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.
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!”
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*).
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.”
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.)
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.
Headspace. I am the World’s Most Skeptical Critic re: meditation, but holy hell has this helped me stop and just… breathe.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 boyfriend and their thirteen plants. She is doing her best.
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.