I was at a party this past weekend and overheard a woman who grew up in Los Angeles say, “you can feel fall in the air.” The comment struck me deeply, and I thought about people in my psychotherapy practice who have voiced frustration, sadness, or disappointment over fall (or the lack of fall) in L.A.
In most areas of the country, September means a significant change in the environment, as our senses are heightened by the changing leaves, the smell of roasted chili and fresh apples, and the air growing crisp. If you come from somewhere else, you are accustomed to the physical and psychic rhythms of the four seasons, and these can be hard to come by in sunny Southern California. So, for those of you who might appreciate the L.A. weather but struggle during the seasonal transitions, here are five things you can do to cope with fall season depression L.A.:
1. Follow Fall: You don’t have to buy a ticket to the maple trees of Vermont to get that autumn feeling. Find traditional fall festivities nearby when you feel the urge. Go apple picking in Julian or check out the changing foliage of Malibu Creek in the Santa Monica Mountains. Both are easily accessible and can bring you that fall feeling fast.
2. Accept L.A.: Accept that LA is different, and create new fall traditions in your sunny locale. Maybe invite all your friends to an annual autumn barbeque at the beach on the first day of fall, something you could never pull off back east. Some people get stuck trying to capture what they’re used to rather than moving forward, but trying something new can be surprisingly rewarding.
3. Be Mindful of L.A.’s Fall: Being mindful means noticing what is happening in the moment. Once you accept that autumn in L.A. can’t be the traditional fall of your memories, open your mind to exactly what is happening around you. L.A.’s environment does change during the month of September. What changes do you feel? How do they impact your senses? By noticing the subtle shifts, you’ll be able to recognize them the following year. Maybe you’ll be the lady at the party remarking that fall is in the air.
4. Hold onto L.A.’s Fall: When you notice yourself feeling down because the leaves aren’t falling and you don’t need your favorite winter jacket, hold on to L.A.’s fall by reminding yourself of the environmental changes happening around you. Things you can do to make this easier are keeping a fall journal, take photographs as the trees change, or collect items that remind you of fall in L.A. and keep them in a special box. These things can also helpful the following year should you need a reminder
5. Breathe Deeply: Take a deep breath while thinking about all the new things you’ve noticed about L.A.’s fall. Breathing deliberately incorporates the body into the mental process so that psychic and physical sensations become integrated. This integration will bring you balance, and help you hold on to a new definition of fall.