By Jessica Berliner, MScN

Clinical Integrative Nutritionist


Back to school jitters are no small thing. Kids as young as preschool-age all the way up until college and postgraduate programs feel the pressure of starting a new school year or semester. Social pressure, academic pressure - it’s all there! These days, there is more than just going to school and learning. Environmental toxicity and social pressures have created an epidemic of attention disorders and added pressure, taking away from the simplicity of what school used to be.

The key to making this process easier and more productive for children of all ages is the understanding that electronics, technology, on-the-go lifestyles and our social media-driven society have taken a toll on us. No matter the individual struggles of each child, here are some tips worthy of trying to help calm some of the craziness and make this school year better than ever!

  1. Meditation. Give it a shot before you dismiss it. With a world of sensory overload, excess anxiety and pressure, meditation can help kids (and adults!) develop better focus, regulate their emotions, and get in better touch with their own mind and body. This will help them realize their own needs and give them some extra resiliency. This is great any time of day for any amount of time to help kids find their inner peace. There are kid-centered guided meditations out there to help learn different meditation techniques or even phone apps that make meditation accessible anywhere you go.

  2. Sleep hygiene. We all know that sleep is important, but some people do not realize exactly how important it really is to help kids stay healthy and focused. Sleep hygiene means establishing good habits to promote a better night’s sleep. Trying to keep a consistent bedtime, turning off electronics an hour before bedtime, and having a bedtime ritual will help kids unwind and separate themselves from the rest of the day. Better sleep will help reduce any anxiety, maintain a normal weight, promote growth, and aid in focus and learning (just to name a few of the many benefits of better sleep)!

  3. Breakfast! It is all too easy during those crazy mornings to skip breakfast, but it is called the most important meal of the day for a reason - especially when having to put that brain to work! This will provide the body with the nutrients it needs to perform at the top of its game. Protein and good fats are particularly important for brain function. Protein is made of amino acids which help form neurotransmitters like serotonin that help keep kids happy and focused. Good fats help support sustained energy, brain function and regulated blood sugar throughout the day.

  4. L-Theanine. An amino acid derived from green tea is a safe and effective supplement I use all the time with clients in helping to calm any anxiety, and specifically any racing thoughts or feelings of a hamster wheel in your head. Studies have shown that L-Theanine is great to help with any attention or focus-related issues which have become a much more common occurrence. It can be used in any range of situations like before a nervous first day, a big test, project, or even before bedtime. L-Theanine does not cause drowsiness or contain caffeine and is therefore perfect at any time of day to help calm the mind down in order to focus.  

  5. Rescue Remedy. The most popular blend of flower essences made by Bach. But what are flower essences? They are the infusion of specific wild flowers into water that are then used to help promote emotional, mental and spiritual health. They help reduce negative emotions in order for the body to naturally heal itself. Rescue remedy is a combination of five flower essences and has been used successfully in children, pets, and pregnant women. It can be mixed in drinking water throughout the day or sprayed directly into the mouth as needed. There are also other forms available like lozenges and pastilles that work wonders. One of my all-time favorite remedies to keep on hand to help calm anxiety or stress.

Jessica Berliner is a clinical nutritionist in Portland, Oregon. She currently holds a Master of Science in Integrative Nutrition from NCNM and a Bachelor’s of Science in Nutrition from NYU. You can find out more about Jessica by visiting her website: