Transitioning to the hectic schedule of fall from the lazy, hazy days of summer can be just as stressful for parents as it is for kids. It is not uncommon for people and families to experience a growing sense of anxiety over getting back into the busy school and work routine. Change of any kind can create anxiety so it is not unexpected that huge changes in our schedule would make us feel anxious too.
Transitions are hard; they represent the reality that our lives and circumstances are continually changing, evolving and transforming. And when there is change there is also loss, the loss of what it is we are leaving behind. Children get older and so do we. Many families for the first time this fall will experience a child going off to kindergarten, high school, college, and some will be first time empty nesters. When we process loss we gain the ability to fully embrace life’s inevitable changes and processing loss prevents us from feeling “stuck” or “stalled” in our lives as well.
Many people and families experience loss at the start of a new year related to spending less time together, having less personal freedom and having a less flexible schedule. Becoming aware of situations and events that are likely to increase your and your families stress levels will help to actively manage anticipated anxiety and promote healthy coping behaviors. Learning to plan ahead and being able to discuss your emotions about change and loss with loved ones is important since chronic stress and depression negatively impacts our emotional health and contributes to depression, substance abuse, and even physical illness.
Below are tips for making your transition to fall smoother:
1. Get a full night’s sleep. A minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep per night helps to regulate mood, decrease anxiety and depression, and improves concentration.
2. Set realistic goals for you and your family. Avoid over scheduling your family and you. Ease into active days by slowly adding activities for both your child and you as the year progresses.
3. As a family sit down and openly discuss concerns about the up-coming year. This may include sorting out conflicts with schedules, carpools, and mealtimes.
4. Make sure to schedule consistent “family time” during the busy week. Maintaining a deep sense of connection with those we love combats stress, depression and anxiety. And it’s a great way to add love and laughter to your new year.
5. Give yourself a break too! Set aside time for relaxing and decompressing from the busy, hectic days of fall.SS