Of the four seasons, it always seems to feel like summer flies by the fastest. One second you’re daydreaming of flip flops and sunshine while scraping ice off your windshield, and the next thing you know the season’s wrapping up and it’s time to put pool floaties back into hibernation.
“The end of summer often comes as a shock. You’re having a wonderful time and the reality of the fall seems far away. Fall comes brutally on the heels of Labor Day, and many are not prepared for its inevitable arrival,” says Dr. Kathryn Smerling, a psychotherapist based in New York City.
Fall may always find a way to sneak up on you, but the nice thing about a fresh season? It’s the perfect time to turn over a new leaf. Whether you’re looking forward to crisp autumn weather or are dreading the transition, there are a few ways you can shake off summer and jump into September in a way that invigorates your mind, body, and creative energy.
Reset Your Diet and Exercise Habits
There’s a tendency to drink and party a bit more in the summer. While there’s no shame enjoying yourself, the start of a new month — especially one that takes us right into a new season — is a great time to reset
“Make September the new New Year,” says Dr. Smerling. “Take a good look at yourself and see if you have gained weight or determine if your self-care habits have gone a bit by the wayside. If you have been lax on exercise, start exercising again. If you’ve been having one too many rosés, cut down to a single glass. Give yourself a date to start cutting back and refocusing. Preparing and anticipating is always helpful.”
Dr. Peter Abaci, a physician who specializes in pain management, agrees. He says to focus on eating fruits and vegetables that are in-season, and to take up a simple exercise practice such as yoga or nightly walks.
“During the workday, [we tend to be] mostly indoors and fairly sedentary. Planning some weekday walks after the workday ends is one way to get in some extra steps, boost metabolism, and breathe in some fresh air,” he says. “As the days get shorter and the nights cooler, carry night-time reflecting and light-up gear.”
Start Journaling (For Real This Time)
One of the best ways to tap into your creative energy is to break out a pen and paper and just write.
“Writing is a kinesthetic practice that moves you out of the mind and into the body. And before you roll your eyes at the suggestion of a journal, hear me out,” says Lola Wright, the CEO and spiritual director of Bodhi Chicago, a community dedicated to helping people find greater purpose in their lives. “Write for five minutes, once a day, about the circumstances you desire as if they are happening now. Start with creating thoughts that inspire you, writing them down with enthusiasm and appreciation. It may sound corny or take you back to the Stuart Smalley days on SNL, but I promise this works.”
Invoking your imagination — even briefly — as part of your daily practice allows you to stretch what you believe is possible. It also prompts you to begin working toward your personal goals and creative endeavors without overextending yourself; five minutes a day is all you need.
Make it a Goal to Practice Mindfulness
It’s easy to get caught up in the ever-spinning digital whirlwind we all live in, but setting clear mindfulness goals is one way to calm the storm. Wright says that a great place to begin is with your breathing.
“Many of us are walking on the planet in a triggered and reacted state without realizing it. We are bracing and gripping, barely breathing and unconsciously waiting for a threat to present itself. This propensity is part of our physiology and, unless we develop a conscious practice to evolve out of it, our body is running us in a fear-based, survival pattern to protect itself,” says Wright. “Conscious breathing interrupts that pattern. It resets your central nervous system and gives you access to more creative aspects of yourself.
Wherever you are, pause for 15 seconds and bring your attention to the tip of your nose. Inhale deeply, invite your brow to relax, jaw to loosen, shoulders to fall, and belly to loosen, says Wright. As you breathe in through your nose, expand your belly with the breath and then slowly exhale through your mouth.
Another way to be more mindful is to be more aware of the thoughts that cycle through you and then, over time, become more aware of your patterns.
“Observe the tendency to want to change your thought patterns or run away from the uncomfortable thought patterns that you may already realize don’t serve you. Resist the compulsion to change your thought patterns right away,” says Wright. “The practice of noticing is simply an exercise in self-awareness. Before changing anything, you want to be able to notice it.”
Plan a Few Things to Look Forward To This Fall
The inevitability of summer’s end can sometimes get us into a slump. Maybe it’s hard to say farewell to long, sunny days, or you dread losing the flexibility the summer months tend to offer.
“One of the most helpful things I have learned as a coping tool is to have things to look forward to. Transitions can be tough when you are having fun, but if you look ahead and plan some fun things to do in the fall, you won’t miss the carefree days of summer as much,” says Dr. Smerling.
Having something to look forward to can also motivate you to tackle small and big tasks before that event arrives. It’s common to adopt a laser-like focus toward to-do lists in the days leading up to a getaway or a fun weekend.
Your planned activity can be something as simple as a visit to a local hiking trail or art museum or a date night with your space. Or, it can be as grand as a multi-day getaway to a yoga retreat or a weekend camping trip. The idea is to simply get some events penciled into your schedule that you look forward to.
In general, as you approach the new month and new season, think about resetting your current habits and moving forward with true intention. Pick up a journal, move more mindfully, breathe more deeply, and pencil in one or two events that'll have you looking forward to what’s to come.
Start your fall right by taking on a new challenge this month, or pushing your current project to new heights. Skillshare has thousands of ways to get started. Begin your new practice here.