Originally published at rscpp.co.uk:
It hardly seems like five minutes since those first days of summer sunshine but now, as the days slowly begin to get shorter and colder, it’s time for many to think about returning to reality – whether that’s work, school or university. Autumn can be a difficult period of transition between summer and winter, but it needn’t get you down. We asked RSCPP therapists for their advice on how best to mentally prepare yourself for September.
“As August moves towards September, many of us feel reluctant – psychologically unprepared for summer’s departure, with its inevitable passage towards autumn,” says Accredited Counsellor and Psychotherapist Jaimie Cahlil.
“While some delight in autumn, and feel able to welcome September as autumn’s gentle gateway, others do not. Perhaps there are past associations, such as the freedom of school summer holidays ending as September arrives.”
If you experience reluctance, he adds, “you may find it helpful to acknowledge how our seasons create flow and fluctuation, variety and difference in our lives.”
Accredited and Registered Counsellor Mo Cahill adds: “Despite the anticipation of post-summer blues for many people, September can instead be anticipated as a time of new beginnings: new school term, new year at uni or perhaps a new job.”
In many ways, she suggests, autumn can be treated like the start of a new year – a time for fresh starts: “It’s a good time to make new plans for any changes that might be beneficial: exercise, new hobbies, new routines for autumn and winter.”
Equip yourself against the winter blues
Of course, that can be easier said than done, and accepting the coming of autumn may still prove difficult. “The end of summer can be a little sad for all of us; gone are the long evenings and the warmth of the sunny days,” says Chartered Counselling Psychologist Marina Claessens.
“However, it can be a particularly tricky time for those who suffer with recurrent depression as the longer hours of darkness can trigger low mood.”
If that is a problem for you, she says, “it may be worth investing in a medically certified sun or SAD lamp. This can help with limiting the detrimental effect of the dramatic difference in daylight that we in the UK experience between summer and winter.”
Mo adds: “Rather than catastrophising about the lack of light, it’s important to remind yourself that there is a natural rhythm to the seasons and it’s always cyclical, so it’s not permanent!” Talking through coping strategies with a therapist may also be helpful ahead of the darker days, to equip you against low mood and negative thoughts.