As we head into Labor Day weekend, there is no doubt that many people are feeling the end-of summer-blues – feelings of sadness or loss as the summer comes to a close, and fall, with its shorter days and cooler nights, is upon us. Summer is a time that we associate with being more carefree, spending more time with family and friends, and enjoying vacations and outdoor activities. Fall is a time that most people associate with a back-to-school mentality even years after they have graduated or no longer have their own children in school.
There is a sense of need to return to structure and organized schedules, which some experience as a loss of freedom. So, what can you do to cure the end-of summer-blues? First, spend a few moments thinking about what brings on the summertime blues for you. Is it the shorter days, the fun outdoors, the time spend with family and friends socializing? Once you have identified what you enjoy most about summer that you feel you will be missing, make plans to bring that aspect into your life in the coming season…
• Love the longer days of light in the summer? Consider going for a walk every day during daylight hours. The sun might not be as intense as it is in the middle of July, but getting some rays, even on a colder day, can go a long way to boosting your spirits.
• Missing all of the fun of getting together with family and friends? Schedule activities with the ones you love that make the most of all autumn has to offer – hayrides, apple-harvest festivals – the more you have to look forward to, the better you’ll feel.
• Didn’t get enough time to relax on vacation, or feeling that the next one is too far off? Plan a weekend get-away, or even a “stay-cation” at home (a long weekend of relaxation and fun, with no obligations, in your own home), so you can look forward to rest and relaxation in the near future.
• Feeling that urge to go back-to-school? We all tend to associate September with learning, so why not learn something new? Sign up for a class at the gym (tai chi and yoga are wonderful stress relievers and mood boosters), learn a skill you have always wanted to learn (there are many different adult education classes available, from cooking to knitting to woodworking), pick up a hobby you have enjoyed in the past but haven’t made time for… The possibilities are endless.
• Do you feel alone in your feelings, or tell yourself you’re being silly or shouldn’t be feeling this way? Share your feelings with others you trust – chances are, they are experiencing some form of end-of-summer-blues themselves, and knowing that you aren’t alone in your feelings can be validating and reassuring.
Many people find that the end-of-summer-blues are as fleeting as summer itself, and they soon find themselves enjoying all that fall and winter have to offer. If, however, you experience feelings of sadness and loss most days, the feelings linger for more than 2 weeks, you notice don’t enjoy things as you used to, your sleeping patterns change (either sleeping more or less than usual), and / or your appetite changes (either eating more or less than usual), schedule an appointment with a mental health professional or your primary care physician for evaluation. You might be experiencing depression, a medical condition that is highly treatable. You deserve to enjoy life and be your best self, and seeking treatment for depression will put you on the path to recovery.