Summer is winding down and back to school is just around the corner! There are backpacks to be bought, summer reading to be finished, supplies to be stocked, and healthy lunches to plan! Back to school time can be stressful for the whole family, check out these tips to keep your head cool and your heart healthy during this hectic time.
- Start testing your healthy lunches now
If you’re changing up your bagged lunches this year to include healthier options, do a test run on the kids before school starts! Invite your children to help you make them to save time. Make lunch planning fun and get the kids involved. When kids help make their lunches, they’re more likely to eat them.
While you’re planning healthy meals for your kids, don’t forget to include a healthy drink option. Nearly two-thirds of children ages 2-19 in the United States reported consuming at least one soda or other sugary drink on any given day. This equates to roughly 7% of their total daily caloric intake. Encourage kids to sip smarter and swap out sweetened drinks with empty calories with healthier options like low-fat milk or water.
- Keep up the outdoor activities
Things may be hectic, but allowing children to stay outside and stay active will help them cut down on stress and is good for their health! The American Heart Association recommends that kids 6-17 years old should get at least 60 minutes per day of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity, mostly aerobic. Join them outside for fresh air and play time to clear your head.
As a bonus, kids who are active have better bone health, physical ﬁtness, brain function, attention and academic performance. They stay at a healthier weight and have fewer symptoms of depression.
- Practice Mindfulness
Running around all day may leave you exhausted, take 10-20 minutes to yourself and sit quietly, breathing deeply, and thinking of something peaceful. Practicing mindfulness and meditation may help you manage stress and high blood pressure, sleep better, feel more balanced and connected, and even lower your risk of heart disease.
Meditation and mindfulness are practices — often using breathing, quiet contemplation or sustained focus on something, such as an image, phrase or sound — that help you let go of stress and feel more calm and peaceful. Think of it as a mini-vacation from the stress in your life!
- Get on a sleeping schedule
Summertime often gives way to chaotic schedules and less structure. Get back to a bedtime routine early to make the transition easier and to make sure you’re getting rest during this stressful time! Healthy sleep habits can lower psychological strain, give you better self-control, and replenish self-regulatory energy. Whether classes are remote or at school, it’s important to re-establish a routine.
Start transitioning bedtime and wake-up time ahead of the first day of school, so your child can get used to it. Limit their exposure to screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime, since blue light can interrupt your body’s natural sleep rhythm. In general, kids ages six to 12 need nine to 12 hours of sleep, while teens should get eight to 10 hours.
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke.