Driving kids to and fro, packing lunches, car rider lines, jammed parking lots, getting school supplies, buying the correct school uniforms, driving during school drop off and pick up even when you don’t have kids…. All of this can cause a bit of added stress on everyone involved. Stress is a major factor in weight gain, physical and mental health issues, and your overall well-being.
When under stress your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is an essential hormone that affects almost every organ and tissue in your body. Some of the many important roles it has are as follows:
- Regulating your body’s stress response.
- Helping control your body’s use of macronutrients including fats, carbohydrates and protein.
- Aiding in metabolism.
- Suppressing inflammation.
- Regulating blood pressure.
- Regulating blood sugar.
- Helping control sleep schedule
Your body is constantly monitoring and adjusting your cortisol levels to keep them steady. If your levels are too high or too low this can adversely affect your health.
It is important to recognize that changes to your everyday routine like getting back in the groove for school can cause an increase in your cortisol levels which in turn can lead to weight gain, lack of a good night’s rest, and body aches and pains due to inflammation and anxiety. Below are a couple of tips I would like to share that might help make this time of year less stressful:
1. Stay home: If you don’t have kids and aren’t in a hurry to get somewhere for 20 minutes before the start of school or 20 minutes after school ends, wait, or plan your important tasks around those busy times at the school so you are not stressed out stuck in school traffic.
2. Lunch packers: Pack lunches the night before so you are not scrambling around in the morning with breakfast, getting kids ready, getting yourself ready etc. Also I like to have one hot lunch day a week where my kids eat hot lunch at school and I have a day off of packing lunches. I like Friday’s for the hot lunch day.
3. Exercise: Make time for yourself and your health. Even if it’s 20 to 30 minutes a day of getting outside and walking or doing a HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout, you need to take care of yourself, so you can take care of others relying on you! Exercise releases endorphins that give your body a sense of calm and happiness.
4. Eat healthy: Fueling your body with healthy food is a great way to sustain your energy throughout the day and avoid blood sugar fluctuations that can cause fatigue.
5. SLEEP: A good night’s rest is important in maintaining your sense of well-being and keeping stress levels low. Introduce and stick to an early bedtime during the school week for everyone including your kids. They get stressed too and need direction and routine.
And if things still aren’t going your way, take a 10-to-15-minute time out. Smile, breathe, think of five things you are thankful for and just relax. Giving yourself a “reset” can make a big difference in making it a great day!
*This article was also published in the Coastal Breeze on August 25, 2022.