October was a rough month for me. I usually look forward to it, as it’s the first full month of my favorite season and I really wanted to make sure that I savored and appreciated autumn this year. But my normally restless and self-criticizing mind, the shorter days, and the unusually cloudy weather my hometown has been having all took a big toll on my mood. I spent more time cooped up at home feeling upset and anxious than I did taking walks, enjoying the changing trees, and cozying up with hot chocolate and a book like I wanted to.
Fortunately, nature has not yet taken its last breath before the chill of winter sets in. Many trees still have their color. It’s cold, but not unbearably so. Warm colors and plaid are still in season. There’s still some time for me to make the best of the last few weeks of fall.
Last week, I decided that I needed to commit to some self-care to try to shake off whatever anxiety I had been feeling. I came up with a list of practices to try to incorporate into my day, and while I wasn’t able to accomplish all of them, I found that the ones I did try worked. I didn’t make it as much of a point to engage in those practices this week, but I feel like I’m becoming more mindful of both the negative emotions when they come up and the things that help me fight them off. So I’m making a list, for me and for anybody else who might need it, of some of the practices that make me feel better when negative thoughts make it hard to focus on the good things. I had autumn on my mind when I made this list, but many of the items can be applied to any season. I hope that I can put these to work in the coming weeks so I can enjoy what’s left of the season.
- Carve your favorite logo or design into a pumpkin. Be proud of yourself for making something awesome.
- Write a poem
- If you’re the praying or meditating type, pray or meditate
- Go on a walk. Notice the colors of the leaves and the way the bare tree branches are shaped and arranged. Look for symmetry and asymmetry.
- Go all-out autumn when you go on that walk. Wear boots and a big scarf and plaid. Bring your favorite hot beverage with you.
- Pick up some leaves or rocks or feathers that you think are cool while you’re on your walk (or anywhere that you can find them). Appreciate them. Nature is awesome.
- Learn a new cookie recipe. Then eat the cookies.
- And/Or make apple crisp
- Watch a funny movie
- Go through your music collection and make a playlist that makes you think of autumn
- Go to the apple orchard and buy some apples. If you can, pick your own. There’s something about seeing food at its source that makes me happy.
- While you’re there, eat a warm cider donut. Eat two warm cider donuts, if you wish. Wash them down with hot cider (or cold, if you prefer).
- Also while you’re there, if they have a petting farm, feed the animals. Befriend a goat or a sheep. Don’t be afraid to get as excited about the animals as the little kids do.
- Go to the farmer’s market. Sample the local foods. Let yourself get excited about how cool and beautiful food is, even if you’re not planning on buying any of it.
- Do something nice for someone. It doesn’t have to be big.
- If you play an instrument, learn a new song
- Do something fun with friends or family
- See some live music
- Drink hot chocolate
- On a clear evening, go somewhere that you can really see the stars and just stare at them. Appreciate how big the universe is and how small you are in comparison. And how small your troubles are in comparison, too.