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Keep in Tip-Top Mental Shape as Your College Experience Begins

Parents: Imagine you're 18 or 19 years old again. You're moving hundreds or thousands of miles away from home to a new adventure – college. The expectation by everyone is that this will be a seamless transition. You'll prevail socially AND academically, providing such evidence of your happiness on social media.

It's important to note that clinical depressive disorders often surface in a person's late teens or early twenties when most enter the university environment. Depression is the second highest cause of death among college-age adults. Add such things as lack of sleep, unhealthy food choices, no exercise, and the infusion of binge drinking can be a recipe for mental and physical exhaustion.

Here are five tips to prepare for your upcoming adventure.

 

Freshman College Mental Health Guidelines

 

  1. Make Time for Things That Stir Your Passion or Curiosity.

    College life shouldn't be limited to school and parties. Instead, consider taking up one or more of the following activities:

     
    1. Do a daily crossword or sudoku puzzle
    2. Create a terrarium or zen garden
    3. Take up dance lessons
    4. Bring your musical instrument
    5. Learn a foreign language
    6. Become a volunteer

       
  2. Take Care of Your Body.
    • Eat nutritious meals and drink plenty of water
    • Quit smoking or don't start
    • Avoid alcohol and other drugs
    • Exercise – go to the fitness center, walk, or do online video workouts
    • Get enough sleep
    • Look into Wellness Coaching, which is usually a free on-campus service. It supports holistic wellness, health, and success through empowering conversations about your strengths and goals.
       
  3. Surround yourself with positive, healthy people.
     
  4. Learn to deal with stress.
     
    • Meditate every day, even if it's for a couple of minutes.
    • Do Tai Chi.
    • Map out the local park systems and take a walk in each one.
    • Write in your journal.
    • Watch a funny video or TV show. Humor has been found to boost the immune system and ease a person's pain.
       
  5. Seek out help if you need it.


If you're feeling overwhelmed, withdrawing from friends, or acting uncharacteristically, it may be time to schedule a free visit to the counseling center.

The following colleges in our area offer mental health support to students: Kent State University, The University of Akron, and Youngstown State University.

 

Conclusion

If you follow these steps, researchers believe you will decrease your odds of depression, reduce stress levels, and improve your mood – ultimately creating the college experience you and your family were hoping for!

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