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Managing Fall Anxiety Effectively

People are often nervous about transitions, including the change in seasons. With fall nearly upon us, many of us are thinking about returning to school and work, interviewing or beginning new jobs, or even upcoming business, social, or health-related appointments. While these changes, for the most part, are positive, experiencing so many changes at once can sometimes be stressful. When students go back to college, family dynamics change. Couples who have been busy with parenting obligations suddenly find themselves to be empty nesters. Students who were comforted by home-cooked meals, and sleep-in mornings, find themselves anticipating dorm food and 8 am classes.

If we find anxiety getting in the way of approaching the upcoming changes with positive anticipation, we may want to think about stress management techniques that can be helpful. These may be techniques we have used sporadically in the past, but the impending change of seasons is a good time to make a concerted effort to put these things in place. Often it is helpful to put together a stress prevention Action Plan. Here are some stress-reducing actions that many people find helpful.

  • Meditation

Meditation has been found helpful in terms of relaxation, sleep, and health issues. There are apps such as "Insight Timer," and "Calm," that have seven-, ten-, and twenty-minute mediations. Even if you don't have time to meditate 20 minutes a day and even if you can't do it every day, you can still get benefit from weekly or bi-weekly meditation.

  • Movement

Many studies have shown that exercise is often as effective as some antidepressants. Even if you can't get to the gym, even walking 5 minutes several times a day can make a positive impact on your mood and health. Weight training can feel especially empowering and is easily learned. And even if you can't afford a personal trainer, you can learn from videos or asking the floor manager at the gym. You can even lift weights while doing daily activities like watching TV in the comfort of your own living room.

  • Food preparation

As schedules get busy, it is easy to forget to put aside the time to buy groceries and prepare healthy foods that sustain us physically and emotionally. After a long day at work and school, we often feel too tired to prepare healthy food and may succumb to fast food or other less healthy alternatives. If life is too hectic to get to the grocery store once a week, which is ideal, it can be wise to do a large grocery shopping in person or online once a month. This can be supplemented throughout the week with quick stops for fresh produce and dairy. It is often helpful to prepare meals for a few days on Sundays and again mid-week so that we have healthy alternatives that can be easily reached for and quickly heated up after a long day at work.

With these techniques you should find yourself feeling more positive and hopeful about the upcoming changes. If you find that you are unable or unwilling to execute stress management discussed, it may be useful to seek the aid of a professional counselor to help you move forward.