The beginning of September often brings changes – especially (though not only) for children and others in, and affected by the education system. For them, the start of the academic new year will mean a new teacher, class, or job. For some it will mean watching their children enter school for the first time, start a new school, or go away from home to study in another city or even country. For some, the changes that happen at this time of year will be exciting, liberating, representing a new beginning and will bring with them a sense of opportunity. For others, they may feel more like an ending, leaving a sense of emptiness.
The kind of changes that happen at this time of year are reflected in the changing of the seasons too; the autumn months can bring with them a sense of ‘winding down’. In literature ‘autumn’ can be used to symbolise ageing and this winding down sense can also bring with it a lead-in to gloomier times; the lack of sun-hours having an effect on us that is physical as well as psychological.
Summer is for many associated with holiday and freedom, and the return to ‘normal’ routines, whether school or work, can feel like a resuming of constraints to that freedom. It can also highlight issues within our lives that we managed to push aside, temporarily hidden by our enjoyment of our leisure time. We know that everyone is experiencing the end of summer, so probably don’t feel we have a ‘right’ to complain or express sadness. If there is something else there, however, that was only temporarily masked by the holiday, there is a fair chance that it could re-emerge now.
Change is something ongoing that we all experience pretty much all the time, and we mostly adapt to it without even noticing that we are doing it. Other changes however, are more dramatic, and it can appear that something happening externally, is reshaping us internally. That can sometimes feel daunting and a little alarming; like a loss of balance. When this happens, we can find ourselves under stress; perhaps reacting in an uncharacteristic way to things and this can be a sign that we need more support and understanding than usual.
There are of course plenty of things we can do to try to help the sense of gloom; walks in the beautiful autumn colours and positive thinking about warming up with hot cocoa and roasting chestnuts may help. Good communication of how we are feeling can also help; if you have family and friends around you, talking openly with them could be enough to explain stressed and erratic responses, which in turn can relieve and ease the pressure. Being open to hearing how others feel can also help, enabling us to feel less isolated with our increased stress, or gloomy feelings.
If you do not have that support, however, or if you find that underlying issues – that were also taking a holiday – return to work when you do, or if the changes that are happening now are too great for you to manage, you may start to feel isolated and alone with your problems. When this is the case, seeking help from a counsellor can be one way to progress. The right therapist will help you to discuss your problems; new or old, and to find ways of adapting to changes that can help you to regain your sense of balance. Having the space to fully express the way you are feeling is a rare commodity and being offered that space, can in itself feel like a brief return to that lost freedom of summer.