Written By Marc Lehman, Owner and Family Therapist at U ARE HEARD LLC
College can be a stressful experience for freshmen, and when combined with the pressure to perform and adapt to a new environment, it can be overwhelming for many. Proactively taking care of your mental health is as important as taking care of your physical health. As a parent, you play a critical role in supporting your child’s efforts to maintain a healthy mental state during the transition to college life. In this blog, we will discuss five practical actions that freshmen can take to protect their mental health.
Establish a support network: College life can be lonely without any friends or family around. Encouraging your child to get involved in groups or clubs can help them make connections with like-minded individuals who can offer support during difficult times. Students can also set up regular virtual calls with family and friends.
Prioritize self-care: College life can involve neglecting personal needs such as healthy sleeping habits, regular exercise, and good nutrition. Encourage your child to prioritize self-care by building healthy habits into their daily routines to boost their mood and reduce stress levels.
Practice mindfulness: College life is often accompanied by stress, anxiety, and uncertainty. Your child can learn to manage these feelings by practicing mindfulness. For example, taking a few minutes every day to sit quietly, breathe deeply, and be present in the moment can help them build resilience and find inner peace amidst the chaos.
Reach out for help: Many freshmen are hesitant to ask for help when they need it, fearing that their struggles may be perceived as a sign of weakness. Support your child in understanding that seeking help is a sign of strength. Encourage them to talk to a counselor or therapist when they feel overwhelmed, stressed, or depressed.
Manage academic stress: Academic stress is one of the most significant contributors to mental health issues among college students. Encourage your child to manage their academic stress by creating a study schedule, setting realistic goals, and prioritizing tasks. This can help them stay organized, focused, and in control amidst academic pressure.
The transition to college life brings with it many challenges, but by taking care of their mental health, freshmen can successfully navigate this exciting new chapter in their lives. As a parent, you can support your child by encouraging healthy habits, providing emotional support and encouraging them to seek help whenever they need it. If you can instill in your child the importance of self-care, mindfulness and time management, you will set them on a path that will serve them well beyond their college years.