Back to School season can be angst producing for many parents and students. As you prepare your child from care-free summer vacation mode to the responsibilities that come with a new school year, the change can be difficult and cause all sorts of behavior and emotional problems for more sensitive children.

This year, as you and your family make this transition, don’t forget to pause and be grateful for the many positives in your life. Award-winning author Sanjay Nambiar suggests five ways to bring a little Zen and mindfulness into you family’s Back To School transition.

“Going back to school can be tremendously fun, but also enormously stressful,” notes Nambiar. “If we can incorporate mindfulness into our routines during this hectic period, we can be better suited to manage the transition and challenges,” he added. 

Here are five tips from Nambiar on how to be a little more Zen and mindful as we head back to school.

1.     Spend two to five minutes breathing in silence in the morning.

Morning routines during the beginning of the school year can be frantic—getting clothes ready, rushing through breakfast, etc. By taking just two to five minutes to breathe steadily and quietly, preferably in a calm part of the home, we can slow down and break the hectic cycle. This is great for both children and parents! Also, make a clothing and breakfast plan the night before, so that you can free up a few minutes in the morning to try the breathing exercise.

2.     Eat mindfully at breakfast.

 Instead of watching our children inhale breakfast in just a few bites, get them to eat a little more slowly and mindfully. Have them enjoy the flavors of their food and consider where it came from. This can calm our kids down as they start the day.

3.     Stay in the moment at school.

If your child is feeling anxious about school, suggest that they take a moment to dial into their surroundings at school. Tell them to really listen to the sounds around them, the aroma of the trees or flowers, the mixture of colors and shapes all around their school. By dialing into the present moment, they can momentarily get out of their minds and ease some of that anxiety.

4.     Express gratitude at dinner.

During dinnertime after the school day, ask your kids what they are grateful for. They might mention something specific that happened that day, or something general like being thankful for their family. In all cases, expressing gratitude is a great way to stay mindful and grounded.

5.     Do something creative.

The beginning of the school year can fill kids with so many different thoughts and sources of stress. Instead of letting them play with video games or electronics to blow off steam, suggest that they engage in a creative activity, such as drawing, arts and crafts, dancing, singing, or something else. By using creativity to express what’s inside of them, our kids can release some of the tension that arises as they head back to school.

Nambiar’s award-winning book series, A Little Zen for Little Ones, provides several narratives that touch upon mindfulness and wisdom. The books—which include “Maybe (A Little Zen for Little Ones)”, “Still There? (A Little Zen for Little Ones)”, and “Remember the Stars (A Little Zen for Little Ones)”—tell Zen stories in a contemporary context for today’s culture. The books’ beautiful illustrations juxtapose modern graphics with traditional backgrounds to transpose the old into the new, thus creating an accessible framework for deeply meaningful concepts. Each title won a Mom’s Choice Awards Silver Medal, “Maybe” also won a Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Awards Gold Medal, and “Still There” and “Remember the Stars” each won a Family Choice Award.

All three books in the A Little Zen for Little Ones series are distributed through Small Press United, a subsidiary of Independent Publishers Group. The books are available at amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and at bookstores, gift shops, and libraries across the country. For more information, please contact Jeannine Schechter Jacobi of Fresh PR at jeannine@freshpr.net or visit A Little Zen.

Sanjay Nambiar grew up in Carson, CA, where he overcame a gang- and drug-riddled environment with the help of a closely-knit family and a focus on education. He graduated with honors from U.C. Berkeley, with degrees in Economics and Neurobiology, and earned an M.B.A. from UCLA. He now is a freelance copywriter in Los Angeles, CA. Sanjay practices meditation on a daily basis and sees extraordinary potential for happiness (and frustration) in the confluence of Western lifestyles and Eastern philosophies. Through his books, Sanjay hopes to inspire readers to consider life in a different perspective, one that incorporates a little bit of Zen as well as a lot of fun. He won a Mom’s Choice Awards Silver Medal and a Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Awards Gold Medal for his debut book, “Maybe (A Little Zen for Little Ones)”.

 A Little Zen for Little Ones puts classic and new Zen stories in an accessible context for today’s kids (and adults!). These revered tales provide a little perspective on what’s truly important, on how personal balance and peace can manifest in everyday life. With children as central characters and narratives that reflect modern culture, A Little Zen for Little Ones helps us examine our values as our world becomes more complex and confusing. After all, if our children can get a little bit of Zen in their lives, perhaps they’ll grow up to be adults with a little bit of Zen as well. Wouldn’t that be great for all of us?