As Dr. Jeannie Sees It: Transitioning through Fall in Chicago

Take a transitional summer/fall activity with you into winter

by Dr. Jeannie Aschkenasy, licensed clinical psychologist

Fall means many things to many people. It is the time that the colors of the leaves in the trees become magnificent – and then the leaves fall to the ground, winter arrives, and for most hearty Chicagoans, it signifies the start of the long wait to spring.

For Chicagoans, it is also the time that the boats start to leave the harbor- for their winter stay on land. The annual Chicago marathon takes place in October. The days get shorter, we turn the clocks back Nov. 1, children have been in school for a few months, and the start of parent teacher conferences, report cards, and possible concerns about performance (and sometimes behavior) begins. It is certainly a busy time for me as a psychologist.

You have to plan outdoor time, and you have to be more intentional about staying active…,” – Dr. Jeannie

For the moment, try to keep your head where your feet are. It is still fall. It is not winter yet. Enjoy the lake, take a walk, look at the change in colors in the trees, put on a light jacket and go outside. You don’t need your boots yet!. Think of the many activities that bring you joy, and see which of them you might preserve and bring with you into the winter – a transitional object reminding you of warmer times, and helping to keep you active and moving (usually harder during the shorter, colder days of winter). Perhaps you could share how it is YOU manage the Chicago Winters (send ideas to

Although it is handy to “blame” the Chicago weather for many of our moods (usually the bad ones), you may suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression, and perhaps could benefit from consulting with a therapist.

Remember the lyrics of The Byrds’ song, Turn, Turn Turn: “there is a time to every season.” Music often helps – and perhaps you could put together a song list now, that you might listen to during the longer, darker days of winter.

You have to plan outdoor time, and you have to be more intentional about staying active, and getting together with friends, or joining social groups. It may be dark when you get out of work, tempting to go home and stay inside, and it is harder to “find the light.” However, it is worth the effort – both for you, and those around you.

Jeannie Aschkenasy, Ph.D. (“Dr. Jeannie”) is a licensed clinical psychologist, who has more than 25 years of experience in private practice and at Rush University Medical Center working with children, adolescents, adults and families. Dr. Jeannie graduated from Smith College and earned her Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. Her post-doctoral training was at the Piaget Institute in Geneva Switzerland, Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago and the University of Chicago. She is also on staff at John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County. She may be reached at 312-726-4464 or at Visit her at









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