Today is the first day of fall. The fact that summer is over makes me feel (using a surfer term here) wonky — here comes a wave that is hard to read and challenging to ride. On the one hand there is the beauty and freshness that autumn brings, and on the other hand it means a transition. So, I look for balance as I ride the wave, and as long as I am riding that wave, I’ve decided to have fun along the way.
You may be giddy with glee as summer rolls into autumn with all of its changes. But, just the mere mention of September sends shivers down the spines of many people I know, including: my clients and friends who are teachers; parents of school-aged kids; students of all ages; and clients/friends who notice changes in physical symptoms or mood as the fall transition arrives.
I decided to do an informal poll to discern what’s at the heart of the stress of this time of year. Turns out the themes ran pretty uniformly down a similar line:
- Suddenly-Packed Calendars – More places to be and seemingly less time for fun, less unstructured time together for family and friends
- Physical Discomfort – Decreased daylight and a lingering sense of “falling back,” aches and pains of colder weather, probable reduced outdoor physical activity, and fewer fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Worries About Enough – Enough time, energy, money, and attention for ourselves, our kids, our parents, our friends, our world
- Isolation – Busy, but feeling strangely distanced or disconnected
Interestingly, if you flip these themes around, you’ll have some of the basic building blocks of wellbeing: joyful presence, physical self-care, self-compassion, and connection. It’s no wonder we try hard to keep summer alive as long as we can. When the days are bright and long, and our responsibilities feel less, our sense of well-being tends to be high, and connecting with our tribe tends to be much easier.
This fall, my strategy for inner peace this fall is to channel my inner 8-year-old. The wisdom of an 8-year-old can be profound: keep things simple and look for opportunities to play. Take a look and see if any of these spark ideas for you:
RECESS – Fresh air, laughter, and playing with friends. If I do not get recess every day I am cranky and out of sorts and you really don’t want to be around me. My recess? Maintaining my running routine with my friends, getting on my yoga mat, taking hikes, playing with sidewalk chalk, and even climbing the occasional tree!
NAP TIME – I’d be lying if I told you I love naps. However, I am honing my skills for unstructured time every day. My mantra? “do nothing intentionally everyday.” Mindfully noticing the here and now is another replenishment strategy. I have a Mindfulness Bell app on my phone. When it chimes I take an intentional BREATH. My “nap time” may be 1 second or an hour but every micro-moment counts.
SHARE TIME – We learn to share in school not just to tell OUR story, but to be part of other’s stories, and in so doing, we create community. So I gather my circle — my peeps — the ones who listen with wholehearted presence, and and they invite me in to listen back. I try to share myself, too. With a worrisome world at present, I am looking for ways to brighten the corner where I live.
MUSIC CLASS – There is nothing like a good playlist to break up the monotony of a moment, a day, or a month. I have a few favorites (I’m aging myself here: Jack Johnson, Crosby Stills & Nash, and The Big Chill soundtrack). I believe in the power of a good song in the shower, or a camp song with friends around the real or imagined campfire.
SNACK TIME – Honoring my hungry self with healthy fresh food always feels easier in the summer, but I am loving the fall apples and squash. To keep my momentum going I am trying to get creative. I’ve been working on a “chop and store fest” every Sunday. I like taking salads to work in Mason Jars and I’ve become a big fan of a couple of online food bloggers: Cookie and Kate and Meg’s Happy Plate.
These are my strategies from a perspective that I think will work for ME. What will work for YOU? Are you a reader? Are you a painter or writer? Are you an athlete? Do you have a group of friends who want to share ideas and wisdom? Can you tap into your strengths? What will work for you is what works for you. You got this.
Keep playing, and
Start where you are…
P.S. I am excited to introduce my guest blogger Jan Mackenzie, MA! As a retired middle school counselor, Jan has a wealth of experience helping families navigate the ups and downs of the adolescent years. Look for Jan’s insight in the next blog coming soon to an inbox near you!