Fall is officially here, folks! It’s time to light the fireplace, bring out those cozy sweaters, and give something pumpkin-flavored a try. And though it may be cliche, it's also a time to move inward.
For many, the transition into fall represents change. Summer is gone; the kids are back in school; the days are getting shorter. From the cooler weather to the colors of the leaves, the idea of change surrounds us – a constant reminder that life moves on. And while change is a natural part of life, it can certainly feel uncomfortable. Psychology teaches us that the weather, particularly the reduction of daylight in the fall and winter, has a major impact on our mental health. So, before I write any further, let me normalize this: whatever you’re feeling is okay.
Whether you’re feeling “blah,” dreading those muddy November trails (guilty), or stoked to see snow on Peak 1 (also guilty), these are all normal feelings of change. And like the seasons, change is an innate part of us. As Katherine May writes in her book, Wintering, “Life meanders like a path through the woods. We have seasons when we flourish and seasons when the leaves fall from us, revealing our bare bones. Given time, they grow again.”
Your prescription for this Month?
A DOSE OF NATURE
According to ecopsychologists, a dose of nature is 120 minutes in nature per week.
That’s less than 20 minutes a day! The benefits of spending time outside are exponential and have been scientifically proven to:
Reduce blood pressure and symptoms of anxiety
Enhance immune system functioning
Increase self-esteem, and
Improve our overall moods.
Those 20 minutes a day also engage our brain’s default mode network (DMN), or the “daydreaming state.” When activated, the DMN can help:
Rduce symptoms of burnout
Increase creativity and
Develop a more grounded sense of personal, communal, and universal cohesion.
Essentially, it reminds us that we are all connected. How beautiful in a time when we are all moving inward!
As your self-proclaimed “nature therapist,” I encourage you to truly embody new beginnings this season. Fall organically encourages us to reflect on all the warmth in our lives, to release what no longer serves us, and, just like the trees, to let things go.
This month, instead of scrolling social media between meetings, maybe go for a walk or give some extra TLC to those house plants. Breathe in that crisp fall air next time you step outside and remember, seasons change and so do we.
Carly Schaller is a clinical mental health counseling intern who serves individuals, couples, and families of all ages and backgrounds at Grit Therapy. She offers traditional therapy as well as eco-therapy and incorporates natures into many of her sessions. Email email@example.com to learn more about working with Carly!