It’s safe to say 2020 has been a turbulent year which has taken its toll on many people’s personal wellbeing. With this in mind, we caught up with Jane Barker, MBACP accredited therapist and a friend of Joe Browns. Jane has taken some time out to help debunk the notorious ‘September dread’ and explain how we can reframe this time of year as an opportunity for a fresh start and, in turn, help boost our mood and adjust our mindsets in order to achieve our goals. Over to you Jane…



September Blues? Or is September your second chance January?

It’s that time of year when you suddenly notice that the days are becoming shorter, and there is that familiar chill in the air…

For some of us, September can be emotive, perhaps a reminder of significant memories such as your first day at school, your children starting school or starting university… maybe a reminder of a time to be more serious? For some, this can instil a sense of anxiety and a longing for the past, lazy days of summer.

Others thrive on the structure and routine September brings, seeing it as a positive time for reflection, as we begin to transition from holiday time, into the new academic year.

September, like New Year’s Day and birthdays or other significant dates, can be referred to as ‘Temporal Landmarks’ – this basically means signalling the start of a new distinct time period in your life.

If you are a person that feels motivated to make a change, you are not alone! There is now research to indicate that September, like January, gives us a clean slate, a time for setting new goals. This is referred to as the ‘Fresh Start Effect’.

The ‘Fresh Start Effect’ implies it’s easier to motivate ourselves into good habits at natural transitional points or temporal landmarks. These distinctive events can inspire us to look at the bigger picture and maybe start to identify areas that we would like to change.


So why does the ‘Fresh Start Effect’ work?

Most of us have things we would like to improve on and most of us will remember the times we have failed our goals. 'Temporal Landmarks' highlight the gap between our current behaviour (e.g. unhealthy eating or too much screen time) and a preferred and desired future behaviour (e.g. exercise more, better management of finances etc).

The ‘Fresh Start Effect’ shows that we are able to place our past imperfections into a previous period of our lives e.g. a person may compare their past and current self and wonder if their future self could be wiser. By blaming our past selves, we can create a positive image of our current self which in turn, empowers us to feel more motivated to work harder towards our goals.

Therefore, if we have left our past failings behind, our future successes lie ahead. For example, a person approaching a milestone birthday may see this as a landmark. A landmark that separates them from their carefree lifestyle and lack of commitment in their previous years, to their new mature self by making plans to sort out their finances, be healthier or considering their career.


So why wait for January?! Why not have a ‘Fresh Start’ now? Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I want to be different in 12 months time?
  • What is working best for me? Which of those things do I want to build upon?
  • What are the challenges to achieving this?
  • What feels negative or draining, that holds you back? What might help with this?
  • What do I need to say "no" to more, that will give me the time to do this?


You may be surprised how much calmer and focused you feel once you’ve decided what your future goals will be.

Jane Barker MBACP Accredited and Registered Counsellor