This September I went through a lot of personal ups and downs. Another mini existential crisis about who I was as a person and questioning who I was becoming. September is the start of a new season and getting back down to business after a hopefully exciting summer. When I was growing up, September quickly crept up at the end of August and everyone dreaded the back to school ads. Everyone despised that first day of school and all of their parents’ jokes teasing us about it. September with summer finishing and getting back into responsible routine is simply put, the worst.
This September was surprisingly overwhelming even though I was no longer going to be spending all of my time at school like I had my whole life. When everyone is going back to school and work in September after vacationing, adventuring and absorbing everything summer, you are forced to start thinking about getting back into the typical responsible routine. The spontaneous and adventure of summer is ending and you just start to feel miserable. Sleep, school/ work, eat, (maybe socialize) sleep, school/ work can get pretty mundane pretty fast. Here are 5 tips on how I overcame my September “I’m overwhelmed, stressed and depressed” Blues and got my mind right.
1. Small Daily Goals
I really thrive off of crossing things off of my daily to do lists, even if it’s something very small. Make small daily goals and don’t drown yourself with too many things to get done in one day. In September you might feel overwhelmed that your peers or friends are starting new jobs, new school programs and new internships etc. In September a lot of people seem to have a “New Year, New Me” approach. This approach is usually in an academic or career sense as September is always the start of the “school year.” New season, new semester, new job, new me. Often when people make unrealistically high goals or too many goals, they’re less likely to achieve anything at all. It’s great to have high aspirations but humbling yourself during a new beginning with small tasks will actually help you to get more done and feel a better sense of accomplishment. Starting off a list with many little things that are easy to cross off and completing them will give you a lot of satisfaction. Secondly writing a humble three or four things you want to get that day and actually completing them will give you much more satisfaction than writing an unreasonable list of tasks to do which which will never end up getting done. Making short to do lists (regarding school/ work assignments, job applications or tasks to do with personal hobbies) and successfully completing each task will help get your mind right.
2. Make a Plan, Buy a Planner
While humble daily to do lists are really important for actually getting things done, having a long term “at large” plan will really make you feel on top of everything too. To me, in the past, “winging-it” with the organization and balance of school assignment due dates, work assignment due dates, work shifts, classes, doctors appointments (and sometimes socializing) has never worked. Using different aspects of a planner (month-at-a-glance & week-at-a-glance) really helps me to organize and effectively manage my time. A lot of people make jokes especially with memes about avoiding semester to do lists or work assignment to do lists until the last minute. As funny as these memes can be, we all know winging it is much more stressful and makes us less likely to succeed in whatever we do. For me, having a physical planner, physically writing in dates, creating to do lists then literally crossing them gives me an immense sense of accomplishment. On the other hand, I know people who used online planners to manage their time and schedules and feel that works for them. Though making the time (a little bit daily) to stay organized feels time consuming, tedious and just plain annoying, we all know this little amount of time everyday can help us avoid the inevitable “winging-it” last minute stress if we aren’t organized.
3. Do Something New or Try Something Again! Just Do It!
I started a blog because I’ve always wanted to but it might definitely be something different for you. I even spent the $60 to buy a domain name to keep myself motivated so that I would write, I would post and I would share what I wrote, even if it wasn’t perfect. Taking on new creative projects is overwhelming and almost always a risk. When you pursue something creative, you’ll always question whether people enjoy your new video, song, article, post or painting. That fear of judgement and feelings of embarrassment and lack of persistence through this hesitance and nervousness is what limits so many people from pursuing their passion and sharing what they love to do. Now on a Thursday night, I’m sitting on my bed attempting to finish writing a blogpost before midnight. I posted last Thursday and the Thursday before so I knew I had to force myself to post this Thursday again. The hardest part with anything is just getting started. This is what makes September and its new beginnings so challenging as well. Try something new that interests you and persist through the frustration, embarrassment, commitment and struggle that makes up the beginning of a new endeavour… or adventure. You’ll eventually get past the beginning and get into actually loving what you’re doing. A good metaphor for this is going for a run. At the beginning of a run you start by setting up your water bottle on the treadmill, putting on your playlist and start running. You then get into your warm up and start to build up the pace. Once you build up your consistent running pace, you struggle to keep going because you’re hot, sweaty and can barely breathe as you challenge yourself to go at a faster pace than your last run. Finally, through the persistence of a long and challenging and beginning you hit the cardio high and now you’re flying. Persist through the tedious beginning to reach the cardio high of your new beginning!
4. Surround Yourself With People Who Help You to be The Best Version of Yourself
Not the quantity but the quality of the people who you surround yourself with have a huge impact on the person you were, you are and who you will be. Surround yourself with friends who aspire for greatness, who work hard and who support you. “You become like the 5 people you spend the most time with” is one of my favourite quotes of all time. Of course everyone ideally aspires for happiness, success and to feel loved and supported. When I was younger, I aspired for more friends with more popularity because I felt that, that would make me happy. Now of course, only a few short years later with a little more life experience and maturity later, it’s easy to realize that elementary or high school popularity didn’t mean anything at all. Now, no one is popular. All you are, is-you. Having a few good friends who mutually reciprocate support, love and care for you will lead to your ultimate happiness and success. With these good friends who reciprocate support, love and care for you, you will always be reminded and remember how to balance school, work, your hobbies, your social life and yourself. Good friends won’t ignore your problems just to bring the conservation back to themselves. Good friends will help you as best as they can, to balance and navigate everything life throws at you because they love you. Good friends want to see you being happy, feeling loved and becoming successful because they care about you. Friends like these are of course hard to find but they’re worth hunting long and hard for. Having tons of superficial friendships is a waste of time for you and your superficial friend alike. Surround yourself with people who take the time to truly be there for you through your ups and downs.
5. Meet New People Doing New Things
Apply for jobs and meet a hiring manager. Take an Uber and talk to an Uber driver. Make a status on Facebook about your hobby and talk to people you don’t really know about it on your status. Join Facebook groups about something that interests you. Post an ad on Kijiji or Craiglist about collaborating with people on a new project. Take an interest in someone you interact with during your daily routine, like the barista who makes your morning coffee. Meeting new people, in different walks of life, from places around the world, with varying interests, values and beliefs is one of the most interesting and valuable things you can do. As you meet and talk to people who are different or similar to you, you will naturally develop an increasingly better sense of yourself, what your interests, values and beliefs are too. It is so important to be open-minded and listen to new perspectives. You will grow, develop, think, share and understand about more ideas and concepts in the crazy and every changing world that we live in. Experience trying new things and meeting and speaking with new people is invaluable. At the end of our lives, as cliche as it sounds, it will be the experiences that shaped the person we were and who we became rather than the physical possessions we acquired. By talking to a taxi driver, speaking with someone at a networking event, taking an interest in your distant relative at a family event to exchanging pleasantries with someone at your coffee shop, you never know how these exchanges can lead you to something new, give you a new perspective, grant you an opportunity or for that matter even change your life.