This week — this day in particular — marks a period of transition; one that tends to feel simultaneously exciting and overwhelming. It’s September 1, school is kicking back into gear, COVID-19 is still a noteworthy news topic, and this Labor Day weekend unofficially concludes the summer season. I’ll put it bluntly for everyone who’s feeling this way: There’s a lot going on.
For some reason, this didn’t hit me until I drove home from spending the weekend at a lake in Maine. As the car rolled down 495, a sinking feeling began to creep into my stomach. You know, that feeling that you get on a Sunday night when you realize that you’re back to school or work the next morning? That’s the one.
I try to avoid the term “vacation hangover” because it feels — and pretty much is — a first-world problem. This is especially potent in our current social-political-pandemic climate where tension, uncertainty and hardship are present. Instead, I use “change anxiety,” which was a label I slapped on the anxiety experienced when I started a new school year, or moved to a new house, or tried to sleepover a friend’s house and couldn’t. We all experience change anxiety on some levels, and in times of transition — like from summer to fall, from vacation to work, from three newsletters to five newsletters and a podcast (more on that later) — our stress levels increase, and as we’ve learned in Wednesdays past, increased stress takes a toll on our entire body.
So, as we reflect on the summer we already miss and look forward into fall, this last* Wellness Wednesday will share helpful advice on coping with change anxiety (and yes, “vacation hangover”) and how to enter this new season with a positive mindset. And of course, I’ll also tease what’s on the horizon here at MVM.
But first, smile. It’s September.
Back to Reality
Sometimes, returning to the comfort of home from vacation can feel good, especially if you were gone long enough to start feeling homesick. Most times though, heading “back to reality” can be difficult. Thankfully, there are ways to prevent this anxiety from keeping you down. This article offers “the best ways to cure a travel hangover,” which are: start planning a new trip, exploring your city like a tourist, create something visual, and socialize. This list from Huffington Post adds staying hydrated, sleeping well, scrapbooking, unpacking and “getting your home up and running again” to help you re-adjust into your to normal. For more candid advice, check out this advice from the Washington Post.
My favorite piece of advice is the idea of viewing your own city from the eyes of a tourist. Turn down a road you’ve always passed by, pick up dinner from a new restaurant, walk your pet on a different path, take the long way home. This is a great way to freshen up your perspective on what may have become redundant. For more fun ideas, check out this article.
Turn and Face the Strange
The irony of having “change anxiety” is that change is one of the driving forces throughout our entire lives. We may welcome change when we’re experiencing tough times, yet we resist it when things are good. For those who struggle with change or transition, start by checking out this blog post where author Carly Johannson candidly discusses her experience with anxiety, the challenges she faced and the lessons learned.
Instead of resisting change — which is inevitable — we should focus on becoming resilient in the face of change. This article from Psycom.net offers advice for exactly that. It encourages you to evaluate what you can control, practice self care, change your thought patterns, be in the present and discover your priorities.
Another article, titled “A Psychologists Advice on How to Cope with Life Transitions” discusses why these transitions are often challenging, and provides tips to handling them smoothly. Their advice includes: preparing (when possible,) setting reasonable expectations, developing a routine, setting small goals, practicing self-compassion and more.
As Einstein said, “the measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”
A New Look*
And on the topic of change, there’s some exciting things happening here at MVM. Starting next week, our daily newsletters will look a little different. We will be launching Merrimack Valley Today, a FREE daily email newsletter, and Merrimack Valley Morning, a daily podcast, that will provide our region a source of local news with a quick summary of the day’s headlines. In addition to news, I will be covering wellness, arts, culture, entertainment, dining, politics and more, in a new format that is accessible and adaptable to everyone’s busy schedules. So if you have been enjoying Wellness Wednesdays, and all of the other awesome content we offer, don’t hesitate. Click here to subscribe.
Change can be daunting, however, it’s also exciting.
Full speed ahead. And in the words of my favorite character, bring me that horizon.
Old Brain, New Tricks. A new study challenges common beliefs that cognitive functions such as attention and reasoning skills decline with age, suggesting that these functions actually improve with age. Click here to read more.
Eternal Love. In this interesting discovery, archaeologists found the skeletal remains of two people locked in an embrace. The remains are estimated to be 1,500 years old!
Energized and Ready. All this change can be exhausting. This article offers ten ways to boost your energy and feel rejuvenated throughout the day.