Back-to-school is a time that requires a great deal of adaptation and organization. Gone are the frivolities of summer, now it's time for discipline and routine. With schedules now packed to the rafters, maintaining a healthy life balance can be a challenge. However, by incorporating a few tricks into your daily routine, you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Here are just a few of them:
The best way to ensure that you don't neglect the things that really matter, including your health, is to set priorities. These are, in fact, the activities or spheres of life on which we should invest resources (time, money, energy) before investing them in others. Our priorities are normally linked to our most cherished values. This means that if our values and priorities aren't in line, we'll have to adjust our aim. To make sure you never forget priorities such as health, it's a good idea to plan your weeks by blocking out time in your schedule for cultivating health. Whether it's 1 hour in the evening for a bath or an early morning jog, if it's already on the schedule, it's a good reminder to focus on what really matters, even if it's not very spontaneous.
One way of conserving energy during the autumn, and thus performing well in your studies, is to try as far as possible to pace yourself with natural light. As the sun sets earlier, we should also go to bed earlier. All the more reason to get up earlier and take advantage of the nourishing light of early morning. It's when we come into contact with morning light that we produce the most cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, which is beneficial in this case since it's when it peaks in the morning that we get that feeling of being fit and ready for the day. Similarly, to respect the natural biological clock, it's best to limit exposure to screens in the evening. If you absolutely have to study or hand in a piece of work, it's best to prefer tasks that don't require the use of a computer.
As back-to-school rhymes with routine, it's the ideal time to set up simple actions that will change your day for the better. Sport in the morning, for example, can help optimize concentration throughout the day. Similarly, a little meditation in the morning has also been shown to be beneficial in reducing stress and contributing to an overall good mood. It can sometimes be difficult at first to free up time in the morning. There are a number of tricks you can use to save as much time as possible, such as preparing books, the desk and even breakfast the night before.
Breakfast is a very important meal for many reasons. Among other things, eating a good breakfast helps to keep blood sugar levels under control throughout the day, maintain energy levels and prevent concentration and memory problems. A good breakfast should contain fiber, protein and healthy fats. It should also be rich in vitamins and minerals. In particular, avoid breakfasts that are too rich in fast or refined sugars, such as juices, jams, white bread, pastries and breakfast cereals. For this meal, you need to think in terms of nutritional density, and look for quality foods. Unfortunately, most of the breakfasts we're used to eating are made up of a large majority of carbohydrates. What's more, proteins are often overlooked.
For protein-packed breakfasts in a hurry, here are two simple recipe ideas:
1 can coconut milk
1 t raspberries (frozen or not)
½ cup chia seeds
Optional: coconut flakes, nuts, seeds, mint leaf
Combine the coconut milk, raspberries and dates in a blender. Then pour into another container and mix well with the chia seeds. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes (or the day before). Pour into a bowl and garnish with coconut flakes, walnuts, fresh mint leaves or other ingredients of your choice.
2 tbsp. soaked cashews
1 tbsp. hemp seeds
1 ½ t. milk (almond, soy)
1 handful blueberries
Garnish with chopped chia seeds, hemp seeds or almonds
If it takes too long to prepare in the morning, you can make the mixture the day before and freeze ready-to-use smoothie cubes for the next day.
Healthy eating should never be complicated. To make sure you eat enough vegetables, you can opt for frozen foods. Indeed, this can be an interesting choice, since frozen food normally contains little or no pesticides. If you have a little time to prepare meals, you can also use the pre-cut vegetables in supermarkets or, if you have the time, cut vegetables yourself, on Sundays for example. They'll then be ready to use for meals and lunches during the week. Simply sauté them in a large saucepan with a few spices and a source of protein. Another trick is to make a big soup on the weekend to eat during the week or to accompany meals. As for starchy foods and proteins, like vegetables, it might be a good idea to prepare a good quantity in advance... The meals then simply need to be "assembled" and reheated. Home-cooked meals, even if they're not fresh daily, are often healthier because they're lower in salt, bad fats and preservatives of all kinds.
According to the World Health Organization, if you sit all week at school, you're considered globally sedentary, even if you play sports on weekends. This predisposes you to all kinds of health problems. You need to compensate by moving regularly, for example for 5 minutes every hour. Among other things, this will optimize posture, prevent aches and pains and promote better concentration and mood. With the busy life of a student, it can be difficult to free up time for sport, but not impossible. Take the stairs instead of the elevator at work. Walk while reciting your oral presentation, revise your notes while riding a stationary bike. In short, there's no shortage of ideas for scheduling physical activity!
Interesting research has studied the effects of mindfulness meditation on attentional control (the ability to retain information, control thoughts and impulses, think before you act, and adapt to change). This ability is really crucial when it comes to studying. During the first week of the study, young people aged between 18 and 40, reporting high levels of stress, meditated 10 minutes a day during the first week, 15 minutes a day during the second and 20 minutes a day during the third. All participants meditated daily for a total of 5 weeks. Results showed that brief regular practice improved electro-physiological markers of attentional control.