Friday 21 September, 2018

Prepare your mind and body for the back-to-school rush

Photo by kosal ley on Unsplash

Photo by kosal ley on Unsplash

For many, the back to school routine is one wrought with obscenely early mornings, frantic schedules, and of course, commutes filled with traffic. 

Arguably, it is how NOT to kickstart your day, because it can result in an anxious and stressed state of mind.  Once you’ve safely herded your children into the car and deposited your precious cargo at the school gates, mentally you may feel as though you have come through a mind field of in-car bickering, “bad drives” and general hostility from within yourself and the immediate environment.  Going “back to school” is something we have come to dread! 

Everything starts with the mind.  Psychology Today notes, “new research shows that happiness isn’t just an emotional experience, but an emotion that can shape the way you perceive the world”.  Shifting our mindsets to one of happiness in the morning is critical.  Therefore, we need to actively boost back to school, or rather our minds and bodies, to one of happiness, joy and calm.  

MIND:  Gratitude is a powerful emotion, which helps to alter perceptions. Academic study also shows us the counting our blessings help to rewire our brains.  “Feelings of gratitude directly activated brain regions associated with the neurotransmitter dopamine.”

  1. Simple starts can bring big benefits!  Before you get up from your bed, say to yourself “thank you, thank you, thank you for the day ahead”.
  2. Counting your blessings on your commute. 
    1. Ask your family to say 10 things that they are grateful for in their lives.
    2. Not only list what you're grateful for but also say WHY you're grateful for this thing.  E.g - I'm grateful for my legs, because they allow me to walk freely and easily, and facilitate my independence.

BODY:  The old adage, “you are what you eat”, is true.  According to Harvard Health

“Eating foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress — the ‘waste’ produced when the body uses oxygen, which can damage cells… studies have found a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function — and even a worsening of symptoms of mood disorders, such as depression.”

Let me translate.  People who eat healthy and nutritious food are calmer and happier than those who eat badly.  This is because there is a direct link between the gut and the brain.  Eating foods with good bacteria such as probiotics can actually modify our brain chemistry, so that we feel good, deal with anxiety, stress better and are generally happier!  Eating foods such as yogurt, which are high in probiotics for breakfast can, therefore, help to boost your mood in the morning. 

Article courtesy Dominique Heffes-Doon off the Spark Child Foundation.