9 Ways to Beat Back-to-School Stress

The end-of-summer, back-to-school season can be almost as stressful as the frantic December holiday season. With the pace of life switching from endless summer days to jam-packed, over-scheduled autumnal ones almost overnight, September can be a real head-spinner for both kids and parents.

The good news is that if you start now, you can start adjusting yourself and your family to the back-to-school reality, easing the shock of the season. You just need to put a few simple strategies in place and you’ll be able to carry some of that easy summer feeling into early fall. Try a few of these back-to-school stress busters so you can look forward to the days ahead – instead of bracing yourself for them! Here’s where to start:

1. Chill Out First Thing

The back-to-school season will be a lot calmer (and your blood pressure lower) if you take five minutes to meditate every day – starting now. Try doing it just after you get out of bed and before the rest of the house starts to stir. Sit on the floor, legs crossed or in a straight-back chair, eyes closed. Plug into one of our favorite meditation apps, like the handy Insight Timer – to keep you on schedule (and to prevent yourself from falling back to sleep). Feeling adventurous? Take it a step further and see if you can cajole the kids into joining you.

2. Ease Into the School Night Mentality – Starting Tonight

To ease the transition, a week or two before the return to school, start shutting the house down for the night a bit earlier – say by 30 minutes or so. It will help re-acclimate the family to “school night” hours – and help everyone rest up for those slightly disorienting first few days back in the new routine.

3. Don’t Play Into the Crazy of “Back-to-School” Shopping

Back-to-school shopping is a panic-inducing marketing gimmick – don’t feed into it. All those school supplies and new clothes will still be there after school starts and by then, they’ll probably be on sale to boot. Standing on line at Staples with hundreds of other forelorn-looking families when you could be out enjoying the weather is a profoundly unappealing prospect. And it’s a task you can easily put off until after school starts or at least ‘til the next rainy, late summer day.

4. De-stress the Morning Rush

To help cut morning chaos, this year, make it everyone’s business to turn over a new leaf – and get their acts together at night. Everyone in the family – moms and dads included – should pack their workbags, schoolbags and lay out their outfits, right down to coats, shoes, socks and undies, before going to bed so there’s no morning panic or time lost searching for missing mittens, notebooks, phone chargers, car keys, etc.

5. De-stress the Morning Meal

Right after dinner, while you’re still in the groove, do as much breakfast and lunch prep as you can, so there’s less to deal with in the morning. Wash and chop veggies for omelets; crack, mix and season eggs and store in the fridge overnight; premix the Paleo pancake batter, etc. – anything you can do to shave a few minutes off the process in the morning. Bake-ahead egg dishes are also big morning time-savers. In our house, the day starts with smoothies, so to save an a.m. minute or two, at night, we assemble the dry ingredients in the blender cup and store in the fridge overnight. In the morning, we add frozen organic fruits, pre-cut/washed veggies, liquid, hit ‘blend’ and voila! Breakfast is served in less than two minutes.

6. Say NO to the PTA

It takes a tough parent to say no to the PTA, but you have to get comfortable with the phrase ‘no,’ deliver it as pleasantly as possible – and mean it. “That’s sounds great but I can’t right now – I’m in meltdown on a work project,” should cover it. If pressed, say something like, “Oh you know, crazy boss,” look heavenward and leave it there. No need to create elaborate lies, just have a little white one at the ready. Offer to help down the line, perhaps in October, but give yourself a break during those initial back-to-school weeks – and don’t feel guilty about it. You have a right to be in control of your time.

7. Extend the Summer a Little Bit Longer

On paper, the first day of school seems like the official end of summer but, weather-wise there are still a few precious weeks of warm, summery days left to savor. Rather than bidding a sad farewell to summer on September 1, add a beach weekend or two in the latter half of the month to take advantage of the perfect weather, the quiet, less crowded beaches and the relaxed, end-of-season pace.

8. When in Doubt, Take a Good-for-You Chill Pill

Yes, there are times when even the best of us get stressed out and think a pill would help take the edge off – and a lot of them do. Unfortunately, these seemingly innocuous, mothers-little-helpers prescription drugs have a massive downsides, among them being a link to increased risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. My advice? Skip the prescription drugs and switch to a combination of calming herbs and healthy nutrients known as the Be Well Stress Support formula. Think of them as Mother Nature’s chill pills – and the healthy alternative to dangerous and addictive anti-anxiety prescription drugs.

9. De-stress Your Nights

To help you wind down from a busy day, try a brief pre-bedtime session of my favorite relaxing yoga pose, called “Supta Boddha Konasana.” It takes just a few minutes – as many or as few as you can spare, it’s up to you. Striking this classic pose will help body and mind, preparing them both for a good night’s rest. Sweet dreams!

For more ideas on how to help prepare your child for the return to school, read Pausing to Prepare by Steve Cowan, author of Fire Child Water Child, for 10 more terrific tips.