Back to School Blues

Take care of yourself and your loved ones this September.  Watch for signs in decreasing mental health as Labor Day is a particularly distinct time in Chicago.  There’s the rush to have the not-so-final but final summer barbeque.  Many hurry to squeeze in those last rays at the beach.  The goal is to hang out with as many loved ones as possible; there are so many whom we didn’t get to squeeze in.  It all feels like a pressure cooker mad dash to beat the back to school blues. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we get to enjoy the vibrant school time celebration of the Bud Billiken parade. This year was its 89th! September is full of sweltering heat in far too often unairconditioned classrooms contrasted to the crashing waves along miles of beach. It’s as if mother nature herself is fighting the return of the school bell. The benefits of play have been witnessed all summer long on the faces of young and old, moods improve with the help of the sun and outdoor activities boost relationships. The impending school day threatens to take away the freedom and fun.

That first Tuesday of September in Chicago torments all those who happen to be in a car or bus.  Traffic jams increase agitation, decrease frustration tolerance and weaken our will power.  Those first days getting back in the swing of school can be grueling.  Not only is the traffic annoying, but all the preparation and anticipation can weigh heavily on caregivers, children, and professionals.  There’s a mixture of excitement leading up to the first day, from getting the new and most fashionable outfit laid out and ready, to getting fresh pencils and note books.  The lack of sleep and urgency in our alarm clock keeps the endorphins pumping. Many kids are ecstatic at the prospect of seeing friends they haven’t seen in months and yearning the sound of those slamming lockers.

While the start of school can prove stressful, each year amazing young minds and hearts graduate with conviction and hope. They lead the charge of our city and our nation to keep working, keep striving.  It’s important that we teach and model the value in acceptance, of ourselves, of our neighbors and of our loved ones. True and deep acceptance is really difficult, especially in this othering world we live in.  There is space for error in acceptance and there is always room for growth. The beauty in acceptance is that it multiplies itself and is so full of rewards. Making room for each other’s truth allows for more diversity and increased inclusion which in turn benefits us all.  Please reach out if you or someone you love has found the stress and pressures to be too much.  

Rachael Zutty