As we bid farewell to summer, autumn has started to show its face with cooler weather. The season is changing, nature is changing, we are changing; even the leaves on the trees are changing. Maybe the leaves around you have started to turn yellow, while some remain green. Each creature in nature dances to its own beat and has its unique rhythm. In fact, not only nature has been changing; many things have started to change…even what we wear! You may also be affected by seasonal changes. Now that the weather is cooler when you go out, you may decide to take a jacket with you. Or maybe you don’t get cold that easily so you don’t need one yet. As you say goodbye to summer 2020, you may not feel ready for autumn just yet. Who knows, maybe you feel a bit chilly but you still want to take one last stroll in your summer clothes; perhaps a part of you is having a hard time saying goodbye to summer while another is well aware of the cold. In fact, each of us is feeling something different, as we are all unique. Sometimes your own feelings might waver: you might feel cold but still be unwilling to wear a jacket. Perhaps one side of you finds it easier to adapt to change, while another has difficulty keeping up with it. We all have different sides: anxious, sad, happy, brave… Sometimes we adapt quickly and sometimes we have a hard time doing so… Is there a side of you that is having difficulty adjusting?
These days, you may notice that your slow-to-adapt side is more prominent. Maybe you had already been struggling for a long time, and now this feeling has grown stronger. Having difficulty accepting change can lead to occasional feelings of fear, anxiety, sadness or anger. How much space can you create in your life for these feelings?
This year, the transition from summer to autumn has a different meaning for all of us. Since the beginning of 2020, all of humanity has been going through an ambiguous and difficult time. We have been–and still are–experiencing many changes. Do you remember how many uncertainties there were at the beginning of the pandemic? We were faced with a virus we were not familiar with and it affected the way we relate to our entire lives. Our routines, family life, school life, activities, travel–they all changed. We had to wear masks all the time outside the house. We tried to follow the measures we were told to. While some were easy to follow, some required more time and effort. We tried not to get sick. We tried to protect our loved ones. Still, some of us got sick. We all experienced loss, some different and some similar to each other. We acquired new habits. We said goodbye to some old ones. We all have a long list of things that have affected our lives in this period. While some things are behind us, the effort it took to adapt and change caused us to become exhausted both physically and mentally. It was not always possible to give ourselves the time and care we deserved during each transition. Perhaps being aware of these hardships made it difficult for us to continue with our lives.
Now, let’s get back to summer. How was your summer? Did you take a break, or were you able to keep up with the new normal without one? Some of us were able to adapt to the new normal this summer, even if just a little bit, and some were not. Following measures has become normal for us; our knowledge about the virus has increased and our elbow room has grown. Plus, sunny days gave us more freedom. We were able to meet our loved ones face to face. We felt safer outdoors. All this made us forget about the pandemic to some degree. We felt a bit less restricted during the summer, and a bit more relaxed and confident. Did you also feel a little more comfortable and safe during the summer? Or maybe your circumstances weren’t that conducive, and you couldn’t have a break this summer.
The transition to autumn might trigger a resistance to change that may have existed within you even prior to the pandemic. Still, for many of us, leaving summer 2020 behind might feel even more different and difficult than in the past. What feelings have you experienced with the end of summer? Did the cooler weather trigger feelings of worry and fear?
You may feel afraid, anxious, sad or angry more often these days. Remind yourself that all these feelings are actually quite natural and common. You might be anxious about the possibility of going back to greater restrictions and uncertainties due to the pandemic. Maybe you don’t feel this way, but you have a sense of unease that you can’t immediately identify. Not being able to understand or notice your feelings can make you feel nervous as it amplifies your worries and fears. So, how can you deal with all this uncertainty?
Worries and fears can be intimidating. These emotions have only been amplified by the pandemic. We are surrounded by them. Consciously or unconsciously, we try to suppress or escape these emotions instead of allowing ourselves to experience them. However, trying to avoid these emotions does not mean we can get rid of them. Not allowing yourself to experience these emotions can manifest itself in many different ways, such as pain in a part of your body, nightmares, bingeing, skipping meals or not being fully present in the moment. In fact, allowing yourself to feel an emotion (even if it is upsetting) and giving yourself the freedom to experience fear or anxiety is the most effective way to deal with all this. By staying in an emotion rather than trying to escape it, it will both become manageable and you will discover ways to handle it. Are you feeling any unpleasant emotions? Can you experience them with compassion and without judgment? Remember, what you are feeling is totally natural. We don’t always feel good; sometimes we do, but sometimes we face difficulties. Many of us are feeling uncomfortable about the transition to autumn and the uncertainty that comes with it.
So, what can you do with these emotions when you are having a hard time? How about making some room for them? Is it possible to stay in them, even if they make you feel uncomfortable? Just as we all experience the transition from summer to autumn differently, there isn’t any single way to experience difficult feelings. We are all unique, and so is the way we experience emotions. We are on our own path, full of variety. We don’t know what life will bring. Yes, this coming autumn may bring more uncertainty. It is normal to feel stressed. The main thing is to make room for your emotions, even though it will be challenging. First, start by reminding yourself that there is room for all your emotions. It can be helpful to tell yourself that your feelings are welcome, without any judgment and with compassion. Singing, dancing, exercising, meditating or engaging with art are all good ways to release your feelings. Sometimes, you might not feel like doing anything or just can’t find the strength to start something new. Sometimes, you can show yourself some compassion by brewing yourself a cup of tea or watching your favorite TV show. It’s also a good idea to remember that you can get support from a mental health professional to help you through this change. Remember, this is the first time any of us has experienced a pandemic, and this is the first autumn during it…
Written by: Şafak Duraçe
Translated by: Ebru Peközer