The importance of managing health in college

Those of us with college kids are moving them into dorms and apartments this time of year. It's easy to focus on registration and schedules and living arrangements - but as parents, we also need to make sure these students learn how to manage their health. 

India Carter's parents, for example, have always taught her to be independent, a skill that will serve her well as she heads off to college. 

"I've really been making sure to make my routines by myself and start making schedules," she says. 

Experts at the Ohio State University urges all students to check off a few simple tasks before move-in day to build a plan to stay healthy on campus. First on the list is establish healthy habits. 

"Just like you build in time for classes, build in time for physical activity, healthy eating, stress reduction," urges Dr. Bernadette Melnyk. 

And just like mapping out your route to classes, be sure to find places on campus that promote healthy habits like the gym, healthy food options and student health centers. 

Next on the list, make sure you find local health care. 

"Get connected to a primary care provider as soon as you get on campus. Learn where the pharmacy is so you don't lapse in your medication regimen," Dr. Melnyk says.  

"Your parents don't know what's going on. Your friends don't know you well enough yet to know what's going on, only you do, so you need to take charge of your health," India's mom says.

And not just your physical health. An important item on the checklist is to make your mental health a priority, too.

Between the pressures of school and feeling isolated in a new place, stress and anxiety have led to an increase in mental health disorders among college students.

"Take things day by day and focus on what is currently right in front of you," says Dr. Melnyk. 

If you're feeling overwhelmed, don't wait to seek professional help.

Also, connect with campus organizations early to start making new friends. That's something that can go a long way in reducing stress. 

As is the last item on the checklist is to find a system that works for you. 

India uses a weekly planner for classwork and a smartphone apps for medication reminders. 

It's preparations like these that make India's mom confident she's ready to take on the world. 

"I feel like she has the skill to adapt, and we're here for her."

One of the biggest lessons you can teach your college student is the importance of sleep. All nighters, espeicially if they happen often, are a bad idea.   

So here's the rundown: live with healthy habits, find health care - a provider and pharmacy, understand importance of mental health and if any of it gets too overwhelming, get help.