Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Caring for Me: Carrying Summer through the Cooler Months


I’ve always considered myself a Fall child.  I enjoy the shorter days, the changing leaves, and the cooler breeze. Although I like summer and its fun activities, I miss the familiarity of my routine. Not responding well to over-stimulation, Fall and Winter give me an opportunity to slow down and regroup.
This is not the case for a lot of people.  Many feel depressed after summer and encounter a slump.  We may not all be Fall children but how can we take the energy of summer and use it to cushion us through the cooler season?
It’s completely normal for our bodies and minds to adjust to the changing season.  In a study published for JAMA Psychiatry, we are told that our moods vary through the year. Seasonal changes affect our behavior and even sleeping patterns.  Research shows that shorter days and lack of sunlight may influence the production of serotonin, a chemical responsible in transmitting impulses between nerve cells and in maintaining mood balance.  These changes can lead to fatigue and depression.
The cycle of summer is naturally more up speed.  The cycle of Fall tends to slow down, and for a good reason.  Just like an athlete needs to rest after a vigorous work out, we need a period of adjustment to re-balance the highs of summer.  Muscles are not able to grow if they’re broken down without rest, and in the same way, our minds and spirit can’t re-balance themselves without a period of meditation.
Establishing a good night of sleep is a positive step to finding balance.  With the excitement of summer and the brisk activities of hiking, swimming, and traveling, our bodies can feel drained and overworked.  Exercise and the outdoors are important, but like everything in life, we need equilibrium.
With busy school schedules, baseball practices, and upcoming holidays, we are engaging in a lot of running around.  Take a few minutes each day, and sit quietly.  Close your eyes or contemplate a picture that makes you happy.  Focus on a picture taken from your summer vacation.  The article Snapshot of Summer, published in Reader’s Digest, says it’s important to keep summer memories alive.  It shares that curing the summer blues doesn’t mean you have to get rid of summer memories, but that those keepsakes can make the transition into cooler season much easier.  Leaving behind the fun memories of summer may cause depression, but reminders of a fun vacation can help us feel the same bright energy.
Another great way to ease into the cooler months is by reevaluating our schedules.  I find that summertime offers a more laid back schedule, while the rest of the seasons are more structured.  This can be a source of anxiety for people who enjoy a more relaxed approach. Eliminating some unnecessary activities may help.  I tend to commit to many activities, which lead to complete exhaustion.  I’m learning to cut out those stressful events by analyzing what is worth doing and what can wait till later.
Mayans and Druids were known to honor the Fall season.  Fires were lit and great harvest celebrations took place.  Tribes gathered in preparation for the cold months and stories were told around the fire.  I believe that this social interaction brought closeness and comfort to them. After a fun, interactive summer we may feel distanced from people, so retaining a social connection is very important.  Local calendar of events offer many Fall activities, from pumpkin carving contests to local markets selling seasonal produce. This gives us an opportunity to eat harvest by local growers, engage in family time, and enjoy the changing landscape.
The cooler months don’t have to be a burden, but a time to slow down our internal clock.   This allows us to focus on ourselves, to heal, to re-center our goals, and to identify exactly what we want to pursue.


Caring for Me - Loving yourself with kindness, confidence and positive energy

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