Autumn anxiety: as seen by a 19-year-old

Autumn is a beloved season. A time often thought of as cozy; filled with blankets, pumpkins, and hot chocolate. The weather isn’t the only thing that changes as September kicks off the fall season though, so do many people’s mental health.

As days get shorter and colder, autumn is the open door to seasonal depression. During a season so often romanticized on social media and TV shows, how can one find their wellness in the midst of the reality of fall?

As a 19-year-old, I often find myself feeling uneasy  as fall approaches. I feel a sense of sadness that summer is over, and I dread the long months of winter ahead, not to mention the intense amount of change that is all happening at once in one season.

Whether it be school starting or leaves falling, I sometimes find myself looking for ways to curb what has recently been dubbed as “autumn anxiety.”

As a young adult, the daunting idea of witnessing time change again and seeing my future as an adult draw closer, may also have a little something to do with this “unsettling” feeling.

In 2022, the New York Times published an article titled “How to Cope with Fall Anxiety.” The author’s main piece of advice was to face your feelings. The author, Melinda Wenner Moyer, along with the advice of a psychologist, warned against the suppression of negative emotions and the importance of “treating yourself with kindness.”

Those are all good things, but if you’re anything like me, you might need to hear a little more than “treat yourself with kindness” to feel grounded during a bout of autumn anxiety.

An article in The Healthy (A Reader’s Digest brand) took a more focused approach to facing autumn anxiety. For instance, the article, written by Charlotte Hilton Andersen, mentioned multiple triggers of autumn anxiety and how to deal with these triggers (as recommended by a psychotherapist).

Here are a two of my favorites:

• Losing the freedom of summer – “Schedule regular breaks and plan future vacations. … Even if you’re just daydreaming, refocusing your mind on the positive will help reduce anxiety.”

• More hours of darkness — “Make it a priority to get sunlight on your face first thing in the morning, every morning.”

Although not verified by a psychologist, psychotherapist, etc., here are my personal suggestions to curbing autumn anxiety.

• Hunting — What better way to combine scheduling regular breaks, making it a priority to get sunlight on your face and exercise?

• Lean into fall culture — Watch a fall movie wrapped in a blanket with a mug of hot chocolate. (Might I suggest the first season of “Gilmore Girls,” “You’ve Got Mail,” or “Remember the Titans?”) Eat something pumpkin flavored. Light that candle that smells like “a crisp fall morning.” ’Tis the season, after all. Or should I say “after fall.”

• Make homemade tortilla chips – This last suggestion is courtesy of my dad. The simple, warm snack doesn’t take a lot of effort. Just some shells, oil, and a frying pan for a delicious comfort food. To take it to the next level, spread a dab of warm cream cheese and salsa on top of your chip. You’re just going to have to trust me on this one.

Whatever you find this autumn to help you truly enjoy and feel gratitude for the season, share it with others. There’s nothing wrong with watching that fall movie alone, but it may be even better to share it with someone. Not to mention how happy your neighbors will be when you share your homemade tortilla chips with them. Happy fall, y’all!