Fall is a fascinating transition time for most people as schedules change so much - particularly for people with kids who are going back to school.
In my experience, the biggest topic that comes up in the fall is refocusing on work/life balance. As kids fall into a new fall schedule, family dynamics can take a hit. Trying to figure out how to make everything work together as a working parent can be a real challenge.
Be Proactive As The Seasons Change
People tend to reach out for help or coaching when things start to get tough, rather than being proactive. Something that helps the most with any transition - whether it’s seasonal, or lifestyle - is to be mindful that it’s happening. We don’t think about change proactively. Before we know it, we’re stuck in the same old frustrating patterns.
I like to help patients think about a ritual that could help transition them from one season to the next; to mark the end of one thing and the beginning of another. Can you organize your summer photos, or clean out your closet to transition from summer to fall? Maybe visualize the fall routine with your kids and talk through what’s it going to look like. For instance, where will we leave our backpacks? What’s our routine going to be? It’s helpful to get the whole family involved, rather than letting things just fall into place and then trying to fix what doesn’t work.
Get buy in from everyone involved - your spouse, roommate, kids. If you’ve done it before, think about what worked last year. What did we like? What did we not like? Look at the barriers and the obstacles, and then make a plan to work around them before they trip you up again.
I’ve talked to many patients about organizing their space, so they can go into the new season feeling less cluttered. Physical clutter tends to spill into mental or emotional clutter, so that’s something that could be important to focus on for you.
Set Health Boundaries
The seasons bring their own unique challenges for each person. Schedules change drastically in the fall. Winter brings the potential stress of holidays. It’s important to think about setting boundaries that prepare you for upcoming stresses.
We’re often on autopilot and don’t stop and ask ourselves the question why. We just keep doing what we always do. You need to give yourself the space and permission to think about the answers to questions like - Why do I do that? or What do I like (or dislike) about it?
Thinking about how the answers make you feel will help lead to better boundary setting.
Stay Active As The Days Get Shorter
As the days get shorter, people start to feel like they can’t go outside. They don’t move as much. Instead of having all or nothing thinking, I encourage patients to explore the possibilities. If you love to row outside, what else could you do? Could you row at the gym?
Physical movement is so beneficial to feeling healthy and managing stress. Giving that up, or cutting down drastically in the fall is often so much more detrimental to our bodies and minds than we realize. So, think of ways to keep moving that excite you and you enjoy.
Fall is coming. Choose to be proactive about the changes that are coming. Think about some places that you could schedule in some self-care. If you usually start to feel down in November, schedule a massage in advance, or book a weekend away with your spouse or friends that you can look forward to.
Let it be on your radar, so you’re aware of what’s happening and aren’t just letting it happen to you. Do something for yourself, and maybe put some things regularly on the books at intervals to keep you going - and thriving!