Managing Stress Levels During Back to School Season: Physical and Mental Wellness Tactics To Try

Whether you're gearing up for a new semester or preparing for the end-of-term exams, remember that you have the tools to deal with stress at your fingertips.

We know that the back-to-school season can feel like the final round in a heavyweight title fight, with stress strapping on the gloves. Rather than letting the stress of the back-to-school season get you on the ropes, take some pre-emptive steps to prepare and improve your physical and mental health. It’s important that this is one fight you’re ready to win!

To help you take it all on this semester, let’s talk about some physical and mental wellness tactics you can try to ensure you’re ready for whatever this school season has to throw at you.

Nutrition Strategies for Managing Stress

In addition to maintaining a generally healthy and balanced diet, there are certain nutrients you can look to that can give you a bit of an extra boost. For instance, Omega 3 and Omega 6 are essential fatty acids, the building blocks of healthy cells. Aim to consume more Omega-3-rich foods to help keep your wellness goals on track. 

In an ideal world, your body craves a balance between these two fatty acids — it’s not about omega 3 vs omega 6. Omega 3s help to reduce inflammation and promote brain health. They're found in abundance in fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts. Omega 6s, on the other hand, found in vegetable oils and processed foods, are not all bad, but when they outnumber Omega 3s, they can promote inflammation.

Chronic stress and anxiety are closely linked with inflammation. And the Western diet, with its overload of Omega 6 and scarcity of Omega 3, is like an open invitation to a stress party. But fear not, as managing your Omega 3 and Omega 6 intake can give you a significant edge in your fight against stress. 

Next, limit processed foods and opt for whole, unprocessed meals. We know this is easier said than done, especially when that potato chip bag gives you the "eat me" look. Just remember that you're on a mission to keep your stress levels in check. 

Don't forget about other stress-busting foods. Whole grains, leafy greens, and dark chocolate (yes, chocolate!) can all contribute to a stress-resilient diet. Finally, let's not forget hydration — keep your water bottle handy!

The Importance of Physical Activity

If your brain is a supercomputer, physical activity is the best software update it can get. There's a reason we feel that rush of positivity after a good workout, and it's not just the satisfaction of surviving a spin class without passing out!

Physical activity triggers the release of endorphins, those delightful little chemicals that serve as natural mood lifters. Don't worry, you don't have to sign up for a marathon. The idea is to get moving and keep your body active. A quick walk around the block, a short dance session in your room, and a game of football with friends all count towards your daily movement goal.

You could even consider joining a sports team at school. Not only will you get a good dose of exercise, but you'll also build social connections, which is another great stress buster! So, go ahead, lace up those sneakers, and let's move stress out of the way!

Mindfulness and Mental Wellness Practices

Remember how we talked about upgrading your brain software with physical activity? Well, mindfulness is like a top-notch antivirus program, protecting your mental space from the malware of stress.

At its core, mindfulness is about staying present, not letting your mind wander into the land of "what ifs" and "if onlys.” A few minutes of deep breathing before starting your homework, a short break to focus on your senses during a busy day, or taking time to notice the beauty of a sunset are all simple yet powerful mindfulness exercises.

Yoga and meditation can be great tools for mindfulness as well. They're like a double whammy, offering both physical activity and mental relaxation. It's crucial to keep it positive, and when stress knocks, answer with reassuring and supportive self-talk. 

Don’t Just Survive Next Semester — Thrive!

There’s nothing more useful for the upcoming school year than a stress-surviving guide at the ready. To help make your upcoming semester a little bit easier and ensure that you soar through it with flying colors, we've covered the strategies that can help you manage stress levels while maintaining physical and mental wellness — both of which are huge contributors to your ability to manage and deal with stress.

Whether you're gearing up for a new semester or preparing for the end-of-term exams, remember that you have the tools to deal with stress at your fingertips. It's all about making small changes and practicing self-care because it becomes even harder to manage in difficult situations if you don't take care of yourself. While ideally, none of us would ever have to deal with stress, it is inevitable … so it’s best to be prepared!

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