If you've ever felt your mood change depending on the season, you'll know that the time of year can have a huge impact on how you're feeling. Anxiety is known to worsen during different months (like the summer, for example), while conditions like seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can induce serious depressive episodes during the winter.
As August comes to an end and we head into September, the change of season from summer to autumn can be a source of anxiety for a lot of people, and experts have explained what causes it.
Bupa describe anxiety as "a feeling of unease, worry or fear which everyone might experience at some point in their life, but for some it’s more prominent as we wave goodbye to summertime. Symptoms vary from person to person and depending how severe they are, it can have a huge impact on our daily life.
"Triggers of anxiety are different for everyone but can be sparked by anything from a work deadline, medical appointment, a big life event such as moving house or for some, it can be brought on by a certain time of the year."
According to the experts, these are the reasons why you might be feeling September anxiety, and here's what you can do to deal with it.
Experts say many of us still associate September with going back to school
1.September means holidays are over and life gets more serious
Dr Arun Thiyagarajan, Medical Director at Bupa Health Clinics says, “It’s not uncommon for us to suspend our usual routine and habits during the summer months, which can make it harder to adjust back to normality. Because of this, September can be unsettling for some."
Once the fun of the summer is over, going back to the pressures of normal life can be a source of anxiety.
2. You still associate September with going back to school
“Much like how we used to feel as children when September saw us going back to school, this period brings a sense of trepidation and naturally we may feel a bit unsettled," adds Dr Thiyagarajan.
3. Your brain reacts to the change in weather
“While September isn’t officially the start of Autumn it does feel like a change of season which can also play a part in our mood and mental health. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern.
“The exact cause of SAD isn’t fully understood, but the main theory is that a lack of sunlight might affect a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly, which may affect the production of serotonin, the hormone that affects our mood, appetite and sleep. The lack of sunlight and lower serotonin levels can lead to feelings of depression.”
So, how can you deal with September anxiety?
Dr Thiyagarajan suggests these five methods of managing your symptoms.
1. Know what you’re dealing with
"A common cause for anxiety is the feeling of being overwhelmed, without a reason behind it. Talking to a friend or medical professional about your symptoms can help you understand why you’re feeling this way. A 10-minute conversation could give you the clarity and the tools you need to tackle anxiety and reduce the severity of symptoms."
2. Keep busy
"Keeping busy is a great way to distract your body and keep anxiety symptoms at bay. If you’re feeling down, meet some friends for a coffee or watch your favourite programme. This is bound to lift your spirits and focus your mind on happy thoughts rather than those of dread and worry."
3. Vitamin D
"Make good use of the last of the sunshine. Going for a lunchtime walk is a good way of getting some well needed oxygen to the brain and can help relieve feelings of anxiety. Getting this additional few minutes of sunlight a day can keep melatonin and serotonin levels high resulting in improved mood and energy."
4. Don’t knock mindfulness until you've tried it
"Mindfulness is an excellent tool used by many people to manage the symptoms of stress and anxiety. While it may seem like a mundane task of sitting still and focusing on your breathing, mindfulness and meditation has proven to have a positive impact on mental wellbeing. There are free apps out there that can talk you through a stressful time – take a look and see how it can help!"
5. Know when to get help
"As anxiety is something faced by a lot of people, sometimes it’s hard to know when to seek help from a medical professional. If symptoms persist and regular tools aren’t helping to relieve symptoms, it is best to book an appointment to discuss the issue further. If a GP diagnoses you with SAD, there are treatments available to help manage the symptoms on a day to day basis."