Energizing for the school year
By Guest Columnist Stephanie Duguid
In July, summer continues to heat up, but school is right around the corner. Several challenges and opportunities can arise during the final weeks of summer in preparation for school.
As the school year gets closer, it can be difficult to shift from summer fun to the organizing required for school, remembering everything from school supplies to back to school events, arranging drop off and pick up and lunches or lunch money. Getting back into routine takes a while. We must get used to the early alarms, packing school bags, finishing homework, and getting to school on time with the right supplies.
A few back to school tips and tricks may help your planning:
Clean out your child’s closet and donate clothes that do not fit.
Buy school supplies early and take advantage of sales, or order the entire school list online.
Post a calendar in a central location to keep track of family events.
Take time to lay out clothes, pack lunches, and organize backpacks each night before a school day.
Encourage children to use both shoulder straps on a backpack for the sake of back health.
Plan to attend Meet the Teacher night with your child.
Start getting up early a week or two before school starts to get acclimated.
Designate a quiet place for daily studying and guidelines for what time homework needs to start.
Go through backpacks together as soon as you and your child are home each day.
Delegate chores ahead of time to keep the house running smoothly (a weekly checklist helps).
Once the first day of excitement is over, kids realize they are back in the groove of school and find it harder to get up and get ready each day. There may be complaints that good friends are now separated in different classes, or that homework is a challenge. Finally, once school is over for the day, there are difficulties with scheduling and managing after-school events and family responsibilities.
All of this together can get extremely exhausting. The limitation is time and energy. So what can we do to recharge ourselves?
According to Consumer Reports, there are several things we can do throughout the day to assure the energy your need. Small changes can boost your energy levels:
In the morning, let the sunshine in. The brain makes melatonin, the hormone that causes sleepiness when it is dark. Morning light helps stop the production of melatonin. Exposing yourself to light during the day can keep your sleep-wake cycle synchronized and helps combat daytime sleepiness. This will help everyone wake up each morning.
Take a drink break. Dehydration, even in its mildest forms can zap energy, memory, and attention according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. To compensate, make a point to drink water at regular intervals throughout the day, beginning in the morning. Water is essential for most of our body functions. Focus on water rather than sugary drinks, energy drinks, and other quick fixes.
In the afternoon, get moving! Physical activity is a powerful antidote for fatigue. Even 20-minutes of low intensity aerobic exercise three times a week can reduce fatigue by 65 percent over a period of six weeks. Take the stairs rather than the elevator, park farther away from the buildings, and take a daily walk.
Stop sipping coffee and tea in the afternoon. Most people feel they need a pick-me-up later in the afternoons. However, consuming a stimulant late in the afternoon can disrupt sleep when consumed even six hours before bedtime. Also avoid quick boosts of caffeine from other sources including “energy shots” and energy drinks. These can be very dangerous over time.
In the evening, try to power down. This means dim the lights, turn off the TV, and put away the smartphones, computers, and other electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime to help your brain trigger the production of melatonin. Your brain will not shut down unless you prepare it to do so. You will find the quality of your sleep will improve over time with this practice.
Address your stress. If you feel you have stress that can create physical fatigue, try listening to a meditation or relaxation app before bed. This helps prepare your body for rest. Stress can cause systemic issues with all majors systems in your body. Be sure to find the source of your stress and address it. If you are experiencing other symptoms such as unexplained weight gain or loss, fever, shortness of breath, or morning headaches, see your doctor.
Simple steps and a few changes to your daily routine can help combat exhaustion not only for you, but for those around you. Review your daily habits to see what positive changes you can make!
Here is to a happy, safe, and healthy school year!
EDITOR'S NOTE: Stephanie Duguid is Dean of Academic Instruction at Co-Lin. She is also an athletic trainer and nutrition specialist and has been teaching courses related to those two areas as well as practicing what she preaches for more than twenty years.