At the start of summer, it may seem like the long days of fun and relaxation will never end. Perhaps you traveled somewhere different, discovered some new hobbies with your kids or spent time at the beach with friends. But as the leaves begin to turn so comes the realization that life isn’t one big vacation. Your thoughts start to spin like the falling leaves as it’s time to get back to school, work or whatever scary change may be heading your way before Halloween.
Back to school can also mean back to stress. One minute you’re planning a play date for your little one, the next they’re heading off to school alone for the first time. Although traditionally we think of January as a time for new beginnings, fall is often the time that practical changes begin. Whether you’re waving goodbye to your kindergartner, have a new high school or college student in the family or are simply getting back to work after a break, fall is often a time of transition.
For most people change is not something they embrace, largely because it’s wrapped up in a fear of failure. Often this is linked to a poor experience in the past and the more anxious you become, the harder it can be to put positive changes into practice.
According to Susan Kraus Whitbourne Ph. D writing for Psychology Today the best way to deal with this is not to view stress as a threat but as a challenge.
“The basic premise of most stress and coping literature is that there’s no such thing as an inherently difficult life transition,” she says. “Life events are as stressful, or not, as you make them. It’s all in the mind-set you apply.”
Life coaches will talk about making lists, setting goals and re-organizing to make fall transitions easier. But before you even pick up a pen consider these options.
- Think of a time of transition that turned out well. If you are sending your youngest off to school try to remember how you felt as a child. Perhaps you were less anxious than you are seeing it through adult eyes today. Are you fearful for your child or more concerned that you’ll miss them? What can you do to fill your new ‘me’ time productively?
- View stress not as a threat but a challenge. If you’re starting college don’t think about the long road ahead but consider all the new things you’ll learn and how you will have grown by the end of it. As well as the knowledge you’ll have gained think about the new experiences you’ll have enjoyed, the friends you have made.
- Use role models to inspire you. Who do you know who has made a great change in their lives? Perhaps they’ve moved across the country and managed to start a happy new life somewhere else. If you’re facing the same challenge ask them what they did in the early days to help themselves.
- Find a support network. Whether its talking to other moms in your child’s class, finding a study buddy at college or a newcomers’ group in your new town, a problem shared may not always be halved, but it’s always easier to deal with.
- Realize that change is inherent to life. Nothing stays the same, and if you really thought about it you probably wouldn’t want it to. Change does not mean something is going to get worse. Consider the possibility that life may actually become better.
In nature it’s true that fall is a time the sun starts to fade, flowers die and leaves shrivel and fall. But don’t lose sight of why this happens; to prepare the way for beautiful new beginnings in the spring.