The pace of college life is invigorating, but it can also wear your student down. Whenever you have the chance, take time to counsel your student in healthy life habits. Here are tips to share and discuss.
Stress in college doesn’t have to be a given. There are many proven ways to manage stress:
- Cardio exercise, yoga and meditation calm the body and mind. Integrating these practices takes discipline at first but pays off big-time in the long run.
- Being in nature, journaling, a daily spiritual practice and spending quality time with a friend are good ways to lower stress.
- Staying organized and managing time are also key.
- Talk with your student about what has worked for them in the past and about people you both know who do a good job
Eating for optimal health
In college, students may not eat as well as they did at home. Some talking points:
- Remind your student that eating fast foods, drinking too much caffeine and consuming lots of sugar will make them feel sluggish and can weaken the immune system.
- Encourage your student to eat fresh fruit and veggies and try not to skip meals.
- Keeping healthy snacks on hand — cheese, nuts and seeds, protein bars — can help them maintain normal blood sugar levels and stave off binge eating.
- Taking daily vitamins and drinking plenty of water are also good nutritional habits.
Sleep is key
It’s normal for students to experience disruptions to their sleep schedule in college. There are ways to facilitate a good night’s sleep and productive day:
- Establish a regular bedtime routine.
- Work at a desk instead of on the bed.
- Turn off (and put away) screens.
- Limit caffeine, alcohol, soda and hardcore snacking before bed.
- Limit all-nighters.
Avoid or limit alcohol consumption
Drinking is a major health concern on college campuses and increases the risk for accidents, sexual assault, violence, unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and poor academic performance. Talk with your student about drink limits. If they are underage, encourage them to wait to drink as there are legal consequences for underage drinking. Help your student establish healthy boundaries and talk about alternatives to drinking alcohol.
If your student chooses to drink, educate them on the dangers of binge drinking — for females that’s four or more drinks and for males five or more in a short period of time. Pre-gaming is a common practice that can lead to all sorts of unfavorable outcomes. The more they know about drugs and alcohol, the more likely they are to make wise choices.
Know the resources
College campuses offer health and resource centers to address most of your student’s needs. When you visit campus, familiarize yourself with where everything is and what’s offered; browse the website, too. Talking with your student about what is available can empower them to reach out and get help if needed.
Encourage your student to integrate at least one stress-busting practice in their daily routine.