Beat Back-to-School Stress
Back-to-school time can be stressful for the entire family. Between the stress of shopping and sign-ups, coupled with trying to transition kids from their summer schedule back into the structure of a school day, your sleep and sanity may suffer.
As your family moves into back-to-school mode, there are many stressors that can serve as a sucker punch to both kids and parents. Here are some tips for keeping it together during this crazy busy — and stressful — time:
Watch for signs of stress: Stress is often internalized, but there are some signs of being overstressed, including headaches, stomach aches, irritability and temper tantrums, and difficulty sleeping. The first step to managing stress is to identify it and what’s causing it.
Go to sleep earlier: Sorry teens, no more late-night Fortnite tourneys once school starts. Kids need more sleep than most people realize. Children up to third grade need 10-12 hours per night, and even high schoolers need a solid eight to 10 hours of sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. If you or your child is not sleeping well, try to identify the reason why and make changes to reduce the sleep loss. For example, stress may be causing bruxism, or grinding teeth at night, which will keep you awake. When you’re shopping for school supplies at Walmart, pick up a dental guard for bruxism to help prevent damage to your teeth.
Plan ahead: Give your kids — and your spouse or partner — a heads up about what to expect that day and also what big events are scheduled for the week to lessen anxiety. Will you be late getting home that night? Does one child have a soccer game or practice? Post a calendar or white board where you and your family can easily see short- and long-term events and plans.
Don’t overdo the extracurriculars: If you sign yourself or your kids up for too many activities, you’re setting the entire family up for increased stress. Junior may not want to play two sports, and you might not be able to commit to serving on the PTA if it means that your kids will not see you until bedtime! After a long day at school or work, simply eating and relaxing with the family may be the best activity for everyone.
Eat healthier: Your diet and nutrition choices can make your stress levels go up or down. Certain foods can actually increase hormones in your body that naturally fight stress. Avoid fatty foods, caffeine and sugar, and instead choose more high-fiber, carbohydrate-rich foods. Scientists believe carbohydrates cause the brain to produce more serotonin, a hormone that relaxes your body, and fiber helps prevent late-night binging. So add avocado and spinach to your salads and snack on strawberries and nectarines.
Minimizing stress is important all year round, but especially during times when anxiety is heightened, such as the weeks before and after going back-to-school. If stress goes unmanaged in kids or adults, it can negatively impact your health. For example, stress is a major cause of bruxism. If you suffer from jaw pain, sleepless nights or headaches, visit your dentist and pick up a SleepRight dental guard for bruxism. Visit www.sleepright.com to find a dental guard for bruxism that works best for you.