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When you think of fall, what comes to mind? Pumpkin patches, family walks through autumn trails, Pinterest-worthy treats, and beautiful pictures of smiling children?
For many, fall feels like a special time full of possibility and excitement as the holiday season approaches. Maybe you have happy childhood memories you would like to recreate with your children. Ironically, the strong desire to experience joyful feelings and special moments can actually ruin the moment. Research shows that pursuing feelings of happiness leads to increased feelings of dissatisfaction.
To reduce stress and experience more enjoyment in your fall activities, consider the following:
While participating in a fall, family activity, try to fully engage. Notice the sounds, smells, textures, and sights. When your mind wanders, bring it back to the present. Appreciate and savor the small moments, such as the excitement in your child’s face or their joy at discovering something new.
Going to a fall festival? Think about the festival activities you would like to experience. Then cut your list in half. We often overestimate our ability to complete things and overschedule our leisure time. By keeping your activities limited, you will be able to savor the moment without feeling the need to rush to the next activity. Alternatively, have each child choose one special activity. Discuss ahead of time what they imagine they will enjoy about the activity. Anticipating and planning the activity will create excitement and help your kids savor the moment.
Limit picture taking
It sure is nice to have pictures to remember special events. But taking pictures takes you out of the present moment and makes you an observer in your activity. Decide when and where you are going to take pictures, and keep your phone or camera tucked away at other times. Taking pictures also tends to put people in a perfectionist mindset. You may be thinking of how good this picture will look on Facebook while attempting to capture the perfect family photo. Even if picture perfection is not your initial intention, it can easily become your intent once the camera comes out.
Try to appreciate the value of a quirky or imperfect family photo. As the entire family sits in the pumpkin patch wearing their matching fall outfits, it would be nice if each child could smile happily for the camera, but that’s not always realistic. You might have one child looking down at a lady bug crawling on a pumpkin, a child tugging on their sister’s hair, or a child making a silly face. These moments capture your child’s personality and may eventually mean more to you than any perfectly-posed pictures.
Dr. Becker is a licensed psychologist with a private practice in Waco, TX. She provides counseling to adults and adolescents dealing with depression, anxiety, relationship concerns, and life stress. Dr. Becker is passionate about helping others, and she believes that counseling is beneficial for anyone who desires to have a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life. You can reach her by visiting her website or blog.