5 Ways to Conquer Autumn Anxiety

Written by Alex Reid
Posted October 15, 2019

As autumn rolls in, days get shorter, time in the sun becomes rare, and many people are suddenly struck by anxiety.

Some call this yearly dose of anxiety the end-of-summer blues; others call it autumn anxiety. But the technical term for it is seasonal anxiety disorder (SAD). 

“Autumn anxiety is the tendency for people to suffer from anxiety and low mood during the autumn months. Unlike other anxiety, there often isn’t an obvious external trigger, and it tends to recur annually,” Dr. Clare Morrison explained in a Healthline interview. 

Autumn anxiety is real, and it’s far more common than most people realize.

Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to even identify at first.

If your anxiety occurs each year around fall, you likely have a case of autumn anxiety. 

You may notice that you’re suddenly: 

  • Excessively worried
  • Feeling blue or depressed
  • Overly sleepy, lethargic, or fatigued
  • Exceptionally irritable
  • Down and unable to enjoy normal activities

These are all telltale signs of autumn anxiety. 

What causes this yearly change in mood? 

Researchers believe it has a lot to do with a drop in serotonin and a boost of melatonin

Serotonin acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain, and it’s responsible for the feeling of happiness and satisfaction. Melatonin brings on a feeling of sleepiness and even depression. 

These changes in chemistry make a perfect storm for autumn anxiety. 

Thankfully, there are things you can do to alter your brain chemicals.

Here are five things you can do to fight off autumn anxiety

1. Spend more time in the sun: Low vitamin D and not enough blue light is associated with depression and anxiety. Since people tend to spend less time outside and cover up more when the weather cools off, many become vitamin D deficient in autumn. The best way to get a vitamin D boost is by spending 20–30 minutes a day in direct sunlight. Can’t get enough time outdoors? Try using a light box for some extra blue light.

2. Keep up with your diet: Your diet can change the way your brain functions. Do you find yourself having a hard time getting back on track after Thanksgiving? This can make you feel fatigued, sleepy, and lethargic. Try boosting your vegetable intake and cutting back on pumpkin spice lattes — you’ll feel a whole lot better. 

3. Start a new project: Few things are more exciting than a new project. It can give your body and mind a refreshing challenge and keep you busy. Try a new hobby, class, or DIY project. Even small accomplishments can give you a serotonin boost. 

4. Reshape your mindset: It’s easy to get caught up on what you lose when autumn comes along: fewer beach days, picnics, and sports. But there are also things to gain: being cozy indoors, enjoying the fireplace, and sipping on a hot coffee. Try to reshape your mindset so you don’t feel “stuck inside.”

5. Get out and exercise: Many people get behind on their workout routine around fall. Did you know that physical activity stimulates the release of “happiness” chemicals, including serotonin? Stay on track with your exercise routine, and you will feel happier and healthier.

BONUS TIP — Ask for help: There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. If nothing else seems to do the trick, an experienced cognitive-behavioral therapist can help you through seasonal anxiety and depression. If you feel overwhelmed or begin contemplating self-harm, don’t wait to get help.

To your health,

Alex Reid
President, Clear Health Now

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