Unlocking the Gut-Brain Axis for Academic Success
A Guide for HSC 2023 Students and Parents
As High School Certificate (HSC) students prepare for their exams to start (in 5 months & 3 weeks), it’s essential to recognise the role of the gut-brain axis in cognitive function, emotional well-being, and stress management.
Understanding this connection can help students optimise their study habits, manage stress, and gain and maintain peak mental performance (mental fitness).
So, unsurprisingly, my grey matter wandered towards an exploration of the gut-brain axis, and my synapses started firing into a How 2 daily routines for students (and parents). Given that a number of a my mentees live away from home ‘on campus’, I’ve also included specific strategies for those in boarding schools.
The Gut-Brain Axis: A Key Component for Academic Success
The gut-brain axis is a complex bidirectional communication system connecting the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and the central nervous system (CNS) (Carabotti et al., 2015). This intricate network involves neural, hormonal, and immune signaling pathways, allowing the gut and brain to influence each other’s functions (Grenham et al., 2011). A healthy gut microbiome is linked to better cognitive function, memory, learning, and emotional well-being (Cryan & Dinan, 2012). By maintaining a healthy gut-brain axis, students can potentially reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, making it easier to stay motivated and focused on their studies (Foster et al., 2013).
Daily Morning Routines for Students and Parents
Establishing a daily morning routine that focuses on the gut-brain axis can support cognitive function, emotional well-being, and stress management for students and parents. By engaging in activities like mindful breathing, enjoying a gut-friendly breakfast, and practicing gratitude, families can create an environment that fosters success and well-being. A consistent morning routine for HSC students and parents can include waking up at a consistent time, hydrating, practicing mindful breathing or meditation, enjoying a gut-friendly breakfast, engaging in physical activity, setting daily intentions, and practicing gratitude.
Morning Routine for Boarding School Students
For HSC students in boarding schools, a daily morning routine can help set the tone for a successful day, but they need to look beyond the schedule provided to them and find ways to create time for themselves in their ‘before’ and ‘after’ school routines.
By choosing a nutritious breakfast from the dining hall (not always an easy feat!), coordinating physical activities with classmates, and setting intentions for the day, students can create a sense of community and motivation.
A consistent morning routine for boarding school students can include waking up at a consistent time, hydrating on waking, practicing mindful breathing or meditation, enjoying a gut-friendly breakfast from the dining hall (or from a stash of free fruit and vegetables in your room purchased daily from the local shops), engaging in physical activity with classmates, setting daily intentions, and practicing gratitude.
We know this idea is challenging for some, but I can guarantee a step towards understanding and proactively nurturing gut-brain axis, is only going to enable students and their parents be the best version of themselves everyday.
After all, you’re worth it!
By implementing daily routines and strategies tailored to individual circumstances, students and parents can help maintain a healthy gut-brain axis, leading to better cognitive function, emotional resilience, and stress management.
With consistency and dedication, students can maximise their potential during this pivotal time in their academic lives.
Little steps lead to big changes, so what can you do tomorrow to improve your academic and mental fitness…?
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