Balancing the Busyness of Autumn
It may seem hard to believe, but the summer is wrapping up, and autumn will soon be upon us. For some, this means back-to-school season; for others, the whirlwind of the end of the fiscal year or clients returning from summer leave in droves. Suppose you find yourself tense about the upcoming months. In that case, you are not alone: Autumn tends to be a busy season for most of us, and the shifting schedules combined with chillier weather and shorter days can exacerbate anxiety. Luckily, with a little planning ahead and some small shifts in perspective, you can enjoy less stress and more balance, even among the busyness. Read on for some easy ways to balance the busyness of the autumn season!
Prioritize healthy habits
We all know these habits well by now: adequate sleep, healthy food, and movement. These “big three” underpin a lot of advice for lowering stress and calming anxiety, and it’s for a good reason. Our physical habits play a huge role in our overall well-being, impacting everything from our blood pressure and immune response to our mood and mental acuity. So, try to prioritize these healthy habits as we head into autumn—but don’t let it add extra stress! Remember, strive for progress, not perfection.
Identify your “big yeses” and your “little no’s.”
As you look toward the coming months, with all of the back-to-school activities, new extracurriculars, mounting work responsibilities, and the ramp-up to the holiday season, it’s perfectly normal to feel like you can’t do it all. And guess what? You can’t. While a lot of us expect to be superhuman and able to clear mountainous to-do lists in a single bound, the truth is prioritization is the key to balance—and, ultimately, to do the important things well.
Schedule a family meeting to review your autumn calendar and decide your “big yeses” as a team. These can be:
- Your family’s value-based goals, like a monthly volunteer night at the food bank or your child’s honors class.
- Non-negotiable things, like work trips or Grandma’s 75th birthday party.
- What to look forward to, like your annual long weekend away or a weekly family bike ride.
It may take some negotiation, but keep this list of priorities relatively short – 10 things or fewer. Next, decide which other events or activities may need to be cut from the calendar to make your big yeses possible. These are your “little no’s.” These could be things you “should” do, like volunteer for every school fundraiser, or something you’re only signing up for because you’ve done them in the past, like a club your child is no longer interested in. Don’t let yourself feel guilty about acknowledging and getting rid of these “little no’s.” By freeing up the space in your calendar, you’ll have much more time and energy to dedicate to the things that truly matter.
Ease into routines
One of the most stressful parts of a change in seasons is often the accompanying change in routines. So give yourself and your family time to get used to the autumn schedule! Start going to bed earlier and setting alarms a week or two before school starts to help kids and parents adjust to the school year’s sleep schedule. If your upcoming work schedule includes things like travel, conferences, or end-of-year responsibilities, start to build in some predictable routines now to help you keep track of and manage those commitments. For example, creating a to-do list each evening for the next day, spending an hour prepping one piece of conference material, or even setting aside outfits for the week so you have one less thing to think about in the morning.
Step into the sun
As the days begin to get shorter, for many of us, there will be an impact by the decrease in natural light. The lack of sun is a leading cause of seasonal depression, which can greatly affect our mental health and emotional resilience. One of the simplest ways to combat seasonal depression is to get just five minutes of sunlight in the morning. Drink your first cup of coffee outside, go for a short walk with your kids or your dog (or yourself!), schedule a walking meeting with a colleague. Find some way to spend five to ten minutes outside in the morning. Your overall mood will thank you! Bonus: natural light in the morning also supports our circadian rhythms, leading to better quality sleep.
Ask for help to balance the busyness
You’ve likely heard this one just as often as you’ve listened to the importance of prioritizing sleep and exercise! But just like we all have to prioritize, we need help sometimes. Discuss with your family your various roles and responsibilities in the upcoming season: things like meal prep and grocery shopping, school drop-off or pick-up, laundry, and other chores, finishing homework (without being nagged!), etc. At work, reach out to your supervisor for help prioritizing before you start to feel overwhelmed or make a plan with your team about how you’ll divide and conquer big projects. Don’t try to juggle everything by yourself—by sharing them, ensure that fewer get dropped!
And, of course, asking for help means help with your health as well. If you are experiencing significant anxiety or depression as the seasons change, don’t hesitate to contact a professional.
WORKPLACE SOLUTIONS is a group of dedicated professionals who provide assistance and resources to individuals and families to create a satisfying and meaningful life. We’re counselors, attorneys, financial professionals, and experienced specialists in a wide variety of fields. Because life’s challenges and opportunities show up in a range of different areas, we provide assistance in a number of different ways.