Baylor Expert Offers Tips For Successful College Transition

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Thank you to the Baylor College of Medicine for submitting this article…..

teensBack-to-school takes on new meaning for students heading off to college, with the focus shifting from new school supplies and clothes to developing time management and study skills and living on their own for the first time. A Baylor College of Medicine expert in family psychology offers some helpful tips.

“There are a number of issues that teens heading off to college for the first time may face,” said Dr. James Bray, professor of family and community medicine at Baylor. “It’s their first time away from home and living independently, and they don’t have the usual support system. For some, it’s the first time they’ve had to buckle down and study hard. It’s important for students to be prepared to develop new habits and seek out help if needed.”

Develop new routines and habits

Creating new habits and routine is key, Bray said. He suggests setting up regular study times and sticking to them. Students who struggle with getting to class on time or studying effectively may be able to find campus assistance. Many colleges and universities offer courses or workshops on these topics. Students also can seek out advice and help from a dormitory resident assistant, or RA.

Eating healthy and finding time for exercise also should be part of the new routine, Bray said. It will help students deal with stress, and keep off the so-called ‘Freshman 15.’ Many colleges have gym facilities and group exercises classes included as part of their fees, so students should take advantage of those programs. On the other hand, watch out for the unlimited food available in school dining halls.

Recognize feelings

Bray acknowledges that some students will start to feel anxious and homesick, or even depressed.

“It’s important to recognize these feelings and not just suffer in silence,” he said.

If needed, college students should head home for a weekend visit. Again, they should take advantage of campus resources such as counseling centers and RAs. Without seeking help, grades may begin to fall, Bray said.

Be aware of alcohol abuse

Another issue for college students to be mindful of is binge drinking, Bray said. This is more common among college freshmen and sophomores. By junior year, there is a decline in alcohol abuse; however, if it persists after this point, students may have trouble finishing school and moving on with successful careers.

He points out that underclassmen are typically underage, and drinking can have legal consequences with lifelong implications on their careers.

There also are serious potential health effects of binge drinking. “Anytime you drink five or more drinks on one occasion, it has implications for your health, including putting you at risk for injury and increasing your risk of sexually transmitted diseases and, for women, being victims of sexual assault.” What’s more, alcohol abuse can affect brain development, which continues until about age 22 or 23.

“College students need to be aware of the situations they are in, such as at parties or other college events where there is alcohol,” he said. Stick with friends, have a cell phone charged, limit alcohol intake and trust instincts.

Finally, Bray said to remember that students living in dorms are in close quarters and illnesses can spread quickly. Students should stay up to date on vaccinations and seek out healthcare if they aren’t feeling well, before it leads to missed class time.

Overlooked Blocks To Successful Weight Loss And Good Health

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By Ann Musico

weightlossballtextSo often people contact me for help losing weight and that is their sole focus. I understand that being overweight impacts a person’s life in so many ways and they naturally tend to see losing that weight as the “answer” to their problem. However, in reality, those extra pounds they carry are simply a symptom – the fruit if you will. Unless they address the root of the problem, the reason they became overweight to begin with, they will never have long term success in reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.

Three of the most overlooked roots are stress, shame and self-image. We are bombarded with stress daily from multiple sources. Physically from injury, illness; environmentally in our foods, water, air; in our thoughts, relationships and emotions as well as in our spirits. Stress is a toxin! Unless it is acknowledged, addressed and resolved in some way, it will cause us to sabotage our best efforts.

Shame keeps us constantly aware of our shortcomings, controlling our lives by keeping us in that negative loop. It tells us this is what we’ve done and who we are and will always be – and that is a lie. One teacher I heard expressed it beautifully – we must become aware of separating our “who” from our “do.” We are human beings, not human “doings.”

A strong sense of self-worth is one of the most important ingredients to a successful life in all areas, including vibrant health. It makes perfect sense that if you don’t feel you’re worthy, you won’t make a consistent effort to take good care of yourself. Self-image powerfully drives your decisions.

So what can you do? Here are three simple things:

yogaposeFirst something as simple as taking five quiet minutes for yourself can short-circuit stress. Stop periodically, breathe slowly and deeply and practice gratitude. Studies show even a small action changes your view of yourself and when you feel better, you will be more likely to repeat it.

Then intentionally become aware of your thoughts, which affect your health as powerfully as food, exercise and water. It takes 6-10 seconds for a thought to take root and release chemicals into your body. Keep thinking that thought for 7-10 days and you believe it is truth – whether it is or not! The thought is intensified when you combine it with emotion! Keep a list of your self-talk and then take steps to replace the negative with truth.

Last, something as simple as increasing the amount of clean water you drink improves your ability to process emotions. Spirit, soul and body are all interconnected so you must address all three.

Here’s my takeaway: You are already a success regardless of the number on the scale. Success is the sum of small efforts repeated daily, so with each baby step in the right direction you are building success, not trying to achieve it.

– Ann Musico is a holistic health coach who helps women, at every age, to exemplify lives of vibrant health and wholeness – spirit, soul and body. Her mission is to show women how to adopt a healthy lifestyle in a way that is simple and achievable, empowering them to take responsibility for their own health in order to be a positive influence on their families. You can visit her website at threedimensionalvitality.com There are numerous free resources and you can learn more about her book, Today’s the Day Seven Week Fitness Plan, products and coaching.