Fear of Fall: How to Cope with August Anxiety

by Kimberly Jordan Allen

August anxiety is here. The transition from the carefree, easy vibe of summer into back-to-school/back-to-work mode can bring on stress and negative anticipation. Like the "Sunday scaries," FOMO, or "a case of the Mondays," August anxiety is a natural reaction to change.

“The shift from summer to fall can have a visceral effect on the body, mind and spirit,” says Izzy Lenihan, a certified life, career, and wellness coach at Kripalu, who focuses on supporting people on the path to more balanced, healthful living. 

What We Can Learn from August Anxiety

What makes August anxiety harder is that we sometimes feel bad about having it—it’s a First World problem. So even if we’re emotionally triggered by the transition, we try to ignore or minimize it. The Kripalu approach reminds us to compassionately witness what we’re going through, rather than pushing it away. 

When we pause and listen closely to our inner experience, August anxiety can provide life-changing insight. 

“If you’re feeling some emotional discomfort—anxiety, fear, sadness, etc.—it’s important to inquire and practice self-observation without judgment,” Izzy says. “This discomfort is here to inform you of what nourishes or depletes you, what might be missing, what you need more of, and what brings joy. Confidence, trust, and ease come when you pay attention to those messages and take action.”

Here are some tools and tips to combat August anxiety and segue more easily into the new season.

1. Notice what you have. Sometimes, the simplest way to combat anxiety or stress is remembering what’s already working. What are you grateful for? What are the aspects of your life that you love and want to expand on? What do you cherish? The practice of noticing and appreciating can do wonders for August anxiety, FOMO, or a case of the Mondays.

2. Breathe. It’s a practice that is always here for you. Whether you do an early morning meditation, go to yoga class, or simply take a few moments every day to focus on your breath, keep it going. Your practice will keep you centered and fortify you as you head back to school or the office. 

3. Bring more of what you love (and less of what you don’t) into the new season. “Perhaps lessen the grip of an overcommitted family schedule by creating intentional space in the calendar for free time or play,” Izzy suggests. “Reminding ourselves of what brings us joy is very helpful—time in nature, fun with family and friends, a fall or winter adventure. Or consciously bring in light and warmth, like a roaring fire, to honor the change of season.” Fall is a great time to make small changes—like signing up for that art class you’ve been thinking about for ages—and maybe bigger ones: Is it time to reassess whether your current job situation is feeding you?

4. Savor the rest of summer. Rather than projecting into the future, which takes us out of the moment, just be here now. Visit your local CSA and literally savor those late-summer vegetables and fruits. Unplug so you can truly be present. Go for walks and listen to the sounds of the birds, the insects, the trees blowing gently in the breeze. Relish a late-summer campout or bonfire on the beach. 

5. Seek support. Sometimes August anxiety isn’t just about August. If you are really struggling, seek support from those you love or perhaps from a therapist. While yoga can help with anxiety, don’t hesitate to consult a mental-health professional. 

6. Be gentle with yourself. “Release the guilt and judgment if you feel you haven’t ‘done enough’ this summer,” says Izzy. “Schedule a fun fall activity or adventure. Trust that you will reconnect with your groove once again.” 

Kimberly Jordan Allen is an award-winning writer, editor, and content strategist. Her work has appeared in Yoga Journal, Shape, and Berkshire Magazine, and has been featured on Sonima and the Huffington Post.