DANGER! Freshman Year and Your Health

Deborah L. Hopla, DNP, Guest Writer

There are many dangers to becoming a freshman in college. First concern is the addition of weight. For perhaps the first time you are in charge of what you eat and when you eat. Late night study groups with pizza, chips, and soda; trips to the grille or the local eatery and vending machine snack attacks can devastate the even the healthiest of food plans. Sleeping in late and not having a routine exercise strategy can lead to the “Freshman Ten,” “Twenty” or even “Thirty” pound weight gain.

Next on the danger list is the development of stress from taking classes, developing or breaking up relationships. Trying to juggle extracurricular activities, jobs and the demands of school can cause havoc with your health. Not getting enough rest increases stress and allows your immune system to be compromised and can lead to illness.

Suddenly becoming old enough to drink alcohol can be a danger. It seems every social event has alcohol available. Alcohol can add weight, cloud judgment and in some cases cause overdoses. Alcohol can also interact dangerously with certain medications. Driving while under the influence of alcohol can cost you your driver’s license, or worse, your career (like in Nursing, Medicine, and/or Law). An accident while driving impaired can leave you incarcerated, seriously injured or even dead.

Not taking school seriously is another danger as an incoming freshman.  When this occurs, both money and time are wasted. Some avenues to future education may be blocked due to poor grades or poor application of skills. The “Four-Year Plan” can develop into the five, six or more plan to complete your education. This means more time and more money than would have originally been necessary.

Being a freshman should be an exciting time, so avoiding these first-year dangers is smart! Some parting words of wisdom: Eat a sound nutritious meal. Get some physical activity every day. Lower your stress level. Don’t over-commit. Sleep eight hours a night. Do not drink and drive. Don’t smoke ANYTHING! Best of all, use this time to apply your skills and follow your dreams to your future. If you avoid the dangers you can be successful!