Summer is long gone. For many, the change in season signals the launch of autumn festivities. However, for others, the coming of fall produces strong feelings of anxiety and depression that can influence productivity and overall wellness.
If you feel more like retreating into a cave than joining in a party when the leaves start to change, you’re not alone. In fact, recent reports suggest that nearly 10 million Americans have been affected by this periodic condition, which is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This condition strikes at the turn of the seasons and has the potential to become disruptive to both the personal and professional lives of those affected.
And if you’re an entrepreneur or businessperson, such a temporary disruption in focus can be particularly detrimental to your work performance as we enter the final quarter of the year.
In a matter of just a few weeks, fall’s daily schedules and activities begin to settle into a new normal, leaving many to long for summer days when sunlight and warm weather seemed to last well into the evening. According to mental health awareness advocate Therese Borchard, the shift from summer to autumn can bring on far more than cravings for pumpkin-spiced treats. As Borchard explains, these feelings often emerge during the last few weeks of August, and can last well into September and October.
However, though it may seem impossible to escape what Welsh therapist Gene Scully coined as the dreaded “autumn anxiety,” there are some things you can do to help your body and mind adjust. Here are three tips to beat SAD and keep yourself on track during these last few months of the year:
- Work On Your Body’s Clock
Your internal clock is not an actual clock, but rather an intricate biological system that controls the natural production of hormones and sleep-promoting chemicals, like melatonin. According to sleep specialist Dr. B.V. Prathibha, humans are wired to wake up when it’s light and fall asleep when it’s dark. And when that natural rhythm is disrupted, it can negatively affect a major player in your overall productivity—concentration.
This autumn, pay close attention to your body’s clock by familiarizing yourself with light therapy. Devices like a Dawn Stimulator gradually increase the light in your bedroom and mimic real sunlight, helping your body generate the energy it needs to galvanize your day and overcome autumn anxiety symptoms.
- Work Out in The Morning
The seasonal shift towards cooler weather inevitably makes it harder to part ways with a warm and cozy bed in the mornings, especially in favor of high-energy activities like working out. Nevertheless, endorphin production is one of the human body’s strongest weapons against both anxiety and depression, not to mention the added benefits for your waistline.
According to Harvard Health, endorphins are naturally-produced mood boosters, so starting your day with a workout can stimulate “feelings of relaxation and optimism” that will fuel your resilience in the face of commuter traffic, phone calls and meetings in the day ahead.
Still finding it tough to stick to your morning workout routine? Here are some additional tips from a relatable, non-morning person.
- Work On Your Self-Affirmations
Whether or not anxiety and depression are brought on by the change of season, overcoming them is no easy task.
However, your belief that you can conquer the autumn anxiety is the first step to your success.
A recent study by Oxford Academic suggests that practicing self-affirmations can boost your self-confidence, bolster your inner resilience, and even help you avoid future episodes of anxiety and depression. The next time your sense of self-competence is threatened, these self-affirmations allow you to “reflect on sources of self-worth, such as core values,” which in turn, influences your behavior.
Retuning your internal clock, choosing physical activity over lethargy, and being mindful of your worth—these can all provide solid defense against the fall doldrums. But perhaps the best resistance against autumn anxiety is the knowledge that those who harness the strength to overcome personal hardships will reap the benefits of increased well-being and productivity.