Are you getting ready to leave on a summer holiday? If so you're probably filled with anticipation about your upcoming break from the daily grind.

I hate to rain on your parade but here's the bad news: The euphoria we feel while on vacation usually turns to despair when we're hit with the realities of our post-Labor Day lives. The wonderful holiday we've just experienced becomes but a distant memory and we find ourselves feeling more overwhelmed than we did prior to going away!

After the summer solstice we tend to flip a switch and throw caution to the winds, tired of our usual schedules and responsibilities. We feel energized but don't necessarily want to pour our renewed vigor into the "have to's" of life. Unfortunately. we all-too-often pay for this mindset at summer's end.

Is any of this sounding familiar? If so why not take a new approach; one that will make the transition into autumn easier and less stressful? Begin by thinking about the following:

What, historically, stresses you most as autumn approaches?

What steps can you take to address these stressors before leaving for vacation?

Once you've addressed these questions, put together an action plan of things you can accomplish before your trip. Below are some steps to consider:

Rent a dumpster and purge files, basement and attic of unnecessary items.

Go through your fall/winter wardrobe and bring unwanted items to Good Will or another charity.

Do a large grocery run to purchase nonperishable items and make a list of the perishables you know you'll need once you return from vacation.

Where possible, prearrange carpools and childcare.

Schedule dentist and doctor appointments for everyone.

Start an online calendar for the upcoming year, plugging in the events you already know about.

Finally, schedule in some autumn downtime for yourself, even if you don't yet know how you'll use it. .

If you do these things now you'll truly be able to relax and be "present" during your vacation, knowing that your fall planning is well underway. You'll minimize those usual post-vacation blues and head into autumn feeling refreshed and ready to go!

Maud Purcell is a psychotherapist, corporate consultant and director of the Life Solution Center of Darien. Write her at