Facing Fall Dread

Jade Weston
November 3, 2023
A van with roses on the windshield

If you live in the northern hemisphere, the shadows are getting longer and the days are getting shorter. Just when everything in the natural world is settling into a period of rest and quiet, I often find myself longing to also go dormant for a while. In these times, trying to keep up with life-as-usual can feel like working against nature itself. 

It makes sense that the changing of the seasons might put us in a funk, even if it doesn’t feel culturally sanctioned to acknowledge it. The loss of light and warmth is hard for our mammal bodies, and whether we intend to or not, we might find ourselves putting up a fight. For me it looks like this: “I have so much to do….But I’m so tired….I don’t feel like doing anything.” Cue the dread and shame of taking unglamorous, nearly-vegetative downtime. I know I’m not alone in this. “I spent all day Saturday rotting on the couch,” one of my colleagues told me recently when we were catching up about how we spent our weekend. 

But maybe that kind of mild depression, as gross as it can feel, is a bodily survival tactic that gets us to slow down and rest when we need to. What if we were to normalize the less prolific parts of our experience, to let our inner world also have its seasons: rotting/resting, being unproductive, letting yourself feel bad/sad/tired/moody/goblin-like? 

We often outrun the prospect of true downtime because it can provoke uncertainty, making us feel things we’re usually too busy to feel. We might catch a glimpse of how much we have to grieve: the plight of so many of our fellow humans in crisis, our politics, our planet, and the myriad inevitable personal losses we suffer from simply being alive. And yet, rarely do we make space to honor any of these, so obsessed are we with keeping the ball rolling, checking things off our to-do list, constantly feeding the delusion that we have full agency over life—until we don’t, and we can’t.  

Seasons change, and so do we. Maybe these short days aren't just a quirk of nature, but a yearly catalyst for slowing down, cutting ourselves some slack, and checking in with how we’re *really* doing. We’ve put together a collection of meditations to help you do that and more, below—and we’ll continue to support you with practices like these until it feels like spring is just around the corner. In the meantime, here’s to weathering these dark days with mindfulness. May we give ourselves the grace to tend well to what’s inside.

Jade Weston is a Senior Meditation Producer at Ten Percent Happier, where she has been designing courses to teach people how to bring mindfulness into their everyday life since 2019. She’s practiced meditation since 2009 and began teaching meditation in 2014.

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