Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

5 Ways to Manage Autumn Anxiety

autumn leaves 2.jpg

Even as I love the autumn season, it is full of anxiety for me (like every other season, come to think of it).

I start to mourn the ending of summer when I hear the cicadas grow louder the last two weeks of August and when I feel the crispness in the air at that time, which brings less sunlight and longer nights. Then the back-to-school craze: buying shoes, supplies, backpacks, etc. and trying to catch up on the homework we didn’t do during June and July. By the time I make it to the parent-teacher conferences in early September, when I hear about all the things I’m supposed to be doing with the kids, I’m well into panic mode.


Yesterday my therapist and I talked about a few coping exercises to keep my anxiety from disabling me this time of year.

1. Pick a sound or object to be your Xanax.

My therapist looks up to the clouds. They calm her down in traffic or whenever she feels anxious. For me it’s the water. I don’t now if it’s because I’m a Pisces (fish), but the water has always calmed me down in the same way as Xanax, and since I don’t take the latter (as a recovering alcoholic, I try to stay away from sedatives), I need to rely on the former. So I just downloaded some “ocean waves” that I can listen to on my iPod when I feel that familiar knot in my stomach.

2. Repeat: “I am good enough.”


My therapist reminded me this morning that even if I don’t meet other people’s standards or my own, I am good enough for God. And that’s all that really matters. So whenever I feel the pinch of anxiety when I don’t have time to call back a friend or send a response to an email or write the blog post that I said I’d write, I should remind myself that I am good enough in the eyes of God.

3. Take it one minute at a time.

One cognitive adjustment that helps relieve anxiety is reminding myself that I don’t have to think about 2:45 pm when I pick up the kids from school and how I will be able to cope with the noise and chaos when I’m feeling this way, or about the boundary issue I have with a friend–whether or not I’m strong enough to continue putting myself first in that relationship. All I have to worry about is the very second before me. If I am successful at breaking my time down that way, I usually discover that everything is fine for the moment.


4. Pay attention to your breath.

Another easy exercise to ground yourself in the moment and manage anxiety is to concentrate on your breath–and move it ever so gradually from your chest to your diaphragm–because the extra oxygen will send a message to your prefrontal cortex that every thing is just fine even though the fear center of the brain (the amygdala) doesn’t think so at all.

5. Learn from it.

Anxiety doesn’t have to be triggered by an event, but it certainly can motion some adjustment that you need to make in your life. My anxiety says that I am doing too much, once again. Over the summer I forgot about my fragile chemistry and attempted to work full time and take care of the kids full time until, in August, I was going on fumes. What adjustments do I need to make? Bite off less professionally and invest more energy into finding good help for the kids and housework. Because I can’t do it all.


What about you? What techniques do you use when you feel anxious?

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  • Teri A.

    Two things:
    1.Write a list in order of what needs to be done first, second, etc. and then cross them off! I can actually see that I’ve made progress.
    2. I do my squat exercises and my girl pushups. It gets my blood flowing to my brain and body, plus I’m toning at the same time.
    Air flow and exercise are my keys to keeping my anxiety level low, and it works! My list(s) keep me 1/2 way organized, and it’s nice to see the progress I’ve made!

  • Meg

    I agree with Teri on making lists. I didn’t start doing it until recently when my therapist suggested it, but I’ve found that it does give you a sense of accomplishment.
    I am also a water person, the beach in particular…although it’s not always easily accessible. There’s just something about the rhythm of the waves and the peace of it all. Even with sound recordings of the ocean it’s still so relaxing, and it does help with breathing. (And speaking as a recovering drug addict, the beach works better and doesn’t make you feel drugged out!)
    Great post Therese! Thanks for the ideas!

  • Jania Sommers

    Thank you very, very much for this post today. Exactly what I needed.

  • Stefanie Larson

    This is what I needed today, yesterday and a long time ago! I have been under so much pressure with going back to school and I am a full time stay at home mother along with a relationship that has been having it’s ups and downs. I also have anxiety and I have lost my confidence and motivation. This information has provided me with some natural ways to help cope. Thank you!

  • dennis

    breathe, breathe, breathe, soft music, breathe, breathe, breathe

  • M

    Excellent reminder of how to get through the anxiety.
    You are a Blessing to me and all those who encounter you.

  • betty

    “good enough for God” (huge audible sigh)
    just what i needed to hear at precisely this moment
    thank you

  • steph

    kind of related to the “focus on this minute, not 4 hours from now” idea: Do ONE task at a time. It does not need to be the most important. Maybe you need to relax with an easier task before taking on a harder one. If it is a large task, do ONE PART of it. Or do 10 minutes. And tell yourself “after 10 minutes, I can stop if I still feel really tired / anxious / overwhelmed”. But if the 10 minutes is up and you feel ok, you can keep doing the task. This is how I started with exercise… “just 5 minutes of walking on the treadmill, and if I can stop after that if I’m still tired”

  • Lorna

    I really liked to part about being “good enough for God”- but we all know He makes us good enough. We all bungle that up for ourselves.
    I PRAY-that really helps me. And especially when I feel He hears.
    It is nice to know that He hears whether I feel it or not. You might
    call that faith.
    Being in His presence rubs off on us, makes us feel loved despite any faults we have,knowing He loves us even if we don’t feel loved; but faith and what the Bible says makes it so.
    Confirmation of all this is when you feel-really CAN feel the Presence of the Hold Spirt. That helps your faith.
    Just keep on keeping on- and Pray for Enlightenment and Encouragement. Beyond Blue is one of His tools in this Adventure of Life. We are all in this together. LUV to all, Lorna

  • Leann

    Living present to the moment; deep belly breathing; and Reiki all help me to defuse stress and anxiety. Great Post Therese!

  • Shon

    I HUG somebody or some thing. Because social groups make me anxious, as soon as I walk in the door I start giving out hugs and comment that they are for free. On the rare chance I get to hug someone I DON’T LIKE or am currently miffed at, that is a glory moment. When I get to hug somebody that no one ELSE would touch (you know, the unhygienic drunk that probably has lice) THAT is a God-touched glory moment!

  • Susanne

    “Be still and know that I am God” That comforts me.
    And so does my down pillow (it smells like sleep and comfort!) and my sweet fellow, Marmite (cocker spaniel). His smell comforts me as well. Just wish I could bring my pillow and dog to work with me.

  • Belleo

    “I can’t do it all” so true for many young mothers today . No time to cook nutritious meals when working full time . I did work when our children were older like out of prinmary school .I’m happy that I was home when the kids came back home from school . Mark would yell Mom are you home . I would answer I am always here Mark . Why do you yell are you home Mom . I have to know that someone is home . That is what he would reply . The best to you Therese . Marie

  • gary

    The thing I do to relieve anxiety that is usually brought on by something or another is I stop myself and ask my self this question. “What exactly is bothering me” . I narrow that down and then I asked myself if I’m doing everything I can to solve whatever it is that’s bothering me. As long as I know I’m doing everthing in my power to correct then the anxiety fades away.

  • Joni Sweet

    Thank You for your blog!!! It’s inspiring to see what works for others & to impliment it into my life. “What techniques do you use when you feel anxious?” Music, communicating somehow with a friend, bicycle riding, reading the Bible, “sharing” others blogs or sites into social media, graphics, & if it’s really bad go cover up in bed… it’ll pass. If out & about, only things I can do is cry & hope to talk to a friend who won’t ridicule me for crying.

  • Barbara

    I heard a poem within a song that comforts me:
    The river says “Peace”
    The grass says “Listen!”
    The flowers say “Remember?”
    The mountain says “Be Still…”
    The moon says “Dream…”
    The stars say “You…Live….Forever…”

  • Jack

    All people with anxiety or depression disorders need to order and watch the new movie Amish Grace about the Amish girls that were murdered by a deranged father of 3. This was very comforting to me and put things in proper perspective. As a result of watching this movie, I had my most anxiety and depression free day in 10 years. Try it!!!

  • rowdygirl

    This has got to be a joke, right? Autumn anxiety?
    It’s a change of seasons and you need to have therapy to deal with it? I’m all for getting help when the need is legitimate, and I did when I felt it was necessary for me, but this is ridiculous. I’m sorry if that offends anyone, but seriously, if you are having anxiety because the weather changes you apparently have lost ALL your normal coping skills..

  • Anne

    When I am anxious I take a little walk… out in the sun. Get into a different space which usually gives me a better perspective on things

  • alice@panic away review

    I agree with you, right breathing technique is very effective in reduction of anxiety. And people think that it is not, because its simple and easy. Anyways very informative and well written post. Thanks for sharing.

  • Howard

    It does not matter what the cause of the anxiety is, seasonal changes, children, spouses, work, etc. Most of us experience some form of anxiety at times and the key for me is how I deal with it. I believe one of the most helpful responses is first to decide to have a response. Taking some kind of action moves me from passive to active and that is where things begin to change. Finding something I want to do rather than something I feel I have to do can turn the tide and help me feel more positive and in control. It can be simple, like deciding to clean the closet out, or going for a bike ride. But if it involves some physical motion and if it is something that takes care of me rather than the rest of my obligations, it can make a big difference. I highly recommend it.

  • Mary

    @roudygirl – you know, if you have to say “I’m sorry if this offends anybody” then probably best to keep it to yourself. Your comment was completely unproductive, at best, and approaching offensive. Inflicting shame on someone because they are willing to be vulnerable about what triggers them doesn’t belong here. We all have enough to deal with without someone implying we should feel bad about ourselves, once again. You don’t get to define what qualifies as “legitimate” cause for therapy. Please go play your “judgment” game somewhere else.

  • smileyginger

    @rowdygirl – why are you even here? you must be perfect and thereby don’t need to be consulting a blog like Therese’s meant for of all us “defective” “imperfect” people. People like myself, who suffer, sometimes catastrophically, from Seasonal Affected Disorder really DONT need more people like you trying to make us feel worse than we already do. You are worse than the worst kind of troll…

  • Jennette Green

    In any case, consult a reputable cognitive behavior therapist who’ll help give the individual the therapy that he or she needs to help him or her loosen up, also prescribed medicines are sort of a must to help these individuals battle anxiety attacks, help them calm down and relax.
    The information in the post is quite rich

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