With kids going back to school this month, there’s a lot of preparation taking place. While this can be a busy and overwhelming time for families, it is still important to prioritize your physical and mental health. In the midst of carpooling kids from school and extracurricular activities, you may forget to take care of yourself. Despite all the craziness, you still need to have a little me-time. If you’re looking for ways to keep yourself healthy, we’ve compiled a few tips to keep in mind for the fast-approaching school year.
1. Eat Balanced Meals
Stopping at fast-food restaurants is convenient and occasionally giving into your child’s chicken nugget craving is completely fine. However, it’s important to make sure you are getting the proper amount of nutrients for the day. We have found that if you plan for the whole week ahead, eating healthy can be much easier.
So, what’s a balanced and healthy diet? Your healthy eating plate should include:
- ½ plate of fruits and vegetables
- ¼ plate of whole grains
- ¼ plate of protein
- Healthy plant oils such as olive oil (in moderation)
Eating a healthy and balanced diet has many proven health benefits:
- Keeps skin, teeth and eyes healthy
- Supports muscles and strengthens bones
- Boosts immunity
- Lowers risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers
- Helps the digestive system function
An easy way to improve your eating habits is to cut out sugar. Cutting out sugar doesn’t mean you have to cut out your favorite sweets, meals or drinks. With SweetLeaf®, you can replace the sugar you would normally add with stevia and monk fruit products. We also have several delicious and healthy recipes to make for the whole family!
2. Exercise Often
Carving time out of your day to exercise isn’t always an easy task, but it’s important in improving or maintaining your overall health. It is recommended that adults exercise around five days a week, with 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio a week and 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity.
While exercising is often highlighted for the weight you can lose and muscle you can gain, it has many other effects on your body, which include:
- Improving sleep
- Reducing the risk of heart disease
- Helping your body manage blood sugar and insulin levels
- Improving your mental health and mood
- Reducing your risk of some cancers
If you’re not the exercising type, or you don’t have a gym membership, there are simple ways you can work out at home without the use of expensive equipment, such as:
- Jogging or walking around the neighborhood
- Jump rope
- Climbing stairs
- Strength training (lunges, squats, push-ups, sit-ups, planks)
3. Get A Full Night’s Sleep
Some nights, it’s hard to unplug when you live a busy life. Rest is a vital part of the day. It’s important for better mental health, increased concentration and memory, a healthier immune system, reduced stress and improved mood.
How much sleep is needed to power you through the busy day depends on the person. Some people require more than 10 hours of sleep to feel fully rested and others can function normally with as little as four. The average amount needed for an adult to feel fully rested is around seven.
If you’re someone whose thoughts run rapidly at bedtime and falling asleep is a task all on its own, you can try:
- Avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and evening
- Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule
- Avoiding naps
- No screen time one hour before bed (swap for meditation, reading or yoga)
- Avoiding working out before bed
4. Find A Balance Between Home and Work Life
Separating your work and home life has been shown to improve mental health and efficiency! Setting boundaries and not letting work spill over into your personal life by “switching off” when you go home for the day can help reduce work-related stress, anxiety and burnout.
Finding this balance not only has a positive impact on your work productivity, but it also has a positive impact on your home life. After your kids come home from school and you and your partner come home from work, time can be spent together without added distractions. You’ll find yourself having more energy and time to spend with the ones you love most.
If you’re someone who has trouble finding that balance, you can try:
- Communicating work hours with your colleagues
- Tracking how you spend your time
- Discussing meetings, times and productivity; if they’re unproductive, discuss the possibility of reducing the length and frequency
- Creating separate professional and personal social media accounts
- Finding a quiet desk away from home
5. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is when you focus on being aware of how you feel and what you are sensing in the current moment. Taking just a few minutes in your day to practice mindfulness has been shown to help with stress, anxiety, pain, insomnia, depression and high blood pressure.
If you’re looking for quick mindfulness tactics, you can try to pay attention to your senses and be aware when a negative thought pops into your mind. If this happens, sit down, take a deep breath, close your eyes and try to focus on your breathing instead of that negative thought. Another great way to practice mindfulness is to dedicate just a few minutes of your day to meditation. To do this, find a quiet place, take a seat, set a time limit, notice how your body feels, feel your breath as you inhale and exhale, notice when your mind has wandered, and if it does, gently bring it back. If you have trouble meditating on your own, you can always do so with the help of an app, video or podcast with guided sessions.
A great thing about mindfulness is that you can practice it anywhere at any time. Turning off your mind can be hard to do at first; with practice, mindfulness can become effortless. Remember, the point is to live in the current moment.