Going off to college can be one of the most exciting and stressful times in life. Between classes, homework, close quarters, stress, long nights, and parties, there are myriad reasons why illness and weight gain can affect quality of life of college going students. Fortunately, healthy living for college students is simply a matter of making some smart decision along the way.
The first thing students and parents can do to prevent illness is to be prepared before the student leaves home. Arm your student with a variety of health-related items that will help them track and maintain their health. Make sure your student has a thermometer, Tylenol, heating pad, tissues, and any medications they use at home. A budget conscious student might be too frugal to buy items once they are away so stocking up is a great idea. A multivitamin could be an easy way to keep the immune system up, as well.
Vaccines can be a great way to give parents and students peace of mind during that freshman year. Infections like viral meningitis can thrive in dorms where people share bathrooms, showers, and sinks. The vaccine is fairly painless and can save grief. A yearly flu shot can also save a student from catching that bug during finals week when stress is high and immune systems are low.
Once on campus, take time to locate the local health center and write down the phone number and hours. When not feeling well, the last thing students want to do is search for a place to go. Making the search easy for them will encourage them to go when they need it rather than put it off.
Treat the Body Like a Temple
It is important that students treat their bodies like a temple. Pizza is a great treat, but try to augment the keg-and-pizza part of college with fresh fruits and veggies during other mealtimes. Getting regular nutrition will boost the immune system and ward off excess pounds. Budget carefully to make sure these nutrient rich foods are part of the everyday diet.
Another way to ward off the freshman fifteen is to get enough exercise. Locating the college or university fitness center early on can start a habit of regular exercise. Beside the obvious health benefits, exercise can help clear the mind after a stressful day or focus you for an evening study session. Even a short session of thirty minutes a day a few times a week can make a difference.
Getting enough sleep is vital for success in school and in life. Parties, fraternity/sorority pledging, and other social activities in college often run late into the evening. Students should make a point to get enough sleep regularly and even more so when they aren’t feeling well.
Socially, students should make sure to be smart about their interactions with people. Travel in a group when walking at night and never go home with a stranger after a long night out. When it comes to sex, both male and female students should always carry protection. Using a condom can cut down on risk of unintended pregnancy as well as sexually transmitted diseases.
Know When to Slow Down
It is very important that students take time to decompress. A quiet night in can recharge the body and mind for the week ahead so students shouldn’t feel pressured to go out every weekend they can. Connecting with a club, interest group on campus, or local events can give students a sense of purpose and community outside the partying realm.
Students should also make a point to touch base with parents and other family on a regular basis. Family can lend an objective or empathetic ear when it comes to stress about classes, relationship woes, or general homesickness.
Healthy living for college students is a matter of balancing mind, body, and spirit. While obvious things like eating right and exercising are important, being prepared is the greater challenge. Take some simple steps ahead of time and students can enjoy a healthier, safer college experience.