It’s that time of year, when social media feeds are flooded with pictures of ecstatic parents sending their children off for another school year; our minds begin to teem with visions of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, crisp evenings, and Halloween costumes. However, what if all you see are shorter days, increased traffic, and more responsibilities? What if, for you, the changing of the season from Summer to Fall triggers a downshift in your mood? Read on for some tips to cope!
- Get into a routine now: Whether you’re heading back to school, sending a loved one back to school, or just anticipating the adjustment to fewer backyard barbecues and more bridge traffic, it’s tempting to wait until the last minute to get back into your Autumn routine. If you get back on a regular sleeping and eating schedule right now, your body and your mind will thank you for it when the change of season arrives.
- Make sure to get some rays: There may be some days in the depths of winter when you head into your office before sunrise and leave well after sunset. This is enough to leave anyone’s mood in the doldrums. Take some time to get outside and seek some sun whenever you can. If that’s not enough, ask your doctor whether light therapy might help. Be sure to consult a doctor before using light therapy, as it can have adverse effects in folks with some conditions, such as bipolar disorder.
- Practice Mindfulness: Do you find yourself dreading the change of season when you still have many weeks of summer to go? Do you think about it so much that it’s actually interfering in your enjoyment of the remaining weeks of summer? Practice being in the moment! The seasons will change whether you dread it or not. Check out the UCSD Center for Mindfulness for some exercises that will help you be more present.
- Bring some of those Summer feelings into your Autumn and Winter: Spend some time reflecting about what it truly is that you love about the Summer. Is it the increased time with family and friends? Time at the beach? Whatever it may be, plan out how to bring some of what you love about the Summer into your Autumn and Winter. Whether it’s getting the family together for an afternoon of sledding, or setting up your seashell collection in your living room, figuring out what you love about Summer and planning to keep some of it going during the Fall and Winter months may really ease your transition.
- Keep up your exercise routine: Studies have demonstrated that cardiovascular exercise may be as effective as antidepressant medication for some people when it comes to boosting your mood. If you don’t have an exercise routine, start one! Don’t have time? Start small; take the stairs instead of the elevator, park a little further from the store, then slowly increase the amount you’re doing day by day.
- If you think you may be one of the many people struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder, don’t wait to seek help: A lot of folks who struggle year after year with a seasonal change in mood that interferes in their lives often wait until things are at their worst before seeking help. Meeting with a professional now, before the change in season, may help you to preempt your seasonal suffering.
How do you cope with the changing seasons? Comment below!
Dr. Scrivani specializes in the treatment of anxiety and related disorders, and provides tele-mental health services to residents of New York and Florida. Call (888) 535-5671 or email [email protected].