Recently, I asked my grandson when his new school term would begin. He told me, but then laughed and said: “I’m changing the subject, Granny Chris, because I’m trying not to think about it!”

Now, this is a boy who loves school. But I understand his feelings. There’s a sense of sadness at the end of August because the long holidays are almost over, and so is our summer. Adults too, even if they really enjoy their work, often feel a tinge of regret that the time off they’ve had, plus the more easy-going days and the casual, evening get-togethers with friends or neighbours for a barbecue, will soon be on hold till next year.

And you don’t have to have been doing anything particularly exciting to feel at a bit of a loss. A good friend who normally commutes to London from Cambridge told me how she’d enjoyed doing very little during her vacation – pottering in the garden, going for walks and having unhurried lunches alone or with family or friends. She said how restorative it had been, and that she would miss it.

I’m pretty sure this woman would be bored rigid if she were on holiday all the time. Normally she loves to be busy and have a regular schedule. But her yearning to somehow hold onto the gentle pleasures of the previous few weeks is very real. And many individuals feel the same.   

So, my suggestion is that we bring to mind our own positives from the summer months, and try to infiltrate some of them into the rather more serious part of the year ahead.

What is it, about the last weeks that we’d like more of?

Well, the obvious answer I suppose is sunshine. So, not surprisingly, top of many people’s wish list would be a winter break somewhere warm. Alas, lots of us can’t afford to do that. But I do know quite a number of individuals who nowadays stay home all summer and instead take a holiday around February to somewhere with guaranteed sunshine. It certainly breaks up the winter for them and keeps their spirits up.

But there are other strategies you can adopt that are cheaper and closer to home.

Perhaps, for example, you’ve felt a real sense of belonging and warmth because of the family visits you’ve enjoyed. This is the oxytocin (bonding hormone) effect. And it’s very good for us because the more oxytocin we have in our blood streams, the less room there is for stress chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol. We should all remember that hugs and closeness with our loved ones are not just cheering but genuinely beneficial for our health.

Of course, I know that our families may not have the time to come and visit so much once we all get back into a normal working pattern. And we may be reluctant to travel to see them when the days are shorter and the weather changes. But with effort, most of us could find a few dates to put in the diary and make arrangements that will allow us to meet somewhere, somehow before too long. We should also think about regular Zooms or phone calls. Keeping in touch with relatives we like, and love, is a tonic.  

One of the summer activities I always value is the opportunity to have leisurely, elongated meals, often outside, with friends. Sadly, the weather will soon put paid to al fresco dining, but our crucial friendships need nurturing in person if they’re to remain close and to do us good. So, could we manage that another way? Perhaps with regular cosy suppers around the kitchen table?  

It’s true that planning to see friends or family can be difficult and is yet one more thing to sort in our busy lives, but we really do need to schedule such events, because spontaneity tends to fly out the window once the evenings draw in.  

Another loss as we return to school and work is the companionship we’ve had during the holidays with our partner or immediate family. I think the remedy here is to ensure that weekends feel like mini-holidays, and to resist the urge to pack them with shopping, DIY and other chores at the expense of having fun. If a weekend can feel like a real, relaxing respite, you’ll feel much more refreshed when Monday comes round again.

One mum and dad I know who have kids in their early teens, had a long think about this and decided to do a big family shop on Wednesdays after work, and to fit laundry and cleaning the house into Friday evenings. All the family have to help with this, but it does free up plenty of hours on Saturdays and Sundays which can be used for drives to the coast, or to play or watch football, or simply to have meals together and view movies.  

So, let’s do all we can to bring elements of the last few months into our autumn and winter. It would be great, wouldn’t it, to extend that “holiday feeling” for a while longer?