It is that time of year again when the nights are getting colder and shorter in Colorado. When summer fades, we too can sometimes feel the seasonal shift show up in our lives emotionally. The end of summer brings many changes and may bring the looming thought of the impending “grayness” of winter season. These transitions might be difficult for a variety of reasons, and the multitude of change can deeply impact our mood or sense of well-being. If you are someone who already experiences challenges with regulating stress, anxiety, or depressive feelings, the shift from summer to fall and eventually to winter can make things worse.
To ease the transition, I suggest you approach the upcoming change of seasons with a deeper awareness for what you need to get through or what could help this time around. If you let stress or feelings build up without addressing them or recognizing what you need, you might find yourself turning to a bit more wine in the evening, or using other substances, like cannabis, more often, or any number of less-than-healthy methods for coping with stress. Perhaps it is time to get in touch with what you truly need to make this transition easier. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Try a new physical activity. Start a new physical fitness class, try a new sport, or find a healthy outdoor pastime in the community. Being physically active, especially outside has positive effects on our mental health and well-being.
- Try a new hobby or pick up an old one. Being creative also has been shown to help us keep up spirits through the longer nights.
- Make plans. Having something to look forward to be it a dinner, stay-cation, game night with friends or something else can keep us motivated to get through the week(s) ahead.
- Talk to someone. A therapist can be a great resource to help you resolve challenges, work through stressors, and gain new skills to help you cope more effectively. Having feelings like the ones described above does not necessarily indicate major mental health problems, but could be an indication of difficulties adjusting to the changing season (and accompanying obligations/commitments). Talking with a therapist can serve as a supportive resource can help you gain new perspective and provide you with individualized coping strategies to deal with the impact of seasonal change.
Whatever you choose, I encourage you to keep on eye on your feelings and notice if you are experiencing more stress, irritability, sadness, or lack of excitement. It is very possible that the fall season and all that comes with it might be adding to whatever mood you are having. You do not have to do experience this transition alone. Take care to pay attention to what you feel you need in your life, and how that might be different as the seasons change. Seeking support in therapy could be the thing you do different this year, and it might help you for many years to come.