Encouraging Wellness to Be a Part of Your Student’s Daily Life

Wellness and Well-Being

While we often hear the words “wellness” and “well-being” used interchangeably, they do have slightly different connotations. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a universal definition for well-being does not exist. However, leading researchers and scholars generally agree that it is a state of functioning in which positive emotions, sense of purpose and fulfillment, and satisfaction with life are predominant. When well-being is present, you feel good about life. 

Well-being is an outcome of many enabling features. One of these enabling features is wellness. If well-being is an outcome, wellness is an ingredient. To read more about the “ingredients” in wellness, read about the wellness wheel

Discuss a Plan for Well-Being with Your Student

There is no “one size fits all” plan for well-being. Ultimately there are several things your student can do that promote optimal well-being—it’s just a matter of finding what works well for them. Knowing what works well before your student goes to college can not only help them with the transition to college, but it can also help them develop habits and skills they will use well beyond their college years. Read about seven things to consider when building a plan and for maximizing your students well-being on campus.

Healthy Eating

Eating in college and university dining halls and eateries can be very different from what your student may be used to at home. The types of food offered, the preparation of food, the way food is served, and quantity of food available may be new to your student. In a traditional campus dining hall, students suddenly have access to many more options and access to much more food. This can be overwhelming for your student. Moreover, if your student is living in an apartment and cooking for the first time, or simply looking for healthy snack options to keep on hand, they may not know where to begin or where to go to purchase what they need. 

Eating well on and off campus is easier than you might think. Thanks to MyPlate, there are easy visuals and guidelines to follow to help your student make healthy choices at mealtimes for their overall nutrition. Consider discussing these healthy eating on campus tips with your student.

Physical Activity

Physical Activity is important to your student. Regular aerobic exercise lowers risk for disease and improves sleep, memory, cognition, and a sense of well-being. At a minimum, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend that adults ages 18-64 get between 150 minutes to 300 minutes (2.5-5 hours) of moderate aerobic exercise each week or 75 minutes to 150 minutes (1.25 to 2.5 hours) of vigorous aerobic activity per week. Learn more about what to discuss with your student about physical activity. Your student’s school may have a
campus recreation center, which is a convenient way to get the recommended amount of physical activity. Depending on the school, the rec center may be free if it’s included in student fees. 

Resiliency

Stress is a normal life experience, and chances are your student will feel stress or experience adversity while at college. Discuss with your student how they can strengthen their ability to manage stress in the moment. This will increase their resilience and their ability to bounce back from an adverse situation and perform well under stress. 

Developing and maintaining a positive mindset is foundational to resiliency. Positive outlooks or mindsets can help your student become more resilient and help protect their physical and emotional health, like lowering the risk for depression and protecting against minor illnesses like colds. Read more about the importance of resilience and positive thinking and how your student can increase their resiliency and bounce back!

“Adulting” Skills

Attending college or university may be the first time your student is living away from you. Life skills like budgeting, seeking health care, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and managing personal safety are some of the things they will be doing on their own. Read these tips on “adulting” skills to help you discuss and navigate each with your student. You may consider practicing these skills before they leave for college to make sure your student fully understands. That way, your student doesn’t end up washing a red sock with their whites or burning their first few meals!