It’s easy to wax nostalgic at the close of summer, as long days, bright sun, and warm nights are replaced with a brisk chill in the air, longer shadows and earlier evenings. Schedules ramp up and the distant hint of a long, cold season begins its inevitable approach.
With the return of the hectic pace comes rising expectations — and stress levels. However, stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We believe that reframing this shift in season is key, because, along with that stress, you can also enjoy a burst of energy and adrenaline, both of which help you cope and adapt with the rising demands.
To help you and your teams, we’ve developed a rock-solid strategy for turning end-of-summer stress into the launch-of-fall drive. Here’s how to shift seasons and priorities while staying engaged, energized, and intact:
- Mourn it. The end of summer is not a surprise or a tragedy; you knew it was coming, and you know it will be back. But you can still allow yourself some time to mourn. Notice what feelings arise: sadness, loathing, even worry and dread. Where do you feel them in your body? A clench in the stomach, an ache in your shoulders? Let yourself tune in to each one.
- Get behind the sadness. Next, explore the thoughts that are triggering the feelings: Do you feel a loss of freedom? Is it fear of something ahead?
Identify the thoughts that run through your mind: “I shouldn’t have to work so hard. Why can’t I be more relaxed like I am in the summer?” or “Why do I always have to be the one to schlep the kids around after school? I’m tired too!” Maybe you feel especially anxious and discover a thought such as, “I’m in for a mess of pressure at work and I can’t handle it,” or “I’m going to be a wreck by Columbus Day.”
- Question those thoughts. Yes, it’s true that the pace of your life is about to change and that saying goodbye to a fun-filled season can be a downer. But does that mean your life won’t be as good? Or that you’re bound to be a wreck, exhausted, or both?
Call those fears out for what they are and ask, are those assumptions even true? Do they have to be? For instance, is it true that you can’t incorporate relaxation into your fall days? Is it true that you can’t handle increased responsibilities? If the answer is an honest yes, then you now have clarity to seek the support you need. If the answer is no, then you have some mental and emotional wiggle room to see the energy and power of the transition to fall.
- Reframe the end as a beginning. Dig back into the falls of yesteryear and recall what was fun about it. Maybe it was the thrill of seeing all your friends back at school after vacation. The crisp sound of a new textbook being cracked open or the new hardcovers on display at the library. The smell of burning leaves in the air or heat kicking up through the radiator. Playing soccer or going for a run through the foliage. Remember that the anticipation and excitement of all that fresh fall energy can still be yours for the taking.
Wherever you live, in whatever climate, fall brings with it a shift in mood, purpose, and drive. Now is the time to dive into work projects, school projects, getting-ready-for-winter projects. This is part of the cycle of life and seasons that makes our lives so memorable, rich, and rewarding. Chances are, after the slower, easier pace of summer, you’ve all got some fuel in your tank to take it on.
Jan Bruce is CEO and co-founder of meQuilibrium, the digital coaching platform based on the science of resilience. Prior to meQuilibrium, Jan was managing director and publisher at Martha Stewart Living’s Whole Living/body + soul magazine. Her mission is to help both individuals and corporations achieve measurable results in emotional wellbeing, stress management, and performance optimization.