New School Year Challenges and Opportunities to Increase Energy
August marks the time that school at every level is getting back into full swing. There can be several challenges and opportunities that arise during the first few weeks, especially on the heels of a pandemic. We will look at a few common challenges that most individuals involved in the schools (either as a parent, student or teacher) will experience which can create exhaustion. We will also discuss how a few changes in your daily routine can help you get more energy to be successful.
As the school year begins, remembering everything from school supplies, to back to school events, arranging drop off and pick up, and remembering lunches or lunch money can be a challenge, all while considering school safety and security. In fact, getting back into routine yourself takes a while, especially when you must learn a new schedule. We must get used to the early alarms, packing school bags, finishing homework, and getting to school on time with the right supplies, devices, and safety precautions.
Once the first day and week of excitement is over, kids realize they are back in the groove of school and find it even harder to get up and get ready each day, particularly as things adjust. 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 still 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 on health, there are several things we can do throughout the day to help get all-day energy, not only today, but every day. Small changes throughout the day can boost your energy levels even after just a few weeks.
Stay hydrated. Dehydration, even in its mildest forms can zap energy, memory, and attention, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In addition, dehydration can be confused for hunger. To compensate, make a point to drink water at regular intervals throughout the day beginning in the morning. Water is essential in 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 and can get the endorphins flowing. Even twenty minutes of low intensity aerobic exercise three times a week can reduce fatigue by sixty-five percent over a period of six weeks. Take the stairs rather than the elevator, park farther away from the building, and take a walk around campus at lunch for starters.
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. In addition, exposure to sunlight helps make Vitamin D, which is essential for boosting your immune system. However, be sure to protect yourself from excessive skin exposure by using sun screen or sun protected clothing.
Avoid sipping caffeinated coffee and tea in the afternoon and focus on decaffeinated versions. 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. Please also avoid quick boosts of caffeine from other sources, including “energy shots” and energy drinks. These can be very dangerous over time, leading to high blood pressure, heart issues, dehydration, kidney challenges, and anxiety.
Eat more mini-meals. Eating smaller meals throughout the day will keep your energy up. Focus on natural, unprocessed foods and drinks rather than processed and packaged food, sodas and sugary beverages. Snack on fresh fruits and vegetables, Greek yogurt with berries, and drink plenty of water.
Finally, take a tech break. During the day, walk away from technology for a few minutes at a time. Even a small break will recharge your mind. 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. Ideally, you should avoid having televisions in bedrooms or places of rest. You will find the quality of your sleep will improve over time with this practice.
Simple steps and a few changes to our daily routine can help combat exhaustion not only for you, but for those around you. I encourage you to review your daily habits to see what positive changes you can make. Here’s to a great year!