Autumn is arguably the best season of the year (hello, sweaters and pumpkin spice!). But there’s another side to fall: It’s busy, it’s gray and there are fewer barbecues to distract us from the 24-hour news cycle.
If you feel pulled in a million different directions, it might be time to slow down and take some time for self-care — not just with spa treatments (though those are great), but with a new hobby, a night out with friends or a delicious indulgence. Here are some fresh ideas for taming fall stress in small and larger ways, so you can enjoy your PSL in peace.
Unplug and reenergize
If breaking news is also breaking your spirit, then it’s time to switch off the 24-hour cable networks, get off social media and let your mind and body reset.
Reconnect with the natural world and get some exercise — both proven mood lifters — with a walk around the block. Check out the new “Seattle Walk Report” ($20 at booksellers), written and illustrated by Susanna Ryan, for insight into the hidden gems in 23 Seattle neighborhoods, including landmarks, curiosities and sights not to miss — all amid clever illustrations and fun facts.
Once home, hop in the tub. Sure, it’s cliché, but being immersed in warm water can work wonders for relieving physical ailments and putting worries on pause. Add in locally made Moonlit Skincare Slumber Bath Salts ($19 at moonlitskincare.com and Knack, Capitol Hill), which contain dried lavender, as well as frankincense and geranium essential oils, to ease sore muscles and melt away tension.
Rather than endlessly scrolling all night, put down your phone and settle into a good book. Make it more hygge with a soft blanket, some candles and a spritz of Good and Well Supply Company Rainier National Park Cabin Spray ($25 at goodandwellsupplyco.com), with a light scent of pine needle, balsam fir and citrus.
By the time Friday night rolls around, you’ve got two options: face the crowds and blow off steam or be a true Seattleite and stay home. Escape into the new fall TV lineup or binge the latest buzzy show with a pint of Nutty Squirrel Gelato ($10), in flavors such as Lemon Custard Cookies and Sicilian Pistachio, made fresh at its three Seattle locations.
Live more slowly
Breathe in, breathe out. Let the cooler temperatures be your excuse to practice slow living — taking quality time for yourself and doing the things you love to do.
Making food can be meditative and rewarding — and you can start practicing for your Thanksgiving feast. Stock up on Washington-made Fairhaven Organic Flour (available at Whole Foods and bulk bins at PCC Natural Markets). The mill produces a variety of certified-organic flours from Northwest grain growers that are perfect for use in homemade breads, pie crusts, pastries and more.
Flex your DIY muscles and celebrate fall by brewing your own hard apples cider. Sound Home Brew’s Cider Equipment Kit ($90 at soundhomebrew.com) includes all the gear you need to make 6 gallons of brew. The Seattle company also sells local cider mixes to help get you started.
For some, clearing the mind and being present is the best way to slow down. A good way to achieve this is with a Finnish-style sauna at Hothouse Spa and Sauna (starting at $18) on Capitol Hill. The pleasant sanctuary for women and those who identify as women also offers a cold plunge, steam room, hot tub and massage services.
If sitting still drives you crazy, try taking the time to master a skill — like becoming an expert axe thrower. Axe Kickers, in West Seattle, brings the old outdoorsy tradition indoors (less rain that way). Grab a lane (starting at $24 per person) and throw at the targets as much as you like, increasing your accuracy and strength until you can hurl with the best of ’em.
Fend off the SAD
With the coming of fall, our Emerald City can feel a little less, well, shiny. Darker, shorter days can deflate even the most chipper Seattleite.
If your mood needs a boost but you’re not in a place to use a THC cannabis product, try one of the many CBD items now widely available. They don’t produce a high like THC, but can be relaxing and uplifting in their own right. Seattle’s Mr. Moxey’s Mints ($40 for 60 at mrmoxeys.com) include calming herbs along with the hemp extract that provides 5 milligrams of CBD per mint.
Talking with a friend can help lift your spirits; why not do it with a clever cocktail or mocktail made with Wild Heart’s Sipping Vinegars ($16 at squareup.com/store/wild_heart_sipping_vinegar)? Handmade in Tenino, Washington, and available in flavors such as Blueberry Thyme and Pear Cardamom Rosemary, they can be used as a mixer, blended in sauces or drunk straight to aid the digestive and respiratory systems.
Light therapy is a classic treatment for the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder — but rarely are the lights as attractive and flexible as the Circadian Optics Lumos 2.0 Light Therapy Lamp ($50 at amazon.com). Free of UV rays and with three brightness levels, the lamp works to increase your levels of serotonin to boost mood and fight fatigue. If your SAD symptoms are intense, consult your doctor before beginning or changing treatments.
Few things can brighten a dull mood like stepping into a lush, fragrant garden nursery on a dreary day. Take a trip to City People’s Garden Store in Madison Park to browse rows of cheery plants and flowers, or to get your hands dirty in a gardening class. Of course, you should also take a few plants home with you for the ongoing lift that caring for a living thing provides.