‘Freshman Fifteen’ fears become reality

Catherine Smith, Lifestyle Editor

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College is a time of intense studying, lasting memories and a pivotal point in each adult’s life. Stress comes with the reality of managing college academics and a social life. Having the epidemic of stress hanging over the heads of many students leads to the infamous ‘Freshman Fifteen’. Stress eating, or the lack of eating, can cause dietary changes and emotional changes towards students’ bodies that cause body-weight to fluctuate.

As many students stress over the many hours of studying and managing various social elements, students have a tendency to forget to maintain a healthier well-being, mentally and physically.

Dr. Jill Mallin, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Health and Counseling Services (UHCS) counselor, said the tendency to see weight fluctuate isn’t solely due to a person’s nutrition, but is impacted by their overall well-being.

“It often takes some time for students to learn how to incorporate physical activity into their daily routine. Then there is the issue that when someone is experiencing anxiety and depression, one of the symptoms can be weight gain or weight loss. This often stems from a different issue entirely, not just basic nutritional habits.”

As common as stress is amongst students, Mallin says there are various ways of achieving an overall better well-being and mental wellness; using the resources provided by the UHCS.

“Counseling services are always free and students are entitled to up to fourteen sessions every academic year,” Mallin said. “We offer both individual and group counseling. Physicians and nurse practitioners are available through health services to discuss the medical symptoms of depression and anxiety.”

The best way to relieve stress, said to Mallin, is to be active in something you enjoy.

“We suggest sand volleyball, dancing, riding your bike, playing intramurals, exploring the nature trails in whitewater- moving your body for the enjoyment of being active,” she said.

Students interested in the many other stress-relieving activities on campus can try UHCS’ free yoga and guided meditation at noon on Mondays and Thursdays, low-cost massages also provided by UHCS two days a week, or hourly student therapy dogs in the Andersen Library.

When dealing with stressful situations or depression there are also technological resources that can encourage a healthier state of mind, Mallin said.

“There are a variety of meditations/relaxation applications that can be utilized throughout the day, as well as before particularly stressful situations or to help fall asleep at night,” Mallin says.

With student stress climbing and mental illness statistics rising, the resources are endless at UW-Whitewater. For more information on health ethics or counseling services visit www.uww.edu/uhcs.