After talking to parents and college students, we created this quick list of 3 tips to increase awareness about stress– the first step to stress busting!
1. Get Sleep
College life can be busy and unpredictable. The routine of class if often broken with long papers, cramming for tests and let's face it– maintaining a social life! Turning off all electronics in the room can make all the difference to getting restful sleep. The brain is stimulated by screen lights, which keeps it from producing Melatonin, which is essential for sound sleep. Electronics should be turned off 30-minutes prior to sleep and if the phone is being used as an alarm it should be placed where an active screen light is hidden and sound is muted. Make sure your college student knows that putting your phone on silent does NOT effect the alarm function.
2. Get Connected
Life on campus can be stressful in new ways your student didn't anticipate. Although your student might be seeing new faces each day, creating connection can be tricky and it can create feelings of loneliness– even for outgoing individuals. Social support is important for dealing with stress. Even small gestures to show you care and make connection make a huge difference. You can encourage your student to text or email for support from those they've known forever, but sometimes being present makes all the difference when faced with a challenge. It is super important to help them take social steps to find new people with whom they can build trust. This helps them deal with current stress and sets them up to give and receive support in the future.
3. Get Moving
At a young age it's tempting to compartmentalize a busy life by allowing others who are "athletic" to do all of the workouts. But fitness on campus isn't just about collegiate sports. Exercise is an important part of taking care of our mind and is a part of creating a regimen for increased focus and better grades. You don't have to be a fitness fanatic to get the benefits. According to the APA, "even a 20-minute walk, run, swim or dance session in the midst of a stressful time can give an immediate effect that can last for several hours." Encourage your student to look for small opportunities to round out a healthy lifestyle– like taking the stairs or walking to class.