How to cope with end of summer anxiety

Is that a chill in the air? Are the nights drawing in? Are those fallen leaves on the ground?

The end of summer is nigh. And we are not ready.

Expectations for this summer were higher than ever. The promise of the vaccine, ‘Freedom Day’, the return of some sense of normality.

But for many of us that hasn’t quite happened – or it has been very slow to get going.

There is still so much uncertainty around travel. The Delta variant means people are still having to be cautious about socialising. Thousands under 30 still aren’t quite double-vaxxed yet.

And then there’s been the weather. After such a promising start, it has been a damp squib of a summer, with flooding, torrential downpours, and endless grey, blustery days.

It has been less hot girl summer, and more chilly girl summer. And now that it’s almost over – we feel robbed. There is a back-to-school vibe in the air, but because we feel like we haven’t had a proper break, we aren’t ready to embrace autumn yet.

Life coach Dr Rakish Rana tells Metro.co.uk that the disruption of our usual summer plans is fueling these feelings of anxiety.

‘Many people have not managed to take a break away this year,’ she says. ‘For that reason, some may well feel like summer has not happened for them at all.

‘It feels as though we have to get straight back into work mode without a proper break. It is particularly stressful this year as it’s like a repeat of last year.

‘When we went into lockdowns last year, we were told that it everything would be fine by the end of 2020. As we can see, we are far from it, even though things have improved with vaccinations.

‘People are unable to the see the light at the end of the tunnel.’

Mentor Bushra Shaikh agrees.

‘The pandemic has affected most of us in some way or another and with summer slowly coming to end, the anxiety of tackling this “new normal” feels harder to digest,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.

‘Going back to work this autumn is far different from any other times that many of us have ever experienced. We are all feeling the sense of an unfulfilled time-out.

‘But it is important to remember that you are not alone in this feeling. There are many ways to help combat this feeling and to slowly prepare for a happier return in autumn.’

So, with autumn dread hitting us hard this week, here are some expert tips for coping with the anxiety, and feeling happier about the seasonal transition.

How to feel better about the end of summer

‘To combat this feeling, it’s important to create a break for yourself,’ says Dr Rana.

‘The best way to do this is to come out of your current routine and do different things.

‘Start exploring local areas with friends who you may not have seen in a while. Allow your mind to switch off by pausing your consumption of digital media and your smartphone. Sometimes, just being able to talk about how you feel allows those pent-up emotions to come out – and allows you to feel more free.’

Bushra says it’s really important to be proactive during this time:

Book time with your friends in advance

‘As lockdown restrictions ease and social activity is once again permissible, reach out to your friends and colleagues to organise lunch, dinner or activities in advance,’ she suggests.

‘Set dates now, this helps your mind to look forward to the months coming. A positive outlook is valuable.’

Set new goals

Bushra says it is always exciting to have new aims, new hobbies or targets to achieve.

‘The brain likes challenges and having something new to focus on helps reduce FOMO, as the pandemic has left many of us feeling a lack of productivity,’ she says.

Start a diary

‘Documenting emotions has always been a top winner of mine,’ says Bushra. ‘I recommend this to everyone.

‘Be expressive, shout at it, use exclamation markings in your words. Writing helps reduce built up tension- see your diary as your friend- and tension is the killer of future joy.

‘It is a safe space to externalise your thoughts, internalising compounds anxiety.’

Take back control

‘Time is constant and thinking that you “lost out” is a very detrimental thought process. You can change this by taking back control.

‘Think “new time” instead of “lost time”.

‘Write a list of all the things you wanted to do in summer but couldn’t and then burn, tear or discard in any way you like. Erase this from your mind. It is the start of a new list.’

Bushra adds that anxiety is natural, particularly after a very underwhelming summer.

‘It is understandable if you have built up apprehensions about a new season,’ she says. ‘However, remember to stay positive, try to see autumn as a new adventure, a time to process and re-evaluate life.

‘Use some of the techniques above to conquer any apprehensions and remind yourself of how amazing you have done this far.

‘Fresh start. New time. Positive mindset.’

Need support? Contact the Samaritans

For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

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