Let’s not sugar-coat it: Back-to-school season can be extremely stressful. You’re saying goodbye to the carefree days of summer and hello to full schedules and endless to-do lists. Add in the ongoing pandemic, and it’s no wonder you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Thankfully, you don’t have to enter this school year empty-handed. Whether you’re the one hitting the books, or the kids are, these wellness hacks — straight from the experts — can help bring calm to the chaos.
1. meal prep ahead of time
If you want to meal prep like a pro, Aja Gyimah, MHSc, the founding registered dietitian at kuudose, recommends doing simple things like cutting up all your veggies up as soon as you get home. “Store them in plastic or glass containers in water” from there.
It helps to prepare a few meals or ingredients, such as a batch of cooked chicken, ahead of time. This will help you avoid those sad desk lunches from the vending machine (been there).
Having food prepared ahead of time also makes it a lot easier to loosen the grip on that bag of Doritos. Gyimah says to add nuts, seeds and legumes to your meal to increase your protein intake. Plus, it adds great texture.
2. take breathing breaks
It doesn’t take a lot these days to have us feeling stressed out. Thankfully, you don’t have to go far to find calmness with these breathing exercises, recommended by kuudose’s leading fitness expert, Dr. Rick Richey (DHSc, NASM, LMT). These can be done alone or with your family:
breathing option 1:
- Inhale for 4 counts
- Hold for 2 counts
- Exhale for 6 counts
breathing option 2:
- Inhale for 7 counts.
- Exhale for 11 counts
If you’re meditating as a family, Dr. Richey says that you can make up your own breathwork times. “Relax as a team and then send them to school, even if that’s at the kitchen table."
3. roll it out in the morning
If you don’t have time for a heart-pumping workout in the A.M., get the blood pumping another way: with foam rolling.
Dr. Richey says it’s a great way to ease into the day and feel better before breakfast: “Doing a few minutes of foam rolling every day not only loosens up the tissues, but it is a slow process that is good for your body. It’s not as jarring of an exercise for those that aren’t quite ready to wake up and pump iron or jump rope.”
4. start a gratitude practice
Counting blessings is something that Maddy Ciccone, a fitness expert and master SoulCycle instructor, does every day. “Set your alarm for 10 minutes before you wake up and write down five things you are grateful for every morning in a journal.”
There are many benefits that come with feeling #blessed. It’s a great way to kick some habits — like grabbing your phone first thing in the morning — in the bud.
It’s even something that you can teach your kids. “I think that it's really helpful to find those 10 minutes to get grounded in the morning sets you off on the right path,” Ciccone tells Lively.
5. create a sleep schedule
As summer winds down, so should you – preferably before the sun comes up. This can be a hard adjustment to make when you’ve been up all hours of the night, binging Netflix. One of the best ways to get your sleep back in the game is through a sleep schedule.
This means going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day and night. Not an easy feat, but an important one, says Dr. Richey.
If you have restless kiddos, he recommends getting them used to their new sleep schedule a week before school starts. Doing so will prevent some serious grumpy heads on your hands in the morning.
6. take Epsom salt baths
These magical salts take your bath from eh to ahhh. That’s because Epsom salts, also known as magnesium sulfate, help the body relax. “The nervous system needs these minerals to heal and recover from life's taxing moments,” explains Ruth Findlay, a wellness specialist, to Lively.
Another way to find your zen is with Vital Proteins Feeling Zen™. They’re made with functional ingredients, like organic ashwagandha root extract, L-theanine, GABA and magnesium, for a calmer, cooler and more collected you.
7. create a routine
Routines get a bad rep. They can be seen as structured and stiff, but they actually pack a lot of benefits when it comes to wellness. A routine is just what you need to get you back into the swing of things during back-to-school season, says Brittany Ferri, an occupational therapist and Founder of Simplicity of Health.
For your own sake, this could look like always hitting a hot yoga class every Friday morning or never missing that weekly Zoom call with your family.
Since the school year will look a lot different for kids this year, Ferri says it’s important to implement routines for them: “This will help maintain some semblance of routine and normalcy, even if it's one or two fixtures each week.”
8. encourage your kids to be more independent
There is no shame in asking for help when your cup runneth over. This applies to children of any age in school, says Ferri. They can gain independence in many areas, such as helping get dressed in the morning, packing their backpack the night before or making their lunch. “This will give your kids an outlet for their energy and help them feel in some control of their environment.”
Meanwhile, this gives you more time to find the right ways to educate your kids about how back-to-school will look and feel a lot different this year. “Make a song to teach them about the importance of hand-washing and hand hygiene. Add mention of social distancing to your talks about staying away from strangers,” recommends Ferri.
Ready to take on a new back-to-school season? Reach for these wellness must-haves.