There is nothing like the beginning of a school year to send the minds and bodies of our family into a tailspin. Suddenly all the little things that went by the wayside over the summer start to add up. We’ve forgotten the importance of time management and nutrition. While scheduling movement during the workday is becoming impossible.
One of the most difficult components of back-to-school season is the stress it can bring on.
Maybe you’ve noticed your family feels a bit off right now – schedules and immune systems. It’s no wonder. You just got comfortable with summer when the urgency of fall comes knocking on your door.
It’s the perfect time of year to recalibrate a sense of normalcy in your home.
Let’s get back to basics. Here are some important pieces of health and wellness that are of benefit to your family – mind, body and spirit.
Use the following information to guide your decisions as you re-establish back to school routines:
Natural sleep rhythms change in the summer. We are awake more hours of the day because of the presence of sunlight. Especially in the northwest. When the school year gets underway, though, we need regular sleep for.
It’s helpful to get back into a normal sleep routine before school starts. It is good for cognitive function, immunity, and overall wellness. Sleep requirements vary from 7-10 or more hours nightly, depending on age and individual requirements.
With teenagers in the house, it can be hard to get anyone to adhere to a common sleep schedule. Teens are at the age where it’s normal for their internal clocks to be geared towards a later bedtime and wake-up time. Did you know studies show that young adults function better in schools with a late start?
One helpful thing to try is the practice of sleep hygiene. Here’s what to do:
- at least a week before school starts, go to bed earlier
- dim lights
- take a warm shower before bed
- listen to calm music
- put lavender essential oil in a diffuser by the bed
- put technology away before entering the bedroom
Movement helps the sleep/ wake cycle and supports both cognitive function and immunity. However, movement can look different for each person depending on individual physiology. It’s not a one size fits all solution. One form of movement that can be beneficial to all humans is mindful breathing.
Try the technique called box breathing. It is a simple practice you can incorporate into your daily routine:
Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds.
A whole-foods, plant-based diet has the best outcomes for overall health and immunity. That doesn’t mean you have to be a vegetarian. Rethinking how you add food to your plate is a good way to start.
The first step is to fill your plate with vegetables (avoid letting meat take up the largest part of your plate). Next, supplement your plant-based meal with lean meat or eggs for protein. Then, add in nuts, seeds, and legumes. Finally, flavor your food with healthy fats such as olive oil or avocado.
Especially in times of transition, our bodies might need extra support to function at an optimal level. One way to add support to your regular diet is to supplement your meals with foundational nutrients.
Here are the key supplements I recommend at this time of year:
- Probiotic – Basic gut health impacts the way all other systems in your body work. A probiotic supports healthy digestion and immunity.
- vitamin D – Especially in the Pacific Northwest, people are often low in vitamin D because of the lack of sun. Getting tested for vitamin deficiency is important because it’s possible to get too much. I will recommend a maintenance dose if you are not deficient, and a repletion dose if you are deficient.
- Multivitamin with the active form of B vitamins – B vitamins help keep our energy levels up while supporting the nervous system and stress response.
- Fish Oil – supports cognitive function and mental health.
Rhythms of life change with the seasons. During the fall, many aspects of our daily routines are in transition. Focusing on a healthy lifestyle – sleep, movement and nutrition – can improve our overall cognitive function and immunity. In addition, this healthy lifestyle is an important stress management tool which helps us deal with change in a more productive way, both mentally and physically.
Please contact Dr. Heather Buckle ND, FABNO if you have questions about integrative solutions for any gastrointestinal issues you may have. If you live in Washington state and would like to learn more about Dr. Buckle’s naturopathic approach to your wellness, please call (206) 643-2239 or CLICK HERE to schedule a consultation.