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Fall ... ing into better mental health

I love the ads that have parents singing "It's the most wonderful time of the year" as they prepare for their kids return to the schoolroom. What a fun idea to take a Christmas tune and make it work for another season entirely!

Path through a fall woods
Path through a fall woods

Even though my kids are long since past the back-to-school phase, I can echo that commercial - in many ways, fall IS the most wonderful time of the year.

It's blessedly cooler, but not cold. The air is snappy but not freezing. The leaves are beautiful but not yet gone. Pumpkin spice products are not yet a cliché. There are holidays, but they don't require a lot of advance work (for most of us, anyway). It's a pretty fun time.

And it's a wonderful time to get your mental health in order, too.

Think of it this way: fall is a new beginning. Whether you are involved in school in some way or not, the beginning of the new school year means a new cycle ... and a great time to improve your outlook and serenity.

Here are some fall-friendly options for getting a bit more peace and connection at this time of year:

  • This is a great time to get outside - to take a walk, a hike or just sit and enjoy the beauty of nature. Being outside and in the fresh air is especially helpful for those of us who work indoors, especially we computer workers! Take a fall breath and enjoy the beautiful colors and smells.

  • Connect with family and friends. Sometimes once the kids go back to school, it's easy to think of the social dimension of the year - picnics, swimming, beach trips - as over. However, fall provides an excellent opportunity to revisit friendships, to reconnect with family and to do it without the heat and misery of the warmer months.

  • Get some sun! It's normal to feel a bit anxious and depressed with the shortening of the days and the movement of the sun that restricts its warmth from bathing us as it does in the summer. Reduced levels of sunlight can really wreak havoc with your mental health and so many people experience difficulty with the less-bright months of fall and winter that there's actually a diagnosis for it - Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The solution? Get as much sun as you can, even through the windows (though it's better outside) to make yourself feel better. If you really struggle, you can buy special sun lamps that will help.

  • Maintain - or develop - a good routine that will help you relax into your days. It's good for your body, mind and spirit to maintain the healthy habits that can make us feel safe and secure. Try to wake and sleep at consistent times, and keep a good routine, and you may find your fall mood improving.

  • Stay active. This is nearly always a good choice for improving or maintaining good mental and emotional health as well as physical health. Being active just makes you feel good, and generally anyone can improve their fitness level, even from their chair! Being active boosts your immunity and helps you stay healthier that way, as well.

  • Get a massage! I was at a retreat in July at which each participant got two massages. Now, I've periodically gotten massages in my daily life, but these were really something and reminded me how much they help me relax. They relieve stress, pain and everyday aches and help your body heal itself.

  • Consider meditation. This is really a good tip for any time of year, but it bears repeating. Meditation, prayer, silence - all these things enhance your wellbeing and mental health.

  • Think about what you eat. it's not just about being on a diet to change your weight - it's about being healthier, too. Food rich in vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, nuts, leafy greens, fruits and vegetables among other things are not only tasty, but they make your body happy, and that can make your mind happy, too.

As always, we at Sanctuary Christian Counseling wish you a lovely "most wonderful time of the year," and want to remind you that, if it's not wonderful for you, we are here for you. We help grieving individuals, distressed kids and teens and couples in conflict find peace, solutions and connection.

Call us at 717-200-3158 or email


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