Written By: UMA Editorial Team |

Published on: November 3, 2023

What is Fall Anxiety and What Causes It?

Fall Anxiety is an annual episode of anxiety that can occur with the onset of the season of fall.  It’s characterized by feelings of sadness and hopelessness, including feelings of guilt and stress.

Vata, which is made up of the elements air and space and is the most subtle of the three doshas (the others being pitta and kapha), is also the one that is most susceptible to the ups and downs of life. Vata’s stability can be threatened by a variety of factors, including travel, stress ,changing weather, lack of sleep, disorganized scheduling, and excessive mental or sensory stimulation of any kind.

Some psychologists believe that the human mind has evolved so that we’re more susceptible to autumn anxiety because of our proximity to nature during this time of year: the changing seasons, shorter daylight hours, social isolation and the arrival of cooler temperatures can cause humans to feel more vulnerable and exposed than usual. Psychologist Carrie Landin says “Just like there are many wonderful things to appreciate about the fall, there are also a lot of events that typically happen from September through December that can spur worry, particularly in people already prone to anxiety”.

One of the leading causes of Autumn Anxiety is the decreased exposure to sunlight starting from the month of September. Vitamin D is supplied to our bodies by sunlight. A person’s body may be affected by having less time in the sun each day. According to studies, vitamin D deficiency leads to anxiety and depression.

Decreased sun exposure has been linked to a decrease in Serotonin levels. Serotonin is light reflective which means it is triggered by sunlight that goes in through the eye. Serotonin is released when certain retinal regions are cued by sunlight. Therefore, because the days are shorter in the fall and winter seasons, you are more likely to suffer from this type of emotional upheaval.

The End of summer can be a tough time, it makes you feel guilty for not enjoying or completing what you had planned to do throughout the summer. There can also be anxiety related to going back to school and beginning of a new session.

The Ayurvedic Perspective on Fall Energy

Vata is generally the dosha that is most likely to become out of balance at any time of year, but it is even more prone to aggravation in the late fall and early winter when nature provides an abundance of vata-like characteristics such as gusty winds, chilly temperatures, and dry air. When Vata is in excess during the late fall seasons, we feel more fearful, scattered, or worried than usual.

Symptoms to look out for

  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Overpowering Negative Emotions
  • Feelings of worry, fear,  and dread
  • Lethargy and no interest in activities
  • Insomnia

What can you do?

  1. Maintain a daily schedule, adding extra downtime than usual. Get  complete eight hours of sleep each night by going to bed by 10 p.m.
  2. Get out in the sun: Try to spend more time out in the sun. Walk to school or the office if possible, or have your coffee on the park bench. Try to soak in that extra Vitamin D that keeps your anxiety levels in check.
  3. Move your body: Regular, gentle exercise controls the movable character of Vata. Include basic seated forward-folds like Paschimottanasana in your asana practice (Seated Forward Bend). To increase strength and stability, try experimenting with standing positions like Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II). Practice restorative poses if you’re feeling worn out or overstimulated to promote anxiety relief.
  4. Change your diet: Set a regular time for eating and prepare warm, moist dishes. Avoid heavy meals, especially at night. Vata is calmed by salty, sour, and sweet flavors. Whole grains that have been cooked, root vegetables, and hearty soups are healthy dietary staples. Our blog lists several Ayurvedic recipes to try out during the fall.
  5. Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness encourages living fully in the present and being present for every moment, no matter what it holds. Your joy and calmness are back when you turn your attention away from problems and instead concentrate on tangible things that you can experience with your senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste).
  6. Seek Professional Help: Evaluate if the fall anxiety is severely impacting your work or studies, and hampering your productivity, or causing severe problems to your health. Your issue can be more than just the annual autumn anxiety. A professional can help evaluate your specific concerns and create a roadmap to recovery and strees relief.