The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday May 28th

Minding their health

Editor's note: The Daily Tar Heel has tracked four freshmen since August, gauging their health habits as they adjust to college life. Each month, the freshmen are weighed by the DTH, and answer questions concerning a featured health issue. Halloween is done, Thanksgiving is creeping up, and Roy and the boys are hitting the court, which can only mean one thing: It's almost time for finals and the home stretch of fall semester. Students across campus are working on term papers, finishing readings and getting ready for the approaching several-week study binge. But for freshmen, staying mentally healthy in the throes of the first semester at a university is a technique that, like any other subject, must be learned. "I think certainly as there's more stress in the semester, midterms and finals, things that have been bothering people may come more to the fore," said Kathy Hotelling, director and psychologist at Counseling and Wellness Services. "It might not be new things that are coming up, but things that are lurking in the background." Hotelling said anxiety, depression and relationship concerns are the most common complaints CWS sees from freshmen. Depression among college students has risen since the 1950s, according to the National Mental Health Association. Studies show it's an issue that for many students begins freshman year and accelerates during college. Freshman Emily Hylton said that after she hit an October motivational slump, she began incorporating healthy habits into her week. "I try to go to the botanical gardens once a week to take a walk by myself. It's still on campus, but it feels like it's off campus." And college life - not just college work - contributes to stress. "People always say you'll go to college and get to start fresh and be whoever you want to be, but I think people don't talk about the fact that you can lose your identity as a freshman," she said. "It adds to stress a lot." Hotelling said identity crisis is a common issue for new students on campus. "Separating and developing one's own identity is one of the tasks freshmen face," Hotelling said. "And managing unstructured time is another. . Your study time, your fun time, and how do you find a balance that will work in ensuring your academic experience while you're here. "And sometimes there's a pendulum." Freshman Kara Wynne said having her twin sister, Sara, as her roommate in Hinton James Residence Hall has helped her get through her first semester. "I think it is a major stress reliever because you can come home and be yourself, so it's more familiar," Kara Wynne said. But some freshmen face less familiar horizons. Freshman David Luther, an ROTC student, will leave the University this spring to attend basic combat training. He will resume classes in the summer. Luther said his brother, who is in basic training, is able to correspond with his family, so Luther knows he will not be cut off completely from his familiar world. But he said the move still is less-than-convenient. "It's kind of annoying that it interrupts my freshman year," he said. "I haven't tried to commit to a relationship or anything, because what's the point of starting something you know is going to end?" But Luther said knowing he is only here for one semester has helped him stay on track in class. Hotelling suggests exercise, healthy eating and plenty of sleep as ways to stay mentally sound. And if that doesn't work, CWS provides either individual or group therapy for students, a service included in the student health fee. "Make a list each day or for the week of things to get accomplished that are reasonable," Hotelling said. "Lists are important to keep us organized but also to show the progress we've made. There is a sense of relief, and that may not be as conscious, but it does work." Contact the Features Editor at Name: Emily Hylton Height: 5 feet 7 inches Aug. weight: 133 lbs. Nov. weight: 132.5 lbs. Hometown: Dublin, Ireland Name: David Luther Height: 5 feet 9 inches Aug. weight: 155 lbs. Nov. weight: 164.5 lbs. Hometown: Greensboro Name: Anand Dwivedi Height: 5 feet 7 inches Aug. weight: 135 lbs. Nov. weight: 136.5 lbs. Hometown: Fayetteville


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