It’s easy at this time of year to persuade ourselves to stay in rather than go out if we don’t need to; lighting the fire or turning up the heating and just praying spring comes around quicker. Each season has its highlights and with autumn, it’s the gradual changing of the colours. A spectacular show of varying tones of reds, oranges, yellows and even smatterings of purple and bronze is all around us, and have you noticed how evergreen trees and shrubs stand out more against this colourful canvas?
Our brains see visual contrasts as exciting and this can help to relieve stress. [i]Studying the changing leaves redirects our attention towards positive experiences and away from anxiety and stress.
We also associate colours with different emotions; [ii]red can make us feel strong and energetic, orange is stimulating and fun whilst yellow can lift spirits and optimism.
Seasons also connect us with memories through our other senses. For example the smell of an autumn bonfire, the sound of scuffing feet through leaf piles, the taste of a freshly picked apple and touch of cold fresh air on our cheeks can re-connect us with past autumnal events and perhaps kindle a desire to capture those moments again and make new memories.
(interesting fact: detecting outside temperatures happens through thermoceptors in our skin and is another sense we have, known as ‘thermoception’)
Take some time over the coming weeks to don those extra layers, pull on your boots, go for an autumn amble, whether in your own company or the company of others. It doesn’t have to be far but allow yourself to focus on the colours and how they make you feel. You might find some of that anxiety and stress is a little less and a little easier to cope with afterwards.
Wendy Brewin, Creative Spaces Project Manager
P.S. Going for a stroll with someone who uses a wheelchair? walkswithwheelchairs.com is a website with information on locality, facilities, gradients and distances that will help you to choose a lovely stroll with family and friends of all ages and levels of mobility.