By Dr. Courtney Klein

It seems that every year with the conclusion of summer, the gray skies begin in Colorado. When summer fades, we too can sometimes feel the emotional “gray skies” show up in our lives. The end of summer brings many changes such as children heading back to school, colder weather, shorter days, and the thought of an impending “grayness” of winter season. To top it all off, you might also realize your next vacation is pretty far away and there might not be anything coming soon to look forward to. These transitions might be difficult for a variety of reasons, and the multitude of change can deeply impact our mood or sense of well-being. If you are someone who already experiences challenges with regulating stress, anxiety, or depressive feelings, the shift from summer to fall and eventually to winter can make things worse.

To ease the transition, I suggest you approach the upcoming change of seasons with a deeper awareness as to what you need to get through or what could help this time around. Most of us would benefit from knowing how and why we feel what we feel, and then what to do about it. If you let stress or feelings build up without addressing them or recognizing what you need, you might find yourself turning to a bit more wine in the evening, or using other substances like cannabis more often or using any number of the less-than-healthy methods for coping with stress. Perhaps it’s time to try something different to get your through this difficult time. Perhaps it is time to get in touch with what you truly need to make this transition easier. 

A counselor can a great resource to help you resolve challenges, work through stressors, and gain new skills to help you cope more effectively. Having feelings like the ones described above do not necessarily indicate major mental health problems, but could be an indicator of difficulties adjusting to the changing season (and accompanying obligations/commitments). Talking with a therapist who serves as a supportive resource can help you gain new perspective, and it could also springboard you into healthy lifestyle activities such as starting a new physical fitness class, sports team, or healthy pastime in the community. You might also consider making smaller, more manageable and affordable plans for yourself such as stay-cations in this beautiful state or trying a new restaurant in Denver’s vibrant dining culture. In any case, I encourage you to keep on eye on your feelings and notice if you are experiencing more stress, irritability, sadness, or lack of excitement. It is very possible that the fall season and all that comes with it might be adding to whatever mood you are having. You do not have to do this transition alone, and I am hopeful you will pay attention to what it feels like you need in your life, and how that might be different as the seasons change. Seeking support in therapy could be the thing you do different this year, and it might help you for many years to come.