How to Support Mental Health During Back-to-School Season in Westchester

Editor-in-Chief Robert Schork reflects on Westchester’s adolescent population, eating well on a budget, and more

Support mental health with these tips. Adobe Stock / Angelov

When the seasonal hurricane of school, extracurriculars, and closet flips hit, these are ways to keep your head on straight and your mental health intact.

We all know the customary, seemingly endless, and chaotic dance as summer folds into fall: Unpack summer-camp bags; enroll in the upcoming semester’s extracurricular activities; arrange childcare for updated in-office requirements; shop for bigger jackets and shoes; prepare for moving into dorms; and even more. The tidal wave of getting it all done (and in a timely way, no less) can feel impossible, ultimately taking a toll on the mental health of moms trying to manage it all.

Through my work counseling women – and my personal experience parenting two young kids – I consistently see that the frenzied shift from summer to fall causes or contributes to feelings of being overwhelmed, inadequacy, and anxiety among moms. Yet, the transition to new seasons need not be draining. Framed as a “transition” mindset, this time can be invigorating. These tactics will not only help shift your thinking when the apprehension floods in, but also offer mental clarity thought the haze.

View the changes as reasons to reflect.

The new season can be a new chapter for you too. As Dara Astmann, Certified Life & Professional Coach and mother in Larchmont, encourages: “No matter how old your kids are, September is a good time to reassess what’s making you feel fulfilled and what needs to change.” Her Part Deux: “You” groups are particularly popular for moms who have some new-found time when school starts.

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Take these steps to support mental health. Adobe Stock / Angelov

Be mindful of the moment.

We tend to get caught up in the whirlwind of all the adjustments, but it’s helpful to pause to appreciate the now. “I’m excited for my family to support each other in new ways as we begin totally different schedules,” says Lisa Lovisolo McIver, Scarsdale resident and owner of LALISA footwear. Whether your kids are like McIver’s, who are starting college or their careers, or just entering preschool, it’s natural to feel nostalgic. Try to lean in to the present while acknowledging your mixed emotions and practicing gratitude for it all.

Know you’re not alone.

Many women describe a loss of identity as they focus on obligations to others. Talking to a friend or professional can alleviate that sense of isolation almost immediately. If you are feeling burned out or underappreciated, ask your partner or other household member to carry more of the mental load when it comes to caregiving and domestic work. Take the opportunity this season to prioritize yourself and seek the support you deserve.

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