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Mental Fatigue at the End of Summer

Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.

-Shakespeare, Sonnet 18

This post is about projection and self-acceptance and those nagging feelings of fatigue.

In this part of the country, kids still have two or three weeks before they start back to school.

Yesterday I sat with one student, Alex, who has been respectfully and dutifully schlogging through his SAT prep work all summer. Alex understands the benefits of all this studying, but his heart’s not in it. He wishes he was doing “something else.”

So I finally asked him about it:

Alex, the summer is almost over. Are there some things you’ve been wishing to do, that will make you look back at this summer and feel satisfied?

Yeah. I want to go pick some fruit. There’s a place near here you can go…

Fruit picking! I was expecting to hear about sleeping late, hanging out with pals, video games, movies…but this 16-year-old boy had been daydreaming about blueberries and peaches.

I had Alex make a chart showing each remaining day of his summer vacation. He planned out and wrote down, specifically, the SAT assignment he was going to do each day. And I also had him write down the “fun” things he wanted to do (pick fruit, go into the city with some friends, etc), and when he was going to do them.

Projection. Self-acceptance. And vague feelings of fatigue?

  • So often, the advice we give to others is a projection of something we’re trying to tell ourselves. In this case, I think Alex did benefit from making a concrete plan for the rest of his summer time, but I can also see that I need to do this as well!
  • I’m a planner. I feel better when I have activities scheduled. I’m not very spontaneous. That’s the way I am.
  • I realize that, for me, there’s a subtle emotional fatigue in mentally carrying around my various as-yet-unrealized summer desires. Just like Alex, I’m going to feel better if I put them down on paper and take steps to make them happen. Right now they feel like weights I am toting around in my head, extra mental clutter and burden.

What about you?

Can you identify ways in which your thoughts are making you tired?

[photo of last little glimpse of the beach at LisSurMer]

Mental Fatigue at the End of Summer

Leigh Pretnar Cousins, MS

Leigh Pretnar Cousins, MS is an educator, counselor, writer and speaker. She's been a tutor, test prep coach and home school teacher for over thirty years. Click HERE to visit Leigh's website and to subscribe to her newsletter, "Learning Something New."

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APA Reference
Cousins, L. (2011). Mental Fatigue at the End of Summer. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2020, from


Last updated: 20 Aug 2011
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