Ayurvedic Tips for a Balanced and Healthy Back-to-School Season
As the summer days begin to wane, it’s time to transition from relaxing days and leisurely vacations to the structured routines of the school year. The change in seasons and schedules can impact our children’s health and well-being. Ayurveda, the ancient medical Indian system of holistic wellness, offers valuable insights and practices that can help children and teens thrive during the back-to-school season. By integrating Ayurvedic principles into their daily routines, parents can support their children’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
As an Ayurvedic clinician and mother, here are 12 of my favorite Ayurvedic tips to consider as your child or teen heads back to school:
- Honor Natural Rhythms:
Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of aligning our routines with the natural rhythms of the day. Encourage your child to wake up early, ideally during the Vata time of day before sunrise, as this is considered a peaceful and invigorating time. Following a consistent sleep schedule and allowing enough time for restful sleep by going to bed early is essential for their overall health and cognitive function.
- Nourishing Breakfast:
Start the day with a balanced and nourishing breakfast. Include warm, easy to digest foods that pacify Vata dosha, or the air element, such as warm oatmeal, cooked apples with cinnamon, or whole-grain toast with nut butter. Avoid cold, raw, or processed foods in the morning, as they can disrupt digestion, concentration, and energy levels.
- Hydration with Warm Liquids:
Encourage your child to drink warm water or herbal teas throughout the day. Avoid icy cold drinks, as they can weaken digestion and disturb the body’s balance. Warm or room temperature liquids help maintain proper digestion, circulation, and hydration.
- Nutrient-Dense Lunch:
Pack a lunch that includes a variety of colorful fruits, cooked vegetables, whole grains, and a source of protein. Cooked, warm foods are easier to digest and provide sustained energy. Avoid heavy, fried, or overly processed foods that can lead to sluggishness and digestive discomfort.
- Mindful Eating:
Teach your child to eat mindfully, focusing on their meal without distractions. Encourage them to breathe between bites and chew their food thoroughly, aiding in proper digestion and nutrient absorption.
- Calming Herbs:
Consider incorporating calming Ayurvedic herbs into your child’s routine. Herbal teas made from chamomile, tulsi (holy basil) ginger, gotu kola, or mint can help promote relaxation and concentration. Consult an Ayurvedic practitioner for appropriate dosages and options.
- Regular Exercise:
Encourage your child to engage in regular physical activity. Whether it’s playing outdoors, practicing yoga, or participating in organized sports, movement helps balance excess energy and supports healthy growth.
- Restful Afternoons:
Plan for some downtime after school to allow your child to unwind. This can include reading, drawing, or simply spending quiet time. Avoid excessive screen time, as it can disrupt sleep patterns and overstimulate the mind.
- Abhyanga (Oil Massage):
Consider incorporating abhyanga, a traditional Ayurvedic self-massage, into your child’s routine. Massaging the body, including head and scalp, with warm sesame oil before bathing can help nourish the skin, promote relaxation, and calm the nervous system.
- Bedtime Routine:
Establish a calming bedtime routine to help your child wind down. This can include activities like reading a book, dimming the lights, and avoiding electronic devices at least an hour before sleep.
- Herbal Support:
If needed, consult an Ayurvedic practitioner for herbal supplements that support your child’s overall well-being. Herbs like ashwagandha, shatavari, turmeric, tulsi, triphala, and brahmi can be beneficial under proper guidance.
- Stay Connected:
Finally, stay connected with your child’s experiences. Encourage open communication about their school day, emotions, and any challenges they may be facing. A supportive and understanding environment at home can greatly contribute to their overall well-being.
As you prepare your child or teen for the school year ahead, integrating these Ayurvedic practices can create a foundation of balance, resilience, and optimal health. Remember that every child is unique, so it’s important to observe their responses and adjust routines accordingly. Consulting with an Ayurvedic practitioner can provide personalized guidance based on your child’s constitution and specific needs. With these mindful practices in your toolkit, you can help your child navigate the back-to-school season with vitality and joy.