It’s Not Just You — Fall Anxiety is Definitely a Thing

As previously seen on Wit & Delight


Hey.

I struggle with anxiety pretty terribly in the fall. And it’s okay if you do too.

It’s strange though, right? Considering fall wins the favorite season poll by a mile? I mean, I’m straight up giddy at leaves changing color; I’ll pull my car over to look at a tree like your 60-year-old dad. I stock up on so many “Vanilla Pumpkin Fig” candles at Target you’d think I was preparing for a two-month-long power outage. I’m a clothes-layering champ and will click on any article titled anything remotely resembling “13 Fall Booties Your Closet Needs.”

And every year I think, “Maybe… not… this year?” but sure enough, it rolls in. It’s like someone turned up the volume on my worrying knob to max even though they know damn well that will blow my cheap speakers. I think part of it’s a holdover from school years. Newness. Change. Mean older girls. Other various cobwebs of autumns past, building in all the same hard-to-reach corners. The other half of it’s most likely my “present” brain warning me good ol’ Seasonal Affective Disorder is right around the corner! My good buddy SAD coming for a stay even though I never invite him!

I’ve been dealing with this for awhile (like my entire life) and I’ve found a few strategies and activities to calm the anxiety down that work for me. Obviously, I’m not a doctor. What works for me (therapy, writing and a combo of the below) may not work for you and I highly, highly encourage you to spend the time figuring out the right plan of action for your brain because your mental sanity and inner peace are worth it over anything else in this world. But first, know it’s okay to not be okay in the season where you feel like you should be your most okay. And also know that sometimes coping with anxiety won’t be as cute as practicing hygge. Sometimes it’ll be crying and just breathing. Sometimes it’ll just be trying.

It's Not Just You — Fall Anxiety is Definitely a Thing – Wit & Delight

  1. Pause to acknowledge the fact that your anxiety is acting up without judging yourself for it. There’s power that comes with simply saying to yourself, “So things like, aren’t totally the greatest right now.” You have an unwelcome guest (anxiety) in your house (brain) but that’s okay because we’ll start doing all of their least favorite activities until they have no choice but to be like, “WOULD YOU LOOK AT THE TIME? GOTTA RUN!”
  2. Take a social media fast. Yeah for real. The world will still remember you and your #content when you return. Kate wrote all about her time doing that here. If clicking into apps is compulsive (me) then I recommend using an app like Offtime which will literally block you from clicking that orangey-purpled-pink icon (*cough cough*).
  3. Write down two columns in a notebook titled “In My Control” and “Out Of My Control” and separate everything out that you’re worried about. Every single thing. Take a look at the items in the “In My Control” column and make a plan for each of them. Write that down. Then read aloud everything you wrote in the “Out Of My Control” column and follow it up with “is out of my control.”
  4. Sometimes when my anxiety is really bad, I’ll have days where I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing. On those days at the very least, I set my phone timer for ten minutes and clean. Just for ten minutes, no more no less. (Bonus if you listen to an uplifting TED Talk while doing so.)
  5. Recognize your boundaries and respect them. One of the most dangerous misconceptions in our society is when people try and convince you that you saying “I can’t” means “I won’t.” FUCK THAT NOISE. You are a human with limits.
  6. Headspace. I am the World’s Most Skeptical Critic re: meditation, but holy hell has this helped me stop and just… breathe.
  7. Put on some 30’s jazz and open an adult coloring book. There’s something very calming about listening to The Ink Spots while coloring an enchanted castle.
  8. Work out regularly. THIS IS NON-NEGOTIABLE BECAUSE I AM YOUR MOM!!! Look, I literally don’t understand the concept of running and last about 32 seconds in yoga before I’m bored out of my freaking mind. Cool! I don’t have to do those things! I found a workout regiment that works for me (I rotate through barre, spin, and circuit training classes) and it helps me immensely! Does it take everything I have in me to get myself to class some days? Absolutely! Have I considered fake passing out at the beginning of Alchemy so I could go home? Definitely! Push through. Trust me.
  9. Caffeine doesn’t help anxiety 🙁  so make sure you’re drinking water throughout the day. I try every half hour at least to take ten big chugs. No, it won’t cure anxiousness but being hydrated does wonders for your body and sometimes taking care of our physical health is all we can do.
  10. Some people swear by adopting a more Hygge lifestyle. Give it a try.
  11. Have patience with yourself. You’re doing the best you can and tomorrow might be better but it might be worse. That’s okay. It’s normal to fluctuate. If you need a pep talk on forgiving yourself daily for not being perfect, I wrote this for you.
  12. A therapist isn’t for everyone but it helped me immensely. If you’ve never sought one out before, here’s a beginner’s guide.

So there we have it. A few things in my magic bag of anxiety tricks. These are meant to be helpful but don’t be discouraged if none of these work for you personally; I think it’s important we share with each other the ways in which we cope. I’d love to hear some of what works for you as well. You never know who else that’ll help. And if there’s one thing I leave you with: I don’t want you to ever feel like it’s not okay to not be okay. I think as women we very often get wrapped up in this concept of being “low maintenance” which like, you’re not a houseplant. You’re a human. Love you.

Image sources: 1 / 2


Liz Welle is a professional feelings feeler but gets paid to do social and digital stuff for brands in Minneapolis while occasionally food styling on the side. She lives in Uptown with her thirteen plants. She is doing her best.

 

  • Hi Liz,

    I don’t experience anxiety any more or less in the fall, but I am a chronic sufferer of anxiety and a lover of fall, so my tips for beating anxiety usually involve throwing myself into the season as much as possible (for a hardcore introvert)

    1.) I like getting outside (when it’s not raining) – something about inhaling crisp and cool air, crunching over fallen leaves, or wrapping yourself in a woolly blanket can be very comforting. That, and in general fresh air is just good for you!
    2.) I second exercise! Pilates is one of my favorite ways to work up a sweat, target a muscle group, and get a boost of positive energy via the Blogilates Youtube channel. Cassey is just so positive and upbeat.
    3.) On occasion, distraction is a beautiful thing. If I can’t turn my anxious brain off, I simply redirect it. Right now I’m re-watching Buffy the Vampire slayer from the very beginning and reliving a favorite childhood series is definitely keeping me sane right now. 🙂
    4.) Fall is the harvest season – so reap and harvest your life! Reflect on the changes you’ve made during the year and take stock of what you need to get rid of now. This could be 1/4 of the clothes in your closet or that one friends who makes you feel terrible about yourself. Grim reaper to your heart’s content!
    5.) Reach out to a friend! A lot of people experience debilitating anxiety during the fall and it can honestly help to chat about it and know you’re not alone.

  • I am a sufferer from anxiety as well and just like Mykki, it isn’t just in autumn. I really like these suggestions and would like to add some of my own.
    – Having a routine helps a lot for me. It reduces anxiety around making decisions, as my day has a certain rhythm.
    – Healthy food is also incredibly important for anxiety and in my opinion not talked about enough. Eating unhealthy affects your brain chemistry (the gut is the second brain after all), so when I eat unhealthily I often experience increased anxiety.
    Other than that, I agree that a social media detox can work wonders on an anxious mind.

  • Have your doctor check your B12, vitamin D, and magnesium levels. I was having horrible anxiety and found out I was very low on vitamin B12. My body doesn’t process B12 so no matter how much I take in I just pee it back out. I have to get B12 shots once a month for the rest of my life. It’s worth it because my anxiety is pretty much gone, unless I forget to get my monthly shot. Low magnesium and D can also cause anxiety.

  • Thank you so much for this! I’ve never noticed autumn-onset anxiety as strongly as I have this year and have been wondering if I was just slowly losing my mind, and the only one experiencing it. Part of it is due to my leaving my job at the end of this week (new one is lined up but not yet confirmed), and thinking about that shift reminded me of TheSimplyLuxuriousLife’s article about “La Rentree”, around transformative self-care as everyone returns to school and work after the summer. I find it a bit of a balancing act, hitting the right degree of restlessness + change with rest + introspection, and I so appreciate your tips. 🙂

  • Great post! I suffer from anxiety when I travel, it’s such a weird thing because it’s only been happening I’d say for the past couple of years and I’m trying to figure out how it’s triggered.

  • I have more of a “fall excitement” feeling by default (guess school wasn’t so stressful to me), but in Israel we have a bunch of holidays spreading over most of September, so after working a day or two every week for a month, I’m suddenly terrified of going back to actual FULL WEEKS OF WORK.
    This passes pretty fast though.
    I’m really jealous of countries that have ACTUAL fall season – here it’s just 2 more months of summer, and then some rain that goes on until April.

  • I don’t suffer from fall anxiety, but I do suffer from anxiety in general.
    I found your article really helpful and I’m definitely going to be trying out a few of your tips.
    I tried to download Offtime though and it’s discontinued. Do you have any alternatives for it?

  • My anxiety has been terrible lately. While I have a few crazy things going on in my life beside fall, it’s so nice to know I’m not alone. I actually don’t like fall because it means winter is coming and I dread it. The things that help me are exercise for sure (I love the elliptical), eating super clean (pretty much Whole30 like Whole 350 – have to have cheat days too!), and taking me time. Lately there’s been kind of a lot of me time. On nice days I get out at any cost and on crappy ones, movies, books, and TV are the way I go.

  • I start in late August sad with the inevitable end
    of my summer weather. Just knowing that in the next 2 months it will get dark earlier and then in November no more daylight saving time. It also brings in autumn colors and I will have to wait until spring for pink blossoms. I know there is much beauty in each season, but I love long days, warm weather and bright pastels. Also, retailers..whether in stores or ads on tv bring out new season items months ahead. They start playing Christmas music the day after Halloween as an example.