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Welcome to your first EDGE College Resource post of 2020! No matter what your goals are in the New Year, we will be there to support you all the way! Today, two of our OUTSTANDING alumni will be writing about mental and physical health on campus.

Today’s bloggers are Melanie Sam, 2016 EDGE alum and current sophomore at Santa Clara University, and Kelsey MacIlvaine, 2005 EDGE alum and Humboldt State University graduate.

What is mental and physical health?

Melanie: Mental health encompasses everything going on inside your mind — the things we cannot see. From self-esteem to feelings of stress, these emotions play a factor into how healthy we are mentally. Physical health encompasses the rest of your body — everything from physical fitness to blood pressure, hydration, etc. Both mental and physical health go hand-in-hand, because being physically healthy can help us be mentally healthy, and vice versa!

What’s been your personal experience with this topic?

Kelsey: There’s this amazing freedom I experienced moving to college and living away from my parents. I got to party, eat a lot at the dining hall, and lost my normal structure I had at home. Unhealthy snacking, staying up late and “what’s exercise?” became my motto. These affected my health and happiness.

Melanie: Achieving and maintaining your health can be difficult in college, as schedules get very busy very quickly. However, it’s definitely doable! Everybody goes through these challenges and it’s important that we support our peers through their journey as well! We’re all human and go through things – always remember that! I’m lucky to live in a residence hall that focuses on cura personalis, the Jesuit value of care for the whole person. This community partners with many on-campus resources to educate residents on well-being and de-stigmatize mental health!

Why is it important to maintain mental and physical health?

Melanie: Mental and physical health are important because they keep us going. There’s a concept called the wellness wheel that encompasses all aspects of well-being, from emotional, to social, to environmental, to physical, and much more. If one aspect of the wheel is off, the whole wheel is off because you cannot effectively use a dented wheel. If we do not fulfill an aspect of wellness, we cannot function wholly.

Timeline–when should students focus on this?

Melanie: Always! You are a human before a student — take care of yourself! If you aren’t at 100%, you can’t expect yourself to give 100%!

Kelsey: Build healthy habits quickly and right away.

What are some resources, or tips & tricks you think are helpful for this topic?

Melanie: Schedule time for yourself in your calendar and defend it!! Whether it be scheduling time to go to the gym or to put on a face mask and do nothing — the time used to take care of ourselves is valuable! Say “no” sometimes!!! I’ve recently learned the power of saying “no” — not to be mean, but because I need to be able to rest. Saying “no” is saying “yes” to myself! Have an accountability buddy to keep you in check! From going to the gym together to calling each other out on bad habits, such as staying up late or eating junk food — we all need that friend to keep us in check!

Kelsey: Meal prep! Get 8 hours of sleep every night. Do community activities, the RA’s make them available and free for a reason. Use the health center and all the resources your campus has to offer.

[Editor’s Note] Most campuses have clinics available to students for free or cheap. From eye exams, to sexual health exams, to general wellness check-ins, there are tons of resources for students – do your research to find out what is available to you at your specific campus. Some schools even have counselors for students to talk to, as college can be a mentally draining and tumultuous time. Many colleges and universities also have gyms for students to use, and there are sports at many levels of play that you can sign up for to help keep you active in a fun way!

Any more words of wisdom?

Melanie: There is definitely a stigma surrounding improving one’s health, and it can be daunting. However, the people you surround yourself are integral to your health journey! Surround yourself with positivity and people who care about you. Many universities have a plethora of resources to aid you on your health journey — reach out to them!

Thank you Melanie and Kelsey for your advice about mental & physical health on campus! Keep an eye on our College Resources page for a new article every two weeks! Got health related questions that still need answering? Comment below!

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