T.S. Eliot once said that April is the cruelest month, but I'd like to argue that it's actually August, where summer is almost over, but it's not quite the ideal cozy fall weather that's perfect for drinking pumpkin spice lattes. Instead, you're rushing to get in one last barbecue before summer officially ends with Labor Day, and for many of us, going through yet another heatwave.
"I think there are a couple of things that happen towards the end of the summer: People feel that the summer is ending and have a lot of feelings around that, like it went so quickly," she says. "Also for some people, there’s an anxiety around anticipating the fall — whether it’s a back to school anxiety if you yourself are going to school or you have kids going to school, or you're anticipating the change of season."
Another reason you might be grieving the end of summer is if you feel like you didn't get everything on your summer bucket list done, and now it's crunch time for a rally trip to the beach. Dr. Henderson says that while there's pressure in the summer to do more fun, outdoorsy things, there's also pressure to show off what you're doing on social media.
"It’s natural for us to either consciously or subconsciously have a bucket list of things we want to do, and before you know it the season is over and there’s another year where you didn’t do everything on your list — which can be disappointing and a person can start beating themselves up for that," she says.
Before you know it the season is over and there’s another year where you didn’t do everything on your list.
Lindsay A. Henderson, PsyD
Still, even if you didn't get in everything you wanted to do, the end of summer doesn't have to be such a bummer. Dr. Henderson suggests prepping yourself for the oncoming season by gradually easing into the fall and whatever it is you need to do — whether it's going back to school or having a heavier fall workload.
"If you've been staying out late or burning a candle at both ends to keep up with summer activities, try to take a look at your sleeping and eating schedules and make small adjustments so that you’re a little more on track," she says. "Summer is a time of tons of vacations, where for many workplaces, things kind of slow down: Someone is always out for the week, and there may not be quite as much going on in the week. We are still driven by an academic calendar in many ways, so in the fall, everyone regroups."
If winters tend to be difficult for you, whether because you get a little more blue, or you just hate the cold, that might also give you some anticipatory anxiety. But as you're heading into the fall, try to think of what you might look forward to when the weather cools. Maybe you're planning a fall hayride, or you're actually really into dressing for sweater weather.
Plus, Dr. Henderson says, you probably have at least a little more time to check things off your summer bucket list.
"Summer doesn’t have to have a hard stop at Labor Day," she says. "If you’re able, keep some of the things you like about summer going into the fall. Continue to spend time outside, soak up all the good fresh produce, enjoy day trips on the weekend — whatever it is you like about summer, identify those things and don't let yourself stop just because summer is over."