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Making Healthy Choices For the New School Year

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Once classes start and the demands of school start setting the daily rhythms of education, it’s easy to lose track of the many decisions, big and small, that can affect how well the year turns out. Doing well in school, though, depends on much more than going to class and studying hard. It’s also important to ensure that every student makes the healthiest choices possible, and this in turn requires looking beyond teachers, grades and homework.

Maintain a healthy diet

We all know the basic components of a healthy diet: lots of fruit and vegetables, go easy on the snacking, avoid processed foods and so on. As a society we tend to give these ideas lip service, but a balanced diet will not only give a boost to a student’s physical well-being, but a happy spin-off will likely be better grades as well. A healthy lifestyle improves energy levels, concentration, cognitive ability, memory and more.

There are countless reasons to stick to a healthy diet; better grades are just part of the picture.

Be aware of, and take care of, your mental health

Millions of people have mental health issues. It’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of, but it is something to take seriously. A diagnosis of depression, for example, or an anxiety disorder, or any number of possible issues, is nothing to take lightly. No one should try wishing away a diagnosis -- not only is doing so impossible, but it can be dangerous.

Any student with a mental illness should always be aware of it, and keep it in mind in a non-judgemental way. Make sure all the necessary support is present, up to and including medication. It’s not a terrible mark upon a person’s soul, it is just a component of who they are. Staying on top of it will help make sure the school year progresses smoothly and happily.

Understand stress and how to cope with it

Stress is a huge part of life for people of all ages, but it can be especially difficult for young people. Essentially, stress is a physical response to high-pressure situations, and the effects of that stress response can be very damaging to our health. For students, this can cause sleeplessness, headaches, problems concentrating, reduced motivation and more. We all react to stress differently, so every student should learn to recognize the symptoms of stress and develop a strategy for coping with it.

Do not underestimate the impact that stress can have on a young person’s studies -- developing a coping strategy should always be a priority. Not only will this help with grades, it will provide an incredibly useful skill that will provide benefits well beyond school.

Maintain a healthy work-life balance

School is important. It is. But living is important too. It may seem logical to believe that devoting 100% of our time and energy to a given task will ensure a successful outcome, but the truth is that people need to relax. They need family, friends, hobbies. Striking the right balance between the demands of school and the outside pursuits that bring happiness will go a long way to achieving academic success. And like so many other healthy habits, finding that balance while still young will establish habits that will bring benefits throughout life.

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