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Dr. Fernstrom: 7 ways to shake off the end-of-summer blues

Like all transitions, the change of seasons often triggers a sense of loss that’s hard to ignore.
NBC News health editor Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom.
NBC News health editor Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom.Miller Hawkins

With Labor Day signaling the unofficial end of summer, it’s natural to get a case of the “end of summer blues.” Like all transitions, the change of seasons often triggers a sense of loss that’s hard to ignore. But there are some sure-fire ways to shake off those negative feelings. Check out these action steps that will help you take some of the summer fun with you into fall and embrace the seasons ahead.

1. Create an end-of-summer tradition.

Choose an activity you can do on your own or with a group. Clean out a closet or two, and donate the contents. Or have a book exchange to swap out for some new selections. Plant a tree in your yard. And nothing beats a pot-luck backyard barbecue for friends and family to celebrate.

2, Adjust your attitude.

Focus on the positive. Think about all the things you have to look forward to in the fall and winter. Take that enthusiasm you had all summer with family and friends to activities that match the coming seasons. It’s not the “loss” of summer you want to think about – celebrate the great time you had! Think about what you’ll “gain” from the coming seasons – and the new memories you’ll make.

3. Maintain your summer health habits.

We all “feel” healthier in the summer – and these habits can readily carry over to the fall. Keep eating colorful fruits and vegetables – and switch to the bounty of the fall harvest. Maintain fun, active plans with your family and friends (indoors and outdoors) like apple picking, or a visit to a museum. And while you might not be able to swing in your hammock with a good book, you can still achieve that moment by sitting in a comfy chair covered with your favorite blanket and a mug of tea.

4. Don’t look back!

Avoid thinking about what you didn’t accomplish over the summer, and make a list of all the positive things you DID manage to do. Then, make a list of some things you’d like to accomplish in the fall – and work on this new list at your own pace.

5. Prioritize your schedule.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed – whether you’re in “back-to-school” mode or not. Make a list to gain some structure, and take that extra step to prioritize your “must do” activities from the “like to do.” And, if you can, try to ease in to the fall, with a few buffer days to get up to speed.

6. Setting fall resolutions.

Instead of waiting for January and the new year, try setting some fall resolutions. Whether you want to lose a few pounds, get more active, or work on getting more sleep – this is the perfect time to make a change. The weather is still mild, and there’s plenty of natural light (unlike mid-winter).

7. Get some perspective!

Remember that summer is only one of four seasons of the year – and it’s only three months! You have a glorious nine months filled with holidays and opportunities to enjoy a variety of activities. Think of your year as a 12-month adventure. And it will be here again before you know it!

And remember, if you’re unable to shake off the end of summer blues with your best effort, it’s best to check with your doctor. It might be something more serious, like seasonal affective disorder.

Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D. is the NBC News' health editor. Follow her on Twitter @drfernstrom.