Every year, the arrival of Starbucks’ fall menu signals to me that summer is officially on its way out. I love PSLs and cozy weather as much as the next girl, but around this time every year, I start to get sad, unmotivated, or a little stressed out. I feel bummed thinking of the carefree season coming to an end, and my wellness routine is severely lacking (what was excitement for fresh salads and beach volleyball a few months ago is now nowhere to be found). The truth is that no matter how much we love cozy sweaters and rewatching Gilmore Girls, “September Scaries” is real (think “Sunday Scaries,” except instead of the ending of a weekend, it’s the ending of a season).
Maybe a summer of happy hours and weekend vacations has left you feeling lethargic, bloated, and blah right about now, or maybe you’ve lost all motivation to prioritize your nutrition and fitness like you had at the start of summer (after all, we tend to crave smoothies and salads in the summer, but PSLs and apple pie in the fall). The silver lining is that there are simple ways to get motivated and reprioritize your well-being right now. Stop playing “Summertime Sadness” on repeat and try these seven tips to get you out of your end-of-summer slump.
1. Prioritize your mental health over physical health
While we should prioritize both our mental and physical health year-round (after all, they are one and the same), we tend to naturally feel more motivated toward our physical health during warmer months (think: hot girl walks, fresh salads, short shorts…you get the idea). If you’re craving comfort foods instead of vegetables and have no motivation to go to the HIIT class you loved in July, know that that’s OK. You can still prioritize your wellness without salads and HIIT workouts.
When you’re lacking motivation in fitness or nutrition, lean into prioritizing your mental health instead. Get in sync with what you truly need. Perhaps that looks like seeking help from a therapist, scheduling an hour every day to do something for you, or starting a journal routine. Do things for your mental health instead of forcing yourself into that workout or eating the food you don’t really want. You can prioritize fitness and nutrition in other ways (more on that below) but know that your body needs different things during different seasons, and that’s OK.
2. Set new goals
You know that excitement you get from getting something new—a workout set, an apartment, a relationship, a desk organizer (#adulting)? Goals are no different. Although we typically set our health resolutions for the year on January 1, the beginning of fall is actually the perfect time to set new goals. Now that we’re over halfway through the year, we can assess what we really want, as well as what’s working and what’s not. But also, there’s something fresh and exciting about fall, like the excitement that came with starting a new school year as a kid.
If your health routine has gone out the window, start fresh by developing a new set of small goals to strive for. Maybe “drink a smoothie for breakfast” no longer feels good to you, so come up with other nutrient-dense breakfast options that will, such as oatmeal, scrambled eggs, or avocado toast. Maybe your social calendar has been packed so you haven’t taken time for yourself, and what your body really needs is to decompress. In that case, set a goal for the new season to schedule a self-love date every week, get to bed an hour earlier, or read for 30 minutes every night. Check-in with what your body and mind really need, and set new goals accordingly.
3. Make future plans that will bring you joy
When you have something to look forward to, you look to the future instead of dwelling on what was or should’ve been. So whether it’s booking a vacay (or staycation), making plans for upcoming holidays like Halloween or Thanksgiving, or nabbing tickets to Beyoncé, pencil in things in the near future that will give you a boost of feel-good energy. Whatever you schedule, make sure it’s out of pure joy and not out of obligation or FOMO. In other words, be intentional with your time and fill it with what you value. The result? You’ll only have plans you’re excited about, and the September Blues will be a distant memory.
4. Catch up on your Zzzs
It’s called beauty sleep for a reason; a restless night or lack of sleep can lead to not only those horrifying dark undereye circles but more importantly, mood swings, lack of concentration, and anxiety. And let’s face it: Summer has a way of putting us in vacay mode (even when we’re technically not) and keeping us up later at night, making it harder to get quality shut-eye. What’s a girl to do?! For starters, make the last call for alcohol or food 2-3 hours before you hit the hay, cut off caffeine at lunchtime, keep your bedroom cool (between 65-72 degrees), and go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. If your sleep schedule is out of whack from the summer months (same), look at the beginning of fall as the perfect opportunity to catch up on sleep.
5. Get moving (but don’t force it)
If there was such a thing as a cure-all, it would be movement. From enhancing your mood and promoting better sleep to giving your sex life some oomph, I could go on and on about the benefits of exercise. However, don’t force yourself into the high-energy class or 5-mile run that you loved in the peak of summer if you’re not feeling it now. Moving does wonders for your mood, energy, and overall health, but that means any type of movement (PS forcing yourself into intense workouts you don’t want to do can actually make you more stressed).
Dust off your gym shoes to get those endorphins going, but lean into what feels enjoyable for you. For example, does going for a nice long walk, listening to a motivating podcast (ahem, The Everygirl Podcast), and enjoying the last of the warm weather sound fun, or is your body craving more stretching and lower impact movement through something like yoga or Pilates? At the risk of sounding like a broken record (but it’s important enough to re-emphasize): your body needs different things in different seasons.
6. Use your PTO
Sometimes a break from everyday life or a change in scenery is all it takes to get out of a slump. It’s time we stop saying “I’ll take my PTO when things slow down” or “I’m saving up my PTO for when I take a big trip,” and take some much-needed and deserved time off. Even just taking one day to catch up on some self-care or a long weekend to visit a friend can help you reset, avoid burnout, increase productivity, and reduce stress.
In fact, according to a study released by the American Psychological Association, vacations can improve mood and reduce stress by removing people from the activities and environments that they associate with stress and anxiety. You don’t have to take a week-long trip; a three-day respite has been shown to lower cortisol levels. If you can’t take time off from work, dedicate your day(s) off to breaking away from the day-to-day and doing something that fills your cup.
7. Refresh your overall vibe
I feel like a new person when I get my hair done, and in the same vein, my home has a renewed energy after I’ve given it a good clean or decorated it with a new piece of art. For a mini-makeover and mood-booster, get that hair color you’ve been eyeing, update your wardrobe, switch up your bedding, or add a houseplant to the mix. Even the smallest updates can help you feel fresh. And if you’re on a tight budget or sustainability is your middle name, you’d be surprised what a difference a little consignment shopping or simply rearranging furniture can make. If you are dealing with the end-of-summer slump because you’re sad it’s the ending of carefree summer, leaning into the new season with cozy decor or splurging on the jacket or pair of boots you’ve been eyeing can help you embrace all that fall has to offer.