COMMUNITY HEALTH RESOURCE: Start the school year strong … – Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Partly cloudy skies. Low 52F. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 mph..
Partly cloudy skies. Low 52F. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 mph.
Updated: September 13, 2023 @ 4:49 pm
Scott Robinson

Scott Robinson
As the summer days become shorter and the crisp scent of autumn fills the air, it’s time to prepare for another exciting school year. Students, teachers, and parents alike are faced with decisions and lifestyles that can positively or inversely affect their health. By adopting a series of healthy habits at the start, you can ensure you’re taking positive steps toward physical and mental success. Here are some essential health tips to start your school year off on the right foot.
Prioritize sleep. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it many times: Getting an adequate night’s sleep is the foundation of good health and success. Whether it’s television, practice, grading papers, or studying that keeps you up late, try to aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night.
Keep a balanced diet and stay hydrated. While sleep gets you started, maintaining a balanced diet will help sustain your energy and overall well-being. Start your day with a balanced breakfast and make sure you’re incorporating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins into your meals. Avoid excessive sugary snacks and make sure you’re consuming large amounts of water. Consider carrying a reusable water bottle that you can fill up frequently, and avoid some of the soda or sugar-filled energy drinks.
Schedule exercise and activity. Exercise often takes a backseat, especially as we approach cooler weather. Engaging in regular physical activity (at least 30 minutes a day) promotes physical health and reduces stress. Whether it’s a membership to the local gym or YMCA, or indoor activities, make a plan and then do your best to stick to it. We can all become accustomed to sitting for too long; it’s important to not fall into this trap.
Manage stress. The school year can bring about a variety of stressors. Whether it’s assignments, exams, grading, or social pressures, there is plenty that can add stress to your life. While deep breathing and meditation can help keep your anxiety in check, also consider hobbies you love to help keep a balanced state of mind.
Stay organized. Getting organized in the first place can help to prevent burnout. Of course we all want to maximize our free time, but it’s important to take some time for yourself. There are a variety of tools available to help you maintain a calendar, so make sure that in addition to social activities and work, you’re adding in some personal relaxation. Set goals and prioritize the tasks that will help you achieve them.
Nurture your social connections. Spend time with friends, join clubs and organizations, engage in positive social interactions (co-workers, family, and others). These are all imperative to maintaining positive mental health. These connections can become your foundation during some of the challenging times you’ll face ahead.
Practice and maintain good hygiene. You may get the appropriate amount of sleep, have a balanced diet, and get some exercise, but if you’re not maintaining good hygiene your health could suffer. Consider the basics: wash your hands regularly, keep your personal spaces clean, and follow basic health guidelines to prevent the spread of illness. Without question, you’re going to come in contact with a variety of germs in the coming months, so take control of your actions and position yourself for healthy outcomes.
Don’t set yourself up for failure. Plan out what success looks like and set realistic goals for achieving it. Once you have your end goals set, find ways to break those down into smaller milestones and allow yourself to celebrate those along the way. This is a great way to boost your motivation and sense of accomplishment, rather than holding out any celebration to the very end.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether you’re a teacher, student, or parent, you’re not alone. When you need help, ask for it. Remember, if you have a question or need advice, someone else is probably thinking the same thing and you can often work it out together.
Be present. Whether you’re at home, school, or at an event, be present to what’s going on around you. Which sometimes means putting down your phone. They can be valuable for safety, communication, and taking photos to help capture events. They can also remove you from important moments going on. As you set goals for the day and week, consider personal goals for the amount of screen time you’re giving yourself.
The start of the school year marks an opportunity for a new beginning. In addition to focusing on how you’ll perform, take steps to priority your healthy habits. From physical to mental health, create a game plan and strive for success on all levels. Remember, your personal health is the best step in maintaining a positive educational and professional journey. Equally as important to your health is the health of those around you. It goes without saying, if you’re sick — stay home. Best of luck on a new school year.
Scott Robinson is the director of marketing, communications and outreach for Orleans Community Health. Information for this article is from OCH’s surgery clinic and surgical services department staff members. Community Health Resource is a monthly informational feature from providers at OCH/Medina Memorial Hospital.
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