Fall is my favourite season. For me, it signifies transition, change, and comfort. I enjoy the natural shifts in our environment – the colour of the leaves, the crispness of the air, and the coziness of that first sweater we wear. Having spent many professional years following the “school year” I experience excitement more so now than the big “new year” in January.
Regardless of the things I look forward to, it is hard to say goodbye to everlasting sunshine, long nights, and increased social exchanges. The transition to shorter days is difficult for our bodies and our minds. Additional stress may arise from the bustle of back-to-school, Q4 at work, or any array of pressures in your life.
Here are a few things I find helpful for our mental wellness as we adjust to change:
Establish helpful routines.
Life can feel extra difficult, possibly chaotic, when we lack structure to complete ordinarily simple tasks. Routines help us stay organized, create predictability, foster resiliency, and allow us to focus our mental energy on what’s important. Start with something simple and build upon that. The key to maintenance is keeping it manageable.
Don’t let our coastal climate keep you indoors.
Pull out your coat, fleece, and boots and go explore. Embrace the rain! Spending time in green spaces reduces stress. There can be positive psychosocial and biological impacts on your overall health too. We are privileged to live in the beautiful land of British Columbia; I encourage you to recognize the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories you reside by using Native Land.
Summer can be very social and we may feel loss around less time with friends and loved ones. It’s important to remember this is a natural shift with our physical environment. Seek out your community by calling someone on your drive home, video chat with an old friend, or schedule ahead for in-person plans and stick to them. I put everything in my calendar and it helps immensely with keeping track of what’s next, but also what I’m looking forward to.
Find a new hobby or activity.
Accessing our innate creativity fuels practical things like problem solving and critical thinking, but also sparks joy and playfulness. Try something new or revisit past pleasures. It could be something you do alone or with a group. It will give you something to look forward to and stretch your comfort zone.
The change is a reminder to slow down and reconnect with ourselves. I believe self-reflection is our most powerful tool and it comes in many forms – journaling, meditation, music, just to name a few. This might take some practice and/or trial and error. Find the one that best suits you and gravitate towards it as often as you can.
If this change is particularly hard, know you are not alone. Seek support by finding a therapist to help with feelings of anxiety, depression, or isolation.
~ Josh Miller, Intern Therapist