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5 Simple Strategies to Stay on Track When School Starts

This is going to be a unique back-to-school season.  Many kids are going back to school in person for the first time in a year and a half.  Others had a mix of in-person and remote instruction, smaller classes with social distancing protocols, or an assortment of other abnormal school experiences over the past year.  

With so much of our focus on the unique challenges our kids will face in this year’s transition back to school, it will be easy to put fitness and health on the back burner.  Don’t fall into that trap!

Neglecting self-care contributes to stress, exhaustion, and brain fog – exactly what you DON’T need at a time like this. 

Surely you want to be at the top of your game physically and mentally as you navigate these next couple of months.  You want to be the calm, centered parent your kids can lean on like a rock.  It would be great not to feel like a zombie as you rush your kids out the door in the morning, or at your wit’s end as you juggle multiple homework assignments.

However, understanding the value of self-care doesn’t magically make it possible.

Here are 5 tips to help you stick to your health and fitness goals no matter what the school year brings.

  1. Choose 1-2 exercises per day that you can only do for 30-60 seconds before tiring out.  Do 3-5 sets of each scattered throughout the day.  Be sure to hit all major muscle groups in a balanced way each week. 
  1. Increase your physical activity by playing with your kids.  Include a variety of movements and intensities. Kids might interrupt your workouts, but they’re your allies when it comes to physical activity in general. Averaging 60 minutes per day is ideal.  It won’t always be possible, and that’s ok.  It’s fine to do more on the weekends and less on weekdays. Don’t overthink it. 
  1. Keep food super simple.  Some healthy foods that require little or no prep include: fresh fruit, nuts, salad greens with lemon, raw veggies with hummus, overnight oats, hard boiled eggs, chia pudding.  Roasting veggies and meats can be super simple – throw them in the oven with any anti-inflammatory oil and sea salt and go about your day while they cook.
  1. Use healthy stress management techniques.  (Sorry, wine doesn’t count – don’t hate me!)  Incorporate mindfulness techniques that you can do throughout daily life, such as observing your inner monologue and relaxing through negative emotions. If you need extra stress relief, try adaptogens and nootropics.  Try a variety of them one at a time for a few days each to see which work best for you. 
  1. Maximize whatever sleep you can get by observing good sleep hygiene.  Use sleep cues, such as a relaxing smell or music, to tell your body it’s time to sleep.  Take a hot shower or epsom salt bath (for 4 seconds, obviously, before somebody needs you). Cut off electronics an hour before bedtime or use blue blocking glasses and apps that limit blue light. Release tension by moving your joints through their full ranges of motion and taking deep, diaphragmatic breaths. Imagine your mind as a movie screen and push all thoughts off the screen to keep it blank. 

When life is chaotic, we have to filter out our self-care routine to what makes the biggest difference in the least amount of time.  Ignore the shiny objects.  Start with this list.

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If you like what you’re reading you might find value in my newest collaboration with Relationship Coach Tyler Charlebois:

Ultimate Single Mom Transformation: Mind, Body, Relationships

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