Fall is really here now; Labor Day is past and the kids are back in school. I’m even noticing the falling red leaves all over the place and of course the cooler, crisp air that so graciously fills our lungs. That reminds me of one little tidbit: did you know that we get more minerals from the air we breathe than from the foods we eat? Remember the last time you walked along a trail in the country or beside a stream of water and it felt so good? You couldn’t exactly explain why, but you just wanted to take in deep breaths and feel that nice country air? Minerals are a big part of why that felt so good to your body. In the reverse, have you noticed how disgusting it smells sometimes while driving down the road following a vehicle that has nasty fumes, being around cigarette smoke? Your lungs are telling you it’s not okay and to get some fresh air! Air quality is very important. Think about you and your family. How often are you getting fresh, unpolluted air? How about where you work or where your precious children are going to school? Are you making time to get out for fresh air and taking deep cleansing breaths which are very good for stress reduction too!
I want to talk about this school season. Your children have gotten their new clothes, their school supplies and are getting settled into a routine again. How is it working? Are they happily adjusting or are they complaining and showing signs of exhaustion and of being overwhelmed? Are you as the parent overwhelmed and exhausted while complaining about the whole process? Sometimes taking a step back and evaluating the situation can help find a weak link or two that needs attention. Here are a few general areas that can cause problems when in a kilter:
1. Sleep: I can’t emphasize this enough.
a. Small Children: Have a routine that prepares them for sleep like a story, warm bath, light snack, or a gentle back rub. Eliminate all electronics for 1-2 hours before bed so their mind can settle and sleep can come. Put Lavender essential oil on their pillow or spray their room to help calm them. Sometime we as parents need to adjust our schedule so children can be at home to get the proper amount of sleep. Remember, you are the parent that makes these decisions and bed times, not your child.
b. Teens: This is a time that the body is growing so fast physically, mentally and emotionally. Sleep is now more needed and precious than ever. Research has shown that sleep before midnight is more important than the morning hours. It is cool for kids to be up late, but they are suffering. Research has also shown an increase in diabetes with less than 8 hours of sleep a night for teens. Allow them to catch up on the weekend too when the body can recuperate from the lack of sleep during the week.
c. Parent: Get your sleep so you are better to handle everything! As an adult, catching up on sleep over the weekend doesn’t work the same way it does for teens, sorry, it can actually make you more tired! We need set hours of routine sleep for maximum benefit.
2. Food: This area can be a springboard for energy and health, or your downfall!
a. Breakfast: DO NOT SKIP IT! Eat some fruit first and then make sure to include plenty of protein and some good fat to carry you through the morning. Loads of carbs at this meal will only set you up for a sluggish, low energy day! Eat left-over’s from last night’s dinner, or make a nutritious protein shake! This was normal until Kellogg’s came out with a convenient corn flake breakfast cereal! Remember, most cereals are only carbs and sugars…beware!
b. Lunch: Include good protein and a few carbs. Don’t reach for easy fast foods and candy. Of course drink plenty of water too! This takes planning, but is well worth it!
c. Snacks: Include protein again! Good choices are raw nuts, fruit, peanut or almond butter on carrots or celery, etc.
d. Dinner: EAT TOGETHER! This is the time of day to come together and share your day. Kids feel important and loved from this simple family priority and are less likely to look elsewhere for that affirmation which can lead to delinquency and pain. Also, forgo the processed foods and eat like your grandparents did for greater health!
3. Stress Reduction: Talk to your child. Keep the doors of communication open. Do not make it a lecture, but ask open ended questions so they can share if they want. Don’t expect fast results on this if it hasn’t been a regular practice; it takes awhile for them to trust. Keep confidences! If they think you’re going to go tell your friends, they will not tell you in the first place! Be sensitive to their body language and look for opportunities to ask more pointed questions. I believe everyone can benefit from taking take Cataplex B, a whole foods B complex, for emotional support or Calm Day at any age. Don’t think small kids don’t have stress either, be aware of these areas in particular:
a. Socialization: Socializing is the core of life for most kids. This includes many electronic devices and various networks that never sleep! Your child can be talking to friends at any hour without your knowledge unless you put up boundaries. Words and pictures are on these social networks that would never be said or seen in any other form prior to this high tech age! Our kids are exposed to so much stress and many parents are unaware. You think they’re sleeping and they’re up in their room texting or on facebook…or maybe they’re crying because of the former and no one is there to help them see how special they really are. Protect your child. Put up boundaries.
b. Perfection: We are all proud of our kids and want them to do well, but are you putting stress on them to excel above and beyond what they are capable of? Do they feel like they never measure up to your expectations? Have you told them how proud you are for who they are, not what they are accomplishing?
c. Busyness: Is the family calendar so full that everyone is running from place to place without any down time? Is everyone constantly on “fast forward”? There are so many “good things” to do, but what is the best for your family?
Take some time for a walk, breathe in deep and really think about each of your family members. Evaluate the whole picture and see if there are areas that need some adjusting. Make a plan for little steps because it is a journey, not a race with a finish line close by. Take time to enjoy the journey and make some good memories along the way with fewer regrets than if you just rushed through it. These are not easy areas to make changes in, yet the benefits are greater health and wellness. Next time I’ll look at some easier, more precise ways to influence your health and the health of your family.