Autumn Equinox

It’s Autumn, a time when many of us in the Northern Hemisphere are settling back into school, work, and a quieter, more introspective time of year than summer. With this shift to shorter days can come a sense of melancholy, and getting back to schedules that speak more to demands than priorities. In essence, we might find ourselves thinking, the fun is over. DBT skills can help us in a few ways to make the transition to fall effectively and in a satisfying way. The Oakland DBT and Mindfulness Center has a skills recipe that might help.


1) First of all, if you find yourself back at work with your next vacation months if not a year away, or in school and facing about nine more months of focus and homework, then doing what’s effective will be your skill, and you might want to add a dash of radical acceptance. Face it, many people are getting focused right now, and if you’re a student, pretty much every student you know is back in school. Remember, you are not alone. It’s time to get serious and do what has to be done.


We put a lot of energy toward fighting reality, and in the end, little changes except our stress levels, which go up when we battle what we can’t change. If you find yourself struggling to get moving, and motivation seems low, try a little bit of self-talk, cheerleading statements as we call them in DBT. Sure, it would be great to wake up on Monday morning and have the power to turn Monday into Saturday, but it doesn’t work that way, so push the covers aside and…be effective. It might not seem fair and it might not seem fun, but if you are doing what you need to do, you will feel engaged in your life, and responsible, which can bring a sense of ease.


2) Take advantage of the time to track two things you want to accomplish, as big or as small as they might be, before the end of the year. We suggest you identify a core value that can steer your life, and guide you in a positive direction, one that will inform many of your decisions about how you act and what you choose. When you identify that core value (such as, I want to live a creative life, or, I want to tend to my relationships), then identify three concrete things you can do to meet that core value. Then pick one you can do right now. But you’re not finished yet. When you pick one that you can do right now, choose three steps you would need to take to get that one thing started.


Then, take the first step and start.


3) Use your PLEASE skills. As the days get shorter, why not reevaluate your self care? Set a bedtime that works for you, perhaps a media/technology black out time (such as, no email or TV or Facebook after 9 p.m.) and try to stick to it. Think about finishing off 2014 in a strong way, that tends to your well-being, both physically, mentally, and emotionally. No need to wait until January 1st to reset. If you start now, you have a little more than three months in 2014 to establish some good, accessible patterns. If the sun sets at 7 p.m. in late September, perhaps move your bedtime up an hour, or wake up 30 minutes earlier to start or increase your mindfulness practice.


4) Sit with a mindful awareness of what it means to be quieter, to embrace busier days and earlier nights, when the days are shorter, and the demands are generally greater. Think about what you can do to embrace the transition, and strengthen yourself at a potentially vulnerable time of change. And if you are not feeling the pressure of a new schedule, think about how opposite action might serve you. Perhaps for you, autumn is a time of productivity, and saying yes instead of no, using the participate skill and diving in.


A change of seasons is a great time to think about DBT skills, and not only the ones you find you use fairly naturally, but the ones you often don’t think of using. If you are using skills, why not open your binder to a random page, and use that skill today?

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