How to Stay Sane Going Back to School

Between scheduling last-minute summer vacations and doctor’s appointments, arranging class schedules and shopping for back-to-school clothes, this time of year can really take a toll on your mental health. How can you minimize your stress and maximize your enjoyment? Try these tips.

Take vitamins. Whether you grab a simple once-a-day formula or concoct your own mix of supplements, vitamins help keep your energy level high and can boost your resistance to illness. Ask your doctor what supplements he or she recommends. In the last few years, many experts have been touting the benefits of taking Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin.

Ask for help. Most people take on too much during the summer, try to get too much done and turn into silent martyrs. If you’re overloaded, speak up and ask for help. Tap into your family members’ strengths. See if your spouse can handle some of the back-to-school shopping or activity chauffeuring. Enlist your kids to make shopping lists or help with other duties around the house. If you can delegate even the smallest household chores, you’ll leave more time for back-to-school necessities.

Make time for fitness. Is your exercise routine the first thing to fall by the wayside when things get busy? When your schedule is crazy, you need all the energy you can get. Even if you have to dial down your regular routine, doing some type of exercise is better than doing nothing at all. Fit in 20 minutes every day to take a brisk walk outside, do a quick fitness video, stretch, or work out with light hand weights. Your body will thank you.

Wind down. At the end of a hectic day, it’s hard to fall asleep if you don’t take time to relax before bedtime. To avoid sleepless hours spent staring at the ceiling and making mental to-do lists, take 10 or 15 minutes every evening to ease into slumber. Try meditating (the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center has free guided meditations as short as three minutes that you can download). You can also do some gentle yoga stretches or simply take a bath. Try misting your pillowcase with lavender—it’s smell is said to make people sleepy.

Set limits. Overscheduling is a key cause of back-to-school stress. Keep your calendar on your smartphone so you can see your commitments at a glance. If someone asks you to do something you don’t have time to do (or just don’t want to do), just say no. You don’t have to make a complicated excuse—gently (but firmly) saying something like, “Thank you for the invitation, but unfortunately I can’t” will suffice. Saying no is tough, but you (and your family) will be glad you did.

Plan for a stress-free back-to-school month. The best way to stay on top of your to-do list is to knock some of it off early in the summer or even before school gets out. Shopping for back to school may be the last thing you want to think about before school gets out, but you may be able to find some good deals on notebooks, uniforms and backpacks. Make a note on your calendar to get ahead of the game next year.

Rieva Lesonsky is an entrepreneur, best-selling author and self-educated health nut. Follow her @Rieva.

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