College life can be the good life

Deborah L. Hopla, DNP, Contributing Writer

Classes have begun and excitement is in the air. There is a sense of wonderment as students and faculty scurry about the campus. There are many challenges and decisions being made daily. Finding a balance in life can often be difficult.

Many students, for the first time, are making independent decisions about what to eat, when to eat, when to sleep and when to study. Social pressures abound, and making decisions about friends, fraternities, sororities and even partners can seem overwhelming.

In order to have the good life it is important to find a balance.

First, it is important to eat nutritious meals. Eating fruits and vegetables helps keep your energy stores up and helps you avoid foods that may be calorie laden or full of unhealthy things like saturated fat, sugar and salt.

Second, it is important to be physically active daily. It is easy to get busy and forget your body is like a machine that requires service. Finding a fun activity such as walking, playing a sport or bike riding helps with energy levels. Physical activity also helps in warding off some diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Getting the proper vaccinations is important to staying healthy. A yearly influenza vaccine can save not only yourself from becoming sick but protect others around you. Updating your Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTap) every 10 years can protect you and your loved ones.

Sleep is necessary for cellular repair, energy, rejuvenation and prevention of diseases. Avoid eating just before bedtime and ensure your room is quiet, cool and dark. The light from a computer or television can interfere with REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation is as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.

It is great to have “that loving feeling,” but regrets may come in the morning if that intimacy leaves behind a sexually transmitted disease.

In South Carolina chlamydia, gonorrhea, HPV (human papilloma virus), HSV (herpes simplex virus), HIV and AIDS are concerns for those not using protection. Lesser known STD’s such as trichomonasis, PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) and scabies are also seen on college campuses.

Alcohol and drug use are major problems for young adults according to the CDC (Center for Disease, 2014). Substance use and abuse can lead to STD’s, unplanned pregnancy, violence and fatal and nonfatal injuries (CDC, 2014).

Keeping yourself emotionally balanced can also be challenging. FMU has a wonderful counselor who is available at the Student Service Center.

Sometimes people find themselves on a roller coaster ride of emotions from elation to despair to depression to acute anxiety. Talking to a counselor can help you find a balance.

The CDC (2014) cites suicide between the ages of 10-24 to be the third leading cause of death. Speak up and seek help if you or someone you know is thinking of harming themselves. Get to know people and develop friendships and a support system. People are not mind readers. If you need help, seek help.

Finding the balance in college can lead to many happy memories and a fuller, richer life.