We’ve been cooped up all summer and fall, as a consequence, it’s been challenging to make our physical and mental fitness a priority. But now, especially as school kicks into gear for kids all over the country, it’s vital to ensure that both our bodies and minds are taken care of. 

A concern many parents have is online learning requires students to be a lot more self-motivated than usual (it’s difficult to ignore the allure of YouTube one click away!). The good news is that improving your mental and physical health has been linked with better focus and concentration. Below are some of our favorite things to do to develop a healthy mind and body (and spend some quality time with family!).

  1. Go on a walk or hike:

Find a walking or hiking trail near you and go on a weekend family hike. Alltrails.com is a great place to start looking for local trails. It also provides you with reviews and information on peak hours so you can be confident that you and your family will be safe! Not to mention that time spent on a hike is time that your kids are not spending on their electronic devices. Bonus: Going on a hike has been proven to help clear your mind and improve creativity. 

2. Spend some time meditating:

Meditation is now more mainstream (and accessible) than ever. Download a meditation app like HeartsApp, HeartBot, AOTH (Alphabet of the Heart App), Headspace, or Calm and take 5-10 minutes to meditate as a family. Meditation has been proven to help improve focus and keep your brain young. With the number of schools that are doing online learning, it is imperative that students work to improve our concentration and focus, especially if they are going to be sitting in one place for most of the day.

3. Connect with your loved ones (remotely!)

Quarantine has led to a heightened feeling of isolation and loneliness. Did you feel like you were acting out a real-life Groundhog Day during quarantine? You’re not alone! Talking to your friends and family can help get you out of that mental funk. We all know that humans are social creatures, but did you know that studies have actually shown that maintaining close relationships helps improve our sense of belonging and reduce your stress and anxiety? Go ahead and log onto FaceTime or Skype and call a friend or family member that you haven’t caught up with for a long time. Chances are, you’ll have a lot to talk about.

4. Attend the SWL Summit:

This virtual 2-day Student Wellness and Leadership (SWL) Conference is created entirely by young adults for young adults. Held on November 21 and 22nd, it will handle topics from promoting compassionate living to the importance of peer-to-peer support. Featured speakers include Dr. James R. Doty, New York bestselling author of Into the Magic Shop, Ms. Randi Silverman, Founder of YMH Project and writer/producer of ‘No Letting Go’, Dr. Partha Nandi, host of the Emmy award-winning show, the Dr. Nandi Show, and Ms. Lekha Davé, Heartfulness Ambassador.

5. Try cooking a new recipe!

Cooking and spending time with family is a great destresser. Look up some of your favorite recipes (or dishes you’ve always wanted to try) at allrecipes.com and get started. It’s a great way to get the whole family involved and working together. When there are spices flying around your impending migraine will thank the aromatics in the air. Test out your creativity! Add some new things to recipes to spruce them up! (Worst case you make wonderful memories together in the kitchen and order in pizza)

6. Read books as a family

Reading, even for as little as 6 minutes a day, has been proven to reduce by 60% by easing tension in your muscles and reducing your heart rate. Although access to libraries may be limited during this time, there are multiple virtual reading resources such as Overdrive that are accessible through library subscriptions or through schools. Cozy up to Into the Magic Shop by Dr. James R. Doty which details the journey of a young boy in his battle with grief and the hurdles of life and how he overcame them or Grit by Dr. Angela Duckworth which talks about the importance of passionate perseverance and how to achieve success.


  • Laya Iyer

    Executive Director and Co-founder

    SWL Movement

    Laya Iyer is a social entrepreneur who actively advocates fighting the stigma against mental health illnesses in her community. Dealing with stress, anxiety, and burnout herself, she recognizes the importance of taking care of your psychological and physical health. She has developed multiple iOS apps related to mental wellness and providing users with tools to cope with their stress and anxiety. She also practices Heartfulness Meditation. She is a co-founder of two non-profits in the mental health space.
  • Liaa Kumar


    SWL Movement

    Liaa Kumar is passionate about advocating for mental health and has collaborated with CCARE at Stanford and the Heartfulness Institute to create the iOS apps Alphabet of the Heart, and HeartBot respectively. Both are aimed towards making wellness tools more accessible, engaging, and easy to practice. Liaa also works towards empowering fellow teenagers and is excited to be part of the SWL community and spread their message of prioritizing wellness and leadership.