By Anastasia Howland

It’s that time of year again—when the leaves become the many colors of an artist’s palette and pumpkin spice lattes are available at any and every coffeeshop in town. That’s right, it’s officially fall! I suppose it’s technically fall as soon as the autumnal equinox occurs in September, but it’s the leaves and lattes that seem to really convince everyone. Fall is a beautiful time of year, but our enjoyment of it is often rudely interrupted by our high stress levels, for fall is also a time of deadlines.

Whether you’re cramming for or preparing for the quickly advancing holidays, it seems that there’s never enough time to escape the busyness. However, I encourage you to do the (seemingly) impossible, even if just for a few moments: to be present, with all of your senses and all of yourself, in this beautiful season.

Take a short break from your desk to engage your sense of sight in something other than the depths of your biology textbook: the rich colors of fall, perhaps? The cheery yellow of leaves falling from branches above, the golden orange shades of pumpkins in their patches, and the deep red hues of apples ripened for picking are all sights to behold in this season.

To engage your next sense, I don’t necessarily advise tasting the cheery autumn leaves –unless you’re looking to go beyond just being present in the season, and instead actually have the season present in you. A way to accomplish this with a better taste in your mouth might instead be an afternoon trip to the local apple orchard, with a few of your favorite friends to accompany you. Enjoy your freshly-picked apples at the orchard, or take them home to prepare a pie full of autumn flavors. And if you don’t have a whole afternoon for a tasting adventure, go ahead and grab your Starbucks pumpkin spice latte—I won’t judge.

Next, here’s an easy one: your sense of smell. Throw open your windows at home, and just breathe in the cool autumn air for a few moments, or take to the outdoors to enjoy it fully. Autumn is full of wonderful scents, such as that ever-present smoky smell, even if it seems there’s no campfire for miles. How about the smell of a freshly baked cinnamon apple pie? Or even just that characteristic scent of fall in the air—which when I realized this is actually the smell of decaying leaves I was a bit weirded out, but I continue to enjoy it nonetheless. It reminds me of childhood years spent jumping in piles of leaves. And who says you can’t still enjoy this childhood pastime?

To engage your next sense, feel the rough, papery leaves against your skin as you leap and land in a pile of them. If you’re feeling a little less energized, curl up in your slightly scratchy, but nonetheless favorite fall sweater, with a warm mug of tea. Put aside the laptop, the textbook, and all the busy thoughts swirling through your mind. Allow yourself to feel the familiar scratchiness of your sweater, the comforting warmth of your drink, and simply relax for a few moments.

For your final sense, simply be present in the moment by listening to your surroundings. Hear the rustle of leaves in the fall breeze, and the children’s laughter as they dive headfirst into a pile of them. Start up a campfire outside, or in your fireplace, and listen to the crackling of the wood. Or if you’re looking for something a bit less related to nature, but nonetheless a favorite fall pastime: turn on a game of football. Listen to the announcers’ voices, the whistle of the referees, and the crowd’s cheers. And lastly, for something a bit less loud and perhaps more relaxing: turn on a playlist of your favorite autumn acoustic tracks, and sing along for a few before returning to your work.

I simply encourage you to be present in your surroundings this season. Take time away from the grind at work to enjoy the beauty of fall, and the warm company of friends and family. Drink that pumpkin spice latte, jump into that colorful pile of leaves, wear your favorite scratchy sweater. I encourage you to find your favorite ways to take time away from work—in this season, and all the rest. Relax, and be blessed.