Keep in Tip-Top Mental Shape as Your College Experience Begins It’s graduation season for high schools and colleges with dreams and trepidations about what’s next is consuming all the new graduates. It’s a time of stress. For high school graduates, the biggest changes in their lives are on the doorstep. 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 expectations 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. As you may remember, parents, it wasn’t easy then and it’s even harder now. It's important to note that clinical depressive disorders often surface in a person’s late teens or early twenties, which is when most are entering 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, the infusion of binge drinking, and it can be a recipe for mental and physical exhaustion. Here are five tips to prepare for the upcoming adventure. Freshman College Mental Health Guidelines Make Time for Things That Stir Your Passion or Curiosity. College life shouldn’t be limited to school and parties. Consider taking up one or more of the following activities: Do a daily crossword or sudoku puzzle Create a terrarium or zen garden Take up dance lessons Bring your musical instrument Learn a foreign language Become a volunteer -- if you go to school in Ohio, check out Coleman’s volunteer page. 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. Surround yourself with positive, healthy people. Learn to deal with stress. Try to 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 the pain a person might be going through. 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. Coleman Professional Services provides 24/7 support for the nine counties we serve if your educational institution doesn’t have one. Conclusion If you follow these steps, researchers believe you will decrease your odds of depression, reduce stress levels, and improve your mood. We Want Your College Experience to be Successful As Mental Health Awareness Month draws to a close, please know we want you to have the best experience possible during your college years. Please contact us anytime for help!