As I talked about last week, September, for me at least, always feels more like a season of renewal than New Year’s itself. And seeing that Autumn is the new hip time of year, apparently I’m not alone in that. Who can say why the past decade or so has generated a sudden manic appreciation for pumpkins, but I’m not going to snub my nose at it. There’s a chance, if we’re feeling super positive about the world, that this growing enthusiasm comes from the developing popularity of the farm-to-table movement, and so the celebration of the “harvest season” is making a comeback. If I was feeling cynical about the world, I would just blame Starbucks for a brilliant marketing scheme. Either way, there is a growing buzz about the coming months, and I’m right on board.
With any transition, especially one that lines up with the days getting shorter and chillier, it’s important to feel as if I am starting fresh. So here are a few easy and free ways I have been jumping into September and saying goodbye to the summer without sadness:
1. Feeling sluggish? Start a health journal!
I will be the first to admit that I am terrible at sticking to any exercise regimen or eating habit. One reason for this is that I haven’t found what quite works for me yet. We are all different, and therefore jumping in to some drastic cleanse or diet without knowing what our body needs can be just as unhealthy as continuing to drink three cans of soda a day. But starting the research process for your own body is a step in the right direction. For example, during college, I gave up eating red meat for several years. During that time, I felt amazing. I barely ever got sick, and I had way more energy. It worked well for me, but it was a habit I had to drop when I left for Spain. My body is different now, so it still may not be the best move for me, but I am going to give it a go during September to see if my health and general energy improves.
Keeping a simple check-in journal will remind you that you are coming from a positive place by making this effort, not trying to torture yourself or meet some social body standard. The same goes for any other health shift you’re thinking about, be it kickboxing or taking up oil pulling (I tried, I really did- maybe someday!)
2. Get rid of your ignored summer clothing
If an entire season went by and a pile went unworn, give it away! Even though it’s super hot outside, and just looking at a cardigan makes you start sweating, you can get rid of that weird sundress while keeping all your summer stuff out. Someone else will want it or need it. If you’re from NYC and want to make sure your clothing actually makes it to a good cause, poke around on this list based on your zip code. This way you cut down on waste, free up space in your dresser, and eliminate the old “but I may wear this around the house” debate for that weird ill-fitted romper you bought six years ago.
3. Clean up your Facebook Feed
I started doing this last Spring and never looked back. I’ve always struggled with Facebook, but as a blogger and someone legitimately interested in what my friends are up to, I’ve learned sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. What you can do, is start to weed out the posts that take away from your day. The first step for me was finding a consistent way of checking the news from a source I trusted. This way, I didn’t have to depend on Facebook to find out if something happened. Often, when I found out about something that way, I also got that person’s spin on the conversation before I had even processed the facts.
Also, when a friend posted something positive or encouraging, I liked it, and the magic of Facebook marketing followed suit. Yes, it’s weird that Facebook chooses to show us certain things and not others, but that’s the reality of social media and how it ticks. Since no one is forcing us to participate, I feel I can simply use their algorithms to my advantage. Also, I have become relentless with unfollowing. There are people whose profiles I am happy to seek out if I want an update on their life, but I do not need to see their #blessedactorlife #sohumble play-by-play on days when I’m not feeling as confident as I’d like to be. I know my own sensitivities, and I am comfortable building my feed around what I allow into my day.
4. Choose a new passion for September
When I split up a project in chunks of time, I find I am less likely to drop them altogether. I’ve also found its important to choose one or two small things that have nothing to do with work or making money. For example, I’m very curious about fall flowers and planting mums because our summer vegetable garden looks like a sad collection of shriveled sadness, and I need to let the dream die that my fall veggies seeds will ever sprout. It’s been a month, I don’t think my beets are going to happen. So during the day, when I need a work break, I have something completely separated from everything else to research. Balancing this out with a career-related goal will give you plenty of things to attack whenever you’re feeling sluggish.
5. Cleaning out the mental dust
Habitual thoughts can creep up on you, and develop over a long amount of time. If you think back to the last several months, or year even, write down several moments when you were particularly low or frustrated. If you believe these could have encouraged a new way of thinking, put it on your radar. Recognizing that you’ve suddenly begun to resent your friend who you had a spat with last May or that you tense your neck every time you get in the car because of a fender bender a year ago, can help you recognize patterns that are only going to accumulate over time. Accepting that they are there and have an acceptable source is a great way to slowly let them go.
I often have a difficult time with the colder months, especially as the days get shorter, so making this effort to encourage positive habits now is my way of collecting acorns for the winter. There are many things to celebrate this fall, especially when getting ready for the holidays. But if you tend to struggle with the end of summer, there are still ways to improve your day to day patterns and welcome fall with more than a pumpkin spiced latte.
As I mentioned above, we may not do a lot of harvesting anymore, but it is still the harvest season, and historically a time to come together. Doing so after you’ve taken some time to organize your mind can strengthen your ability to be in the moment and enjoy the festivals ahead.