How To Get Back Into Your Back-to-School Routine

| Written by Jane Dustman, LCSW

Photo by Oleksandr P via

Unfortunately, Summer, sweet, sweet, Summer, has come to an end. 

For many of us, Summer signifies freedom, no strict obligations of being stuck inside buildings over six hours a day, vacations, engaging in outdoor activities, sunbathing, swimming, being amongst friends and having more of a laxed schedule.  While all of that is fine and well and can really help us fill our cups, it can be extremely difficult to get back into the swing of the 9-5 days with work, school and other obligations that arise from this.

Provided below are helpful tips and ways to get back to that structured routine and to help kick those post Summertime blues.

Enjoy the sunlight as much as possible as we transition into Fall.

Cheryll Crow sang it best saying “I wanna soak up the sun” and I fully stand behind that.  Being outside, getting that natural sun (protected by sunscreen of course), is a great way to help enjoy as much of the summer as you can as it is in your control.

Doctors say that getting anywhere from at least 10-30 minutes of protected sun exposure is a great way to maintain health, naturally boost vitamin D and to help cure summertime blues. Whether you sit outside, sit near a window with sun exposure, go for a walk or engage in outdoor activities, these items can carry over past Summer to help still catch a glimpse of what we have during the summer months while maintaining health.

Changing seasons are a great time to clean out your closet and declutter.

Over the summer, most of us are out and about hanging outside of the home. During this time, things can easily collect and clutter within the home or be neglected due to wanting to soak up the sun and the summer fun. 

Sometimes, a good purging of items that no longer serve us helps us clean up, declutter and allow for what is about to come to come with ease. A helpful technique in order to help with the saying out with the old and in with the new is to think about things and see what purpose they have in your life. Do you use them? Do they sit and collect dust?  Are they things that you MAY use one day but are not sure?

If it falls into the collecting dust pile, dump it. If it falls in the maybe pile, deter it to another time by organizing and putting it in a spot to come back to later. This project helps to make sure that you are using what you have, but are not so cluttered as to get in the way of your fresh new start to the post summer routine. 

Create a calendar to keep you on-task

Adjusting to a new routine is never easy. Whether it is the same type of routine no matter the year, once we are out of our habit, it can be super uncomfortable to jump back in. Creating a calendar or a spot for reminders can really drive getting back into that routine home.

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Some individuals like a good ol fashioned desk or pocket calendar to help write down who is where when, at what time and which place. Others, like to have a chalkboard or dry erase board hanging in a focal point of a room, (somewhere that everyone can pass and/or see…like the kitchen), in order to show what is going on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Living in the 21st century, some even share a google calendar or share reminders on their phone for certain activities/events that are taking place and they are right in the convenience of your hand. Visual aids can really help set a habit and create a routine that allows one to remember, hold to be true and ultimately, adhere to.

Make it a SMART goal or routine.
A busy schedule can sometimes do wonders, yet it sometimes can be a hindrance for some. Keeping structured does help with time management skills, helps allow for creativity, growth and engagement amongst others, but sometimes it can just be way too much.

In order to ensure you are not taking on more than you can chew, be sure to make your routine SMART; and no we do not mean smart as intelligent, make it achievable, workable and doable for you.

A SMART routine is a set of goals and objectives that you will likely adhere to help get the best results, all the while they are realistic for you. In order to make your routine SMART, think to yourself is it:
S – Specific- make it specific for planning
M- Measurable- how can you measure they are working for you
A- Attainable- you can reasonably accomplish this
R- Realistic- are you capable of actually doing this or taking this on
T- Timely-identify the deadline in which you are engaging in this

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Once you have identified and broken down how your routine can be SMART, it helps you weed out what may be too much to take on and what is actually ideal and realistic for the time you have allotted or free. Remember to be kind to yourself.
Remember to practice self-care as you try something new
While a lot more gets added to the plate starting the Fall and you may be pulled in seven different directions, please be sure to remember self-care.

Self-Care is defined as engaging in things that help take care of oneself on the mental, physical and emotional level. Having a jam packed routine can create and lead one to burn out due to the demands of the schedule and the multiple places one may have to be. If you can engage in at least 15-30 minutes, (ideally 60 minutes) of self-care per day, burnout will be avoided, stress levels will drop, satisfaction in your social and emotional battery will increase and you will have enough energy in order to handle the day to day and what is on your plate.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with adjusting to a new schedule, time management skills, or having a hard time implementing self-care, please do not hesitate to outreach as a mental health professional can assist you.

Licensed professionals can help you talk through your feelings, help identify barriers if they are coming in the way of time management skills, accomplishing tasks/goals and ensuring you are self-soothing in an attempt to break through those barriers and help you reach and achieve your goals.

Jane Dustman

Jane Dustman is a LCSW who enjoys spending her free time with family and friends, hanging on the beach, practicing yoga and dancing. Jane is dedicated to her practice of social work and enjoys being a full-time therapist at Exceptional Wellness Counseling.

Check out Jane’s professional bio here.

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