There’s something about September that feels like a reset. It makes sense, really, when you think about how much changes as we move from summer to autumn.
The days get darker, colder and wetter as the leaves begin dropping off trees. We bid adieu to sun-drenched shenanigans to a slower pace of life where kids go back to school, teenagers start university and corporate jobs wake up from a summer stupor.
With so much changing around us, this is the perfect time to make changes in our own lives. Maybe we want to shake off the bad habits we picked up during the summer, get back into a more stable routine or give ourselves a wellness check before winter rolls around.
Whatever you’re feeling, working with the seasons could be the key to more effective personal growth; experts agree that September is a better month for making resolutions than January.
Beyond goal setting, we asked experts for advice on making the most of this September reset.
Here’s what they had to say.
A personal MOT
Saying goodbye to the fun and relaxation of summer can feel like coming down from a three-month-long high.
Yet this shift provides the perfect opportunity to reassess where you’re at and what will be important to you over the coming months, says Dr Elena Touroni, a consultant psychologist and co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic.
Still, if your motivation has dipped after the summer, Elena suggests thinking back to situations you didn’t manage well. Rather than berating yourself, consider this a ‘troubleshooting’ opportunity. Ask: how could handle such situations differently in the future?
Clinical hypnotherapist and psychotherapist Jacqueline Carson notes that breaking habits requires working on our subconscious mind to truly believe we can make changes.
Also, we need to think beyond the change, to consider how we will maintain it. For example, how will you keep a morning routine going when the sun starts setting later and your bedtime creeps along?
She adds: ‘We are creatures of habit and we will always stick to routines and programs that make life easiest for us, even if these are not good for us.
‘Creating change can take some effort, particularly if it is moving us outside of our comfort zone.’
Did the summer break help you realise you need to make a career change, but aren’t sure how to get there? Ali Abdaal, teacher on Skillshare, says visualisation exercises are helpful.
‘Questions like “what do I want my ideal week to look like in 5 years?” and “what do I want my ideal week to look like next week?” help you to understand your goals and a more considered approach to achieving them,’ he says.
Also, ask yourself what you absolutely don’t want to be doing in this ideal future. ‘Understanding why you’re still doing the task you don’t want to be doing, can often provide you with the solution you need to achieve your goal,’ he adds.
This could be the perfect time to try an online course on a platform like Skillshare, or set aside blocks of time in your calendar to focus on how you can make these changes to your work life.
It’s not all about work
Goal-setting aside, this could also be a great time to catch up with wholesome hobbies that dropped off the radar in the summer chaos.
This works for Cairo Ferguson, lead writer at JourneyJunket, as her busiest work months are during summer.
So now, she’s going to catch up on some Netflix documentaries she missed and diving back into her cross stitch home course – which inevitably lost focus over the summer.
‘This is by far and away the most relaxing and cheapest way I have found to reset; after a busy period,’ she adds.
As the cost of living weighs heavy on us all and cold weather makes sitting in the park with friends much less appealing, James Milford also urges that you stay connected to others.
‘Look for ways to stay in touch. If money is an issue look for activities you can do with others for free,’ he suggests. ‘Utilise the technology for regular virtual meet-ups with friends and family. Maybe start a new hobby or even consider volunteering in community projects as a way of connecting with others and boosting your mood.’
To stave off any post-summer blues, James recommends making plans for activities, hobbies or creative projects and writing them in your diary. ‘Putting them in your diary gives them priority in the same way that putting work in our diary gives it importance,’ he explains.
With all this, don’t let the colder, darker months keep you from the mood-boosting benefits of exercise and being in nature.
When things feel hopeless, James suggests trying the now-notorious gratitude practice.
For the uninitiated, this is usually done by recalling three things that day you are grateful for. It’s not about forcing yourself into toxic positivity when things are objectively difficult but paying attention to what is going well or bringing us joy.
‘They can be really big things or smaller moments – what is important is training our mind to notice that which is good to boost mental and emotional equilibrium,’ he concludes.
Tips to reset your mind from coach Nikki Owen
September reset for the busy parent
With the kids back at school, a new routine looms. Catherine, 43, from Oxford and managing director of daysout.com, has some tips for making that adjustment.
- Brain dump all the things on my mind – literally everything down to the tiniest thing – apparently it makes your brain think that these things are no longer such a worry as they’re ‘out’.
- Declutter – my phone (unneeded apps, lists, to do’s), my workspace, my car, my bedroom so it feels less chaotic.
- Sort my calendar for the month or so ahead, create realistic daily to-do’s of a max of three things or one weekly ‘top frog’ that I really need to focus on.
- Get two early nights a week.
- Ask for help – especially with the back-to-school juggle – let my guard down and ask friends and family for help with logistics and share the load.
- Treat myself to one new beauty product, usually, a skincare one that will make me feel a bit brighter.
- Do a quick check on finances – loans, credit cards, pensions, investments and make sure everything is as it should be.
Hacking menstrual cycle for the season shift
If you have a menstrual cycle, now is the time to start tracking it – not for fertility reasons, but to build a hormone-friendly routine.
Our hormones have a massive impact on our energy levels and our mood. Hayley Merrick, 39, a menstrual cycle coach and cyclical living expert, is a big believer in tracking your cycle to reset for September.
‘To live in flow with your menstrual cycle and own inner rhythm, enables you to be productive without overwhelm or burnout,’ she says.
This involves ‘checking in with yourself and your cycle each day, noting how you feel physically, emotionally and energetically.’
It can be as simple as writing down a few bullet points each day or downloading a menstrual cycle chart. Once you have a better picture of the flow of your cycle, it can guide your self-care, helping you to plan daily life according to your needs.
She adds: ‘Just like the seasons, the menstrual cycle takes us through four distinct phases each month, each having its own benefits.’
Hayley walks us through each phase and how to make the most of them:
- During the menstrual phase (days 27-5 of our cycle, with day one being the first day of full bleeding) we are called to be still, rest, restore, meditate, journal and go within seeking inner wisdom. This can be hard to achieve in a society that prizes being busy and productive. However taking time to be still during this phase, powers you for the reminder of your cycle. Menstruation holds the energy of winter, time to rest and germinate.
- Pre-ovulation (days 6-11) holds the energy of renewal, planning, purification, growth and focus, like the season of spring. During pre-ovulation, our energy is rising due to rising oestrogen. It’s a great time to make plans, to learn, to do analytical work and set goals. Just being aware not to get over-enthusiastic on this energy and overstretch ourselves later in the cycle.
- Ovulation (days 12-19) is the time of being in tune with our body, creativity, vibrancy, gratitude, abundance and outer energy, it corresponds to the high energy of summer. Ovulation is the time we are most confident, social and tolerant. Also the time we’re feeling more in tune with our body and getting things done, action and achievement.
- Premenstrual (days 20-26) is a time of release, surrender, letting go of that which no longer serves, examining emotions, divination and self-nurturing, releasing our grip, similar to the trees losing their leaves during autumn.
In the mood for more charting? Hayley suggests charting the cycle of the moon, to ‘feel connected to the ebb and flow of nature.’
‘This can especially help people who hate autumn/winter as its a way to see that quieter times are necessary to our wellbeing,’ she says, arguing that if we prioritise rest during the naturally quieter autumn and winter months, we feel more aligned and at peace and energised in time for spring.
Resetting your home for autumn
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We have all heard of the spring clean, but September is the perfect time to have a deep clean of your home, and even change your furniture around.
‘Decluttering frees up your energy,’ Hayley reasons. For extra cosiness, add blankets, buy or make an autumn wreath and find out candles and fairy lights, she suggests.
Is your home decor looking a bit stale? The team at Thomas Sanderson shares some ways you can transition your home decor to welcome the new season.
‘You can embrace the seasonal change by drenching your walls with a collection of autumnal shades like cinnamon, chocolate and pumpkin,’ Thomas says.
‘A different colour on each wall of your entrance space will immerse your home in autumnal spirit at the very first point of entrance.’
Lighting-wise, you will want to switch out your cool-toned light bulbs for a warm tone to bring in warmth and create a golden hue around the room.
‘Your light shade is crucial for capturing that orange illumination, so try a lamp shade with wooden fixtures or a dark lampshade to create the perfect glow during the spooky season,’ he adds.
Finally, it’s back to blankets: make the most of your sofa time by bringing in textured blankets and oversized fluffy cushions.
Thomas says: ‘Layering your blankets and mismatching your cushions gives dimension to your living room which is exactly what you need to create a cosy environment.’
Add those scented candles or a crackling fire and you’ll be enveloped in a cloud of autumnal cosiness to help you reset from the summer months.
Reset your diet – but ignore the toxic ‘detox’
Too often, we think ‘reset’ needs to mean we going on a crash diet. So what if summer was filled with holiday treats, barbecues and picnics? Autumn is the season of soups and hearty foods.
With the cost of living biting, too, it’s time ot get acquainted with batch cooking so you have something cheap, hearty and tasty that you can have ready in minutes for those sluggish days.
Hayley recomends planning ‘tasty, spiced and grounding meals such as one pot stews and soups.’
She adds: ‘Vegetables such as carrots and sweet potato help curb the sweet craving we can get when the weather changes. Lentils and beans are cheap and filling.’
If summer saw your healthy eating plans put on pause, autumn is the perfect time for a diet reset, but this doesn’t mean juice cleanses and restriction, says Dr Caitlin Hall, Chief Dietician and Head of Clinical Research at myota.
She says: ‘Instead, it’s all about how to build diversity into your meals by adding a variety of fresh, colourful and seasonal ingredients.’
Dr Caitlin’s favourite autumnal produce includes butternut squash, parsnip and chillies, which are perfect for adding to hearty, budget-friendly homemade soups.
‘Stir a nutritious grain such as pearl barley or quinoa into the soup and top with a dollop of natural yoghurt or kefir to up your fibre intake and keep your gut bacteria happy,’ she adds.
To appeal to the sweet tooth, try a great seasonal dessert like apples baked with walnuts, honey and cinnamon.
Eating seasonally is better for the environment (as foods aren’t shipped across the world to get to us), while fibre-rich foods boost our beneficial gut bacteria.
‘These help us produce anti-inflammatory molecules that are crucial for keeping your body in peak health and seeing off winter bugs,’ Dr Caitlin notes.
Hair and skincare
Your skincare and haircare routine is another thing that could do with a reset.
Changing seasons can wreak havoc with our hair and skin as both adjust to a new environment.
Autumn in particularly can weaken our hair, says Dr Jinah Yoo, leading Harley Street Dermatologist working with Revitacare.
This is because the hair went through a natural telogen (shedding) phase, which becomes more active towards the end of summer due to sun exposure.
To protect the scalp, the hair switches from growth to the resting phase.
Meanwhile, the colder weather zaps moisture from the hair, leaving it dry and brittle.
Dr Jinah says: ‘This can lead to frizz, and breakage so I recommend incorporating more hydrating products, including shampoos and hair oils that are formulated with more nourishing ingredients.
‘Washing the hair less often and limiting heat styling will also help to retain moisture and keep the hair healthy,’ they add.
To help with tight budgets, natural oils like coconut, almond and sesame can all be picked up from the supermarket.
Another free tip: wear a hat on particularly cold days. It protects the hair from the harsh temperatures and helps the scalp to retain moisture.
All of this cold air dries the skin out too, so hydration should be the focus – but don’t drop suncream from your routine just yet.
Dr Jinah recommends applying SPF every morning, as ‘no matter how cold, or dull the weather is, the harmful UVA and UVB rays from the sun can still penetrate the skin causing more dryness, irritation, hyperpigmentation and even acne.’
This could be a good time to consider adding hyaluronic acid into your routine.
Hyaluronic acid is often used to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, but it also ‘has a large molecular structure that helps to draw water from the air to help the skin retain its moisture,’ according to Dr Jinah.
Dr Natasha Verm, leading aesthetic doctor and Founder of Skin NV, also recommends using a retinol in the evening to help encourage healthy skin cell turnover.
‘This will not only help the skin to retain moisture, it can help address issues such as pigmentation within the skin, and help minimise the signs of ageing,’ she adds.
For a final, comforting tip, Hayley suggests soothing summer skin with homemade aromatherapy body oils to create a calming, relaxing bath time.
Say goodbye to your summer wardrobe
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Replacing your summer dresses with chunky jumpers is standard procedure as we move throughout September, but it all counts for the reset.
Megan Watkins, SilkFred’s head stylist says the company has seen a 225% increase in searches for ‘autumn outfits’ on the sight.
She says: ‘After a jam-packed summer to make up for time lost through the pandemic, people are ready to wind down a little bit this autumn. A great place to start is by resetting your wardrobe which can help to give you a fresh start mindset because you feel like you’ve officially put summer behind you.’
Resetting your wardrobe for autumn doesn’t have to be expensive.
Megan says: ‘You can actually repurpose some of your key summer pieces in more weather-appropriate ways.
‘For example, you could take your favourite summer maxi dress and throw on your favourite knitted jumper to create the perfect Sunday stroll look.’
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