It’s that time of year when many parents are taking their children to college for the first time. My wife and I have been through this with each of our four children, so I know that this can be an emotional time for both young adults and their parents. The first year away from home will have many ups and downs, and it’s important for college students to maintain healthy habits so they can perform their best and get the most out of their college experiences. Here are some tips for staying healthy at college.
Who can forget the freshman year meal plan – or the “Freshman 15”? When young adults are away from home for the first time, it can be tempting to indulge in the many wonderful food options colleges offer, often around the clock. Late-night study sessions also can lead to increased caffeine and sugar. Encourage your young adult to try and maintain healthy eating habits away from home whenever possible.
With so many changes in their daily schedules, college freshmen may neglect regular physical activity. Remind your college student how important it is to stay active. Exercise can actually help him/her focus when it comes to studying. Going to the gym, walking around campus, biking and running are all great options for physical activity and can be done alone or in a group.
Get Enough Sleep
It is very common for new college students – all college students really! – to have poor sleep habits. Having a roommate, going to parties, and all-night study sessions are just some of the new experiences that can interrupt sleep. Encourage your freshman to try and get at least six to eight hours of sleep every night during the week.
Tackle Stress Head On
Going to college is one of the biggest changes your child – and you – will experience in life. And change is often stressful. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open. Address any issues early and let him/her know that help is available through the school’s health center. I know it’s hard when you don’t see your child every day, but try to ascertain his/her state of mind and be on the lookout for anxiety and depression at all times.
I hope you and your new college student will enjoy and get the most out of this wonderful phase of life. As always, contact us with any questions or concerns.
for more guidelines on how to best adjust to college life from the American Academy of Pediatrics.