The fall equinox just happened — our days are officially getting crisper, shorter, and, here in the Northeast, changing color.

It can be hard to say goodbye to summer — to sunbathing quietly on a park bench and watching children, blissfully free of school, fly by on scooters; to long days at the beach in a sunhat and vacations with family; to the welcoming whir of air conditioners and the sweet, sticky bliss of a melting ice cream cone.

But who among us isn’t just a little glad that we can forget the endless sweat and impossible weight of activity during too-long days? The changing of the seasons is bittersweet, but it gives us the chance to appreciate what was good about the previous season and get excited about the emerging one.

So to celebrate the equinox — an ancient holiday that emphasizes the bounty of the fall harvest — embrace some of these fall-specific activities to destress as the work and school years rev up once again:

Have a fall picnic

This is different from a summer picnic! Wear your boots and your jacket, and bring fall food like apples, roasted squash, or even a pumpkin spice latte. Enjoying the foods we associate with the fall harvest while looking at the changing leaves will help you get in touch with autumn as an incredible natural phenomenon. And that has incredible psychological benefits.

Take a hot bath

Summer makes a hot bath a pretty unappealing prospect. We’re already stewing in heat. But come fall, open up your window a crack, feel the crisp air, and suddenly the bath is calling you. The tub is a great place to unplug, relax, meditate, or even read! Tech and water don’t mix, making a bathtub the ideal place to create a little space to destress and recenter.

Plan a trip to an orchard with family or friends

One of the most joyful parts of fall, for me, is going out to an orchard and picking apples (or pumpkins, or squash). It’s an activity I’ve done since childhood, and I love it for a lot of reasons: it provides an off-screen, outdoor time to be with people you love; it reminds you where your food comes from; it supports local farmers. But most of all, it is just really fun — let it get you back in touch with the playful spirit of climbing up trees and running around outside.

Use the changing season to change habits

When we pay attention to the natural world and are in touch with these monumental, rhythmic shifts, it becomes easier to make changes in our own lives, mirroring our environment. Use the beginning of this new season to overturn a habit that you’ve been trying to kick — if you’ve been trying to curb (literal) nail biting, commit to keeping your nails polished with fun fall colors as an aid to stop that instinct; if you want to start working out, add a quick run to your evening routine, remembering the new kinds of work the oak trees are doing around you as they crank out sap. It can be helpful to remember how the small changes nature makes around us daily lead to transformation that can literally redraw our landscape. You can make those small changes, too, and eventually they’ll coalesce into big ones. 


  • Nora Battelle

    Multimedia Staff Writer at Thrive

    Nora Battelle is a writer from New York City. Her work has been published on the Awl, the Hairpin, and the LARB blog, and she's written for podcast and film. At Swarthmore College, she studied English and French literature and graduated with Highest Honors. She's fascinated by language, culture, the internet, and all the small choices that can help us thrive.