Self Care

10 Self-Care Hacks For Back to School Season

Whether you’re going back to school or back to the office, there’s never been a better time to refresh your self-care routine.

By: Emma Lunsford

Can you believe it’s already that time of year again? School is back in session! But, with the end of summer comes the mayhem of the fall season. This means busy schedules and trying to adjust to a new routine. And if you’re a parent….  add trying to manage the needs of others to the mix! 

Think: managing homework, packed lunches, carpool coordination, all while (possibly) heading to the office. Overwhelming is an understatement. But not to worry! We’ve curated ten self-care hacks for keeping stress low and maintaining a steady, calm mind and mental state. Self-care for back-to-school is a must!

Beating The Stress of Back to School With Better Self-Care 

When significant schedule changes occur (like going back to school!), it’s easy to get overwhelmed. In fact, these feelings are normal! An adjustment period is common for any life shift. Naturally, there’s lots to think about! Shopping for back-to-school necessities (not to mention the cost), managing a busier-than-normal schedule, and getting annual check-ups to ensure everyone is healthy — it’s a lot! And if your child is heading off to college (or maybe preschool), there’s an added element of separation anxiety or heavy emotions — it’s part of the territory. To combat this added stress, it’s important to stay on top of your self-care — after all, you don’t want to burn out right off the bat. 

Of course, this type of strategy applies to those going back to the office, too! Getting out of our ultra-homebody routines can be jolting and stressful — not to mention the strain of extra-long commutes for some. We want to make sure we’re taking care of our bodies and soothing those anxious thoughts. It can make the transition so much easier! And thus, here’s how to prioritize self-care with easy-to-implement hacks for the summer to fall transition.

10 Self-Care Hacks For Back to School or Back to The Office

Self-care for back-to-school may not seem like a priority during this busy time, but actually, it’s especially important. The more you take care of yourself, the less stressful going back to school can be. Remember: you have to fill up your own cup, too. 

Use these ten back-to-school self-care hacks to get in your pampering!  

#1 Schedule Me-Time

Know the importance of purposeful fun, and schedule it in! When you keep yourself accountable by scheduling self-care, you’re all the more likely to follow through and do it. This is especially key during stressful times when we’re least likely to do self-care. Make your back-to-school self-care something you’ll look forward to, like setting aside time for your favorite hobby, getting a massage, or ending the busy day with a good book. And remember: simply spending some time alone is self-care too! Make those 5-10 minutes of uninterrupted “you time” a non-negotiable in your day-to-day schedule. It makes a difference.

#2 Set More Energy-Protective Boundaries

During periods of significant change, it’s normal to feel pulled in all different directions as we take on a larger energy load than usual. You probably have lots on your mind! This usually means getting tired more quickly, unintentionally overcommitting, or even feeling short-tempered due to burnout. And if you’re a parent, spouse, or caretaker for anyone other than yourself – this is especially true!

To prevent this, practice back-to-school self-care by staying aware of your boundaries. Where are you devoting too much energy? Maybe it’s scrolling the news too often or putting too many to-dos on your daily list. Respect your body’s need for rest. And put limits on energy-sucking areas, like your phone and email inbox. 

RELATED: How to Set Boundaries & Why You Should

#3 Prep the Necessities

Self-care for back-to-school also revolves around time management and efficiency. Try to stay one step ahead of that endless to-do list by prepping everything you can. Maybe Sunday afternoons are spent meal prepping dinners for the week, packing/planning lunches, and doing a load of laundry. The more prepared you feel, the more you can relax.

No time to prep? Head to the store and grab some of these fall-flavored healthy snacks!

RELATED: 12 Healthy Packable Lunches You’ll Actually Love

#4 Ask for Help When You Need

It’s common to feel like you’re alone in the overwhelm like it’s all on your shoulders and suddenly up to you to handle. But it can be really powerful to ask yourself: am I actually alone in this? Who could I reach out to for help? 

And no, you’re not a burden! So many people want to lend a helping hand — giving back is self-care for others too! Maybe it’s asking a friend to help you carpool or asking your partner to help with some chores. Or, forgoing the laundry altogether and using the extra time to relax! Sometimes back-to-school self-care is as simple as allowing others to show up for you. You deserve to be treated, too!

#5 Set Realistic Expectations

While writing out your to-do list, only list the things you think you’ll actually be able to get to. Putting an unrealistic amount of responsibilities on our shoulders can cause a lot of unneeded stress. Instead, ask yourself: what can I get done this week while also giving myself self-care time, too? How can I do both? 

This goes back to asking for support. You don’t need to do it all — if you feel like your plate is too full, try taking on a smaller portion and sharing the remainder with others. Adjusting to a new routine requires a certain amount of flexibility and self-compassion. Even if you’re sure you’ll have time, bumps in the road are normal! Approach these situations without judgment. You’re doing your best.

#6 Have a Daily Mindfulness Practice 

Proactively managing your stress is one of the best things you can do for both your mind and body. Maybe you journal every evening or write in a gratitude journal every morning. Maybe you meditate in your car for five minutes after dropping the kids off at school. Maybe you wake up 30 minutes earlier than usual to enjoy your coffee in peace and silence. There’s no one best way to incorporate a daily mindfulness practice into your schedule. Find something that helps bring ease into your day and releases that pent-up tension. Aim for five minutes per day, and try to stay consistent as best you can!

#7 Keep a Calendar or Planner 

Before you go around saying yes to every event, work task, or commitment, pull out your planner and check in with your schedule. Do you actually have time? Even if you “technically” do, will this add unnecessary stress? P.S. It’s ok to say no! Keeping a calendar or planner — whether it is an e-calendar or physical book — is a simple way to stay organized and help keep you from overcommitting. Be selective with your time!

#8 Get Your Sleep Schedule In Check 

If you’re running on fumes from the get-go, the chances of experiencing fatigue and burnout are far too likely. If you do one thing, make your sleep schedule a priority! You can’t pour from an empty cup. And with an unfamiliar schedule (not to mention the seasonal time change) your body needs more rest than normal. Getting your sleep routine in check is one of the best forms of self-care. 

Related: 11 Tips to Help Your Body Adjust to Daylight Saving Time

#9 Load Up on Stress-Busting Nutrients

There are certain foods — such as turmeric, spinach, salmon, and cacao — that have powerful stress-reducing properties. Loaded with nutrients like omega-3s, zinc, antioxidants, and flavonoids, these tasty and nutritious foods can help keep you cool, calm, and collected. Adding them to your diet is a simple way to prevent and manage stress. Plus, eating with nutrient density in mind is self-care in its purest form!

Here are some ideas:

  • Add a spoonful of cacao to your morning smoothie
  • Make a DIY trail mix filled with walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and freeze-dried berries
  • Swap your morning coffee for a warming matcha or turmeric latte
  • Top your salad with grilled salmon, and use spinach as your leafy green base

#10 Take a (Deep) Breather 

It’s important to have a quick and easy stress-reducing method to call upon when we’re in need. Sometimes we experience things that feel unpredictable or outside of our control. Knowing how to manage these emotions in the moment can help reduce feelings of stress, irritability, or anxiety and prevent long-term stress. Our favorite method? Deep breathing! It sounds simple, but it can be a truly powerful self-care tool. 

Try this Box Breathing exercise with DeAndre Sinette. 

Change Is Hard: Go Easy!

Self-care for back-to-school is all about making sure you stay available to yourself, no matter how busy you get. And it doesn’t have to be anything crazy! Just five minutes is all you need to find peace and calm in your day. So go easy on yourself! Do the best you can with what you have. You got this!