Changing gears from a summer schedule of staying up late, sleeping in, and eating when hungry, to a school schedule of waking up early, eating at specific times, and getting to bed on time can be quite a feat. I often hear from patients about how the first week of school is the toughest week of the school year – if not the entire year. It can lead to exhaustion, frustration, irritability, and stress, making you and your kids vulnerable to catching a cold.
It may seem inevitable – the back to school blues. But instead of a rough start the school year, there are a few steps you can take to create a completely different outcome – that of feeling rested and ready to go! Follow the Stress Remedy C.A.R.E. activities at the start of the school year to transition back into reality.
C: Clean Eating
Avoid foods and substances in food that are more stressful for your body. This includes food sensitivities, such as gluten and dairy, sugar, pesticides, aspartame, colors and preservatives, and any other food ingredients that are a stress to your body.
Instead, focus on eating protein, such as eggs, turkey, chicken, wild salmon, nuts and seeds, with healthy fats (olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil) and organic veggies and fruits. Plan ahead as best you can by going to the grocery store and choosing foods for each meal. Bringing your own lunch to school ensures you have options that meet your needs. Include options for a meal right after school, which can help manage blood sugar levels and prevent a late-afternoon carbohydrate craving.
A protein shake or smoothie can be a great option for kids as well, for breakfast or later in the day. Learn more about protein shakes here.
A: Adequate Sleep
Adults and teens need 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep each night, and children (up to age 12) need at least 10 hours of sleep. While asleep, children heal and grow. Without enough sleep, children and adults are susceptible to infections, are less able to focus, memory decreases, and body weight increases.
To make sure you and your loved ones are well rested, start by figuring out your best bedtime. To do this, count backwards from the time you need to wake up. Then make sure the bedroom is dark and devices are turned off and an air filter is turned on. FIND MORE SLEEP TIPS HERE.
R: Reduce Stress
This is time for you and your kids to simply chill out, to let the stresses of the day fade away, and for your body and mind to recover. You might choose meditation, journaling, artwork, talking with a friend, having a cup of tea, a stroll through the park, or gardening. It is more important than ever to take a break when your schedule is busy. When you build it into your schedule, it will become routine.
E: Exercise (at your own speed)
Many kids get exercise in after school activities and sports. Others may like to join a program outside of school or take a yoga class. Exercise is of course important for parents too. Don’t feel like you need to start out with an hour-long class. Shorter duration exercise also counts, so you could start with 10 minutes and increase gradually as you feel ready. You don’t even have to leave your home – you could use hand weights and/or an exercise app or video to guide you.
I hope these tips help you and your family have a smooth start to the new school year. It’s never too late to start implementing, so even if you introduce some of these tips little by little, you’ll still see a benefit.