I am going to make a sweeping generalization: People in the DMV love the start of Fall. My theory? Because the weather finally gets cool and walking outside doesn’t feel like you are still in the humidity of a hot shower. I hate to sound like a Pinterest board (no real knock on Pinterest, I love it) but Fall usually invokes some common words in our minds. Rest, Recover, and Reflection.
With so much going on in the world that brings up our necessary but uncomfortable emotions, it is important to intentionally slow down. We need to create our own moments of pleasure and relaxation to fill us back up as we continue try to create a better world to live in. This is true whether we put our energy into our jobs, families, communities, or all of the above.
Here are some ideas to slow down and do some fall reflection.
Enjoy mindful minutes with some fall flavors or scents.
No offense to pumpkin spice, but I am more of a spicy cinnamon lover. Cutting up some
apple slices and pan frying in butter and cinnamon sugar takes only a few minutes. But it can fill a room with energizing smells and a mouth with delicious flavors for a days.
Sitting with a candle or sipping bedtime tea can help you carve out some time for yourself to recenter. Focus your attention on just the one activity at a time (no secondary phone use!) Place your attention on your 5 senses or your breathing to help make this activity more than just a mindless act.
Make a fall reflections journal.
Find a new journal (or the one you forgot you had started) and reflect with intention. Not all
reflection needs to be filled with gratitude and warm fuzzies. You can even choose from many journals that already have prompts to guide you. Or you ca create your own journaling space. Journaling can be a great way to process sticky and uncomfortable emotions without using potentially harmful coping behaviors that ultimately take more out of us than give.
Balance satisfying your social needs with time alone.
Balance doesn’t have to mean 50/50. This balance will most likely look different from person to person and maybe even week to week. Listen to your needs. During this time, I often hear clients share worries about upcoming seasonal depression or mood changes that are ahead as we get deeper into fall and winter. Be mindful of isolation and withdrawing from life versus using time
to replenish and refill.
Get out in nature or just get outside!
Cool weather is much more inviting than 95 degrees and 95% humidity. Get out the bike, research new hiking trails nearby, sign up for a 5k, take walks around the block, sit in cozy
clothes in the cool breeze! You can even enjoy the fresh fall air by sitting on your patio.
Get into the Fall Spirit.
Decorate the inside and/or outside of your home. Make it a creative project with others. You can include your family, your partner, or your friends. And this can vary greatly with age-appropriateness, creative abilities, and style. Challenge yourself to use as little money as possible and watch your creativity rise to the occasion.
For me, living in a small space calls for making window displays. It brings me joy to know that
people walking by will also smile at the decorations. Every now and then jumping into a little escapism and distraction from a theme can really help us refresh.
All these fall activities call for seemingly small but IMPORTANT ways of being.
- Be present in the moment.
- Do things one-mindfully, without distraction or multi-tasking.
- Notice any future or past thoughts or judgements about the experience.
- Gently and with compassion redirect your attention to the activity.
When we take the time to do things to refill us our positive emotions tank, it is important that our mind accepts in those positive feelings and redirects unhelpful thoughts or competing attention.
About the Author
Lizzy Kosin, LCSW-C is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker Therapist in Rockville at Montgomery County Counseling Center. She earned her equivalent to an MSW from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. She has training in both Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Lizzy takes a casual approach to therapy and works very well with kids & teens. She also works with adults who want the benefits of therapy without feeling stuffy or over-medicalized. She values the importance of the mind-body connection and using experiential activities to keep the fun in building insight and motivating towards progress. Lizzy is licensed in both Maryland and Washington DC and can see clients online from either location.