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Article: September: Fresh Starts

September: Fresh Starts

There’s something about the crisp air, changing leaves, and back-to-school supplies that make you feel giddy and excited for new beginnings! With summer at an end, many people experience a pang of nostalgia for the good weather and days off (and sometimes regret that they didn't make the most of them). For parents and students, the back-to-school period is often a cocktail of relief, excitement, and anxiety. But even if your summer was uneventful and you're long past your student days, September often still feels important.

After at least 13 years of experiencing the ninth month of the year as a new beginning, most of us have a hard time shaking the sensation that September offers a sort of reset button on life.

As the faux-first month of a new year, September often sits as the beginning of a new journey. Many people like to declare resolutions, and by October they’re often dropped and we’re left disappointed — like my blank journal every year (oops!). This year, instead of resolutions, we're setting intentions. 

The word intention is not as firm as the word resolution. An intention is something that we aim to do. The word gives us a little more grace and time. Whereas by using the word resolution, your resolve is firm, and there is no room for error. It makes you feel a little bad if you resolve to do something and then you don’t do it. You feel like there are repercussions, whereas if you intend to eat right and you don’t, it’s like, well, I had a crappy day, but tomorrow’s a new day, so I intend to eat better tomorrow.

This month we’re going to explore fresh starts, goals and the motivation behind intentions so that we allow for gentler, more subtle ways to give meaning to our lives.

Week 1: In My Feelings

Week 2: Hit The Ground Running

Week 3: Next Stop — Procrastination Station

Week 4: Celebrate Your Wins

Congratulations! You did it. You took on the fresh start challenge this month as an effort to take care of yourself. And that alone is something to celebrate. 

For many of us, emerging from pandemic life has created a flurry of new emotions. Taking time to figure out how you’re feeling is a huge step. A large body of research shows that labeling these emotions — something scientists call “affect labeling” — can calm your brain and reduce stress.

In fact, we’ve heard from a lot of people and even each other here at Mary Young, who have been berating themselves for gaining weight or exercising less during the pandemic lockdowns. But it’s important to remember that almost everyone struggled during this past year and a half. Shaming yourself is counterproductive. When we give ourselves a break, and accept our imperfections — hello, self-compassion — we’re more likely to take care of ourselves, live healthier lives and willingly set and achieve fresh intentions.

Check in with the list below, it can give you a good idea of how you’re doing and where you’d like to go for October.

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