Keeping College Kids Healthy

Thousands of Arizonans are rattling around in emptier houses these days. That’s because most colleges have started the new school year and students are back on campus.

With that in mind, U.S. News & World Report just released a story advising parents on how to keep their kids healthy while they’re away at school both mentally and physically…..particularly students who are leaving home for the first time!

Helping your child get a good start at college involves more than finding the right-sized sheets or cheapest textbooks. College students must take full charge of their physical and mental health, often far away from you. Parents can do a lot to make that transition a healthy and happy one, from explaining and organizing medical needs to engaging in honest conversations.

Often, parents and even doctors don’t talk to high school seniors about how to prepare to care for themselves, and there’s a lot of information students need to know, says Dr. Karen Soren, an associate professor of pediatrics at Columbia University Medical Center and director of adolescent medicine at the NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. “They should be told, “These are your medical issues, these are your prescriptions, these are your allergies … this is your insurance card, it will cover this or not this,” she says.

Managing stress is critical to the health and well-being of college students. According to a recent report in the Arizona Daily Star, “Stress and anxiety are common among new college students, but there are ways to cope, a doctor says.”For incoming college freshmen, going away to school means leaving family and a familiar environment for a place with new people, new responsibilities, less support and a whole new set of challenges,” said Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein. He is president and CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.”
A professor at the University of Georgia added that one of the keys to managing stress is to make sure students take care of themselves.

Katie Ehrlich, a psychology assistant professor at UGA, emphasized the importance of accounting for a healthy diet, regular exercise and, especially, a good amount of sleep.

“No one makes good decisions when they’re sleep-deprived, and stressful experiences often feel worse when you’re lacking sleep,” she said.

The Toronto Star claims 44 percent of Canadian college students reported feeling so depressed at some point within the past year that it was difficult to function, sixty-five per cent had felt overwhelming anxiety, and 13 percent had seriously contemplated suicide within the past year. USA Today offered, what it called, three “sure-fire” tips to help cut down on stress at school.

  • Get organized (a lack of organization may lead to an overwhelming level of stress)
  • Live a healthy lifestyle (how you treat your body can contribute to your stress level)
  • Cut back and make time for fun (if you can’t do it all, then don’t)

Do you have ideas on how to help students deal with college stress as they head away from home for the very first time? Or maybe you have tips for parents who are struggling with how they can help. Share your thoughts with us. After all, finding new ways to build better health is key to our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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