It has now come to that time of the year when the HSC trials are beginning and the nerves of teenagers, even the seasoned scholars, start to go through the roof. I still remember sitting at my dining table at home with my books spread out everywhere doing summaries, practising essays and consuming vast amounts of tea and chocolate - all just to "get by".
Now I am not expecting teenagers to complicate their life even further right now by adding a complex list of requirements they need to fulfil to make sure they nourish themselves correctly, HOWEVER what I wanted to provide was a little list of some tips to keep in mind that may help.
Some important tips and tools that I have found beneficial with my clients include:
The most basic of all is to drink water - when we are dehydrated brain fog can kick in! By making sure you are drinking around 1.5-2L of water or herbal tea a day (aim for around 3% of body weight as a guide). Now you're not going to be sitting there with your calculator to determine exactly how much water you should drink (unless procrastination is high!), so get a good bottle you can fill up with water and aim to try and get through 1-2 a day. Drinking water will also help you avoid constipation and the tummy pains that can result.
Meditation and mindfulness - this doesn't mean spending hours a day chanting in the lotus position (unless you want to 😉), but by implementing some of this into your day will reap you many benefits. It will help calm you down and make your thought process a lot clearer. Some great free apps include Smiling Mind and Insight Timer. Mindfulness doesn't need to be meditation - it can just be taking 5 minutes to be mindful about something - to focus your full attention on that. A good example is when you are in the shower just focus on the feeling of the water falling on your back instead of trying to recite key dates in history you need to remember.
EFT Tapping - Emotional Freedom Technique, otherwise known as EFT Tapping uses acupressure points based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture and is a wonderful tool to help manage stress and anxiety. This takes only a few minutes, can be done anywhere and is great for kids as well as adults.
Spending some time outside - nature offers one of the most reliable boosts to our mental and physical wellbeing. So much research has been done to support the health benefits on spending time in nature on areas such as mood, memory, stress, immunity, inflammation and ADHD. Now the last thing you have excess of at the moment is time, but I promise you by finding some time to be outside, going for a quick walk or grounding yourself (standing barefoot on the grass) will work wonders for your stress, get you "out of your head" and reduce brain fog.
Increase foods high in essential fatty acids - these help reduce inflammation in the body and support cognition - DHA (a form of omega-3 fatty acids) is taken up by the brain in preference to other fatty acids and is incorporated into the cell membranes of brain cells. Foods high in essential fatty acids include oily fish, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds and avocado. If you're going to get a supplement quality is key here - cheap fish oil is not going to help you at all!
Have some magnesium rich foods - magnesium helps to reduce stress in the body. Foods high in magnesium include dark chocolate, avocado, nuts such as almonds, cashews and Brazil nuts, legumes including lentils, beans, chickpeas, peas and soybeans, tofu, seeds such as flax, pumpkin and chia seeds, leafy greens and bananas.
Protein is key to give you energy for longer - this doesn't mean steaks daily, you can get protein from many vegetarian sources, read my previous blog on this. The best snack ever I believe is the good old fashioned boiled egg - protein + good fats. You can even pre-boil half a dozen and keep in the fridge for when you need an easy and quick snack. Smoothies are also a good way to throw lots of goodness in easily.
Herbal medicine - one of my great loves but something that can offer support during times of stress and to also help with cognition. Some of my favourites include bacopa, gingko, rosemary and licorice.
Flower power - don't underestimate the power of flower essences! An easy way to help with managing stress and feelings of overwhelm in particular. Some good ones to use include Rescue Remedy as well as the Cognis essence from Australian Bush Flower Essences. I also blend unique essences in my clinic to suit what someone needs.
Aromatherapy - essential oils can be very powerful and a handy tool to incorporate into your toolbox. Whether it is something as simply twigs of rosemary (yep, the plant) in some water next to where you study (rosemary helps with memory and clarity - just think what do we wear for ANZAC day when we remember those that have fought for our country) or finding an oil blend that makes you feel good. Crafted by a qualified aromatherapist my Calm Roller and Calm Room & Body Spray are examples of goodies that are out there to get. Just do me (and your guts) a favour - don't ingest essential oils, they are very powerful and will harm your gut microbiome.
Mantras and positive reinforcement can also be very powerful - if there is research showing how a tree grows better when you talk to it nicely than when you are mean to it, surely talking to ourselves a little better can be just as powerful! Mantra's don't need to be very long, spiritual or weird - they can be as simple as things such as: "I am enough", "I am calm", "I am happy", and"I am smart". Give it a go!
To help give you a little motivation with some easy food options during this time I have put together 11 recipes and ideas for you here.
I have also put together a special consultation offer to support teens during this time - please head here to make your appointment if you want further support and guidance.
Good luck with your exams!!!