Autumn officially started September 23, but the feeling of fall is felt long before the actual date. Stores begin breaking out their Halloween displays, coffee shops add the pumpkin and maple flavors to the menu, and social media gets flooded with autumn-related posts.
So why do we love autumn so much?
Part of it is weather related. Depending on where you live, autumn means cooler temperatures where you can venture outside without worrying about the uncomfortable humidity and heat of summer. This makes the outdoors ideal for exercise routines and other physical activities that summer weather might be too hot for. The cooler air at night encourages better sleep patterns and helps us feel more rested in the morning.
Trees begin changing to a range of beautiful colors- red, yellow, orange, brown and more. Viewing multicolored foliage can encourage mindfulness, which leads to decreased stress and increased inspiration, according to 2015 Psychology Today article.
The season is also heavily associated with certain products, such as the flavor of pumpkin spice lattes and comfy fashion such as sweaters and flannel. Autumn-related foods such as pumpkins, apples and acorn squash add more delicious flavor and scents and can even have mental health benefits, as a 2018 Healthline article states.
But there is more to our obsession with fall other than the weather, commercial and food perks. According to a 2016 Huffington Post article, there are psychological reasons behind our affinity for the season. As we grow up, autumn means the beginning of a lot of new things- a new school year, which can mean new clothes, school supplies, experiences, and seeing friends after a long summer vacation. It’s perceived as an exciting time of year, a notion that can carry into our adulthood.
Autumn is also viewed as the season where everyone returns from their summer excursions. It offers opportunities to socialize through season-related activities such as carving pumpkins for Halloween, watching sports games together, and other similar activities. The lead into the holidays only adds more excitement towards this time of year.
A 2010 Psychology Today article and 2017 Vocal Media article delve deeper into the emotional part of autumn. The cooling temperatures and shortening days can sometimes be perceived as negative. The seasons can also be very nostalgic, bringing back memories of fun school years and family experiences. But this can present the opportunity to consider what autumn symbolizes- changing seasons, a time of transition, and the chance to rest and recharge. After the craziness of summer, focusing on positive attributes and structure of the fall season can have numerous mental health benefits.