Dr. Doni shares back-to-school tips to help you and your kids make a smooth transition from summer fun back to a school schedule.
Changing gears from a summer schedule of staying up late, sleeping in, and eating when hungry, to a school schedule of waking up early, eating at specific times, and getting to bed on time can be quite a feat. I often hear from patients about how the first week of school is the toughest week of the school year – if not the entire year. It can lead to exhaustion, frustration, irritability, and stress, making you and your kids vulnerable to catching a cold.
It may seem inevitable – the back to school blues. But instead of a rough start the school year, there are a few steps you can take to create a completely different outcome – that of feeling rested and ready to go! In this article, I’m going to share:
- How to use Stress Remedy C.A.R.E. activities at the start of the school year
- An example schedule
- What supplements you can take to stay well
How to Use Stress Remedy CARE Activities at the Start of the School Year
In the approach I developed, called the Stress Remedy Approach, I support you to integrate stress reducing activities into your day-to-day schedule. These activities fall under the acronym C.A.R.E. Let me show you how it works for back-to-school.
C: Clean Eating
Avoid foods and substances in food that are more stressful for your body. This includes food sensitivities, such as gluten and dairy, sugar, pesticides, aspartame, colors and preservatives, and any other food ingredients that are a stress to your body.
Instead, focus on eating protein, such as eggs, turkey, chicken, wild salmon, nuts and seeds, with healthy fats (olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil) and organic veggies and fruits. Plan ahead as best you can by going to the grocery store and choosing foods for each meal. Bringing your own lunch to school ensures you have options that meet your needs. Include options for a meal right after school, which can help manage blood sugar levels and prevent a late-afternoon carbohydrate craving.
A protein shake or smoothie can be a great option for kids as well, for breakfast or later in the day. Learn more about protein shakes here.
A: Adequate Sleep
Adults and teens need 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep each night, and children (up to age 12) need at least 10 hours of sleep. While asleep, children heal and grow. Without enough sleep, children and adults are susceptible to infections, are less able to focus, memory decreases, and body weight increases.
To make sure you and your loved ones are well rested, start by figuring out your best bedtime. To do this, count backwards from the time you need to wake up. Then make sure the bedroom is dark and devices are turned off and an air filter is turned on. Find more sleep tips here.
R: Reduce Stress
This is time for you and your kids to simply chill out, to let the stresses of the day fade away, and for your body and mind to recover. You might choose meditation, journaling, artwork, talking with a friend, having a cup of tea, a stroll through the park, or gardening. It is more important than ever to take a break when your schedule is busy. When you build it into your schedule, it will become routine.
E: Exercise (at your own speed)
Many kids get exercise in after school activities and sports. Others may like to join a program outside of school or take a yoga class. Exercise is of course important for parents too. Don’t feel like you need to start out with an hour-long class. Shorter duration exercise also counts, so you could start with 10 minutes and increase gradually as you feel ready. You don’t even have to leave your home – you could use hand weights and/or an exercise app or video to guide you.
Example Schedule for Your New Routine
- Before School – Meditation and protein smoothie
- Snack and Lunch – Choose a balance of protein, fats and carbs
- After School – Another balanced meal, exercise/movement, and studies
- Dinner and bedtime routine – Optimize your bedrooms for restful sleep
What Supplements You Can Take to Stay Well
Considering that colds and flus are quite common in the fall and winter, this is the perfect time to get ahead of the trend and set yourself up for wellness. In the DrDoniStore we carry products that are practitioner-grade and GMP-certified. I review all the products myself to ensure that they meet my qualifications to be allergen-free and to include the most usable forms of nutrients. There are actually many options in terms of capsules, liquids and powders, so whether your child can swallow capsules or not, they can still get the best nutrients for growth and health. Here are a few examples:
- Multivitamins – One of the easiest ways to get antioxidants, B vitamins (including methylfolate), vitamin D, and minerals all in one is to take a multivitamin.* Studies have shown that taking a multivitamin does make a difference in health. There are now multivitamins that offer a good balance of high-quality nutrients in a one-a-day dose – in capsules and in liposomal liquid. Review more options here.
- Omega 3 fats – Whether from a fish or algae source, there are many options for getting omega 3 fats in a supplement. It is important to take in omega 3s as a supplement because for the most part, our diets are not high in omega 3. Omega 3 fats help the nervous system with mood and focus, and they are anti-inflammatory as well. Find a bunch of omega 3 product options here.
- Probiotics – Contain good bacteria for the digestive tract. The good bacteria (microbiota) living in our intestines have been shown to support healthy immune function, as well as mood and focus, plus they make essential nutrients for our bodies. These bacteria are damaged by stress, antibiotics, and other medications. If you react to dairy products, it is important to use a non-dairy probiotic. If you have histamine intolerance and/or if you have digestive symptoms (bloating, gas, etc) then it can be best to work with a naturopathic doctor to determine the best probiotic for you at this point in time. Find highest quality probiotics in powder and capsule form here.
- Vitamin D – Often deficient and much needed, taking vitamin D can boost your immune system and ensure bone health. Be sure to take vitamin D with calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K for healthy bones. I recommend having your vitamin D level checked in blood work so that you know the appropriate dose for your body. Vitamin D is available in capsule or liquid forms – either is okay, just be sure to take it when you have also recently eaten food containing fats because fat helps with vitamin D absorption. Find highest quality vitamin D products, and bone supportive products here.
- Triple Flu Defense – A homeopathic remedy to help your body fight off cold and flu viruses. This formula is updated each year, to specifically address the symptoms caused by the most recent cold and flu viruses. The recommendation is to take Triple Flu once per week for prevention and daily when you catch a virus. Find it here.
NOTE: It is of course important to choose the right dosages for your body, so I encourage you to check with your naturopathic doctor to be sure you are taking the right products for you.
Best Wishes for Back-to-School!
I hope these tips help you and your family have a smooth start to the new school year. It’s never too late to start implementing, so even if you introduce some of these tips little by little, you’ll still see a benefit.
And if you’d like more support, including a protein shake powder, meal plan, and support for leaky gut healing, you may even want to use the Stress Remedy Program – either the 7-day or 21-day version, to inspire and motivate you to implement the C.A.R.E. activities. Each day of the Stress Remedy Program I guide you to bring attention to yourself, your diet, and your self-care.
If you’d like to learn more about how stress affects your health, and what you can do to turn that around, you can get a free ebook I wrote, called A Guide to Adrenal Wellness, when you sign up for my free e-newsletter here.
Wellness wishes to you,
6th September 2017
*Please keep in mind that any and all supplements—nutrients, herbs, enzymes, or other—should be used with caution. My recommendation is that you seek the care of a naturopathic doctor (with a doctorate degree from a federally-accredited program) and that you have a primary care physician or practitioner whom you can contact to help you with individual dosing and protocols. If you ever experience negative symptoms after taking a product, stop taking it immediately and contact your doctor right away.