Autumn Self-Care For Anxiety And BurnoutNov 08, 2023
I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but Autumn is like the quintessential self-care season, with its crisp air, cozy sweaters, and vibrant leaves- it tends to spark this collective turn toward self-care and introspection. The change from the extroverted energy of summer to the more introverted vibes of fall can really coax us to look inward. Today I'm sharing autumn self-care for anxiety and burnout.
As the days grow shorter and the temperatures drop, there’s a natural inclination to slow down, draw inward, and nourish on physical, emotional, and even mental levels. It’s like the environment naturally nudges people into self-care and recuperation through things like colorful nature walks, hearty meals, and cozy bundling under layers of blankets.
Of course, it’s not all fuzzies and cocoa. Tons of people, myself included, have to watch out for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a depression triggered by reduced sunlight. This is especially common for those who live in the north, where the sunlight is way less and the rainy days are all too prevalent, leading to things like disrupted circadian rhythms and neurotransmitter levels.
The decrease in daylight not only affects mood and energy; it can also intensify feelings of burnout.
You’ve got the final quarter of the year, leading many to already feeling stretched thin from prolonged stress and overwork and then having the added weight of symptoms like fatigue and mood swings, making it even harder to stay energized and focused and leading to a deeper sense of exhaustion and detachment. Maybe this is yet another reason that people lean into self-care even more during the fall.
The good news is, if you are experiencing anxiety or burnout, there’s no better time than the beautiful earthy autumn for integrating some cozy self-care practices at home.
Today, I’m sharing the tools that are my personal counterbalance and safeguard against crashing from burnout.
They work. They help my body to unclench and heal. They also help me to realign and become more balanced and efficient with my time and energy. My most inspirational ideas come through these moments, and my most connected family moments come right after these practices.
These things are my lifeline when I need a gasp of air.
Here’s what it looks like for me…
1. Sensory deprivation
We tend to feel anxious and burnt out when overstimulated, whether by an abundant to-do list or constant stressful stimuli. When I’m strung up like a live wire, the first thing my body and mind crave is for everything to stop- literally. I don’t want to hear anything, speak to anyone, or even think. I usually watch Schitt’s Creek or something at night time, right before bed, or when I take naps, but when I’m experiencing burnout, I’ll actually shut everything off and cover my eyes.
I’ll take a hot bath and hold my breath underwater to remove some of the weight of gravity and muffle the sounds of the house. My goal is to just be alone with my breath- no thoughts. No input.
It’s like a sensory wash- that’s how I visualize it. I’ve found visualizing to be crucial in managing anxiety and stress of any kind. But visualization doesn’t always mean imagining yourself on a sandy beach somewhere. Sure, it can be great to have a mental retreat- something special and safe for you. But when you’re already at your max, you might not find it very easy to sink into your mental vacation spot, and you don’t need to.
2. Jaw and mouth release
You could call this “tending to the symptoms”, which might look very different for you. For me, lately, the tension has been manifesting in my jaw through extreme clenching followed by maddening TMJ and jaw popping.
I actually have specific meditations that I go to for focused jaw release because this is such a problem for me. My other stress spot has always been my right scapula, though it seems to have largely migrated up to my jaw over the past couple of years.
I do address the root cause of the anxiety or burnout but the symptoms tend to be the loudest and the lowest-lying fruit, so I pull out my go-to tools- jaw massage and stretches, jaw, neck, and head-focused muscle relaxation.
I also give a little extra TLC to my mouth through extra oral hygiene, mouth guards, drinking more water and less soda, and occasionally swapping from sipping hot coffee to drinking an iced latte through a straw. When I clench a lot, my teeth can hurt, and this helps.
I also naturally decrease my caffeine consumption- it’s like my body doesn’t even want it as much when I’m in crisis mode, which is good.
I know that not everyone is into meditation. In fact, no matter how much I praise the positive effects it has on me here at home, not a single member of my family has the slightest interest in it.
For me, it’s a lifeline. I’m really in tune with my body- maybe more than most- and I can immediately feel the impacts that the right types of meditation have on my mind, body release, and general outlook. One of the most important things I ever learned to do is to find moments to break out of the autopilot that we all default to. I call it our perception bubble. The routines, patterns, frustrations, expectations, and stuff outside of ourselves that fill our minds.
Taking a break from that is healing to me. Non-negotiable.
I go all out with my meditation, almost like a ritual of relaxation. I put my body into zero-g (luckily, I have a bed that does this which is absolutely ridiculous, I know, but also, I love it. No shame.) I turn on the vibrations and sink into a good body scan or connection meditation- something that reminds me that I’m not isolated; I’m connected to something bigger. You obviously don’t need a special bed to do this! Prop pillows under your legs. Trust me, it’s worth the effort.
I’m not the type of person who was raised to give any stock to something like meditation, and I can’t even remember how I came into practicing it so naturally. But I have always been highly responsive to sounds- I’ve been a music artist and enthusiast since I was a kid.
Most of the meditations I use to harness the power of sound in one way or another. In fact, I’m quite picky about it- if it’s a guided meditation (which most of mine are), then the voice has to be just right. The messaging also has to be right for where I am at that moment.
I like to stick to one source for my meditations. I keep it as an icon on the main screen of my phone so that there’s no research or trial and error siphoning all of the good quality mental relief time that I’m looking to achieve. I have my favorites saved, and I follow the artists I enjoy the most so that I can get what I need. That’s how much stock I put into my meditation practice.
It’s not woo-woo to me; it’s biological as much as mental or spiritual.
My go-to app is Aura Health. They were kind enough to sponsor this video when I told them I was going to be sharing about anxiety and burnout because they’re my go-to source for lifting and soothing my mood and mental state.
Aura is a hub for all things mind, body, sleep, and soul-related. When I say “hub,” I mean that there are so many sources, types of practices, and specialties that you can literally search for whatever it is you’re looking for, and you’ll find it.
It’s the world’s largest mental wellness content library & community. If you’re encouraged by preachings and prayers- you’ll find something to match your personal belief practices. If you’re into hypnosis, ASMR, or even bedtime stories, you’ll find that too. Not to mention, their AI is constantly learning what works for you and provides personalized daily recommendations.
4. Healing shopping list
I’ve learned that certain foods make me feel more anxious and on edge. Also, when I get super burned out, my immune system suffers. I get more dry patches and skin issues. So, I naturally gravitate toward a shopping list of fresh fruits, hummus, greek yogurt, eggs, salmon avocados, oatmeal, whole grains, and protein drinks. Less sugar.
I also pay attention to things like stress-eating because an upset stomach or headache caused by stress can make me overloaded with food when what I really need is rest.
5. I get earthy
When I feel extra depleted, I like to unplug and get my hands on something raw and natural. I find it grounding. This might mean spending more time caring for my plants. These are the times when I dig into home-making products- getting my hands into the kaolin clay for an essential oil-infused clay mask or fragrant Epsom salt mixture.
The smells, the textures, and the nature of it help me to feel grounded and healthy. I’m so grateful for my Simply Earth products that provide me with all the ingredients and recipes I need to make my own products because I didn’t have a clue before. It’s really grounding and creative.
I know not everyone is into yoga, but a lot of people are, and for people like me, it’s a lifesaver. Finding the right practice is key, and for me, it’s Yoga with Adrienne. My body feels ridiculously better after moving, breathing, and releasing that stressful energy vibrating through me like a hotwire.
In particular, I’ve been using her Center 30-day challenge (this, btw, is in no way a promotion), but I started this 30-day challenge last year, and I’ve found that just about every theme of meditation that I could possibly need is within that Center challenge. This is another thing I have shortcut saved to my phone home screen. It just says “Yoga,” but it goes to that playlist, and from there, I select the theme of what I’m looking for: “move,” “restore,” “kindness,” “shift,” etc. They’re all great, and she does an amazing job of making it feel like you’re really practicing that theme.
This is where I address the root cause of the anxiety and burnout. More often than not, it involves overcommitting to projects and not allowing enough space in my schedule. Or trying to accomplish perfection in a short period of time (which we all know isn’t possible anyway).
This is a key sign that I need to move things around and extend deadlines to something more healthy and realistic. It happens. I don’t enjoy pushing things back, but in the grand scheme of things, a few weeks or even months isn’t going to change the trajectory of my life or business. But losing quality time with the people I love might. And doing damage to my mind and body might. I always make it a point to check myself with my priorities, and I know what they are.
I find that when I’ve been pushing myself too hard with content creation or home projects if I don’t listen to the symptoms, general stress can quickly grow into burnout. I think this is why I respond so strongly to things like meditation and yoga. Because I do have the tendency to push myself. To not stop until it’s done. I do think that those tools are for everyone, but people who are naturally inclined to overdo it probably get more benefits from those tools.