All parents want for their children is to be secure, happy and well-prepared for the real world when the time comes. On the other hand, college students want newfound independence, confidence and success. For both parents and college kids alike, there some tools and programs to ensure that the first few years away from home are healthy ones.
It's not hard to imagine how frightening and challenging the years at college are to students, even if they don't want to admit it. Immediately, they're expected to know how to beg for money and get 12 packets of Ramen for $3 at the local grocery store all by themselves! It's more responsibility then they've ever had before, regardless of how well-parented their childhood years may have been. Of course, as is made clear by dozens of movies and TV shows, college is also extremely fun and empowering. But only if it's done right.
Research on mental health has taken more precedence than ever before, and one big thing has become a common culprit in damaging a college student's well-being: sleep deprivation. More than ever before, national discussions are sprouting up around the importance of sleep. The problem is not only a lack of sleep in general, but also in the lack of high-quality sleep.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are simple ways to prioritize sleep and manage overall stress. Not only does your nighttime sleep affect your day, but vice versa. Coffee and alcohol are mainstays of college life, but their tendency to become "medications" for stress and sleep deprivation make falling into a vicious circle almost too easy. Instead, there are plenty of smart and easy daily activities and relaxing evening rituals that promote self-awareness, mindfulness and overall health.
For college students looking for guidance and help on their new wellness journey, there are tend to be campus groups and designated therapy sessions available on or around campus. At the University of Missouri, the Wellness Resource Center hosts a space in the basement of the union and advocates for "on-going activities and events that support wellness as it relates to issues such as alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, nutrition and fitness, stress and mental health and other wellness issues." Mizzou Wellness hosts events tied to the topics of alcohol, drugs, fitness and mental health. They also provide programs such as CHEERS and FreshU in addition to the ever-popular Relaxation Station.
Even after leaving the nest, college students should never feel on their own or without help. Both internal and external tools and resources are becoming increasingly available at campuses all over the country. Nonetheless, parents are never disarmed of the ability to care for their kids. Dr. Robert London has tips for parents on managing the well-being of both their child and themselves from afar.
Parents: There's no need to worry too much. Invaluable tools are out there and continue to grow and improve as the discussion around sleep and mental health flourishes.
Kids: Don't forget to call your parents.