Welcoming Autumn: A guide to Self-Care
Autumn in San Francisco can often creep up on people. One week, it is 95 degrees outside and no one has the shelter of air conditioning. The next week, summer is over and sweaters get put in the front of a San Franciscan’s closet once again.
Summers are generally busy and full, which is why many come into autumn feeling exhausted and perhaps wired. Summer is when our bodies are exposed to the most light and produce the most vitamin D. Many may feel tired but also wired as the subtle shift of weather comes in and the light begins to wane.
California mild weather for the most part prevents serious Seasonal affective disorder, although many people at this latitude are still lacking necessary vitamin D levels and are susceptible to seasonal depression. The fall and winter bring holidays, often with family. Some people are reminded of their lost loved ones at this time and may be anxiously anticipating some stressful holiday encounters. Here are some ways that one can support their physical and psychological well-being as we head into more of a hibernation state of being for the winter:
•Wellness days: not everyone has the time or the money to get massages of go to spas, but wellness days can still be set aside to help with self-care. These days can be dedicated to self-care through baths and body rituals, such as hair, nail and skin care. The act of physical self-care can be a powerful tool for self-esteem and self-love.
•Preparing winter foods: soups and broths can be warming and comforting in slower, colder times.
•Planning indoor events with friends: Many people have a tendency to isolate socially during colder months. Having monthly dinner parties, movie nights, or craft nights with friends can help you feel a sense of community. Planning fun holiday events, such as pumpkin carving, wreath making, or a Friendsgiving can keep your community going. Community and sense of belonging is very important for self-care and for staving off depressions.
•Get Involved: take a ceramics class, woodworking class, drawing class. Join a rock-climbing gym or yoga studio, take a language class.
•Remember to spend as much time as possible outside: we still need sunlight and fresh air during the autumn and winter months. Being outside can keep us going and help our psychological wellbeing.
•Exercise: Running and yoga have been proven to improve depression in many studies. Sweating, increasing endorphins, and speeding up the metabolism can help prevent lows for many people.
•Plan a trip: if you are a person who is typically susceptible to SAD or you know that you struggle during the winter, it may be helpful to plan a trip to a sunnier place. Even just having time off during these months can help prevent feelings of stress or sadness.
•Have good boundaries around holidays: Many people feel obligated to overextend themselves around holidays to try to accommodate everyone in their lives. Paying attention to your limits may help you prevent potential emotional melt downs around the holidays.
•Reflect, journal, and prepare to talk to someone if you know that you are susceptible to having a hard time during these months. Therapy can be a great support for processing family dynamics, keeping oneself accountable to self-care, and having a caring relationship in your life to help you with your depression.
Most importantly, these months can be a great time for introspection, reflection, and rest. Restoration after the summer months can help ground you and prepare you for the following summer.
Bianca Aarons LMFT is a licensed psychotherapist in San Francisco . Bianca’s specialties include attachment, trauma, sexual abuse, post traumatic stress, relationship issues, depression issues, couples work and work with teenagers. Learn more about Bianca at www.biancaaarons.com, email her at BiancaAaronsMFT@gmail.com, or call her at (415) 553-5346 to ask any questions or to set up a consultation session.