Every year around Labor Day, I start to make the mental shift into the fall season. I know I’m not alone in this (and I’m not here to talk about how amazing fall is, I promise), but I think there are important adjustments we make heading into this part of the year that aren’t always talked about. Seasons don’t only mean a change in weather; they also mean a change in lifestyle and a shift in our schedules. Fall is much more than back to school and changing leaves – it’s another opportunity to work on our mental health in a changing space.
I’ll admit that even though fall is one of my favorite seasons, there are so many adjustments to make after the chaos of summertime. Loose structures snap into place, and people return to familiar routines while the weather starts to begin the slow shift to winter.
Even as all this is happening, there are pockets of summer that pop up here and there – an unseasonably hot day, an end-of-summer sale, back to school night, etc. These not-so-subtle reminders are there to serve as an alarm clock that something new is here, and it’s time to trade your summer life in for an autumn experience.
Most of this sounds like hyperbole, but for someone who’s a few years removed from being part of the ‘back-to-school’ craze, it can be a pretty jarring shift. And in all of the commercials and noise about how great it is that pumpkin spice is back in your life, there’s much less talk about what else we need to prepare for – colder days of weather where the sun sets earlier, schedules from friends and family that can get twice as busy and an approaching fall/winter holiday season that is already a challenge for so many.
Making mental shifts and adjustments to the changing seasons is one of the more proactive steps we can take to manage our wellness because it doesn’t actually rely on the seasons to change. You don’t have to wait until Labor Day to figure out how you’re going to deal with autumn – just like you didn’t need Memorial Day to sort out how you adjust to summer. Your schedule and wellness are no one else’s but your own, and finding what works for you on your own time is one of the best ways to manage what’s next.
I wouldn’t say I’m an expert on how to navigate the changing seasons, but I’ve had enough experience that’s shown me these changes effect my mental health and wellness. That helps me navigate these challenge in the same way I’ve tackled others on my mental health journey. By being as proactive as possible and managing the negative impacts if/when they occur, I’m finding as many ways as I can to live my best life with depression and anxiety – no matter what the weather looks like outside.