports games and PTA meetings. Not to mention Halloween is coming. Then Thanksgiving. Before you know it, it’s Christmas and New Year’s! And here we have the foundation of autumn anxiety.
Having all these big events looming in the background is a constant reminder that money, time, and effort are going to be expended. On top of that, there’s all the new responsibilities that come with having an active child in school. If you are spreading yourself too thin, it’s time to thicken up.
Don’t say “yes” to everything.
Write down your to-do list and see what comes out of your pen first. Typically, the most pressing things will naturally flow out of you. Anything toward the bottom of the list is expendable. Forget about it. Take on less.
Going back to school is stressful for students, as well as, you are thrust into a bunch of new classes with new faces. Then there’s sports, extracurricular activities, homework, friendships, dating, the stressors go on and on.
Starting the school year can undoubtedly click autumn anxiety into the next gear. For incoming students, take it one day at a time. Your number one priority is to do well in school. Feel out the workload, and from there figure out where your spare time lies. If you see a sport or extracurricular activity that fits into your allotted time frame, sign up! Otherwise, let it go. Don’t bog yourself down with feeling you need to do everything. This will only add fuel to your autumn anxiety fire.
Seek Allergy Relief
With any changing of the seasons, allergies are likely to creep up on you, thus affecting your mood. Allergies are caused by a negative reaction within your body after becoming exposed to foreign chemicals in the air, such as pollen.
Proteins called cytokines begin to attack on your cells, sending your immune system into a tizzy. As your immune system is compromised, hormonal production gets thrown off, causing imbalances in the creation of serotonin and dopamine, which trigger feelings of calm and happiness.
Further exhibiting the correlation between autumn anxiety and allergies, studies have concluded that allergy symptoms during high and low pollen seasons result in higher levels of anxiety and increased depression scores.
The best way to fight off autumn anxiety caused by allergies is to treat your allergies.
Prior to the fall season, up your zinc and Vitamin C intake. Boosting your immune system naturally will prepare it better to fight off incoming foreign bodies. If the allergies already have the best of you, try diffusing essential oils such as lemon, orange, or lavender to help soothe allergy-related issues while also addressing some of the anxiety-based issues within the mind.
Supplement with These Micronutrients
Prior to fall you are going to want to up your intake of two essential micronutrients, Vitamin D and magnesium. Vitamin D is sourced plentifully through the sun. However, exposure to sunlight narrows each day starting June 21 and does not start its slow journey back to long summer days until December 25.
Numerous studies have linked lack of Vitamin D to depression and anxiety.
The reason being that every tissue in our body has a receptor for Vitamin D. That includes the brain, which is responsible for cases of autumn anxiety.
Magnesium is another essential nutrient in the human body as it is the catalyst for about 300 different bodily functions. As studies have shown, lower levels of magnesium interferes with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis). These areas of the central nervous and endocrine systems’ main functions are to regulate mood and stress levels.
Getting Vitamin D is tough unless you eat or drink foods fortified with it, such as milk. Purchasing a supplement is the best way to ensure you are getting an ideal amount of Vitamin D. As far as magnesium goes, our body naturally produces it. To get more, adding magnesium-rich foods to your diet is a simple fix. Try incorporating dark greens like kale and spinach into your diet, as well as pineapples, Brazil nuts, dark chocolate, cashews, and almonds.
Magnesium is also readily available as a supplement. It may become more effective when combined with other natural anti-anxiety chemicals. These combinations are made into effective, natural supplements such as Tranquility Lab’s Tranquilene. Combining magnesium with other natural chemicals like the neurotransmitter GABA and the hormone, tryptophan, boosts the anxiety-reducing properties of magnesium to help alleviate stress-related symptoms.
Find Time to Workout
We get less exercise in the fall and winter as compared to the spring and summer, due to colder temperatures and less hours of sunlight. However, you cannot let that be an excuse to not get your sweat on. Otherwise, autumn anxiety can creep in and take over.
Exercise is pivotal for numerous reasons.
For one, it causes your body to release endorphins, which trigger feelings of determination and happiness.
Secondly, exercise is good for the body. As we noted, what is good for the body, is good for the mind. Introducing exercise into your regimen helps keep blood circulating throughout the arteries. This curbs buildup that can cause clogs that lead to heart disease. If blood is free to flow, then it is reaching all areas of the body, including the brain. Fresh blood and air supplies to the brain helps create the hormones necessary to fight off autumn anxiety.
Embrace Fall Foods
See what the fuss about fall is all about. Fall time brings a litany of foods that are not only delicious, but effective in curbing autumn anxiety. For instance, pumpkin seeds are a great source of magnesium. Twenty-three percent of our daily recommended intake of magnesium is present in just an ounce of pumpkin seeds.
Speaking of high levels of magnesium, they can be found in autumn squash as well. Butternut squash contains 15 percent of the daily recommended value of magnesium, and it also contains 18 percent of manganese and 17 percent of potassium. These micronutrients also have the ability to alleviate symptoms associated with autumn anxiety.
Cinnamon is a spice readily available and used feverishly during the autumn season. Not only does it have a spicy, sweet flavor, but it also contains chemicals that can lower blood sugar levels as well as cholesterol. Feel free to pour some of that cinnamon over baked apples. Apples are naturally high in antioxidants which helps repair oxidative damage caused by inflammations and foreign chemicals, such as the ones caused by allergies.
Don’t Forget to Breathe
Next time you fee anxious, actively ask yourself, “Am I breathing?” “Are my teeth clenched?” “Are my shoulders balled up?” If you answer yes to any of these, unravel yourself and breathe.
As published by Harvard, breathing is a built-in relaxation technique for our body. It’s one of the strongest tools that we have that can combat autumn anxiety. Not to mention that it’s free.
Live in the Moment
The perfect follow up to breathing is living in the moment. These two almost go hand-in-hand. As we mentioned earlier, with the fall comes a bunch of new activities and responsibilities that can leave you feeling bogged down. As a result, autumn anxiety takes it’s hold.
Living in the moment is the best way to fight off the creeping feelings of autumn anxiety.
Take each moment day by day, rather than dreading the winter and all the upcoming responsibilities ahead. This is a healthy way to curb the onslaught of autumn anxiety. The tendency to over analyze the future is a cornerstone of anxiety. Don’t give the unknown the power to control your life. The best way to stop that is by living in the moment.
Keep Busy with Challenges
One of the best ways to cope with stress is to distract yourself. Keep yourself busy with welcomed challenges.
That means do things for you.
Since it’s the start of a new season, one idea is to start a new 30-day yoga challenge. Try a new diet that’s only whole foods. Take your dog for a walk no matter how cold it gets. Concentrate on yourself, and push yourself to be the best you can be. Just be sure that you challenge yourself in non-stressful ways.
Now Beat THAT Autumn Anxiety!
Autumn anxiety is real and is a standalone seasonal depression from any other.
Autumn comes with a unique set of challenges that can easily set someone onto a course of anxious behaviors. However, there is no need to fret and feel defeated. Use these eight tips and get on the right path toward an anxiety-free autumn.
Do you suffer from autumn anxiety? If so, how do you cope? Let us know below!