Want to survive the autumn blues? Hit the reset button this September.
Until recently and like many who suffer from the autumn blues, I could sum up the end of August with one word: dread. Sure, I was sad that warm sunny days were behind us but mainly, I associated summer ending with going back to work. And boy I dreaded that! It was time for a reset for sure.
It was never about my job per se though, but rather the thought that with everyone back at the office and the workload going back to normal. I was going to be busy… all the time. Too busy to do things I enjoy, too busy to run errands and too busy to relax. At least that’s what I would tell myself. It was only after burnout hit me that I realized I had the power to change things. Now, I still may not be a pumpkin spice enthusiast but slowly, I have learned to appreciate the crisp air, fallen leaves and sweater weather. Here’s what I started doing.
Mindful Meditation as a start for a reset
I used to think of meditation as a spiritual thing for yoga people who sit on a mat and chant om. Spoiler alert: it’s not. It’s actually about bringing your focus on being aware of what you’re sensing, feeling and thinking in the moment, without any judgment or interpretation. It takes a little practice but has amazing results when it comes to reducing stress and anxiety (because you know, usually when we’re stuck in a mental loop, we are either worried about something from the past or something in the future).
The most common mindfulness exercises involve breathing techniques or guided imagery but once you’ve familiarized yourself with the practice, it can take any form. In my case, most days I will stick to the breathing techniques. Other times, I will go for a long forest walk and really observe what’s around me. Even watching my guinea pigs for a while can do the trick. It’s really about (re)training your brain to focus on the present. Worries be gone!
Isn’t it funny? I have a blog but I have never been much of a writer. I’m a thinker and I think a lot. Often, I overthink too. I will think about what went wrong, what could have gone wrong, what might go wrong and if I have energy left, I will think about the good things. It gets exhausting. Besides, don’t you think that sometimes it can be hard to figure out exactly how we feel or why we feel the way we do? I find that keeping a journal has helped me with all of that. Putting my thoughts on paper is a way to organize and address them. Somehow, they become less of a deal. I like to take a moment before bed to reflect on the day but also make sure to find at least one thing I am grateful for.
But hey, just like meditation, there are no strict rules for journaling. Some people will write down their thoughts, others will write about their day. They will do it in the morning, in the evening or throughout the day. It doesn’t really matter but it works.
Organize your life and reset
I LOVE organizing. In my head, that means two things: decluttering and planning.
First things first: when I say decluttering, of course I mean get rid of stuff, but also anything that weights you down. I’m talking about unnecessary time commitments crowding your schedule, toxic people who do nothing but drain you, useless subscriptions… If it doesn’t serve you, it goes away.
Next, we have planning. You know how I said I wasn’t a writer, right? I used to not even make lists. I took pride in keeping track of everything mentally. The issue here is that it creates an insane mental workload to remember your to-do-list again and again. When you write a task down, you only need to think about it once until it’s time to do it. No need to revisit it. A book I found really helpful for creating a good system is “Getting things done” by David Allen and you can find it here.
You’ll see! You will notice that you have more time to do things you enjoy and also more energy.
Find your core values and build your life around them.
Some people live to work, others work to live. I’m definitely the latter and it didn’t take me long to understand that. It doesn’t matter which job, I just never enjoyed working. I’m good at what I do, but it doesn’t give me any sense of purpose or satisfaction. Yet, I wasted years climbing the corporate ladder just because that’s what I was made to believe I should do. And guess what the result was? I was just unhappy, frustrated and tired all the time. I only started to thrive once I prioritized the things I value and viewed work as nothing more than a transaction. I sell my time and skills, nothing more.
But that’s just me. I know some people who love their careers and others who are all about family. The key here is that you will find satisfaction when your actions and your values are aligned. Switch jobs if you can or try to change your approach.
Practice good sleep hygiene religiously
I was going to talk about self care but the truth is, it’s really difficult to exercise, eat healthy or have hobbies without proper rest. We’ve all been guilty of bedtime procrastination to make up for our busy days. In the long run, it takes its toll. Luckily, it’s super easy to reset. Go ahead and stick to a fixed bedtime, make your bedroom as comfortable as possible and avoid electronics before hitting the hay. Before you know, you will have more energy, better focus and your mood will improve. The rest will follow. You will have the motivation to workout, cook, socialize and do what you love.
There are certainly additional ways to reset your life. Anything that pushes you to rewire your habits or pick up new ones will change your trajectory. The important take is that we are in control of how we think and how we navigate life. So keep in mind, September is just another month and there is no reason to dread it!