How to Deal With Anxiety During Autumn
This is the time of year where historically we honor death and dying.
It's all around us. The trees push their life energy back into their roots and leaves dry up and flutter to the ground. Animals find slumber. And we humans honor our own ancestors who have since left this world.
We don't all realize we're even doing it. But cultures around the world celebrate in their different ways. The Day of the Dead, Samhain, Halloween—at the root are all days that honor other creatures.
One thing that I've observed is that this time of year brings me more than one episode of anxiety. It's like the imminent darkness of winter reminds me of my own impending death and I can't handle it.
It's an amazing sensation being afraid of something that I don't understand, can't control and is perhaps the most natural activity in the world—besides birth.
My rational mind gets it. We are wired to not desire death to keep ourselves alive to procreate and create the next generation of beings.
But there's the other part of me, the subtler part of me that knows there is more than that. The hard part is grounding down enough to find the subtle parts of me during those moments of high anxiety.
I remember during my yoga teacher training, I went to class after a particularly controversial current event occurred. The room was quiet with anxiety, emotion and uncertainty. Ironically, this was right around the fall season transition as well.
The teacher, who came prepared with decades of experience, instructed everyone to feel their feet. Like, really feel. I don't remember a ton from that class other than we spent around thirty minutes rubbing spiky balls on the soles of our feet and another fifteen or so in child's pose.
Looking back, there was a lot of wisdom during that session. Focusing on our feet and the sensations in our feet is one of the most accessible ways to ground ourselves.
What does it mean to ground, anyways?
The act of grounding connects us to the present moment. It pulls us into our physical experience of right now, and in the process, creates a sense of ease in the mind and stability in the body. Grounding creates calm, destroys stress, and reminds us of who we are by diverting our attention from thinking and making us feel at home in our own bodies.
Here's the part where I choose to be different than years previous.
Once a year, my mom gets a frantic call in the midst of an anxious spiral about the concept of oblivion. It makes sense, our society does an incredible job compartmentalizing death. We are generally taught to fear—or at least avoid—the idea of death at all costs. We put our elderly in nursing homes away from society and amazingly. Instead, I choose to take those moments to view is as an opportunity to ground down and notice my own experience.
It won't be perfect. It may not even accomplish anything.
Grounding practices for the season
1. Making movement a priority
It's the time of year when we move energetically inward, and while stillness may be part of the story, that doesn't mean total stillness. Make an effort to prioritize movement in the form of walks, yoga asana or traditional workouts. The movement will help you stay out of your head and stay present in the here and now.
2. Make time for reflection
No matter how you recognize this season, this is a time that pulls everyone a little deeper. Make space for integration as the busy season of natural year comes to close. Consider keeping a journal to contain your thoughts as you work through this time.
3. Build ritual into your year
Traditions and rituals play a critical role in cultures across the world. Science is finally catching up with this idea, validating that rituals help reduce anxiety, increase confidence and overall support human performance.
4. Choose seasonal food and drink options
We don't just eat apples and pumpkins in the fall for fun. These in-season foods, along with soups, spices and teas satisfy specific needs that arise during this time of year. Eat and drink seasonal, high-quality options during this season.