How do you feel about the transition into autumn? You may start feeling bummed this time of year, as you have to let go of the summer feeling. It is getting colder and darker again. For a lot of us, the busiest time of the year still lies ahead.
Instead of worrying and resenting this shift, I am sharing simple ways to make it less intense and easier for yourself and others.
Why we struggle with the shift in late summer
Summer represents the peak of the year’s cycle. According to Chinese medicine, it is the most yang time of the year. Meaning, we usually feel more expanded. We spend time outside, socializing, attending events like festivals, concerts, or going on an adventure. We make time for play, and often excess (food, sleep, etc).
In my clients’ conversations and within myself, I have noticed that there is an apprehension about the upcoming weeks. Lots of us feel the shift from social connection, play and fun to “back to business”. In many areas, the 4th quarter is one the busiest times of the year.
We can easily get paralyzed with worry and fear. Will I be able to manage the upcoming projects? A client of mine described the feeling of her energy being “frazzled”, like bouncing off the walls, not knowing how to direct it.
I noticed I started to worry a lot that I may have taken on too many commitments until December. A friend of mine is getting back to her workplace after maternity leave. Some have started a business and worry about what the last quarter of the year will bring.
If you also feel unsettled and tend to overthink or feel stuck in destructive thoughts, you are not alone. This is why I want to share with you 12 ideas on how you can support yourself and others whilst shifting out of the summer season.
1. Ground and stabilize yourself
The time between the end of August and September marks the transition from summer to fall. In Chinese medicine, it is called the 5th season. This is a good moment to reorganize yourself. This late summer season is corresponding to the earth element that embodies this grounded, stable time.
2. Reconnect with your purpose again
We look at the “crops” that we have planted and nurtured over spring and summer. We get ready for the harvest season and more inward energy of winter. Also, because the harvest is not over yet, it’s a time to pause and look forward, to see where to best flow your life force during the last three months of the year.
3. Establish rituals that feel nourishing for you
Brainstorm which of your routines you want to keep or start. Or small things to remove from your life that are draining you. Keep it simple. Start and end your day in silence. Getting sunlight and walking outside before noon. Maybe it is reading a book or watching movies that are light and uplifting. For me, it is also going to the farmers market on Saturday morning. Eating grounding foods, like sweet potatoes, and other roots. Shutting down the phone in the evening and going to bed earlier.
4. Get rid of clutter
Remove yourself from any situation that no longer interests or nurtures you. Focus on the part of your life (or house!) that needs "cleaning up". This is also related to your thoughts. When your inner mean bitch repeats the same deconstructive thoughts, put a break on it. Talk to yourself with the same compassion you give to your loved ones.
5. Create a heavenly workspace
Check how you can make your workspace more comfortable, free of distraction and soothing for your senses. Reactivate your essential oils. Good lightning. Get an ergonomic chair, treadmill - whatever supports your productive time. I conditioned myself to work more efficiently by playing a deep focus playlist in the background. My brain automatically knows it is distraction-free time when I listen to this music.
6. Make time for rest, renewal, and slowing down
Feed your soul in yoga classes or other restorative practices. Come back to your breath. Take the nap. Go to your osteopath, acupuncturist or massage therapist. Block your Sunday afternoons for no-plans, alone and/or down time. My friend has scheduled “Flow Fridays”, meaning she will block time for herself at the end of the work week to nourish herself.
7. Continue to integrate fun into your schedule
Like in summer, make plans also during the fall season to look forward to. Reserve a day for yourself, book a weekend getaway or retreat, a week where you let yourself off the hook for getting anything done outside of work. Invite friends over for a dinner party, and try something new like going to a silent disco (my latest discovery ;). Start a new workout routine, go to choir practice, or whatever adventures anticipate fun.
8. Look for ways to combine pleasure and purpose
What are the things in your work life that excite you? This kind of eustress is your source of flow and motivation. If I finished a draining online workshop for example, I reward myself with creative writing, listening to my favorite podcast for research or other parts of my work that feel light and easy. Experiencing positive emotions rejuvenates, gives your mind a break, and helps you get a clear perspective on anything that’s causing you negative stress.
9. Do less and step away from hustle culture
Reframe your job as a lifelong learning process. This should make you more interested in facets of work like developing new skills, getting feedback, and improving. Instead of focusing on quantity and doing more, think about how you can do less and make it more simple. What are the important parts of your work that are meaningful and really make a difference?
10. When you are feeling stressed, notice what is happening in your body
When we are feeling overwhelmed by work, for example, we can hold a lot of physical tension. Your thinking changes if you change your physiology. Take a slow inhalation and exhale slowly through your mouth, drop your shoulders, unclench your jaw, scan your body for any tension and let it go.
11. Connect and socialize (if you feel like it)
Ask others for help. You don't need to do it on your own. The future lies in collaboration!
12. Take care of others
During this transition time, others can feel unsettled, too. Be of (practical) service. Send a care package, pick up your friend from the airport, babysit for a new parent, listen a little longer, or cook your friend or colleague a meal.
I hope these tips ease your transition into the fall season and help you nourish yourself and others when preparing for the busy months ahead. Let me know what helps you to stay centered and at ease when you shift into a more busy season.
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