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By Zoe Smith, UCF College Student
Part 1 of 3:  A college student’s perspective for surviving and thriving!

Emotional/Mental Health

Hi! Zoe here from the University of Central Florida! As many of my friends begin their college careers this fall, Healthy West Orange has invited me to share this three-part blog series on healthy college living. Going off to college can be a life-changing experience. For many people, college may be the first-time individuals have to take care of themselves and start making their own decisions–many of which impact their health! I want to take the time to go over maintaining–and improving–your emotional, physical, and nutritional needs so that during your first year, the “freshman 15” is the last thing you’re worried about!

College is a transitory time of your life and it affects everyone, emotionally and mentally. From homesickness, to mental illness, to stressing out over laundry — college can be a really intense time. It can be easy to take on too much and neglect your most basic needs: to feel safe and competent in this new stage of your life, and to have a sense of community and belonging.

When you don’t feel secure in your environment and those around you it can be easy to slip up or neglect other aspects of your health too like eating nutritiously, getting enough exercise, and getting enough sleep–which is why your mental and emotional health are so important! They are your foundation for every other aspect of your life.

Controlling the Stress

College is stressful for everyone. And while stress can sometimes be healthy to help motivate us to finish difficult tasks, too much stress can lead to burn out. It’s important to monitor your symptoms and listen to your body. If your symptoms are getting in the way of not only your academic success, but your ability to get by day-to-day–plan a visit to your campus’ counseling services. I promise no one will think something is wrong with you for taking care of your health and talking to someone.

Many college campuses offer some kind of counseling facilities–usually for free! Schools care about the mental health and well-being of their students, so ask about what services your school offers!

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Extracurricular Activities

Colleges also have a lot of student-run clubs and organizations. Joining one of these clubs can really strengthen your sense of community and lessen feelings of homesickness as you start to feel safe and at home on your campus with all of your new friends.

Maintaining Health Habits

Finally, make sure that you establish and maintain healthy habits as you head off into college. Just because your parents aren’t around to pester you about going to sleep, or keeping your room tidy, doesn’t mean you should stop. Even though you have the freedom to pig out and eat junk food all day every day, doesn’t mean that you should. But we can talk more about good nutrition next time! See you ‘round! ~ Zoe

Mental Health Resources

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zoe smith

About the Author

Zoe Smith is a UCF student studying International and Global Studies and Nonprofit Management. She is entering her fourth year at the University this fall and has formerly served as a peer health advocate through UCF’s Wellness and Health Promotion Services in addition to interning with the Healthy West Orange team this past summer.

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