How to handle the disappointment of a ‘nothing’ summer

Struggling to come to terms with the fact that summer is almost over and September is around the corner? Read this.

If you’ve spent the last week wondering how on earth it’s almost the end of August, you’re certainly not the only one. To say the last couple of months have not gone as expected would be a massive understatement: lack of warm, sunny weather aside, the surge in coronavirus cases and uncertainty around travel has thwarted any hopes of the ‘summer of love’ and endless fun many dreamt of when lockdown restrictions first started lifting last March.

And with September fast approaching – along with the pressure to reset and make the most of back-to-school season – the disappointment of having such a ‘nothing’ summer is hitting hard.  

“Many of us had pinned high expectations on what this summer would bring, but the reality has been quite different and difficult to face as we’ve actually had many things taken away from us,” explains Jodie Cariss, therapist and founder of Self Space, a mental health service offering easy and straightforward access to therapy.

She continues: “We may have become well versed in dealing with disappointment over the last 18 months, but that’s not to say we aren’t going to feel upset, stressed or out of control when we face it again – all of these emotions are normal and completely valid.” 

Of course, the disappointment of cancelled plans and missed opportunities isn’t the only reason why so many people are struggling with summer coming to an end. Usually, the summer is a chance to relax and unwind – to unplug from work and take a break with friends. But thanks to the hurdles thrown our way over the last couple of months, none of this has happened – leaving many feeling exhausted and underprepared to return to ‘normal’ as the days grow shorter.

So, what can you do to ease these feelings of disappointment and give yourself a sense of relief before diving into autumn? We asked Cariss to share her advice – here’s what she had to say. 

Rest, rest, rest

If you’re yet to take a proper break this summer, now’s the time to do just that, Cariss says.

“Just because you might not have been able to get away on holiday, doesn’t mean that you need rest any less,” she explains. “Take some time away from your screen and replenish yourself by doing things you enjoy. Don’t be afraid to spoil yourself – perhaps a bit of spoiling is exactly what you need.”

Allow yourself to feel disappointed

Just because your disappointment may not feel as ‘big’ or ‘important’ when compared to other people’s problems, doesn’t mean it’s any less valid. Understanding this – and allowing yourself to feel your disappointment – is a helpful way to process everything. 

“Ultimately we are still the children that we once were and the disappointments we experienced when we were young were really painful,” Cariss says. “Really allow yourself to feel this disappointment and know that it’s OK to feel this way – sit with these feelings and acknowledge what emotions come up.”

Talk about it

Although there’s not much you can do to minimise your disappointment – after all, the factors at play this summer haven’t really been under our control – talking about how you’re feeling is one way to work through those emotions and reclaim a sense of agency.

“Talk about your disappointment with others – you don’t have to hide it,” Cariss says. “Communicate what you are feeling and let loved ones know how you feel and what’s going on for you. Sharing your upset and disappointment with others will help you feel connected.” 

Images: Getty

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