End of Summer Blues
Jennifer L. Rolnick, Psy.D.
With summer over and fall beginning, it can be very easy to get into those end of summer blues and have a desire to put off the transition as long as possible. Summer could not have possibly come and gone so quickly. Yet, here we are again preparing for the season change; this year a lot sooner and more sudden than usual. Along with this season change comes a big period of adjusting. Whether it is sending kids back to school, taking that last summer vacation, or getting used to the decrease in sunlight; we are all transitioning. With these transitions comes stress. It is inevitable. We all experience it. So we should prepare for it.
No matter the size of transition, it means we have to adjust and adapt our lives to fit the new criteria of a new season. It’s important to know what this transition means to you, so you can start preparing now in small ways. Maybe your children are going back to school and you are worried about getting them on a new routine and more structured schedule. Maybe it means dragging all of your fall clothes out of storage and taking time to organize your closet. Perhaps it is adjusting to the lack of sunlight (something that can affect our moods organically). Ask yourself these questions to help prepare:
What does the shift in season mean to you?
- How does your mood change with the weather?
- How are your responsibilities going to change with work, family, and friends?
- Are your children adjusting to being back at school? If so, what are the changes that need to happen in your schedule and theirs?
- Will it be beneficial to get a jump start on these changes by talking with your therapist?
- If you know how the season change affects you, it will be easier to plan ahead and not become overwhelmed. Here are some things to think about in the weeks ahead.
1. Stay on top of the scheduling so it doesn’t all hit you at once.
Create a family (or personal) calendar of activities/events and have every member of the family give input. Ease back into scheduling. Create a schedule for the rest of summer and prepare yourself and your family for the scheduling that is coming so it is not a big surprise.
2. Set some goals.
Set some realistic and measurable goals for yourself. What do you want to do for the rest of the summer? And what do you want to do once Fall starts? It can be anything from getting a 30 minute walk in a few times a week to doing an end-of-summer cleaning. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to squeeze every last drop in. It is okay if some things don’t get done. Prioritize your list.
3. Anticipate your child’s anxiety and your own.
Transitions are difficult for everyone in different ways. Think ahead as to how you normally react to the change in seasons and schedules. I’m not saying try to avoid the more unpleasant emotions, but know how to manage them. Make sure you are managing your anxiety or reactions to transitions and make it a family activity to prepare for the upcoming year in a fun way. This might also mean talking with your therapist to make sure you are coping with your own emotional responses so as not to become overwhelmed by them.
Okay, we have all heard and said it before, but here goes. Sleep. Sleep is so important for everyone at every age. Make sure you, along with your kids, have a good sleep routine and good sleep hygiene. Sleep effects how we feel physically and emotionally. The less sleep we get or the more irregular our sleeping is, the higher our susceptibility to stress. Ease into a new sleep schedule. If bedtime is now going to be an hour earlier, don’t expect this transition to happen in one night. Set the increments back 10 minutes each night over the span of a week. This will make it an easier transition.
5. End of summer does not mean end of fun and relaxation.
Make sure to keep up fun and relaxing activities. Yes, schedules tend to be busier outside of summer, but that just means setting aside time to relax and have fun is that much more important. Make sure you keep up self care and relaxation. Take a nice staycation where you can just stay home and de-stress.
6. Set aside alone time.
It is important for everyone to take a break from our busy lives and chaotic city living. Setting aside as little as 10 minutes a day can make a big difference. Take 10 minutes (or whatever is realistic for you) and focus on being in the quiet, journaling, or doing some deep breathing and relaxation.
Realistically, this list could go on and on. But the important thing is to take some time now to reflect, plan ahead, and make sure you are doing what you need to do to take care of yourself as this summer ends and the adventures of fall begin.