Back To School – The Stress Free Guide

The beginning of September unfortunately marks the end of summer and the start of another school year. To help combat the end of summer time blues, use the start of school as your chance to organize your life and yourself. I don’t just mean cleaning out your car or organizing your desk; I am talking about organizing your body, mind, and spirit. Below I have laid out a plan to a stress free (or at least more stress free) start to the new school year.

Organize your body…

Now that phrase sounds awkward, but here is what I mean. Let’s make your body the healthiest and happiest it can be so that you can maximize your energy and focus it on accomplishing other things. We can accomplish this by doing 3 things:

  1. Start a workout/exercise/fitness routine

You do not need to become a gym rat, but add some physical activity to your life (or become more consistent about it if you already do workout). Last Wednesday I posed a 15-minute workout that can be done just about anywhere, if you currently are not doing any physical activity that is a good place to start. This Wednesday I will post a core challenge; try to add that to your workout routine just 3 times a week.

How much physical activity per week? (for adults)

2 hours & 30 minutes ~ moderate aerobic activity per week (i.e. brisk walking, cycling, etc.)


1 hour & 15 minutes ~ vigorous aerobic activity per week (i.e. running, basketball, swimming laps, etc.)


2 x per week ~ muscle strengthening activities (i.e. weight lifting, yoga, etc.)

Don’t feel bad if you do not meet these exercise goals, most Americans do not! Click here to see some stats, they are not pretty, so let’s change that!

2. Improve your diet

The change of seasons from summer to fall can be a great time to overhaul your diet especially in preparation for all of the holiday goodness to come in the next couple of months. If you are interested in doing a bigger diet change consider a “Sugar Cleanse” or trying a “Paleo” or “Gluten Free” lifestyle.

Basic Sugar Cleanse Foods List

Basic Sugar Cleanse Foods List

Um hello, I am not crazy and I like my bread…

If you are not feeling extreme, but still want to improve, start with increasing your intake of fruits and especially vegetables. The goal should be 5 servings of fruits and/or veggies per day!

Last Friday I posted What’s Fresh for the month of September. Here is my challenge to all of you!

During the month of September, try to eat all of the foods on the What’s Fresh list at least 1 time this month. By doing this, you will get 56 servings of fruits & veggies. 

Post your fruit and veggie filled meal pictures to your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter with the #thisispreventivehealth

#thisispreventivehealth #eattheleaf

Stay tuned, this Foodie Friday will have fresh Mason Jar salad ideas to make your meal planning easier while getting your daily 5! #thisispreventivehealth #eattheleaf

  1. Try Ecotherapy (aka get your butt outside)

Even though the weather will not stay sunny and hot forever, especially in the NW, fall is a beautiful time to get outside and explore nature. Increase your time outside to daily or as much as possible! A new study by the University of Essex displayed reduction in stress and depression in participants who spent more time outdoors. Also, more research has been done that gives evidence that nature not only decreases stress and improves wellness, but can also combat heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and more!

Columbia gorge hiking! #ecotherapy

Columbia gorge hiking! #ecotherapy

Organize your mind…

It is extremely hard to be at your physical best when your mind is not in the right place. It is also difficult to plan a workout routine or nature time without knowing what your own schedule is. Some of the largest hurdles to beginning a new wellness/fitness routine are ‘lack of time’, but most people do not have a lack of time, they just do not know where they are spending it.

Map your time this September using my “Weekly Hour Tracker”!
Click here for PDF form.

Organize your spirit…

Now that you have organized your mind and made a concrete plan to organize your body, the last piece to that puzzle is organizing your spirit or emotional well-being by creating a routine that helps you to relax and wind-down at the end of the day.

Sleeping the correct amount of hours a night is vital to your health, but it can be difficult getting that necessary sleep when you have a hard time winding down at the end of the day. The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following amount of sleep per night based on age group.

Check how much sleep you need based on your age group!

Check how much sleep you need based on your age group! Remember that sleep times change based on the person.

I suggest starting a nightly routine, like 10-15 minutes, where your sole focus is relaxing, reflecting, and preparing to rest. This routine should be personalized to you and what you need to wind down after a long day. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Start by doing some light yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises.
    • This will slow down your heart rate and focus your mind on something other than the tasks you need accomplish tomorrow
  • Follow this up by getting into bed and reading a book or journaling.
    • This does not mean reading a memo from work, constructing a speech, or studying for school. I am talking about reading a book for fun (remember when you used to do that) or something to help you reflect on your day.

HELPFUL TIP! Stay away from the electronics at least 30 min prior to sleep time (even electronic readers)!

Let’s Wrap It Up!

Regardless of whether September marks a change in your life or schedule, all of us can use a little more organization in our lives. If you take control and organize your body, mind, and spirit it will make the transition from summer to fall easier overall and it will improve your health and quality of life! Who knew!

My name is Emma Petshow and I am a 3rd year naturopathic medical student at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR. For more about myself, check out my bio. This blog is intended for information about preventive health and lifestyle improvement. The information contained on this blog is not to be used as medical advice. For specific medical advice you should consult your physician.

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