Don’t panic, summer is not over yet! With that being said, a new school year is on the horizon. Whether you are excited about the upcoming start of school or dreading the end of summer, it’s never too early to start preparing your mind and body for a new routine. Starting off the school year with a positive mindset and a never-ending supply of motivation would be a great way to get off to a good start. You may be counting down the days until you or your kids go back to school, but if you’re not quite there yet, these tips may help you prepare.
Goal setting is a good practice for any aspect of your life. Setting weekly, monthly, and semester-long goals will keep your motivation flowing and give you a reason to stay on track all year. Utilize the SMART method when setting goals.
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. When writing down goals, using this method can help give you a sense of direction and organization and be able to monitor your progress along the way. You can personalize these goals that fit your lifestyle and make a vision board with pictures and quotes to hang up so that you’re constantly reminded to make choices that help reach these goals.
Routine may be the most important lifestyle tip for success. The average daily routine includes sleep, exercise, nutrition and social and home life. More often than not, your summer and school sleep schedules will not align.
According to the Sleep Foundation, adults need 7- 9 hours of sleep every night, and kids need more. A fluctuation in the amount and quality of sleep negatively impacts healthy sleep patterns. It’s important to find a sleeping routine that works for your schedule and have a set bedtime and wake-up time that you can stick with.
Start early when trying to adjust your current sleep schedule, changing your bedtime and wake-up time by 30-minute increments each night until you reach your goal. This will ensure you are ready for the school year! If getting more exercise is your goal, account for this in your daily and weekly schedule. It may mean waking up an hour earlier or planning a time to walk or play a sport with friends a few days a week.
One of the most common excuses is not having time to eat well-balanced meals throughout the week. Make a list of your favorite recipes and new recipes you want to try to have on hand when planning your weekly meals.
Meal prepping can be daunting, but it is one of the best ways to have healthy yet convenient meals when your schedule gets busy. When you buy fresh produce, try doing the prep work by washing and chopping fruit and veggies throughout the week. You’ll be more likely to use these ingredients for snacks and meals if they’re ready to eat or throw in a quick recipe. Doing the prep work before a busy week will save time and lower stress, so there’s more time to focus on your priorities.
Back to school doesn’t mean your social life has to be postponed. One of the best ways to stay motivated to do well in school and get your homework done is to have something to look forward to when it is completed.
Whether hanging out with friends on the weekend or having a self-care day after a long week, it’s important to balance hard work with fun and relaxation. This will prevent burnout and ensure you maintain a healthy lifestyle during the school year.
Laurie Welch is a nutrition and family issues educator with Penn State Cooperative Extension, 570-726-0022.