Tips to soak up the fleeting summer

We are in the time of the year that Midwesterners spend most of the year dreaming about: summertime.

The long days, fun in the sun, the intensity of nature’s blooms. For the second half of summer, it’s sometimes tricky balancing taking full advantage of summer and getting ready for fall. As we zoom toward a more normal fall season than what many experienced last year, it might be especially difficult. Here are some tips on how to prepare for a busy back-to-school and fall season while also making the most of these precious days of summer.

Compartmentalize by leaving time for both in-the-moment activities and future planning. Feelings and thoughts about the future will come up when hanging at the pool or having a relaxing summer day. They don’t have to wreck the summer vibe. Be aware of them and have a plan. Often, anxiety about the future can make things a much bigger deal than they end up being. Having a plan and being prepared for the chapter ahead will help one stay in the moment.

Buy school supplies. Being equipped with the appropriate school materials can help create psychological readiness. Spending a little time preparing for what’s ahead naturally will tap into the emotions that come with the upcoming school year. Kids and teens undoubtedly will have mixed feelings about the school year, which will be an opportunity to talk about it.

Organize and declutter the house. Keeping an organized and clean house may bring greater calm. Psychologically, an organized environment can lead to better daily habits of organization and help one feel capable of handling the responsibilities of the next season.

Schedule doctor and dentist appointments. There is more free time during the summer, and less seems to be done with more time. For people who are living for today, it’s easy to let this wait, but it will help to take a couple of hours to check this off the list when you have the time and aren’t under increasing pressure.

Automate what you can. Can you save precious resources of time in the fall by optimizing your systems? Do you order your core groceries online so that you don’t have to think about them? Can you put the dog food on auto-ship? Decreasing the number of things that need to be accomplished and putting tasks on autopilot will reduce mental stressors.

When the to-do list is being done, the second half of summer can be stretched. Planning activities that require attention and time will help to stay in the moment. For example, hosting a group of people for a summer event requires prioritizing our social life over our to-do lists. Commit to spending time doing summer activities. Do activities that get you out of typical routines. Sometimes, our regular flight patterns can be automatic in terms of the structure and content of our days. A weekend spent camping or a day excursion to a place that is otherwise difficult to do outside of the summer schedule can reset one’s perspectives and emotions.

Sarah Lloyd is a licensed clinical professional counselor and co-owner of the Geneva-based Action Consulting and Therapy.