Fall FOMO: n. – The phenomenon that occurs when Autumn goes from a season of pleasant weather to a vibrating zone of pressure and anxiety wherein the afflicted are compelled to drink all the Pumpkin Spice Lattes and watch all the football, and bake all the pies and pick all the apples…
Shall we unpack this? Get in, loser. We’re going on a hayride.
We’re within spitting distance of the first day of Fall. Certainly here in the southern part of the country, “Fall” proper doesn’t really happen when it’s supposed to, but that doesn’t stop us from gritting our teeth against the sunshine and donning circle scarves and legwarmers in defiance.
We count down the days til the coffee shops start offering pumpkin spiced everything, we peruse Pinterest and Polyvore for fall outfit ideas, and basically digest as much decorative gourd porn as we can stomach.
This phenomenon isn’t entirely a product of the Internet, but it’s definitely exacerbated by it. I follow Tumblr blogs like “October Anytime” and “Endless Autumn” because the colors remind me that we’re not actually marching towards a fiery apocalypse here in Austin. Not yet anyway.
But as I set intentions for my daily life, lately my inner mantra has been “don’t add stress.” Essentially, do no more harm to your inner sense of calm than that which is out of your control. And I find that the excitement that surrounds Autumn – both as a respite from the heat and a prelude to the holiday season – can quickly manifest itself as added tension if I’m not careful. It’s silly but it’s true.
We start to feel the tug of the holidays, the obligations to family. The holidays themselves start to loom like deadlines instead of finish lines. Social media and TV remind us of the link between what we buy during this time of year and our own self-worth, our meaning. It’s fun to get swept up in it sometimes – buy new candles, try new recipes, redecorate – but it’s also important to see it for what it is at its heart: We’re craving renewal, not saturation. Simplicity, not immersion.
I find that the beginning of Fall is a perfect time to reexamine my routines. I reassess the things in my life that have gone from being simple measures of passing time to obligations, stressors. Sometimes it’s a change in routine that’s required, sometimes just a change of mindset.
My mental health always benefits from actively planning time for myself. Ten minutes alone, to sit, meditate, do nothing. Finding quiet, resolving to prioritize you, is so much more important than it can seem when you think of anything else you spend ten minutes doing.
Making time for yourself doesn’t have to mean you’re on your way to namaste, or that you need to take up crystals as a hobby (you can if you want!). That’s the point – it’s about you and only you. It’s not selfish to be selfish with your sanity. The rest of your world isn’t going to prioritize your mental health, and asking isn’t enough. You have to set your boundaries internally, and guard your sense of calm. Because no matter what your daily life looks like, there’s nothing more sacred than your happiness.