“Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.” -Mother Teresa
The change of seasons is a difficult time for many of us. In particular, fall is a natural time for endings as we wrap up the calendar year and let go of the warmth and the greenery of summer. Shorter days and colder weather pull us, sometimes kicking and screaming, into the holiday season which may or may not be a celebrated time. We feel so sensitive to the seasons because even in our contemporary age, we are part of nature. And nature is ever-changing, and we must change with it.
Remember, change is not a four letter word. Here are my tips for giving yourself the time and space to have an awesome autumn instead of a funky fall:
1. Adjust your expectations.
If you’ve read my blog to any degree, you may have picked up on the fact that this is a big one for me. We have expectations for ourselves and our loved ones, whether it be for the future or for things in the past. Specifically, when we have unreasonable expectations, we set ourselves up to fall short. Keep your expectations fair and consider how you’re feeling.
2. Wake up at the same time every day.
More important than going to bed at the same time, waking at the same time sets your body’s clock. It’s difficult during daylight savings time, as you may be naturally waking much earlier now. Use a fifteen minute rule for sleep-if you’re not sleeping within fifteen minutes, do something else. If you are waking earlier, try to go to bed earlier until you can reset your body.
3. Make time for mini self-assessments through the day.
People often describe feelings as a snowball rolling down a mountain, and before long, it’s huge and you can’t remember how it started. Try to set an alarm periodically through the day and ask yourself how you’re doing. If you know you’re getting tired, anxious, short-tempered, etc., you may need to do something. Doing something can mean asking for support, using a positive coping skill, or simply informing your loved ones that you’re not feeling so great. This can not only avoid conflict in personal relationships but also keep you from being a snowball of emotions. You can use a five point scale, a color system, or whatever makes sense to you to identify your state of well-being.
4. Identify what works-and what doesn’t.
When I’m tired, talking about my feelings irritates me, which I find sort of funny given my line of work. I love exercise but can’t always find time to do it. Having two practical lists of what works and what doesn’t is a great way to learn about yourself and be ready to act. It takes practice to figure out what works for you, but if you practice, it will become automatic.
5. Do nothing, for limited periods of time.
Soon after the “fall back” of daylight savings, I feel like I’m walking through sand and expending a lot of energy but not going anywhere fast. Sometimes we need to stop and do nothing and allow our bodies and minds to rest before we can get back to our responsibilities. This is not only okay, but necessary. And…
6. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty.
Why do I feel this way? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I get up early and get this stuff done? Why am I so tired? Why am I not over this by now? Why can’t I be more ______? Why do these things happen to me? If these sort of sentences sound familiar, you’re not alone. The problem is, when we speak to ourselves this way, we not only hard-wire our minds to think these things, but we compound emotions on top of emotions.
Practice speaking to yourself with love, understanding, and kindness. Allow yourself the room to either stretch your wings, or curl up into a ball. You always know what you need, and can act from a place of confidence and know that like all things of nature, you will ebb and flow. Simply love, and know that there is nothing wrong. In fact, everything is exactly what and who it is supposed to be. Including you.
Choose to have an Awesome Autumn, and take on your mental health.