From the moment pumpkin spice lattes were released, to the first cool snap of air with temperatures below 80 degrees, leaves changing from green to amber hues, the scent of baked apple pie, and sweater weather. Fall conjures up nostalgia and coziness. And, it turns out psychologically there are some interesting reasons why we love autumn so much.
According to environmental research, the weather may also present some mental health benefits. Cooler temperatures and spectacular foliage encourage us to spend time in nature, which has been connected with improvements in our happiness, well-being, relationships, and sense of having a life purpose. Plus, getting outside and enjoying the fresh air is a natural way of raising the oxygen levels in your brain. A rise in oxygen tends to release more serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes happiness.
Halloween and Thanksgiving are two favorite holidays in autumn that we tend to look forward to during this time of the season and typically bring about happy childhood memories and family celebrations of traditions, comfort foods, and tasty treats. And, of course, the flavor of pumpkin spice—the smell and taste of fall that makes everything nice!
Even the color orange has a mental impact on our brains. Psychologists say that orange, red, and yellow colors are associated with excitement and energy, which is ironic since they reflect the tones of dying leaves on trees. However, observing the vibrant hues of beautiful red, orange, and yellow leaves scattered around town most often reduces stress. The heavy change in colors stimulates the brain and triggers positive emotions.
These are just some of the physical and mental health benefits of fall and how the mere presence of colorful leaves during the autumn scene can change the way a person thinks, acts, and looks.
The sky’s the limit, and it’s up to you how you spend this wonderful time of the year!
Nature and mental health: An ecosystem service perspective. Science Advances. 5(7):eaax0903.Published July 24, 2019. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax0903