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Finally Landed at University…Now What?

Navigating through University and it feels like you are the only one not overjoyed to be there? These gentle steps can help your mental health experience be a positive one for the "books"!

Stepping foot onto your new University campus can be the most exciting day for some, and for others it may be filled with fear and and overwhelming feeling of constant anxiety.  Many years of work were put into getting the proper education, continued extra curricular activities, community service, expectations, and vetting through the application process.  It may seem like everyone else is thrilled to land at school, be away from their parents, and start their adult lives.  For some, the thought of so many new people, classes, new geography, and cultures can be terrifying.  Having a few wellness skills can help you assimilate into your new norm, meet some like-minded friends, and find your place in your university environment.

1. Writing down a few things that made you feel good at home is a good place to start.  Post them on the areas you use most – door frames, mirrors, headboard, fridge. Some good things may have been having a gym membership, playing a musical instrument, notes about where you met your best friend, attending support groups, sporting events, church, hobbies or electives.  A little preparation before landing at school can help you map out where you can go the first few days before class to find venues for these favorite things.  Many online sources and bloggers have written down tips they learned already to get you started.  Be sure to print a map of your campus along with downloading onto your phone and laptop. 

2. Gym memberships or a multiple gym access membership like ClassPass are great to get you into the exercise routine you prefer.  If you need to watch your funds, there may be an option for you on campus.  Many Universities have their own gyms and they may be included in your tuition already!  Make the most of any classes that are available, free training sessions, and group activities like organized basketball where you can meet new people.  Make a plan to schedule your exercise to your calendar and everything else around those sessions.  You are your foundation.  Without a solid base, your structure will not stand.  Well known author, philanthropist, and life coach, Tony Robbins, says, “Make sure you are your best self first, then you can show up for others and provide the most value possible.”

3. Walking to your classes is a fresh way to get outdoors, fresh air and exercise daily.   Getting exercise has so many positive benefits for your body, mind, and soul; it is hard to discuss wellness without it.  Give yourself time to be prepared when leaving your room, properly dressed for your climate, healthy snacks and water, get to class on time, and settle in before the professor starts the lecture.  Walking is great to get to know your community as well.  Get a local sites map and be a tourist for a day is an easy and low-key way to get to know shops and their owners, historical sites, landmarks, and the local nature. 

Walking in nature is a healing experience that can relax and invigorate you.

4. Be sure to have healthy foods and drinks available.  Food preparation may not be as easy in the dorms as it is in a full kitchen.  Planned healthy fruits, veggies, yogurts, hummus, rice cakes, and waters, can easily be stored in your room and small fridge.  Drinking water is imperative for proper hydration and body balance.  Different environments, elevations, and foods for example can change your body’s response to hydration needs.  Listen to your body and remember once you are feeling thirsty you are already dehydrating.   You should aim for drinking half your body weight in ounces in water daily.  For fresh, inexpensive, and organic fruits and veggies, farmers markets are fun to walk around by your self or with a group.   If you have a favorite stand at the market, frequent it and ask about their food source and background.  It can make you feel more ingrained with the marketplace while learning about the local area you now call home.

5. There may be temptation for drinking, smoking, drugs, and parties while on campus.  If you need help, are feeling pressure, or are not feeling safe, please speak with your Resident Advisor, University counseling department, or campus police if necessary.  Your choices affect your body and mind; however, some things are out of your control.  Familiarize yourself with warning signs and what to look out for, along with resources. We want you safe and healthy to enjoy a fulfilling year and many more to come.  There is confidential help for you as part of every University system. 

6. Make sure to reflect on your day.  Breathing, meditation, writing in a journal, sharing with a counselor, and having quiet, private time are all good ways to balance all that is new coming at you daily.  Resting and sleeping are critical to any wellness plan.  Even body builders have rest days to maximize their results and set hours to sleep every night for optimal function.

Remember how you are feeling is normal.  You are not alone.  It all doesn’t have to be done all at once.  Plan and pace yourself with rest, rewards, and relaxation.

Take it day by day so as not to get overwhelmed and remember there are congratulations in order!  You are now a University student!  Well done and best of luck in your new experiences!

Reach for the stars and keep your eyes on the goal!

Anna Stavaridis is CEO and Founder of Meraki Fitness, LLC.  Meraki Fitness is your wellness expert specializing in professional speaking, corporate wellness, senior fitness, personal training, nutrition, and weight management. 

Sources:

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