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blues

Seasonal Affective Disorder: 6 Ways to Fight The Fall/Post Summer Blues From Setting In

For many people the end of summertime means back to school and back to the grind. Companies launch into their 4th quarter which means the summer slack off season is done and it’s time to get serious as we close out the end of the year. Between the dip in temperatures, shorter days, work and family demands, it’s no wonder people feel sad to part with summer. We connected with Dr. Sanam Hafeez, Neuropsychologist and Teaching Faculty at Columbia University in New York City to explain why people get the post summer blues.

We also offer some things to do to boost the mood as we say goodbye to summer and hello to fall.

1. Ease into the routine.

A lot of people expect to hit the ground running immediately after Labor Day. Allow yourself a solid two weeks to a full month to get back into the swing of your fall routine. You can’t expect to go from a more relaxed summer mindset into a rushed pace. “A lot of people make the mistake of going from summer ease to fall hustle and they end up running themselves down leading to a cold. You want to get a realistic handle on the fall routine and make decisions about how much to take on. Planning ahead helps,” explains Dr. Hafeez.

2. Go outside and play anyway!

The fall means a break in humidity and beautiful crisp air. It’s common to go from 80-degree temperatures to mid 60’s within a month. You can still enjoy your deck, barbecuing, reading in a lounge chair, having a catch in the yard, or going for a walk in nature. “Get outdoors and avoid spending weekends in hibernation which only makes people feel lethargic and depressed,” advises Dr. Hafeez who has been featured on national TV talking about Seasonal Affective Disorder.

3. Get things done that you put off during summer.

Before the weather takes a turn for the cold and holiday hustle ensues, take advantage of the cooler fall temperatures by tending to things like, auto repairs, home projects, pet care, medical visits, and financial assessments. “When we make a decision to accomplish things we’ve put off and then follow through, we feel more in control and this reduces stress,” explains Dr. Hafeez. Something as simple as taking a few hours to tidy up the yard, clean out the garage, get rid of clothes can elevate the mood.

4. Recap the summer with a look back at photos and gratitude.

At the end of each season it’s such a great ritual to do a recap. Look back into your social media feeds for the photos posted and memories made. Consider creating a summer photo album with highlights from vacations, pool days, family barbecues, weddings and any other fun that was had.

5. Start brainstorming next summer’s vacation and must-do activities.

“You really want to move into a forward-thinking mindset instead of longing for the past. This summer is over and another one will come. Brainstorming with the family on where to go next, is a fun way to get excited about what’s ahead. When we think about possibilities it elevates our mood so grab an issue of a travel magazine and get inspired,” suggests Dr. Hafeez.

6. When in doubt, get a makeover!

Nothing elevates the mood more than a day of primping and prepping. When we are putting the summer clothes away and pulling out the fall clothes we get to edit our wardrobes and make a list of the new things we want to add. Shopping for new clothes isn’t just limited to the kids heading back to school. A new hair color or style can also mark the start of a new season in a fun new way. “Self-care isn’t limited to meditation, juicing and massages. Finding that perfect fall jacket, shoes, new shades of cosmetics can do a lot to lift spirits,” Dr. Hafeez shares.

Good luck!

6 Holidays survival tips for couples struggling with infertility

The holidays can be a difficult time for anyone. Our culture promotes an ideal of the perfect holiday season with unrealistic expectations, and when that experience inevitably falls short, it can lead to disappointment. For those coping with infertility, the joy of the holidays can seem even harder to attain.   
The holidays are focused on family, with children at the epicenter. Those who long for the child that has not yet come can feel isolated, sad, and discouraged.
“The holidays tend to remind those dealing with infertility that family building has not gone the way they imagined,” says Dr. Ariadna Cymet Lanski, a clinical psychologist at Fertility Centers of Illinois. “Seeing your siblings and cousins with their children can remind you of what you don’t have, and that’s not easy.”
Dr. Marie Davidson, who is also a clinical psychologist at Fertility Centers of Illinois, agrees. “For couples experiencing infertility, there can be deep sense of alienation from the spirit of celebration. As a result, you may not want to participate in the usual family rituals, and you may search for ways to protect yourself from the distresses of social comparison.”
Yet the holidays and family gatherings can still be meaningful and enjoyable. Drs. Davidson and Cymet Lanski offer advice and techniques on how to navigate the emotions that surround the holidays.  
1. Acknowledge Your Feelings Don’t judge your own feelings; they are important and real and you have them for valid reasons.  It is normal to feel envious and even angry that you are “left out”. Holding everything inside doesn’t help. It actually takes more mental energy to hold your feelings back than to express them. Allow yourself time to feel the sadness, anger, and frustration. 
2. Reach Out  If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out support from your partner or a close friend. Talk about your feelings together. Keep in mind that men and women cope with stress in different ways. Women are more likely to express their sadness, while men tend to hold things inside. Neither way is wrong, just different. Whether it’s your partner, a friend, professional counseling, groups, or online forums, finding somewhere to talk with people who understand can help you feel less alone.
3. Choose the Gatherings You Attend  Discuss holiday gatherings with your partner, and decide how much celebration to participate in. If going to that family dinner will send you over the edge, don’t go. Going to every minute of family gatherings isn’t necessary – it is important to put your needs first. Your family will move on in time.
4. Plan Ahead  Plan, plan, and plan ahead.  Anticipation is half the battle. People have a way of asking inappropriate questions at inappropriate times. Be ready for the nosy questions and the possible “We’re pregnant” announcements.  Come up with an answer in advance that feels comfortable to you.


5. Make Special Plans of Your Own  Plan for memorable events of your own. Host an adults-only holiday party, or plan a romantic evening out with your partner. For some, it might even mean skipping a family gathering and planning a holiday getaway of your own. For example, one couple we know spent Christmas at a quiet cabin with another couple and enjoyed hiking, playing board games and relaxing. While their families didn’t quite understand, both couples said it was a rejuvenating and memorable holiday. 


6. Remember This is Not Forever  Remind yourself that this holiday season or the way you choose to celebrate this year is not how it will be for the rest of your life. Your fertility struggles will resolve at some point and things will change.

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