Finding Fall Comfort When Struggling With Anxiety and Season Change

 In Family Therapy, Ocean Mental Health Services

It’s back-to-school season! Over the years, there was always excitement over choosing new backpacks, lunch bags, and school clothes.  We anticipated the sound of buses in the morning and prepared lunches for the busy days ahead. 

However, this school year is anything but typical. As a result of the pandemic, many children and parents alike are struggling with anxiety and season change. Yet we can still find comfort in what has remained a dependable constant in our life. Together we can focus on the contentment that the fall season can bring. 

While there are unknowns of what the rest of the year will bring, one thing is for sure – leaves are beginning to change and we are ready to make new memories this fall! Feeling anxious? Staying organized will certainly help!

psychology behind nostalgia

 Fall Fun for All

Whether you have an established fall tradition or you’re looking for a new adventure, there are plenty of fun and festive events happening in New Jersey this season. September brings milder weather which makes it a great time to step outdoors and walk among the changing foliage or even plan a scavenger hunt in the backyard!  Check out the OceanMHS Scavenger hunt and tag us on social media when you complete it!

September is also a great time to take advantage of the “local summer:” that fabulous time of year after Labor Day with less traffic and fewer tourists! Some great local summer activities include:

  • Beach days
  • Local weekly fireworks
  • Pumpkin picking
  • Apple picking
  • Catching a drive-in movie
  • Mini golfing
  • Walking the boardwalk
  • Going on a hike

Find links below to check out local goings-on that could certainly improve your mental health if struggling with anxiety and season change.

Psychology of Nostalgia

Close your eyes and think back to a September day… breathe in the crisp fall air, feel your favorite cozy sweater, smell sweet apples and cinnamon, pumpkin-spiced baked goods, admire the colorful leaves on the trees, and the sounds of school buses in the morning. 

This feeling of being transplanted to another time is known as nostalgia. It is actually believed to have multiple psychological purposes.  According to Dr. Krystine Batcho, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at LeMoyne College and a licensed psychologist, “most of the research available today including [her own] research argues that nostalgia serves a number of functions” including relieving stress as a result of anxiety and season change. Dr. Batcho goes on to say “the thing that ties them all together is that nostalgia is an emotional experience that unifies.” With that said, nostalgia does the following: 

  • It unites our sense of self over time.  When we have nostalgic memories, it helps unite our past self to the authentic person who we are today.  
  • Nostalgia is a prosocial emotion.  It connects us to other people. In the beginning, when we’re very young, it helps us bond with our caregivers, siblings, and friends.  As our social bonds broaden, nostalgia helps us connect with wider spheres of people.   
  • It is a bittersweet emotion.  It helps us cope with the bitter longing for times past by merging the sweetness of being able to revisit the experience

Seasonal Self-Care

In addition to nostalgia, there is power to positive thinking. Engaging yourself and your family in healthy sleep hygiene, organization, back-to-school routines and schedules directly tends to increase happiness and contentment especially when struggling with anxiety and season change.

As the long days of summer wind down and back-to-school season approaches, it is an optimal time to develop routines that make sense for your family.  Organizing your home and office, preparing for the following day ahead of time, and creating back-to-school routines are extremely helpful in giving us more time to engage with the things that recharge us. A few examples include:

  • Using the night before to prepare for the following day
  • Maintaining a healthy sleep hygiene routine
  • Waking up at consistent times
  • Organizing your home and office space
  • Enjoying time with your family and friends

autumn anxiety symptoms

Don’t Fall To The Stresses of Anxiety and Season Change

We understand how stressful back to school can be for both children and parents alike. Busier schedules and chillier weather can definitely make fall an unfavorable time. But it doesn’t have to be!

Our friendly staff at Ocean Mental Health Services is ready to provide you with the help you need to find comfort in the fall. Whether that means you need ideas for family fun, help exploring your nostalgic feelings, or methods of self-care, our professionals have all the services you need to make some new memories. Reach out to us today for the seasonal support and resources you need.

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