You've heard of seasonal depression, but have you heard of a mental health disorder that is specifically associated with the season of autumn? Many people haven't. For many people, autumn is a preferred season because it brings cooler weather, coffee dates, and Halloween. But the season also brings with it things such as the start of school, the end of summer – which is often the end of vacation, and the need to stay inside due to weather that may be too cool. For this reason, some people tend to suffer from something that's called autumn anxiety.
What Triggers Autumn Anxiety
The End of Summer. The approach of autumn means the end of summer. Summer is the season for vacation and relaxation for a lot of people, so it's understandable that the end of those few relaxing months can prompt feelings of anxiety or depression. Especially if the summer was particularly enjoyable. Instead of lounging by the pool or taking walks in the park in shorts and a t-shirt, you suddenly have to find new activities to occupy your time. This brings me to my next point.
Staying Inside. Due to the cooler weather, most people tend to start to stay inside more. This can lead to feeling more down and restless. It's also a little more cloudy and the skies are a little more gray in the fall; this atmosphere can also lead to more negative feelings than the previous seasons of spring and summer.
The End of a Year. When autumn begins, everyone knows that winter is soon to follow. And with winter, comes in the end of the year. This can cause many people to reflect on the way they lived their lives during the year and if they don't feel that much was accomplished or that not enough goals were reached, this can lead to many people feeling anxious because all they've gotten is one year older.
Holidays. Four very big holidays reside in autumn or near autumn – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day, and Christmas. This can put a strain on bank accounts and that can put a strain on mental health. Holidays also usually require a gathering of friends and family and if big gatherings stress you out, that can cause you to spiral mentally.
How to Cope
Knowing what triggers autumn anxiety is nice and all, but I'm sure you also would like to know how to deal with it. While there's not a surefire cure, there are things that can help.
Exercise. Having a routine can really hone your focus and put you into a better mood – especially if that routine includes physical movement. Exercise has been proven to increase serotonin levels. So while it can't always cure anxiety and/or depression, it is a good habit to have.
Holiday Preparation. Knowing what to expect during the holidays can really put you ahead of the game and help to relieve some of the stress that comes along with them. Start to make plans as soon as possible and don't leave things until the last minute. For Christmas, it would also help to go ahead and start ordering some of the gifts you'd like to give throughout the year so that you're not left doling out tons of money in one month.
Positive Mindset. It's not always easy to have a positive mindset; it takes a lot of training, actually. If being positive is not a part of your natural disposition, you have to teach yourself to put things into a positive light. For example, don't think of staying inside more as a negative thing. Think of things you wanted to do that now you can take advantage of that require you staying indoors like finishing that book or installing a fireplace or using your indoor gym. It's all about looking on the bright side of things if you can. And if you can't...at least try.