A sure sign that summer is over is the return of school buses’ flashing stop lights back on the streets, Halloween decorations and costumes on the shelves and the tips of Oaks, Maples and Buckeye trees shedding their green exterior to reveal the burnt red and yellow tone at their tips. The air’s a bit crisper and when a cloud appears, a sudden chill sets in. The smell of burning leaves and roasting chestnuts soon will fill the air and a favorite sweatshirt is becoming more appealing than short sleeves.
Pay attention to all the wondrous activities related to the new season; Autumn is so alive with crisp air that’s great for long runs (or strolls) in the park, enjoy hopping over and crunching fallen acorns, gazing at the colorful splendor on the trees, drinking hot spiced cider, cheering at football games, socializing at tail gate parties, and switching over your wardrobe to a more layered look.
But with all of my appreciation for autumn and its glory, if you’re like me you may still feel some occasional pangs of longing for the recent season past, my favorite season, the summer. For those of you who didn’t get a break this summer, you might feel a bit frustrated that the supposed more carefree season passed you by. You may need a dose of encouragement for kickstarting the fall because you didn’t get the rejuvenation you need from the summer. Stay tuned.
For those who were fortunate to have traveled this summer to a beautiful, exotic or interesting place, you may return home and feel a certain tinge of the blues; The laundry awaits you along with hundreds of unread e-mails and the knowledge that your next big break from your routine won’t be anytime soon makes it a bit harder to be upbeat. After a great trip, the first thing most of us do is recall how marvelous our trip was; we review pictures, relate stories to friends and mull over and over in our own minds all the good times had. While all of this is fine for a few days or even a week, eventually we need to adjust and adapt to reality and infuse our everyday life with the elevation we experienced during a great holiday break.
How To Energize Your Autumn?
The best way to appreciate and be happy with the passing of summer (or for that matter, any season you favor) is to embrace the following season! Although you can’t control the change of seasons or the fact that time marches on, you can control how you relate to the change. The challenge is that when we’ve had a great summer, it’s not so easy to look forward to it being over. Letting go of summer can be one of the hardest seasons to let go of as summer evokes memories of a more care-free time; we shed our heavy layered clothing, enjoy picnics, outdoor concerts, trips to the beach and barbecues. Adjusting to the fall can even make it harder if you’ve experienced an amazing vacation this summer. (Maybe that’s why we call autumn the “fall season?”)
When you embrace the right mindset, every year upon its’ return, autumn’s arrival could seem more miraculous. As the season changes it’s a great time to engage in an accounting of the past year and how you could take steps to improve yourself in this upcoming season. Think of the new season as a new opportunity to reawaken yourself to the beauty in your physical surroundings and to the possibility for change and finding your unique purpose in life. You might even find solace in summer’s closing by using fall as a time for reflection, planning and self-improvement. May it be enrolling in a course that will broaden your skills at work or signing up for an art or fitness class, try doing something new this season that will enrich you. Take charge of your life and learn a new skill or assume a new role (as a volunteer or at work) that could increase your marketability and your happiness.
After spending a blissful week in Colorado this summer, hiking, running, mountain biking, attending concerts, lectures, eating delicious food and enjoying the bright blue rocky mountain skies, dry air, splendid wildflowers and cool evenings, it was somewhat of a rude awakening returning to my comfortable life in the Midwest where we’ve endured erratic weather of intermittent both cold and hot days, lots of rain following a long, snowy, arctic winter and a spring so brief, I think I missed it.
My first reaction to returning home was probably a normal response; I felt a culture shock in that most people I saw were in business or street clothes but the whole town didn’t wreak of hikers and cyclist returning from a day long excursion deep in the mountains. I missed Colorado and momentarily was fixated on how superior the living is out there. The truth is that what makes a vacation special is that it’s a break from one’s normal routine. As I get older I realize that if I lived in the place where I took a respite in time it would become less special. This mindset helps me adjust and appreciate what I have at home.
Here’s what I did to shake off the vacation and post summer blues. I can suggest this to anyone who has normal mood swings as a strategy for getting your mojo back.
Steps to Overcoming the Post Summer Blues
1. Be thankful for having had the experience and for returning in one piece! Seriously folks, many people go away and get sick once they get there or get injured while on vacation. Be glad you came home healthy (assuming you did) and focus on that for a while.
2. Look at your pictures one last time, savor the memories, and say to yourself: I’m so lucky to have had this amazing experience! I am more refreshed for having had a break and I’m soooo lucky to have experienced this and now it’s time to show myself I’m a trooper and I have something to accomplish in my life.
3. Connect with positive people where you currently live!
4. Immediately create a to do list and chalk off each item as you complete the task.
5. Continue to practice or pursue one positive behavior or experience you had when you were away. If you took a yoga or a cooking class and enjoyed that, sign up for a series at home and have your beautiful memories in mind when taking the class. I personally enjoyed fruit with my breakfast and delighted in seeing all the wildflowers when I was away. So I decided to have a similar breakfast at home and take a run in our local park where there are also beautiful wildflowers (albeit not as magnificent as the ones I saw in Colorado) but I was more alert to them now than before I went. Mimicking some of the activities I enjoyed when I was on vacation while at home allows me to bring the elevation of my get-away back into my everyday life.
6. Jump back into your work with gusto. Breakdown your week into tasks per day and check off each task as you complete it. You’ll find this will get you back in the groove and you’ll actually feel good about being productive again. Separate work tasks from personal tasks and try to balance how many you complete per day. By the middle of the week you’ll already begin to acclimatize and build your momentum for managing your responsibilities.
7. Do something nice for someone else both at work and in your personal life. Extending yourself to someone else (who most likely didn’t just return from a vacation) allows you to tap into your “higher self,” deepens your appreciation for what you already have, increases your sense of connection to those in your community (and in your sphere of influence) and infuses your life with greater meaning and pleasure. After the first few days back in town there is always some volunteer organization that could use my help and/or a person I know who could use emotional support.
Attending a meeting to help a cause helps remind me of my association with people I value and to a worthwhile cause that could use my support. Reaching out to help another person and a philanthropic cause helps me feel reconnected to my roots and gets me centered again. There are always people asking for coaching assistance who can’t afford my services. I found donating my time to coach a few clients after I returned from my trip made me feel good about giving without expecting any reciprocation.
8. Find some activity you enjoy that’s tied to Autumn. Whether you go for a ride in the country to see the change of leaves, take a walk in nature, go apple picking at a nearby orchard or enjoy a new good book with a cup of hot cider, make time to do something special for yourself! Every season has something to offer and if the weather doesn’t change much where you live, try to schedule a trip to enjoy the change of seasons somewhere because some change is always good!
As we pass through the seasons, try to increase your joy by appreciating the beauty that lies in each of them. Recall what was good in the previous season and reflect on what you learned over the past few months. Seize the opportunity to engage in activities that will improve your mood and your outlook. Make your life richer by seeking out new relationships with people whom you admire, holding onto the friends and family whom you love and to those who give you strength, and reaching out to give others support who are going through a tough time.
On the surface, this new season appears to be about leaves turning over, but it could also be a chance for each of us to turn things over. If we truly desire a great autumn it will require investing some thought and time to get excited about starting anew, embracing change and becoming a more self-actualized person. Autumn is coming whether we like it or not, so we might as well use it for a time to shed any negativity and become more fully who we’re meant to be. Viva la Autumn!