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LIVING HEALTHY HARTSVILLE: Healthy habits for back to school

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While there is still some time left of summer, this is a good time to dig into some healthy habits for those going back to school for not just students but faculty and staff as well.

If you are asking yourself why is this an important topic at the end of summer?

Well, summer brings some unhealthy habits when schedules of school are not in place. Often sleep schedules, time-management and eating habits are thrown off in the summertime.

With the transition back to school other healthy habits to consider includes getting up to date on all vaccinations, setting a strict bedtime, maintaining good hygiene, ensuring a healthy diet, controlling stress, and of course a wellness exam.

Updating all your vaccinations is an effective way to defend against common illnesses that come about when everyone starts to go back to school.

Schools often have required vaccines as kids progress through the various stages of schooling. It is always important to check with your school to make sure that you know exactly which vaccines you or your child need to have. Again, there are different requirements for different age groups. Staying up to date on your vaccinations can help keep the entire family healthy.

Like the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth much more than a pound of cure when it comes to keeping your family healthy.”

Setting a strict bedtime and sticking with it is essential to good health. Everyone of all ages needs to get a good sleep at night. During the transition period back to school, good sleep is especially important. Back to school health depends on sound sleep habits, so set a strict bedtime.

Adults need a full 7-8 hours to maintain good health, but children need more sleep than that, the recommendations are listed below by age:

  • Preschoolers: 10-13 hours
  • School-aged children: 9-11 hours
  • Teens: 8-10 hours

Maintaining good hygiene is a necessity but it is especially important to emphasize when it is back to school time.

For everyone in the school or works in the public setting thorough handwashing throughout the day cannot be stressed enough. Germs lurk on every surface.

The most important times to wash your hands include after you use the restroom as well as before and after every meal. One of my favorite helpful habits when it comes to hygiene is to make sure you have access to hand sanitizer when there is not a sink around to wash your hands.

Other aspects to good hygiene include not sharing combs, brushes, hats, and other hair accessories to avoid the spread of lice. Also do not share other hygiene products such as deodorant, toothbrush, and shower towels.

Ensuring a healthy diet starts with a healthy breakfast.

Yogurt, eggs, or a breakfast sandwich along with fruit ensures they start the day on a healthy note.

For lunch, bypass the convenience foods, such as prepackaged snacks and grab-n-go lunches. Stock up on fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads or wraps, lean proteins, cheeses, and nuts. Easy-to-eat foods like baby carrots, apple slices, grapes and melon chunks, can all be portioned ahead of time for easy lunch-packing.

Use these same concepts for after school or mid-day snacks.

Controlling stress is important because as we all know stress is not good for anyone, and without the tools to manage it, you can suffer from weakened immune systems, insomnia and other health problems.

Back to school time can be stressful because of all of the change that comes with it.

Watch for the signs of stress in kids by encouraging your kids to share their day with you and take the time to listen. As tempting as it is for kids to get involved in extracurricular activities like scouts or sports, limit them to one activity and do not overschedule.

Help your child develop healthy ways to channel stress. Go for a walk, draw with them, color in a coloring book (there are great adult ones too!), or play outside. Find ways to relax, and the stress will be less cumbersome.

Final step is a Wellness Exam, this is a good healthy habit for every year.

This is a wonderful time to get caught up on all your vaccinations and to have everything checked out to make sure that you can start the year out healthy. This is essential for not only adolescents but adults as well.

On a final note, and piece of advice, it is never too early to start these healthy habits! So, while you enjoy the last little bit of summer, take a few moments to think about some of these healthy habits before the stressful transition period of back to school gets here.

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