You can feel it in the air, that little chill that lets you know the summer months are coming to an end. But beyond the changing air, we all get a feeling of sadness when we see September creeping up on the calendar. You intuitively know the days will get shorter, your sunny holidays are done for the year and the back-to-school/back-to-work "excitement" is enough to make anyone a little downtrodden. So if you're feeling a little sad that the summer sun is setting, you're not alone.
A good way to hit the ground running with your September intentions is to take stock and identify your current challenges and figure out how they make you feel.
There's a theory known as the "fresh start effect", where humans mentally chapterize their lives — a new day, a new week, a new era — as a way to move past, motivate and redefine their circumstances and themselves. A changing season that also brings changing habits and schedules means September is the perfect time to take advantage of this effect.
If you’re feeling skeptical, think about it this way: have you completed all your New Year's resolutions? Of course not, so pull them out and try to re-examine them and figure out how you feel right now and how you can apply it in the months to come.
Identifying your emotions takes practice. At the Hoffman Institute Foundation, which offers a weeklong retreat to help people identify negative behavioural patterns, each session starts by asking participants what they are feeling. The Institute has compiled a detailed list of more than 300 feeling words to help people tune into their exact emotional state. (Consider printing the list and putting it on the fridge for the whole household to use.) It can be a fun exercise to scan the list to find just the right word to describe how you’re feeling.
Here are a few:
Positive moods: amazed, appreciative, confident, determined, energized, grounded, inspired, optimistic, refreshed, worthy
Negative moods: anxious, bitter, disappointed, edgy, exasperated, gloomy, grouchy, lonely, powerless, weary
Set an alarm a few times a day and take 30 seconds to do a scan. Taking time out of your day to identify how you’re feeling is incredible grounding and can give you a better idea of how to move forward with setting fresh intentions.