The month of September means a lot to me and to many people. Although summer isn’t technically over, it represents a big change for many people. The reason this is so is because for many people school begins. I’ll tell you a funny thing: I’m still feeling the anxiety of the start of school and I’m 33 years old. The other night I was outside and it was very cool and windy and I had that sad, anxious feeling that school was just around the corner and the glorious summer was coming to an end. You may be wondering why I’m writing about this and here’s why: This time of year is very stressful due to drastic changes in people’s lives and schedules. September also represents one of this nation’s worst nightmares: the attacks on World Trade on September 11. I remember that last year I felt very depressed on September 11 and I thought about how I could get out of this depression. To my surprise, I just looked around and noticed that everyone was affected by this time of year. Sometimes we forget that we are all connected to the universe and that good and bad times affect everyone. When times of depression, profound change, and highly stressful situations hit us, we really need to focus on doing what is essential to stay as healthy as possible so that we can better cope with these times. It’s easy to stop taking care of yourself when your stress level is low, but that’s not the case when your stress levels are high. My stress levels are really high in September due to the great summer vacation and having to start teaching again (which is very stressful at first), the 9/11 depression, and the change of seasons. If you are experiencing this type of transition, here are some tips to help you better cope with these high-stress times.

1. Make sure you include a lot of raw vegetables in your diet: I prefer juices because I don’t like eating enough vegetables. Drinking them is much easier for me. My favorite drink is one with spinach, kale, parsley, and green apple juice. Raw nutrients will provide you with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and a host of other nutrients that your body cannot get anywhere else. Another important reason to include more raw vegetables in your diet is that our commercial meat supply does not provide the optimal amount of nutrients that it is supposed to. There was a time when animals were fed their natural diets of grass etc. So when we ate these meats, we were getting optimal nutrition. This is no longer the case (unless you buy organic), so you should supplement a meat diet with more raw foods and vegetables.

2. Make sure you eat high-quality foods like beef, chicken, eggs, fish, etc. If possible, these foods should be organic. The important factor here is that these foods are high in protein and fat. These nutrients are important under high levels of stress. Fats play a very important role in the production of hormones and are very important in times of high stress levels. An important point to remember is that high stress depletes your body of nutrients very quickly. And when your nutrient levels start to drop too low, it’s much easier to get sick, adding another stress to your system. Therefore, it is at these times that you need to get quality nutrition more than at any other time.

3. Drink lots of clean water: Stress also increases waste products from the body and lots of water will help you get rid of all this extra waste. A general rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces per day. So if you weigh 200 pounds, you will need 100 ounces per day.

4. Go to bed on time (before 11 pm) and get enough sleep (between 6 and 9 hours). Getting enough sleep allows your body to repair itself and make a full recovery from day to day. The reason I say try to sleep before 11pm is because between 10pm and 2am is when your body’s repair cycle is at optimal levels. If you miss these times by going to bed at 12 or 1 am, you lose valuable repair time for yourself.

5. Work out, but you may want to put off really hard workouts for a few weeks. Remember that exercise is recognized as a stress on the body and since you are already under great stress from the change of season, it is time to relax a little. The funny thing is that most people make the mistake of increasing the intensity of their exercise during these high stress times and end up getting injured or sick.

6. Make sure to get organized and make yourself as comfortable as possible. Organize your life and environment so that things like not finding your “whatever” don’t add unnecessary stress to your life.

7. Surround yourself with people who make you happy and support you. This is not the time to be around people who will bring you down and add stress to your life. In fact, it’s a good time to be around your friends and family.

8. Express yourself and find outlets to deal with stress: Talking to someone about how you feel during these difficult times can make a world of difference in how you feel. Talk to someone you can trust to listen and support you. Praying can also be very helpful, or writing down your feelings in a journal. The key is to get those feelings out.

The truth is, there are many ways one can deal with very high levels of stress and these are some ideas that have really helped me and the people I know. I hope they can help you or someone you know and as always I wish you the best in strength, happiness and health.