Transitioning to Fall: Three Ways to Cope (Better) With Change

By Randi Mazzella for

Bidding farewell to the somewhat slower pace of summer and snapping back into the hectic fall routine can make you feel bummed out and anxious. The change of season can also affect your mental health, making you feel sad or panicky about what's ahead.

Whether the next few weeks into September mean prepping your kids for the new school year, starting a new job or gearing up for a big work or household project, there are many changes that occur that can be nerve-wracking.

Women tend to be more resistant to these changes than men, according to Victoria Taylor Ph.D., Director of Child and Adolescent Services at The American Institute for Cognitive Therapy. "Resistance to change is about the fear of uncertainty and not being in control," she says. When women worry, it makes them feel like they're being proactive and gives them a sense of "pseudo control," explains Dr. Taylor.

In an effort to help you learn how to cope with change better, regain control and improve your outlook, Dr. Taylor offers the following three tips.

Control Your Inner Experience

Many adults get the "Sunday Night Blues" -- a worried feeling before the start of a new week. Just being off from work for two days gives people "anticipatory anxiety", notes Dr. Taylor.

If you think about it, nothing is really different about a Monday at work versus a Thursday, which is why no one gets the "Wednesday Night Blues." It's being out of a routine for a few days that can make you feel stressed, says Dr. Taylor. "By controlling your inner experience and not letting anxiety take hold, you can control the quality of your life."

A good way to control your "inner experience" is to stay in the moment and practice mindfulness, suggests Dr. Taylor. Don't allow negative situations from the past to cloud your judgment of the present. Just because your child didn't like their teacher last year, doesn't mean it will happen again this time. Make a list of the pros and cons of this specific situation instead of what happened in the past.

Make Changes -- But Not Too Many At Once

Children are forced to make changes; every year they get a new class, teacher and make new friends. "They're exposed to change over and over again which makes it easier," explains Dr. Taylor. As adults, we're not forced to make as many changes. You may have the same job, home or partner for 10 or 20 years, which can make you more wary of change because you're not used to it.

It's important to make necessary changes, but don't jump into them all at once. The old advice, "Don't cut your hair after you break up with your boyfriend," can still be relevant. Don't make a rash change in the heat of the moment, cautions Dr. Taylor. "Changes should be made based on values. Don't quit your job because you think everyone hates you, but consider leaving if you don't find your job fulfilling. Changes have to have a logical component."

Stop Trying To Be Perfect

One of the big reasons women are resistant to change is because they fear making a mistake. "Understand that most changes won't make or break you," says Dr. Taylor. Even if it's something as simple as getting new curtains, remind yourself that if you don't like them, you can always get new ones! Most things aren't permanent in life.

You also need to remember that humans by nature are very adaptable. "After a month or so you'll get accustomed to the change, so don't be too quick to declare a change a mistake. Instead live with it for a while."

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