Studies have shown that a balanced lifestyle is essential for optimal mental, physical and emotional health. Achieving this balance has become a priority for a lot of businesses who now understand the importance of employees performing at their peak, and how the ratio of time spent at work versus time at home impacts on their productivity.
Lifestyle balance, also known as work-life balance (or in our case a school/life balance), refers to a lifestyle in which a healthy balance exists between work and/or study, a health and fitness regime and social activities. Even for students, striking the balance between school, study, a healthy social life, and other commitments such as sport or music is critical in ensuring they make the most of their opportunities. Performing at their peak in all their endeavours is made easier when they are able to find a balance between 'work' and 'play'.
As a parent, how can you help your son find an optimal school/life balance? Below, we have outlined three areas of lifestyle balance – areas we believe will contribute to a successful work/life balance for your son.
Remove saturated fats from your son's diet as much as possible - foods like cakes, biscuits, pastries, fast foods and dairy. Saturated fats mainly come from the white fat that you can see on meat. Currently, an Australian diet contains almost twice the amount of saturated fats than recommended. This is the stuff that makes us feel lethargic and slow. It will negatively affect your son’s focus when he is studying and it is even worse for his arteries in the long term. Find out more about saturated fats at heartfoundation.org.au.
Increase his Omega-3 intake - mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids (complex fats with strong bonds). Omega-3s positively affect the synapses that are responsible for learning and memory. It provides the best results for strong synaptic plasticity, learning and memory. This is abundant in seafood, nuts, lean meats, vegetable oils and green vegetables. Find out more about Omega-3s at heartfoundation.org.au.
Molecules known as ‘free radicals’ are a by-product of consuming fried foods, tobacco smoke, pesticides, air pollution and much more. These molecules change the chemical composition of your blood and can lead to cell death.
Antioxidants nullify these free radicals and have cancer preventing properties. In short, antioxidants prevent cell damage. Find out more about antioxidants at betterhealth.vic.gov.au.
Research indicates that physical exercise stimulates and engages a wider area of the brain than learning does. It helps short term memory and focus, with positive effects that are immediately evident. Your son should be aiming for 20 minutes of aerobic exercise a day. Over the course of three months, you should start to see longer lasting focus and concentration levels in your son, as well as less stress and anxiety. Find out more at activelivingresearch.org.
Our mind can be at rest through the form of meditation, sleep or daydreaming. These forms of rest are periods where our brain organises and draws connections between information. Sleep, in particular, re-energises the body’s cells, clears waste from the brain and helps to support learning memory. You should be encouraging your son to sleep between eight and ten hours per night.
Establishing the right study-lifestyle balance can be challenging. Start your son off slowly and encourage and remind him along the way. Once he becomes familiar with a routine, he will reap the benefits of a clear mind, increased focus, consistent mood and constant energy. Learn more at Big Think.