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Autumn Anxiety: Reason Behind Your Higher Stress Level

Autumn season has arrived and as the leaves begin to fall from the trees, my stress level is going up. Home from our summer holiday (staycation this year) and back at work. Looking back at the holiday photos it’s hard to say goodbye to summer, it’s even harder if summer is your favourite season. But why are our stress levels and anxiety increasing as autumn arrives?

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Why is our stress level getting higher at the end of the summer?

We all know that bright sunny days can positively impact our mood. As the days get shorter, it’s not only the seasons that change but also our body clock. We get more tired in winter as it gets darker earlier. After all, it’s at night when our body is used to being asleep. So yes, we may be more grumpy or irritable during the winter months.

Our mood is changing as the days are drawing in, and feelings of anxiety and stress may kick in. One of the reasons why our stress level may be higher as the summer, with its long days, comes to an end is that we may start to think of so many things that we didn’t manage to accomplish during these long days. I usually start to plan my summer holiday already in winter, at least there is something to look forward to. However, once the summer holiday is over, I think of all the things I could have done in that time. Sound familiar? Yeah, it’s that feeling that perhaps you haven’t made most of these long sunny days after all ‘summer is here, make the most of it’, seems to be the slogan of every summer. 

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Autumn Anxiety

And after the summer holiday is over it means back to work, children back to school, students back to university and generally stepping back into reality. You may start to feel the pressure of all those things and I’m not talking about the forthcoming festivities, such as Christmas or Thanksgiving. For some of us, those further contribute to our high-stress levels. 

With the changes and transition, we may often be feeling overwhelmed and anxious. However, this isn’t only a feeling. This phenomenon, triggered by the change of seasons when summer comes to its end, is called Autumn Anxiety.

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Is Autumn Anxiety actually real, and what are the symptoms?

The syndrome Autumn Anxiety was discovered by Welsh therapist Gillian Scully. The study showed that even people who don’t usually feel anxious get the feeling of anxiety and anticipation as the season changes and the summer ends. And you may not be even aware of what caused it although you are not alone. There are many people who may experience this when the seasons change. And not only when summer turns to autumn, but some do so when winter turns to spring.


Are you feeling more stressed or anxious as the days are getting shorter? It may not automatically mean that you are suffering from Autumn Anxiety. However, if you show those symptoms, you may want to seek help.

  • feeling sleepy and fatigued even after a good night’s sleep
  • high level of stress and anxiety
  • low mood and interest in everyday activities
  • easily irritable

It is most likely that you suffer from Autumn Anxiety if the symptoms repeat each year around the same time. According to Dr Clare Morrison, medical advisor at MedExpress, it may be caused by sunlight reduction. It isn’t only sunlight reduction that occurs at that time. With it also comes a reduction in our serotonin and vitamin D levels and whilst they are falling the level of melatonin goes up. This negatively impacts our mood, sleep, feelings and emotions.

The worst is when we had a great summer as we are sad it’s coming to an end. With the colder days coming, we may feel down and depressed, especially as we know what is coming – a long, cold winter. So we already expect something negative and such a mindset can make it even worse.

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Could something else be behind your higher stress level?

Whilst Autumn Anxiety is not officially diagnosable, in more extreme cases it may lead to a psychological condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is when you feel not only more sleepy and down but you may also put on weight and feel deeply depressed. SAD is a type of depression that occurs as the season changes and days become darker and colder. There are treatments such as light therapy, talk or cognitive behavioural therapy or antidepressants. If you think you may have SAD, it is important that you seek professional help. 

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Read also ‘Proven Benefit of Being in Nature on our Wellbeing

Embrace the change to lower your stress level

Although Autumn Anxiety is real, the colder days don’t have to be just about the negative. After all, after the busy long summer days, our body deserves to slow down and return to some healthy habits. Sometimes we could learn from the nature around us – observe it and embrace the change in the same peaceful way. Perhaps then you will see that just as the leaves are falling out of the trees, your stress level may be decreasing slowly too. 

If you are going through a hard time and feel that a bit of encouragement and support is what you might need right now, feel free to download my free e-book 7 Keys To Self-Healing, A Trauma Survivor’s Guide. It will equip you with knowledge and tools that will assist you on your healing journey, help you to care for yourself and feel more in control. Download your free e-book here

Thank you and till the next blog post:)

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54 thoughts on “Autumn Anxiety: Reason Behind Your Higher Stress Level”

  1. Great article and reminder not to slip into a rut as the seasons change. Although I never really thought about how moods change during the seasons, I appreciate your insight and it makes since to seek professional help if there may be something else mentally going on.Thanks for sharing!

  2. This is an important informative post regarding this new season. Having less sunlight and colder weather can really impact some. Staying aware of how you feel is always important. Thank you for sharing this post.

    Pastor Natalie 😊

    1. Thank you, Pastor Natalie! It is, indeed. That’s why I’m researching ideas on how to beat Autumn Anxiety and Winter Blues for one of my next blog posts. Thank you ❤

    1. It is totally possible. As mentioned in the post it may not happen only in autumn, some people suffer more when it gets to spring/summer. Thanks for sharing and enjoy your autumn ❤

    1. Thank you so much! And it isn’t that unusual, but even more fascinating is that there is not only Winter Blues but Summer Blues too. Thanks and happy autumn ❤

  3. Wow it is such a shame that people experience this type of anxiety, but I guess it happens. I find autumn or fall to be the best time of year, if you can just let go and relax into the season. However prior, proper, planning helps me out a lot!

    1. Thank you for sharing! Yes, relaxing and just let go, as autumn teaches us, help with stress a lot. I’m glad you did find a way that is helpful for you. Planning can be of great benefit when trying to cope with stress. Thanks and best wishes ❤

      1. I agree the pre planning does help to alleviate that build up too many things piling up as the seasons go forward with so many holidays so close together. It may seem silly to plan it so early but working in retail we have to plan Christmas in July so the rest is done prior, which gives you a gridwork to just follow for decorating, shopping, travel etc. Having it done to enjoy the experiences.

  4. This is very important information to know and understand. There are many seasonal types of health issues and here in the Okanagan there is a high rate of autumn and winter anxiety as we have a lot of dark, dreary days. A lot of my coworkers and myself used to be in inner offices with no windows to outside and we purchased SAD lights because the lack of sunlight really did affect our mood.

    1. Lisa, thank you for sharing this! SAD lights are one of the great ways how to help with autumn anxiety and winter blues. Thank you so much and all the best ❤

    1. Thank you so much! Yes, slowing down would definitely be of great benefit to how to cope with stress in our busy day to day lives. Something I will definitely put on my list of how to deal with autumn anxiety for one of my next blog posts. Thank you and enjoy your autumn ❤

  5. Yesterday with my best friend we celebrated Mabon and I must say that it was a great way to get in touch with ourselves and release a stress that is gripping us particularly in this period.

    1. That’s great that you did find a way to celebrate autumn as well as release stress. I’ve never heard of Mabon, so I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for sharing ❤

  6. I usually never underestimate the power of an alliteration but in this case I feel the opposite when the autumn season comes. I feel like a brand new person and ready to take on anything. As if the summer sloth is off my chest and I can go-go-go again!

    1. I guess we often don’t, but as it shows it is one of the reasons. SAD can occur in winter as in summer, we just don’t think about it. Therefore I hope that the post offers insight into this, which can be one of the reasons for depression and anxiety, and people will find it informative and helpful. Thank you ❤

  7. I like fall, but not winter, so there’s always that looming feeling that occurs right after the holidays are done. I think it’s also tough this year wondering if the pandemic situation will worsen again and ground everyone inside.

  8. I don’t know that I feel more anxious at this time of year, but as an Australian, definitely feel “flat” during the northern hemisphere winter.

    1. I can totally understand it, it’s hard even for people who are used to seasons change… Fortunately, there are things we can do to beat these feelings and I will write more about them in one of the next blog posts… Happy October and thank you ❤

  9. This is a great post. I know that many people with chronic illness or disability experience what they call “the October slide”, which sounds very similar to what you are describing. I appreciate you sharing this perspective and helping people better understand it!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing! I’ve never heard of it but I’ll do my research. I really hope it’s informative and helpful for others. Thank you and Happy October ❤

    1. Thank you so much and so sorry to hear that you face some challenging times! Sending prayers and best wishes – and stay tuned as I’m researching for more ideas on how to cope with that winter blues. Take care ❤

    1. Thanks for your comment! Autumn Anxiety is not recognised in the way SAD is, but it can lead to other problems. Therefore yes, it’s important to seek help if we think we may suffer from Autumn Anxiety or SAD. Thank you ❤

  10. This is interesting! As an educator I also enjoy summer break and do not look forward for it to end but then also new beginnings as new school year starts

  11. Oh wow. As a single mom, Autumn is always the stressful season for me because I’m worried about heating the bill all the time due to the freezing temperature.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing! Life can be stressful, even more for single parents…and unfortunately, some things can make it even more challenging. But we are so much stronger than we know it and we will get through it. Sending prayers and strength ❤

  12. This makes total sense! I do think many of us start to feel more anxious going into this time of year. I try to keep busy with my kids through October doing all sorts of things for Halloween (do we only have that in the US?) so that keeps us busy a bit at least.

    1. Thanks for sharing! Keeping yourself busy is an excellent way to beat the winter blues and autumn anxiety. And yes, Halloween is celebrated in some other countries as well, just perhaps not to this extend as in the US. Happy Autumn ❤

  13. This is a really interesting read! My stress levels always seem to be through the roof during autumn, returning to school and getting back into routines is super tough. I don’t think the darker days help either! Thanks for sharing x

    1. Thanks for sharing. Yes, getting back into a routine after summer is always hard, but then having a routine is also very important for dealing with stress and anxiety. I will bring more on how to beat the winter blues in one of my next blog posts, so feel free to have a look or follow so you don’t miss it! All the best ❤

  14. Well said, we all know that bright sunny days may make us feel better. Not only do the seasons change as the days get shorter, but so does our body clock. We become more fatigued in the winter when the sun sets sooner. After all, our bodies are accustomed to sleeping at night. So, during the winter, we may be more grouchy or irritated.

  15. Autumn anxiety is definitely prevalent here in Alaska! Between losing much of the sunshine, preparing for the harsh Winter, and longing for the warmth again, it can really get to people. Great article!

  16. I am the complete opposite. I love the Fall and Winter season. I actually feel down when Spring rolls around. I think more so because I miss Christmas and the joy the world seems to have during this time.

  17. I’ve always thought of this as “seasonal depression”. At least that’s what I’ve heard it called before. I love autumn. Sure, it brings kind of a “ho-hum” sort of feeling, but the air is so fresh that it always feels like a new exciting beginning as well. Great article!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! Yes, Autumn Anxiety can lead to the psychological condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), sometimes called seasonal or winter depression. You can read more about SAD in my post here.

  18. Summer is my favorite season, and every year, it is so hard to accept that it has to end…
    Although, this year, I’m trying to do the best I can to embrace the Fall season 🙂

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