Congratulations on making it through the academic year and a huge congratulations to the graduating Class of 2016! As your student returns home for the summer, it is important to note that summertime can be just as important as the academic school year. Parents and families can play a key role in helping with the transition from school to home… Talk to your student and help them reflect on their experiences (of course after they catch up on some much needed rest and relaxation).
Encourage your student to continue to focus on their wellbeing as he/she winds down from this academic year and prepares for the next year of college (or for those who have graduated, life after college). Wake Forest University identifies eight dimensions of wellbeing that comprise a person’s overall happiness and health.
Here are some ways that you can support your student in connecting to all 8 dimensions during their summer experience.
Emotional Wellbeing: Find some time to sit down with your student and talk about his/her experience at college and how they have developed. Did they achieve their goals? What were the good experiences? What were the bad experiences? Where did they think they succeeded and failed? Share your own experiences and empathize with theirs. Creating a space of vulnerability and safety can build a strong emotional relationship between you and your student. As a family, you can serve as a strong support network for your student.
Environmental Wellbeing: Enjoy the great outdoors and soak in the sunshine! A recent study shows that being outside in natural surroundings can improve health. Take the opportunity to go camping or hiking, enjoy a day at the park, or start up gardening.
Financial Wellbeing: Summer is a great time to start talking about fiscal responsibility. Talk about budgeting, set up or manage your checking account, go over credit cards, do your homework on loans and financial aid. College can be an expensive time, therefore it is important to plan ahead to limit excessive debt. Check out this article from US News & World Report about more money tips for college students.
Intellectual Wellbeing: Try a new hobby! Just because the academic year is over does not mean that you should stop learning! Look into taking a course on cooking, painting, guitar lessons, glassblowing, or dancing. Summer is a great opportunity to learn lifelong skills that aren’t typically taught in the classroom!
Occupational Wellbeing: Do a job shadow or find an internship. Either of these experiences is a great way to better understand the profession your student is interested in. HandShake is a great start that has listings of internships and summer jobs that have been approved by Wake Forest University.
Physical Wellbeing: Summer is a great time to start a new fitness routine or continue the progress that was achieved from the semester! Get a gym membership or carve out a running route in your hometown. Sitting is the new smoking, so it is important to stay off the couch or the bed and get moving! Be sure to grab a bottle of water on the way out and stay hydrated during the hot summer! Additionally, keep your student healthy by keeping your fridge stocked with healthy natural foods. Health.com provides a great resource on the best and worst summer foods. See how your fridge stacks up!
Social Wellbeing: Lead the summer off with the spirit of Pro Humanitate! A study shows that there is a strong association between community service and personal wellbeing and those who serve in some capacity have a better score in contentment, peace, joy, purpose and community acceptance. Volunteering in the local community at a local food bank, hospital, or charity is a great way to give back to the community. There are national resources like VolunteerMatch where you can find local companies and places to volunteer with over the summer.
Encourage your student to connect with what gives them energy and brings them happiness, whether that be socializing spending time with friends or spending time snuggled up with a good book.
Spiritual Wellbeing: Learning to center oneself is an important skill to have. College is full of distractions and learning to train oneself in mindfulness and focus is an invaluable tool. Carve out a part of the day to simply sit and meditate and reflect. For those who do not regularly meditate, try these steps from MindBodyGreen!
2015-16 was a great year filled with new campus initiatives from the Office of Wellbeing such as Move More! Move Often!, Bystander Intervention Training for the first year class, Social Norms Campaign, and a continuation of our Signs of Stress Campaign! Through Move More! Move Often! we registered 111 students who joined our Fitbit walking groups and improved their physical wellbeing! Through Bystander Intervention, 1042 first year students learned to create a culture of safety and care related to alcohol, mental health, and sexual violence. Using a marketing campaign, we helped students adjust their perceptions about safety behaviors related to alcohol use. We successfully saw increases in prevention behaviors and decreases in alcohol-related incidents. And our Signs of Stress campaign reached over 500 students with how to recognize emotional distress and stress breaks including on an campus petting zoo, art therapy, meditation circles, and free mental health screening with the aid of the University Counseling Center.