Students are preparing to head back to school. It’s the rush of shopping for clothing, school supplies, lunches and other essentials. As your children are transitioning from a summer full of activity and movement, carefree fun and relaxation to being more sedentary, carrying backpacks and adjusting to the rigors and stress of school work – take the time to read these tips on how to make sure you’re heading back to health when you head back to school!

1) Take care of young backs!
Hopefully your school is one of those that is moving away from lugging heavy backpacks back and forth daily! Regardless – school can wreak havoc on young developing backs and set them up for future problems if we don’t teach healthy habits from the beginning. Encourage your kids to stand up and stretch every so often. (Obviously with the teacher’s permission!) If they have lockers – they need to use them. Store anything you won’t be needing before your next visit to your locker. This will lower the burden on your back.

Make sure your backpack fits you well or use a backpack on wheels if your campus allows them. Backpacks straps should be tight and secure. Your backpack shouldn’t move when you walk. Both straps should be on your shoulders to distribute weight evenly and use the waist clip if your backpack has one for more weight relief. Rolling backpacks are an even better choice as it completely eliminates the stress on young, growing bodies.

Sit Up! We all know the pain of sitting hunched over at a desk all day. It’s part of the 9-5 for us but it shouldn’t be the case for our kids. Ask schools if they can invest in standing desks or more ergonomic options for students. Remind them to sit up straight with feet on the ground, knees at a 90 degree angle. Sitting up straight not only leads to less pain and more confidence – it also improves concentration, focus, energy and engagement!

I’ve been using my Lumo Lift which vibrates a reminder every time I slouch and it even counts my steps!

2) Attack Anxiety!
First day of school jitters, separation anxiety, studying for tests, peer pressure, college admissions – the anxiety and stress of school really can do a number on the emotions and physical health of our kids. Teach them ways to banish stress and combat it before it gets overwhelming.

Psych Central has a great guide to power poses students can hold for two minutes in order to combat stress and anxiety.

The Boss Pose

This pose can be practiced at a table or desk. Stand with your feet wide apart and put your hands down on the table on either side of your body rather than in front of you. Keep your chin up as well!

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 The Seated Power Pose (AKA The Big Kid on Campus)

This pose is the epitome of confidence. Strike it by spreading your knees open wide and stretching your legs out as far as is comfortable. Place one ankle on the opposing knee. Now rest your hands on the back of your head with elbows out and throw on an easy smile to compliment the pose.

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The Superhero Power Pose

Save the world, or the school day at least, with this pose! Spread feet out wide, far apart from each other. Place your hands on your hips, shoulders back and elbows out. Go forth and conquer!

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There’s also the old standbys of taking a deep breath. Thinking of a relaxing place and most importantly practicing positive self-talk.

3) Fuel Their Bodies
While it seems like common sense – the best ways to equip our kids for returning to school is by making sure they are eating right, getting enough sleep and exercising. There’s a reason that this advice has remained unchanged through the centuries – it works!

Pack lunches and snacks that will nourish and sustain them throughout the day. While a treat is ok as an accessory – their main sources of fuel should be coming from protein, fruit and vegetables and complex carbs. This can become challenging with so many schools going nut free but it’s not impossible. Roasted chickpeas are great for protein and are a fun snack. Lara Bars, Chia pudding and energy bites are all great choices as well.

The amount of sleep children need varies by age but the National Sleep Foundation suggests the following guidelines –
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Finally – exercise is an equally critical part of maintain health when back to school. All that time spent sitting is detrimental to health, energy, ability to focus and diet. Avoid the temptation to allow kids to unwind after school with video games. Encourage after school sports, family walks, bike riding or other cardiovascular activities.

Back to school can be a stressful time or it can be a time for creating new healthy habits for the entire family. Establish the routines that will make life more enjoyable for everyone in the home and you’ll reap the benefits for years to come.

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