With one week left of summer bliss, you can already sense the panic in people as they strive to enjoy every last second of summer fun. When I was out last night at my favorite casino deck dancing to the most popular band in our area, my friends all said with a depressive sigh, “Ah, summer is almost over.” Us “fun in the sun” folks live at the shore for a reason – our spirit comes alive by the sea which I refer to as “the temple of transformation.” We are energized by the extra Vitamin D of the sun, as romance fills the air as we stroll the boardwalk, beach or dance the night away. Come September 1st, we start counting the days until Memorial weekend and the return of the next summer season.
Relationships are extremely affected by the return of Fall. Couples and families are usually happiest with a sense of routine and the more shared leisurely recreational time of summer. Couples who took time for dating each other in the summer are now filled with their children’s sports schedules and tired, cranky moods as they return to school. Back to school time affects the entire family. Children are more irritable due to earlier wake-up times, so be sure to start the school wake up and bed-time schedule by August 20th.
Those of us that teach in the school (I was a SAC – Student Assistance Counselor for many years), see the kids struggle every day to form a new routine. Meeting new friends, the stress of trying out for sports and making the team, getting along with different teachers, and getting into “the popular crowd” which includes wearing the current fashion trends or dating the hottest girl/guy is their main concern. Trying to get them to focus on their schoolwork is a real challenge. Get routines established immediately with the help of the Allowance chart (for age 12+) and Star Chart (for kids under 12) as described in the Parenting chapter of my book, Live Beyond Your Dreams. Be sure not to overload them with too many activities (no more than two) or put pressure on them to be the best on the team. As a family therapist, I see way too many depressed, anxious teens that are cutting themselves or develop eating disorders who are over-stressed to become “the family star” for either college scholarships or parents bragging rights. Let them have fun, and regular time out with their friends; however teens over 15 should also have a part-time weekend job to start earning money to buy a car or save for college.
Another relationship changer is Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD); also known as seasonal depression and affects many in our area once the night darkness comes earlier each day. Initially described by Norman E Rosenthal (1984) of the National Institute of Mental Health, SAD affects people who are normally mentally healthy and happy in the summer by experiencing intense moodiness, depression, lack of energy, and tiredness that comes in the fall or winter. This disorder affects only 1.4% in Florida and 9.7% in New Hampshire, according to Richard Friedman in his article, Brought on by Darkness, Disorder Needs Light (12/2007) in the New York Times. Take time for fun and to date on the weekends, walk under the sun and into nature, and take Vitamin D to improve mood. See a Life/Relationship Coach to inspire you to make the winter season one of inspiration, re-invention, and a time to look forward to for incredible personal and relationship transformation and growth.