So, it’s happened again. In the blink of an eye, summer has flown by and it is time to usher in autumn in all its splendid glory. Whether you’re like me and are doing a perpetual happy dance about the beginning of fall, or you are mourning the end of summer, this time of year is a major transitional period for us all. For some of us, school is starting back up again. For others, this is the beginning of a super intense auditing period at work. But for all of us, this time marks the end of laid-back summer days, spontaneous weekend adventures, and 15 full hours of daylight. Yeah, that can be a bummer.
The good news is, we also have a ton to gain with the commencement of autumn (not the least of which is cooler weather!). As we turn the corner into the new season, I encourage you to consider this an opportunity to turn over a new leaf (pun intended) and head into this next phase of the year with clarity, structure, and attainable goals top of mind. In case you need some help with that, here are some tried and true tips to get you started.
- Set aside 30 minutes to an hour (more as needed) to write out your goals for the season. Many people get trapped in the spiral of writing New Year’s Resolutions, falling off the wagon by February, and feeling miserable about it for the rest of the year. A better alternative? Reevaluate and revamp your goals at the beginning of each season. Now is a perfect time to consider what you’d like to accomplish between now and the end of 2018.
- Put a schedule in place. Want to start working out a few days per week? Build that into your weekly plan (taking into account time of day, type of workout, indoor or outdoor, etc.). Want to eat better? Meal plan with seasonal foods! Need to get the kids out of the door by a certain time? Make sure they make it to bed by their bedtime and then do all you can in the evening to make the morning as smooth as possible (e.g., laying out clothes for the next day, packing lunches, preparing your own work bag, etc.).
- Streamline your days. I am a huge fan of time-blocking and find that it significantly increases productivity. One of my secrets to success with this is planning out what I am going to do with those blocks of time the night before. That way, when I start working the next morning, I already know what tasks will be accomplished in the various chunks of my day (thereby reserving brain space to actually do the work instead of scheduling it).
- Build in time for self-care and downtime. When establishing a routine, it can be easy to neglect making time for the things that recharge and refresh you. So be sure to intentionally carve out time to focus on YOU. This can be as simple as reading for at least 15 minutes before bed or picking up the knitting project you put down years ago.
- Make family/partner time a priority. The fact that schedules pick up a bit in the fall does not mean that you no longer have time for family or couple fun! Autumn is filled with amazing activities that range from family-friendly to adult-only romantic getaways.
- Keep moving. We often make it a priority to be out and about during the long summer days, but then retreat indoors at the first sign of fall’s cool, brisk weather. Make a commitment to yourself to continue your outdoor workouts or strolls as much as you can. Research shows that green spaces are good for your health. So get out there!
- If you’re having a particularly tough time saying goodbye to summer, consider creating a ritual to make the transition a bit smoother. Perhaps make a collage filled with all of your summer memories or host one last BBQ and invite your neighbors, friends and family. Whatever you do, consider making it an annual tradition that doubles as an ode to summer.
Put these practices in place and I guarantee you will transition to fall like a pro!
Have other ideas? Sound off in the comments!
Shy Porter, MS, LCMFT provides individual, couple, and family therapy in our downtown Bethesda office. Call or email today to schedule a first appointment or a complimentary telephone consultation with Shy.