We know that routines are key for creating and sticking to new health habits! Back to school/fall is very different for every family and person, but it’s a great time to look at those routines. Here are a few things that help many of my patients both with children or without:
- Get organized around meals. Most of my patients find that planning their meals relieves some of their mental load, allows them to make healthier meal choices, and saves time/money. When you’re staring at the fridge exhausted at 6pm, you generally don’t make the healthiest food choices! Meal planning does not need to be complicated. Start with creating a master list of dinner ideas – brainstorm with family, friends, pinterest, cookbooks, etc. to create this. Once you have a solid list of meal ideas – write your grocery list with those dinners mapped out for at least 4 days of the week and shop accordingly. You could even repeat this same meal rotation on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. It is so much easier to come home after a busy day with a plan and the appropriate ingredients in your fridge/freezer than to create something from the hodge-podge in your kitchen.
- Schedule 1-2 activities for you in the week or month. What gives you joy? What fills your bucket? You need to have some of this in your life. If it’s not scheduled, it can be challenging and more mentally fatiguing to get it in. Many people go into September with grand ideas of going to the gym 4 times a week, or taking up 3 new hobbies. Choose just one of those things and make it happen! If everyone around you knows about it and it is blocked in your schedule, it is going to be easier to protect that space for you.
- Create structure/division around daily tasks. For parents of kids; September is a good time to discuss chores, divide responsibilities, and set out expectations. Have conversations around the morning timelines: who gets breakfast ready, makes lunches, packs bags, chooses clothes, etc. After school, who is unloading bags, putting papers away, unloading the dishwasher, etc.? Who’s dealing with the millions of forms in the first week back? The mental load of these tasks can be heavy so it’s important to be aware of it and strategize around managing it!
- Prioritize your sleep. Everything is easier if you feel rested upon waking. If your natural sleep rhythms have been suffering with summertime activities, it is time to get back on track. The first steps are: movement earlier in the day, no electronics in the hour before bed (turn that phone off!), dimming lights in the evening, opening blinds to let in the sun in the morning, and being consistent on sleep and wake times.
- Get your nagging health concerns addressed. Fall is a lot more fun if you’re feeling great. If you feel like your mood, energy, digestion, menstrual cycles, sleep, etc. are suffering, it’s time to get those things checked out and a plan in place!