Back to School Is for Grown-Ups: Learn Something New!

By Marilynn Preston

August 27, 2019 5 min read

Even though I haven't been in a classroom for years and years, I still have an inner alarm that plays in my brain when August ends and Labor Day reappears. The tune is so familiar, and so is the slight anxiety it creates.

It's back-to-school time! Do I have my three-ring binder, my ruler, a pencil sharpener — three items that have no meaning whatsoever in classrooms today?

And still, I find meaning in that back to school feeling, and I'll bet plenty of you do, too. Summer is over. Your two weeks of vacation are a faint memory, though the smell of burgers and bug repellant lingers on. The kids are back to their routine, and I hope it includes some limits on small-screen media. It's time to buckle down and get back to work, if we are lucky enough to have work.

So what are you going to work on this fall to move yourself closer to living your own version and vision of a healthier, happier lifestyle? If you don't have a goal — specific, realistic, action-oriented — it's much harder to succeed. Close your eyes. Relax into the sound of your breath. See yourself a year from now ...

Do you want more energy, less back pain, better balance? Do you picture yourself in a perfect reverse triangle pose on a yoga mat? Or are you inclined to take a kettle bell or pole-dancing class, two other perfectly good ways of increasing your strength and flexibility?

And what about those 20 pounds you've added since you quit smoking and the student loan people began to call? Are you ready, willing and dedicated to eating smarter so that your wellness vision features a lighter, less bloated you?

Here are some Back to School suggestions to help you see the months ahead as an opportunity for change, for growth, for getting straight A's in Acting Out Your Dream:

LEARN SOMETHING NEW. This fall, set your sights on learning something new. It could be bridge, for mental fitness; strength training, for physical fitness; or you might learn to forgive former insults and let go of your anger, because your emotional health is every bit as important as bigger biceps and a lower BMI.

Once you decide on the What, study up on the How. Get pencil and paper, or its digital equivalent, and write down the specifics of your plan. Want to find your center and move with grace? Write "I will take Tai Chi class on Monday nights starting Sept. 10," and sign up today.

Action! Specifics! Alone or with a friend? How will you get there? Detailing your plan, writing it down, maybe even keeping track of your progress in a journal (Oh, no! Not that journal thing again!) will turn a vaguely good intention into something real with a palpable payoff.

TAKE TEN. In school, we learn day by day. Huge subjects — Math! History! The Rise and Fall of the American Middle Class! — are broken down into small segments, and that's how we gain wisdom, bit by bit. This fall, take a small segment of your day — just 10 minutes — to calm your mind, release your tension and meditate. This divine timeout will teach you one of the most valuable lessons in life: that this moment, the Present Moment, can be a place of joy and serenity, if you stop your mind from jumping to the future or dwelling on the past. Meditation is mainstream now, and so is its secular cousin, mindfulness training. Seek and ye shall find how totally transformational it is.

LEARN WHAT TO EAT AND HOW TO COOK IT. There is so much drama and misinformation and criminal neglect involved in the Big Business of Weight Loss, I hardly know where to begin. But begin you must, because ignorance of good nutrition will make you fat, sick and dead before you can say maltodextrin. This fall, plan for a kitchen makeover. Out with the bags and packages of processed food that contain hidden sugars and other additives that muck up your metabolism. In with real food and a copy of Michael Pollan's "Food Rules" and a few easy recipes you're not afraid to try. What about cooking school? Sign up your husband today.

ENERGY EXPRESS-O! DISCOVER GREAT TEACHERS

"Take an action. No matter how small, just take one action." — B.K.S. Iyengar

Marilynn Preston is the author of "Energy Express," America's longest-running healthy lifestyle column. Her new Amazon best-seller, "All Is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well-Being," is available now on Amazon and elsewhere. Visit Creators Publishing at creators.com/books/all-is-well to learn more. For more on personal well-being, visit www.MarilynnPreston.com.

Photo credit: 532Yoga at Pixabay

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