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Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a clinical mood disorder that causes depression related to the change of the seasons. “It is normal for people to mourn the end of summer. Your fun social interactions and vacations are often replaced with monotonous routines of school and work and there is much less time to spend outside in the sun,” explains Jennifer Hoffman, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) based in the NYC area. “Most of the time, these feelings can be easily fixed with a few creative ideas, but sometimes, people who are acutely suffering can benefit from clinical therapy, light therapy and in some cases medication,” Hoffman adds. “And as the days get shorter, a lack of sunlight correlates to a drop of serotonin levels which can often trigger a depressive episode.” While relocating to San Diego might be a quick fix, it is not always an option, so we’ve compiled a list of ways for you to ramp up your fall line-up that works on your mind, body and of course, your soul.

From Pool Partying to Leaf Peeping

Yes, pool parties and weekly beach volleyball games might no longer be in your social repertoire, but the fall months provide many new opportunities to create meaningful and fun moments with your summer crew. Grab your girls and go for a long hike amidst the fall foliage, plan an apple picking (and cider donut) excursion, or simply invite people over for Sunday football or a wine and cheese night. Though you might be swapping your sandals for sweaters, there is no better way to brighten a mood then making time for your friends.

Look Inward

Instead of looking at unoccupied time on your calendar as a negative, change your way of thinking and see it as an opportunity to focus on yourself and your goals. “Self-care is necessary to remind yourself that your needs are important,” explains Hoffman. She adds that, “Focusing on yourself and carving out time to “do you” does wonders for one’s confidence and self-esteem.” Use a free Sunday afternoon to check out that art exhibit you’ve been meaning to visit or to start that novel that has been sitting on your nightstand since June. Reconnecting with your needs can even strengthen your social network. Invite your friends along for some much-needed culture or ask your crew to join you in a monthly book club at your fave dinner spot.

Meals with Mojo

From boardwalk ice cream cones to your best friend’s famous sangria, your summer diet and lack of healthy eating might also be adding to your less than stellar mood. Chef, food stylist and cooking show host Megan Mitchell loves what fall means for her kitchen and social life. “I’m looking forward to inviting people over and making cozy and comforting meals, but I need them to make me feel good. I try to balance what is in season with organic, lean proteins and farm fresh eggs. The better I eat, the better I feel,” the LA-based Mitchell explains. Fall is a rich harvest time and there is an abundance of fruits and vegetables to choose from and add to your diet. Go pumpkin picking with the kids then roast the seeds or make a creamy soup or host an intimate dinner party with your haul from the farmer’s market. Mitchell suggests easy one-pan dishes or salads that “let the ingredients speak for themselves.” She also likes healthy recipes that taste good but are completely approachable for entertaining. Mitchell offers that, “The goal is to spend time with friends and family and not to be stuck in the kitchen the whole time.”

We wholeheartedly agree, especially with a glass of wine in hand.

Categorized under Health & Wellness