Being a parent is a 24/7, 365-day commitment. Day after day, a parent or guardian’s role is to take care of their children in every possible capacity – an experience that’s amongst the most rewarding a person can have, but one that also requires its fair share of sacrifices. For example, in the U.K., mothers (or women with a dependent child) are six times more likely to be “economically inactive” than those without, not to mention the overarching theme of exhaustion experienced by both parents, especially those with a very young child. In some cases, this level of exhaustion can even lead to complete parental burnout. Children can be an absolute blessing, but it’s almost impossible to argue against the fact that they’re hard work.

However, there is a very special time of year during which parents can lighten their loads and focus on themselves just a little bit more: back-to-school time. Read on to explore how parents can take this golden opportunity to lean into their own self-care regimes, and how they can successfully take care of their global health and wellness.

Time for Downtime

As of January 2019, there were 8.8 million students registered at schools across the U.K. That’s millions of families that rely on an educational institution to take care of their children during the day: A welcome break for parents who definitely need some time to themselves. Forty-nine percent of parents have expressed that their work-life balance was an increasing source of stress in their lives – and can you really blame them when nearly three-quarters are putting in extra hours on weekends and after work?

Dropping the kids off at school every morning means parents can finally tend to their own health and self-care. Not only can a little alone time do wonders for one’s mental health, but it can also help people recharge their batteries, putting parents in a better position to fend off germs and illnesses that crop up around back-to-school time.

Pulling Your Weight

Maintaining a clean bill of health takes time, effort, and energy – all three of which are in limited supply for parents everywhere. Nearly two-thirds of adults in the U.K. are classified as either overweight or obese, and more than 20% do little to no physical activity. If you’re looking to shed a few pounds and take extra-good care of your nutrition, there’s no better time to get back into the swing of things than when the kids are busy at school!

Exercise is essential if you want to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle, both mentally and physically. The benefits of moving your body are endless: Working out can significantly lower the risk of developing illnesses like cancer and Type 2 diabetes, not to mention the wonders it can do for your mental health. Forty-five minutes of exercise three to five times per week is ideal if you want to make a positive impact on your mood, according to scientific research.

Combined with regular workouts, diet plans and supplements can also be very effective at maintaining and promoting weight loss. Cooking healthy, balanced meals is also a must if you want to treat your body right – and if parents are eating healthy, so are their children. Don’t forget to eat a full five servings of fruits and veggies a day to get your full dose of vitamins, minerals, fibre, and disease-fighting properties.

Healthy Bones, Healthy Life

If you don’t get enough vitamin D, your bones (as well as your muscles and teeth) will not be able to absorb all of the calcium and phosphate you consume throughout the day. Vitamin D comes in two forms: We get vitamin D2 from plants and D3 from the sun. A lack of this essential nutrient can result in bone deformities in children and osteomalacia – a.k.a. bone softness – in adults.

It goes without saying that vitamin D is an essential part of everyone’s diet, but 1 in 5 people in the U.K. still aren’t getting enough of the good stuff. During the spring and summer, there’s an easy fix: Step outside and enjoy the sunshine! But during the winter months, you’ll need to work a little harder for your daily dose.

Supplements and vitamins are a one-and-done solution for keeping your nutrient levels where they should be (which is approximately 10 micrograms per day). You can also transform your goal of getting enough vitamin D into a gourmet mission by incorporating oily fish, red meat, liver, and egg yolks into your diet. Get started with a vitamin D test to see where you’re at.

Managing Migraines

Just over 1 in 5 British adults have been diagnosed with migraines. They can knock you off your feet and put you out for hours, whether or not they come with an “aura.” One of the trickiest things about migraines is that their triggers can vary from person to person: For some, they’re hormonal, and for others, they can be brought on by emotional, physical, dietary, medicinal, or environmental factors.

Migraines are also strongly associated with stress, and often occur right after a stressful event has just unfolded: For example, you might experience one on the first day of vacation after a particularly taxing week at work. Aside from causing immense head pain, migraines can bring on feelings of depression, food cravings, fatigue, and either hypo- or hyperactivity, among other things. They are also known to cause sensitivity to light and sound. 

While there is currently no cure for migraines, there are certain things you can do to either reduce their impact as they happen. So, the next time you feel a migraine coming on, don’t suffer through the pain: Relief can come in the form of medications like triptans, which are specifically formulated to treat these types of severe headaches. Other migraine treatments include making your environment quiet and dark, using pain relievers (with caution), and taking anti-nausea medication.

Health Between the Sheets

Maintaining your sexual health is just as important as eating your vegetables and getting enough vitamin D: For example, a healthy sex life can boost your immune system, reduce stress, and lower your blood pressure. According to a recent survey, intimacy among married and cohabitating couples in the U.K. is on the decline, and more than half of respondents said they want to be having more sex than they currently are. If you’re facing a similar issue, having the kids at school all day could be the perfect opportunity to enjoy some intimate time with your partner.

No matter what stage you’re at in your relationship, maintaining a clean bill of sexual health is of the utmost importance. The number of STI diagnoses in England is currently increasing: Between 2017 and 2018, the count rose by 5%, with more than 400,000 men and women diagnosed. It is therefore absolutely essential for people to stay on top of their STI testing. Visiting a sexual health clinic is a great first step, not only towards ensuring your overall health, but also when it comes to accessing helpful resources that discuss related topics like erectile dysfunction and vaginal dryness.

Many STIs worsen over time, so it’s important to get tested on a regular basis. If your results do come back positive, you’ll have lots of treatment options available, like antibiotics that can clear up chlamydia and tablets that fight genital herpes.

Resources You Can Trust

From achieving a healthy weight to maintaining a well-balanced sex life, health is a composite that includes lots of different factors. The common thread that unites them all is that looking after your well-being takes time, effort, and energy – and back-to-school month is a great jump-off point for those in need of some self-care.

Superdrug Online Doctor is the ultimate resource for personal health. Our online pharmacy is stocked with everything you could possibly need to facilitate a healthy lifestyle for you and your entire family, and our expert resources discuss a huge number of wellness topics that have to do with parenting, nutrition, sexuality, children’s health, and so much more. Visit Superdrug Online Doctor to consult our online doctor, read health-related articles and guides, or simply purchase everyday items like beauty products and toiletries. 

Methodology and Limitations

For this project, we used sources on overall health and nutrition from the British National Health Service (NHS), Public Health England, while physical activity and related conditions from 2017 to 2018 were used to examine physical activity and related statistics. Statistics and definitions relating to migraines are derived from the Global, Regional, and National Burden of Migraine and Tension-Type Headache, 1990–2017 and from the International Classification of Headache Disorders, third edition (ICHD-3). Statistics on STI diagnoses are derived from Public Health England, sexually transmitted infections (STIs): annual data tables, 2018. Further information on sexual health and sexual health clinics is provided by the NHS.

No statistical testing was performed. The data are not weighted.

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