As the last of the summer days fade away and are replaced by the tumbling of golden leaves from the trees, it can only mean one thing… Autumn is coming. For many the idea of Autumn conjures up cosy images of crackling fires, snuggly scarfs and pumpkin spice, but for just as many the season doesn’t feel quite so comforting.
Along with those chilly Autumn winds a lot of people are also getting hit with what is known as ‘Autumn Anxiety’.
The term was coined by Welsh Therapist Gillian Scully back in 2005 and gives a name to the increased levels of generalized anxiety that many people are experiencing as we wave goodbye to summer.
Surprisingly many people have still not heard the term, but they may be more familiar with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a similar condition which affects an estimated 10 million people a year and can lead to depressive symptoms in the winter months. Those that suffer with SAD and also those that are Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs) are among the most common people to experience the symptoms of Autumn Anxiety, but they are by no means alone. Anxiety does not discriminate and even those that do not generally suffer from it throughout the rest of the year have been known to experience increased spikes in unrest and nervousness as Autumn kicks in.
There are so many reasons as to why someone may be experiencing Autumn Anxiety but one of the most common is the sense of uncontrolled transition. I mean we only have to look outside our windows in the Autumn months to see the world itself starts to change before our very eyes. Where only weeks ago stood a bright green, leafy tree, there now stands a balding, branch exposed, rust coloured replacement.
But it doesn’t stop there… ever since we were children, Autumn has been the season of new beginnings. The start of the new school year and the introduction of new commitments after the causal vibes of summer days can be an unpleasant shift in gears. For some these were great times, but for others this continued pattern of transition year upon year has created a reoccuring sense of anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed.
On top of this Autumn is the start of the shortened day. The effect of this, due to limited or decreased exposure to sunlight in the years darker months (just like during the Winter months with SAD) can lead to low levels of vitamin d and a reduction in the body’s melatonin and serotonin levels. This can leave many suffering with a biological condition that has very similar symptoms to depression and during the Autumn months, increased levels of anxiety.
Seasonal allergies also have their part to play. Studies have shown that allergy symptoms related to low and high pollen seasons can be linked to higher anxiety and depression levels. This may have something to do with the fact that as allergies attack the immune system the body has to fight back and the physical effects of this can impact on how you feel mentally.
Autumn Anxiety exists but so do different tips and techniques for how to try and cope with it. So here we go…
First off, if seasonal allergies ring a bell then get that remedied as soon as possible. If you can actively sooth the physical reaction, that is one less thing contributing to the pyschological effects of the season.
Get yourself outside. This will help combat the effects of shortened days because you will be giving yourself the best opportunity to take advantage of that fleeting Autumn Sun. While it may seem comforting to stay indoors and nest as the days turn colder, this can sometimes add to feelings of isolation and increased anxiety as you stay locked away on your own. Taking the time to venture outside and going on a brisk Autumnal walk will allow you to get those dopamine levels up with a little bit of light exercise, and will also give you the time to focus on your breathing.
Breathing is a great way to focus the mind and actually help boost you mood and alleviate levels of anxiety. While out walking allow yourself to calm your mind, clear it of all thoughts and worries and focus solely on your breathing as you inhale and exhale. Take deep breaths from your diaphragm as this has a soothing effect on the body and in turn on the mind.
Lastly just make sure you are treating yourself to that little bit of self care that we all need. Take it easy on yourself, allow yourself the time to unwind and relax. Great ways to do this would be to limit time on electronic devices (try and cut down on that blue light exposure), reduce your caffeine intake and most importantly set aside time to make sure you are getting enough of the sleep, rest and support that you deserve.
While these tips are great for helping to encourage feelings of relaxation and provide ways to decompress after a hectic and stressful day, if you are experiencing an overwhelming sense of stress and anxiety that is beginning to impact your day to day life it may be beneficial to find someone that can offer you professional advice on dealing with these feelings.
#autumnanxiety #autumn #emotionalhealth #anxiety #hypnosis
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