Autumn is the most soothing of the seasons: The lush of greens of springtime have given way to regal shades of auburn, gold, and crimson; the air is crispy and chill; the swimsuits and warm-weather tops have been stored away make room for light jackets and worn-out jeans.
The changing of the seasons provides an opportunity to reflect and recognize the changes occurring in our own lives. Embracing this time of year as a period of introspection and mindfulness can uplift the spirit and prepare us for the winter months ahead.
Here are some ways you can destress with the season:
Many of our warmest memories are rooted in the holiday season, but because this time of year is so treasured and revered, it’s always accompanied by a slight tinge of pressure — to make sure that the house is clean, that the mashed potatoes come out okay, that there’s a vegan alternative for your niece and a gluten-free casserole for your nephew, that your brother-in-law doesn’t bring up the 2020 election.
We get it: at times, the holidays can feel like a lot, which is why we recommend using Destress Monday as a day to proactively work towards alleviating stress. The techniques listed below will help bring order to your busy schedule (and mind) and allow you to cruise through the months of November and December emotionally unscathed.
Visualize Your Goals
Life is busy; life is exciting; life…gets in the way. That’s why it’s critical to take a moment to refocus on long term goals and achievements. By concentrating and envisioning a specific goal, you can actually plan a road map for yourself on how to achieve it. Imagine the feeling of accomplishing that goal and hold on to that feeling. Now, work backwards and consider the steps needed to reach that goal. After giving this goal your undivided attention, write down the steps you’ll need to take. Having a physical list will help you revisit not only the path to achievement but the great feeling of accomplishment that you felt at the beginning!
Refresh Your Intentions
We should all do this once a week, regardless of the time of year. Assess your state of mind and try to understand any sources of stress or uneasiness. Once the stressor is identified, visualize yourself letting it go. Now that you have a clean slate, reframe your intentions into a positive force to drive you through the week.
Despite what you tell yourself, it’s impossible to do it all, which is why prioritizing is such an important mental exercise. Not only does it bring order to your life, but it also puts the little things that bother you — grr he left his dishes in the sink, again — into perspective. So how should you go about prioritizing? First, find a quiet place and identify your “to-dos”; next, write down a list of your tasks in order of importance and mark how long it should take to complete each one. Move efficiently through the items on your list, and don’t be afraid to postpone something if it will take too much time. Reward yourself after each completion — you’re in control!
Show Warmth with a Random Act of Kindness
Someone wise once said, “A simple act of kindness can create endless ripples.”
A warm word or good deed is a source of infinite reverberations. On Monday, be the stone.
You can create endless ripples of kindness across the landscape of your life: At your local coffee shop, your office, your favorite lunch spot, your home. Extending kindness can improve your physical and mental health. It can release stress and tension, calm your emotions, and boost your immune system. It can also strengthen your connection with others, fostering a sense of belonging.
Need some inspiration? All that is required to set the kindness train in motion is a smile, a small selfless act, or a genuine compliment. And as always, giving a gift is better than receiving one. For the fall season, offer to rake a neighbor’s lawn or help them bag up their leaves. Even something as simple dropping a mini-pumpkin on a coworker’s desk or picking up an extra pumpkin-spiced latte can make someone’s week.
Let Your Mindset Change with the Season by Transforming Stress Into Motivation
Autumn is regarded as the season of change. This means embarking on a new journeys complete with unknown obstacles and challenges. It’s normal to feel a mix of emotions during this time of year, but there’s no need to get overwhelmed.
Use Destress Monday as a day to repackage stressors into positive springs of motivation.
This is always easier said than done, but proven methods of centering oneself exist, and when used properly, they can help relieve anxiety and transform stress into a motivating force.
One of these techniques is mindful meditation.
Find a moment to be still without distraction, and become aware of the thoughts flowing through your head. Notice which ones are bothering you. Now ask yourself, “How is what’s troubling me affecting my outlook and wellbeing?” Once you identify a source of stress, reframe the experience by creating a positive alternative to what’s troubling you.
Mindful meditation requires a weekly commitment, so do your best to revisit these techniques every Monday. But don’t worry about getting it right the first time, even attempting a more optimistic life outlook can have a resounding impact on your physiological wellbeing by reducing cortisol levels — a hormone associated with symptoms of stress.
Step out onto your front or backyard, close your eyes, and take a deep breath; let the cool air pass through your nose into your lungs and fully embrace the perfume of fallen leaves. Open your eyes and notice the colorful foliage and plumes of smoke spiraling from your neighbor’s chimney. As you walk around your yard or head to your favorite trail, feel the crunch of the newly fallen leaves beneath your shoe.
Being present in the moment is a powerful way to center yourself and decompress.
On Monday, try the exercise above and see how it feels to let everything else go and focus strictly on the natural beauty around you. If you live in a city or a densely populated neighborhood, hop in the car and drive to a more idyllic environment. Bring along your partner, child, or friend, and experience the beauty of autumn together.