It happens every year.
As I watch the first golden leaves fall from the oak tree outside our house and listen to the sound of the cicadas ushering in autumn, my anxiety spikes. I used to think I was relapsing into depression, but having been through this year after year (and documenting it in my mood journal), now I know I’m just going through my annual bout of autumn anxiety—a nervous feeling in my gut that begins the last week of August and continues through the first weeks of September.
I’m hardly alone.
Many of my friends who battle anxiety—and even those that don’t have a mood disorder–say the first few weeks of autumn are especially difficult for them. Ginny Scully, a therapist in Wales, sees so many clients with feelings of anticipation and nervousness during the last week of August through the first weeks of September that she coined the term “autumn anxiety.”
Highly sensitive persons (HSPs) as defined by Elaine Aron in The Highly Sensitive Person are especially prone to anxiety during the fall, because any kind of shift—and the seasonal changes of autumn and anxiety are most dramatic—can throw off their fragile neurological systems. Autumn is full of new things: new schedules, new jobs, new schools, new assignments. It’s no wonder why some of us experience heart palpitations trying to process it all.
Here are a few techniques I’m using this year to keep my anxiety in check during the season. May yours be as calm as possible, as well!