DISCLAIMER: The following post outlines the writer’s personal tips for mental health. It is not intended to act as medical advice. As always, please consult your doctor with any questions about how to improve your mental health.
Finding new ways to care for your mental health during the autumn months can be mentally draining. Luckily, we have some tried and true tips to consider this fall.
Try a New Recipe
Harvest season is always ripe with new recipes to try. From apples, to pumpkins, to pears, to squash–local farmers markets and grocery stores are packed with fresh produce ready to explore. Introducing a new recipe into the existing routine of feeding yourself, and others, is a practice of mindfulness that your mental health will appreciate. This can also be a great opportunity to practice patience and connect with the family, whether it be a dessert the children can help prepare or a meal your partner cooks with you.
Declutter and Get Organized
Now that the colder weather has arrived, we are back indoors surrounded by the clutter we neglected over the summer. Unorganized spaces can trigger anxiety and create unnecessary stress. Try refreshing your space by pulling out unused things like old toys, unworn clothing, and dusty household knick-knacks. Immediately place these items in a box or bag and take them out of the home so you can focus on organizing what remains.
Gently used items can be donated most days of the week at many metro Detroit thrift stores or charity closets. This type of productivity gives us a sense of accomplishment and clarity, both excellent instruments to care for your mental health.
Start or Finish a Project or Hobby
The fall is the perfect time to refocus, and finding a new hobby or passion project is a good way to hone in on relaxation. Concentrating on a new skill can help quiet stress and anxiety. Consider taking up knitting, puzzles, or crafts/décor making to promote creativity. Or, try a low-impact sport like yoga, cycling, or weight training. Completing an existing project supports your mental health by means of achieving the results you initially sought.
Lending a helping hand gives us a sense of purpose. Look for a community or organization you can support this fall. The “helper’s high” increases positive moods good for maintaining your mental health.
Enjoy the Sunshine
Vitamin D is a key nutrient our bodies need to fight off depression and regulate our mood. Enjoying a sunny day is a great way to soak up vitamin D. Even short bursts of sunshine can absorb enough vitamin D to rejuvenate the body and mind. Getting outside when it’s sunny, or opening the curtains to bask in the sun’s radiant energy, can be a super mood enhancer. Go on a nature walk to look for nature treasures with the kids or sit by the window to read a book.
Stay Active–Inside and Outside
Getting outside when it’s not sunny can be challenging in chilly temperatures. But trying physical activities like hiking or biking can reduce anxiety and stress. Raking leaves into piles (and jumping in), planting spring bulbs, or running a 5k are all great ways to stay active and promote natural endorphin highs to care for your mental health.
Staying active can also mean finding a group of like-minded people to meet with regularly. Whether it is a book club, bible study, or a Detroit Mom community event, connecting with others helps build self-esteem and can enhance your sense of well-being.
Make Sleep a Priority
The fall is a great season to begin better sleeping habits. Good sleep helps your brain process moods and keeps your cognitive skills sharp and attentive. Without these systems working flawlessly, our mental health can suffer.
Use the end of daylight savings time as your start point to care for your mental health. Lean into giving yourself a strict bedtime and start with completely unplugging from electronics at least 30 minutes before. Check for Black Friday deals to invest in a fan or noise machine and a weighted blanket to get extra cozy.
Finding the time to unwind by yourself can be very difficult with a family, career, and all the hundreds of obligations we put on ourselves, not to mention the approaching busy holiday season. Penciling in a time to be alone will help you disconnect from any internal or external pressure in your life.
Schedule this time, inform those that depend on you, and use it to reflect and find peace. Take it one step further and practice a new breathing technique or mindful meditation to care for your mental health.
Plan a Trip to Look Forward To
Planning is a great way to proactively cope with stress. The fall season is a great time to plan your next adventure. Whether it be a romantic bed and breakfast with your partner in December, a small city day trip with the kids in February, or weekend away with your girlfriends in April, deciding the plan now will give you something to look forward to when fighting to care for your mental health.
Start a Gratitude Journal
The fall is a time of thanksgiving, but can also be a season of regret, disappointment, and sadness. The change in season can affect us all differently, but we can prepare with gratitude. Starting a simple journal to collect memories, moments, and feelings we are grateful of is a significant way to care for your mental health.
Devoting time to record what makes you happy will undoubtedly bring you joy. Keeping a list to refer to is a great tool to combat depression and worry. We can then blanket ourselves with the self-admiration we deserve when we are feeling down.
Start Working on Your New Year’s Resolution Now
Instead of cramming more goals into the end of the year, be proud of what you have accomplished and start a fresh list of intent for the upcoming year. Planning is a great form of self-help, as well as allowing yourself grace to establish new habits. Start working on your list this fall to mentally prepare for what you will accomplish in the new year.
Pay It Forward with a Simple Smile
It can be difficult to pay it forward with higher gas prices and inflation crushing our spirit, so consider spreading kindness instead. Smiling is one of the simplest ways to do so. When we smile, we not only trigger dopamine levels to rise in our bodies, but also fend off stress in the process.
Exchanging a smile with a stranger spreads positivity and joy. The more you share, the more you’ll receive the happiness in return. What better way to care for your mental health this fall than to smile?!
The change of season doesn’t have to affect your mental health, but stress and anxiety can sometimes be unavoidable. By implementing new practices this fall to care for your mind and body, your sense of well-being will improve.