Freshman Back to School
By Anna Huntsman, Compass Media Contributing Writer
As the warm summer breeze transitions into the cool autumn air, incoming college freshmen are experiencing their very own winds of change. Along with the exciting first taste of independence, there may also be some anxiety of living on our own and the fear of paying those college bills. This is an all-around stressful time in our lives, but perhaps what is most stressful to the class of 2015 is the so-called “Freshman Fifteen,” a label coined for the potential weight gain new college students experience during their first year on campus. You see, no longer are we bound by the pre-portioned cafeteria lunches and 10 minutes of rushed conversation with our friends. Instead, we find ourselves surrounded by unlimited dining halls and restaurants and plenty of opportunities to sit around and be a dorm potato. It’s no secret that we are potentially at risk to adopt an unhealthier lifestyle. College, however, is supposed to be the best four years of our lives. There we will discover our greatest passions, garner lifelong friendships, and construct the foundation for our future. Most importantly, we will make ourselves into the best women we can be. To do this, we should not be so concerned with those extra 15 pounds we are supposedly guaranteed to pack on. Instead, let’s focus on some other numbers that will keep both our physical and mental health in the best shape possible during our college years.
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To stay fit in college, you do not have to hire a personal trainer or buy a platinum gym membership. The key to staying healthy is, simply, to be physically active on a regular basis. Yes, this means you may have to give up a sliver of your precious free time you normally spend binge-watching Netflix. Luckily for us girls, the USDA suggests being active for a minimum of just 3 days a week. That sounds pretty manageable, right? Fortunately, we have more opportunities to be physically active than most of the general population, since we can walk or jog across campus or participate in activities offered at the recreation center. The best part is that exercising on a regular basis not only keeps our physical health in top shape, but provides great benefit to our mental health as well. The Mental Health Foundation reports that exercise can boost our confidence and improve our self-worth, which are especially important for new college students. By taking measures to manage the stress we will inevitably encounter, we will spend our college days both happy and healthy.
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“I didn’t pull an all-nighter until I went to college.” Unfortunately, we’ve heard this statement from overwhelmed students all too often. Of course, it is unrealistic to say that anyone gets the perfect amount of sleep every night, for every person has different sleep habits and needs. Experts suggest that adults get around 8 hours of sleep every night; the exact range, according to the University of Georgia’s health center, is 6-10 hours. As tempting as it may be to stay awake all night when feeling stressed or disorganized, not getting enough sleep will instead decrease your alertness and productivity. So, while you might think you are prepared for a test due to an all-night study session, your unrested brain and body will have other plans. In order to manage your stress effectively, it is important to develop a regular sleep schedule, and take action to ensure this pans out. For example, refrain from procrastinating on your assignments until midnight, and, despite temptation, do not stay on your phone for hours after getting in bed looking at future wedding ideas on Pinterest. Sleep is invaluable, replenishing, and vital to maintaining overall wellness in college. Listen to the experts (and your sleep-starved body) and shoot for 8 hours of sleep every night—you might have the college experience of your dreams.
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As the saying goes, “Two is better than one,” and what better way to stay healthy as a college student than having a friend by your side? With one, two, or many friends beside you in your college journey, both your physical and mental health will flourish immensely. You could look for healthier eating alternatives with your roommate at lunch, or take the relationship with your study buddy even further and become exercise buddies. Most significantly, being around other people who share your interests will ultimately foster lasting memories and friendships. Having a friend in your wellness journey to encourage, motivate, and grow with you will make this transition a little less scary–and a lot more rewarding. It is clear that taking on college and the freshman fifteen will not be an easy task; in fact, you might come to realize that “it takes two.”
Going off to college is both adventurous and exciting. Face the fear of the freshman fifteen with these new numbers, and you will be physically and mentally prepared to take on all opportunities and challenges throughout your college journey.
Freshman Back to School