It is not a secret that our mental and physical health are connected, but we can easily ignore this fact as we get busier and busier. I find this especially true at the beginning of the school year when life becomes a blur of adjusting schedules, getting into new routines, and suddenly having a much higher level of stimulation than the slower-paced, less-structured days of summer. It’s so easy to fall into skipping your workout, swinging through Chick-fil-A, and pushing bedtime later and later. All of this can pile on, leaving you feeling physically exhausted and fatigued. Physical exhaustion, which anyone who has yelled at their spouse for leaving shoes in the middle of the floor late on a Sunday evening can attest to, leaves an impact on our mental health as well.
If you feel the fatigue of back to school, the first piece of good news is that all transitions come to an end. Everyone will settle into their new routines, homework will get done, and the cooler temperatures of fall are right around the corner. The second piece of good news is that there are small things you can do for your body and your emotional health right now to help weather the storm. (I’m writing this in the middle of it raining sideways, so pun definitely intended.)
- Remind yourself that any movement is good movement. You may dream of being able to do a 60-minute run before the kids get up in the morning, but that might not fit into your life right now. A 15-minute HIIT workout or yoga flow may not be ideal, but integrating any movement into your week can give you a small energy and metabolic boost to carry you throughout the long days.
- Turn off your phone an hour before you go to bed. Research shows that decreased screen time can result in improved sleep and reduced depression and anxiety. Not only does the blue light of the screen impact your circadian rhythm, but avoiding social media and news consumption before bed can result in a smoother, more peaceful wind down to your day.
- Prep food in bulk or create a meal plan. Having healthy meals ready at home that require less prep or simply reheating can reduce take-out consumption and is one less thing to worry about on a weeknight. We all know that healthy eating can increase our energy and stamina, but creating a system that eliminates work when things are stressful has the added benefit of reducing mental energy.
These are just a few ideas to incorporate small changes to promote physical and emotional health. Change doesn’t have to be drastic or overnight. Little shifts can lead to lasting change, and certain seasons will be easier than others. If you would like someone to partner with you as you overcome the stress of the transition or any other life change, any one of our therapists at Family Renewal would love to join with you!