What Happens When Pizza and Netflix is Your Way to Survive the School Year?
Welcome back to school! Whether you are looking forward to it or anticipating it with trepidation, there is a high level of excitement. A new school year brings opportunities and challenges in balancing transition issues, academic pursuits, college life, home, and family. At this point in the year, you probably have a fair amount of adrenaline (and maybe caffeine) powering you through the day.
As I send my clients off to college each fall, I emphasize one point above all else: Watch out for the October Slide! Towards the end of September, the excitement draws to an end and reality sets in. The tests are more difficult, conflicts may be arising with roommates, and the colder darker days of winter are fast approaching. The steady diet of fast food, late nights, and lack of techniques to manage your stress may make the pressures you’re feeling seem overwhelming. These factors often result in an increase in depression and anxiety. Your impulse may be to curl up in bed and binge on pizza and Netflix while waiting for the semester to end. The October Slide can be prevented with your actions in September. I’m challenging you to be proactive.
Are you up for it? Take care of your health by following the simple acronym – MEDSS and my other recommendations below.
M – Take MEDICATION as prescribed
E – EXERCISE
D – Follow a healthy DIET
S – Get sufficient SLEEP
S – Nourish your SOUL, be it in finding solace in your faith, nature, art, yoga or any activity that helps you to feel more relaxed and grounded
Develop a routine that keeps you healthy and organized. Write down your goals, and then use a planner to map out your week. Schedule your study time, work outs, and meals in advance. This planning time may seem taxing; I assure you it’s a great habit to form. It will help you to feel more focused and ultimately better.
Establish your support network. Check in with your family, friends, therapist, and mentors, even when things are going well. If you find yourself feeling more stressed or down than usual, make an appointment with your therapist. If you do not have one, seek one out before the symptoms become overwhelming. The important thing is to stay connected. If you’re struggling to make friends, find a club, activity, volunteer position, or job that will provide you the opportunity to contribute and surround yourself with other like-minded individuals.
Have fun in moderation. For some people, it can be tempting to say yes to every party, tailgate, or social gathering. Overdoing these things will wreak havoc on your health, leaving you drained, more prone to getting sick, and feeling anxious and depressed. Know your limits and give your body break. These breaks should also include making time for yourself away from technology: your phone, social media, and video games. Recognize your own personal need for time to yourself in an open space – allow yourself that break.
Your actions right now determine how the stressors impact you as you face and conquer the challenges a new school year brings. Believe in yourself and acknowledge that others care about you and are there to help if you need it.
Parents, here are three simple things you can do to help your student right now:
- Check in with your student about their emotional wellbeing and the stressors they are facing.
- Offer support in helping your student establish healthy and productive routines.
- Assist in connecting your student with professional support if that will be beneficial.
Therapists at Fox Valley Institute are offering Telehealth services to their current clients, who are away at school in the state of Illinois. You will need to verify with your insurance provider that video conference (Telehealth) services are covered. Let us know if we can be of support in any way.
Cindy Baleskie, MA, LCPC
Additional information you may find of interest: