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College is a time of great opportunity in a person’s life, but many students don’t realize what they can do to help themselves take advantage of all the opportunity.
One of the first steps is simply taking care of yourself, because unfortunately, the move to a college campus, dorm-room life, roommates, and peer relationships can put a serious strain on a college student’s health
It’s important to remember: Your campus health is a critical aspect of your college success. Learn how to care for yourself now, and you’ll be making an investment in your well-being that can last a lifetime.
Get Your Shots Before Landing on Campus
Before you leave for college, it’s critical that you get the full range of booster shots and immunizations that will protect you while you acclimate to dorm life.
Dorms are crowded, and some diseases spread very easily in a school environment. Up-to-date vaccinations should include Tetanus, Meningitis, Hepatitis B, and any other shots deemed necessary by your college.
Depression is alarmingly prevalent in college students, who surprisingly have one of the highest suicide rates in the country.
In fact, during exam times and around the holidays, it’s common to see information posted everywhere on campus bulletin boards advertising the services of the campus psychologist or therapist.
It can be a struggle for students to be away from home for the first time, cut off from family and friends and finally considering the track of their lives for the first time. A feeling of isolation is one of the first things that can lead to an overall sense of listlessness, despair, or loneliness.
If you start to feel unmotivated or unexcited about your previous hobbies, activities, friends, and interests, the best action you can take is to talk to someone, a friend, a parent, a sibling, a counselor. Everyone feels down sometimes, and if you start to think to push other people away, the symptoms can only get worse. Companionship and a sense of community will heal wounds that isolation will only accentuate.
It is understandable why many college students start to feel overwhelmed, of course. But there is no one who says you should have to go it alone. That’s actually one of the worst things you can do, so find someone to talk to if you have an issue that’s bothering you.
Student counseling services are confidential, discreet, and they’re provided so that you have a non-judgemental person to talk to. You don’t even have to receive any advice or input from them, in case you just want someone to listen to you as you sort things out.
Extreme loneliness and depression can be dangerous. And nobody deserves to feel that way all the time. If you are feeling extremely anxious or sad, see a counselor on campus or talk to your doctor.
It is important that you seek help right away, because there are tremendous risks involved in trying to battle through depression on your own.
Although some college students can’t wait to get away from home, that feeling often fades, leaving many students slipping into various stages of homesickness and separation anxiety. In many cases, these initial responses of homesickness fade and are replaced with productive new activities. But for some students, the feelings linger and may even progress into deeper depression.
Calling home and reconnecting with family and friends can be a great source of support and guidance as you transition into the next stage of your life. You don’t need to grow up alone; your family and friends can help a lot. Whenever you feel lonely and out of touch with your family, just take two minutes to make a call. Connecting with others is essential to our well-being.
And guess what? That phone call will not only benefit you, but the family member, friend or close relative on the other end of the line will get a big boost too.
A huge part of college is social life, and with social life comes sexual activity for many students. If you engage in sexual activity, practice safer sex habits by using protection, and choose your partners carefully and wisely.
It’s not easy to acknowledge, but STDs are a very harsh reality for many college students, another reason to practice healthy and responsible sexual habits. You may also want to consider how sex is affecting your relationships, as college can be a wonderful time to make a relationship that lasts for the rest of your life. How much are you willing to risk?
Students who aren’t formally involved in athletics can have a more challenging time staying fit, but the rewards are still worth it. Exercise is shown to improve and support mental and emotional well-being, as well as physical fitness. When you’re trying to start exercising, remember: it’s a habit that becomes ingrained into your lifestyle.
The best action you can take to support that habit is adhering to a routine and making a schedule.
While you’re scheduling exams, study time, and social events, try putting exercise time on your calendar as well. When you define a time for working out, you’re much more likely to stick to it. Early in the day works best for many people, because it’s over quickly and it leaves a lasting refreshing feeling for the rest of the day.
Also, if you can get a workout buddy to exercise on the same schedule as you, try going with a partner. The motivation and encouragement of a friend can be invaluable for exercise. It can not only pushing you farther, but also turn a chore into lasting memories with a friend.
Eating well is an important part of health, and unfortunately it can become a huge challenge in college.
Eating right is about building healthy lifestyle, not “dieting.” You don’t necessarily need to deny yourself some of your favorite foods, but you’ll often find that you’ll enjoy them more, and feel better throughout the day, if you enjoy them in moderation. (Always consult your doctor before dieting)
Breakfast has been shown to be the most important meal of the day, and getting a few wholesome, nutritious calories at the beginning of your day is crucial for concentration. It also signals your body to increase its metabolism, which supports a lean, healthy body in the long run. This is important to students, as it will help you remain sharp in those early morning classes.
Rather than snacking inconsistently here and there, try to make light, well-balanced meals a regular part of your on-campus routine. Meal plans are common for a reason. Replacing a bit of the junk food that you might find yourself eating on a regular basis can make a huge difference, and it doesn’t have to seem like self-denial either. Just smarter lving.
Some of the greatest alternatives to unhealthy food can actually turn into delicious dinners with a friend or a date. Try looking up a wholesome recipe and cooking for a date, rather than going out. They might just be impressed at how grown up you are, and you will both enjoy the experience.
Ultimately, as a college student you will find that taking care of your essential needs - your mental health, your emotional health and most importantly perhaps your physical health, it will translate into a healthier, happier you and you will get more from the experience.