Back-to-School Health: A+

September 12, 2019

How to Establish Healthy Back-to-School Habits

It’s that time of year again — everybody’s heading back to school. No more lazy, hazy summer days. It’s time to focus and learn. If you want to start the school year off on the right foot, establish healthy habits with the seven tips below.

1. Set a Sleep Schedule

Sleep is crucial. You can feel grumpy and unmotivated if you don’t get enough of it. How much you need depends on several factors, including your age. Most people require between seven and 10 hours of sleep each night, though some people claim to feel rested after just a few. One healthy habit is to set up a bedtime routine. Work backward, starting with the time you want to wake up in the morning. Then, subtract how many hours you need to sleep. For example, if you’re going to get up at 7 a.m. and want eight hours of sleep, you should get to sleep by 11 p.m. See more about recommended sleep times using this guide from!

2. Eat Your Breakfast

Don’t dash off to the classroom. It’s essential to establish the routine of a healthy breakfast in the morning. Studies show a nutritious breakfast comes with benefits like better memory and concentration. Skipping the meal, on the other hand, can throw off your routine. Your body gets fuel from food. Give it what you need to feel naturally energized in the morning. Look for healthy foods like dairy, whole grains and fruits. Children who don’t eat in the morning have a harder time focusing in school.

3. Prepare Healthy Lunches

At lunch, your body still needs fuel to power through the day. Pack a healthy, nutritious meal that will boost your natural energy. Include fresh or canned fruit. Try to avoid dried fruit bars, as they’re often high in sugar. Add fresh veggies, like carrots, cucumber slices or cherry tomatoes. You can include a small container of dip. Don’t forget your protein, like lean meat or a hard-boiled egg. Top off the selection with dairy, like a cheese stick, and a starch — such as a bread roll. Plus, you should always have a bottle of water.

4. Make Time for Hydration

Water is more than good for your health — it’s necessary to survive. Drinking water helps your body regulate temperature, cushion joints and remove waste. If you don’t drink enough of it, you can become dehydrated, a condition that can lead to unclear thinking, poor moods, overheating and more. Carry a bottle of water everywhere, even at school. Get a container with measurements so you can track how much you drink. Freeze a bottle the night before, so it stays ice-cold throughout the school day. You can also stay hydrated with high-water foods like tomatoes, celery and watermelon.

5. Get Physical

It’s essential to squeeze exercise into your routine each day. Not only will you burn calories, but you’ll feel better — both mentally and physically. More than 33% of adults and 17% of children in the U.S. are in danger of obesity. It’s never too late to get active.

Regular physical activity — a bike ride, a game of tennis, jump rope, etc. — can have a lot of positive health effects. It can improve sleep, promote bone and muscle health, relieve stress, reduce fat, increase energy and much more.

6. Learn Everyone’s Name

The biggest challenge when heading back to school is learning all the new names. Luckily, there are a few tricks you can use to remember. When someone introduces themselves, the first step is to repeat their name back — say “Hi, Zach,” or “Nice to meet you, Molly.” If the name is unusual, ask them to spell it out. For visual learners, this technique can help you create a mental image. Try to associate something you know about them with their name, such as “Ben with blonde hair” or “Carrie from California.” Or connect the name to someone else you know — like a family member, character or public figure.

7. Practice Positive Communication

Do you want to succeed in your new school routine? Practice positive communication. Try to keep your emotions under control. Miscommunication is more likely to occur when you feel stressed or overwhelmed. Avoid conflict by learning to calm down before a conversation. Focus on the person talking to you. If you’re checking your phone or planning what to say, you’re not effectively communicating. Instead, you’re distracted and apt to miss non-verbal cues. Look at your body language, too — you can block communication by sending out negative signals.

Start the School Year Right

Whether you’re a teacher, mentor, college student or middle-grader, a healthy school-life balance is simple to establish for back-to-school. Start by setting a bedtime and planning nutritious meals. Learn tricks for meeting and befriending new people — including how to remember names and communicate effectively. Plus, don’t forget to stay hydrated. It’s time to tackle this year.

About the Author

With an interest in arts, early learning and methodologies, Alyssa Abel hopes to touch lives with her insights into education. Read more on her blog, Syllabusy.