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Create a healthy care package for your college student
Every college kid needs some TLC. Send yours a box of health-and-wellness items that will come in handy this semester.
Sending your kid away to college can be scary. Are they eating healthily? Taking their vitamins? Do they have medicine in case they get sick? College students might forget to stock up on basic health-and-wellness items. They may not even know what to get.
Why not put together a care package of feel-good essentials for your kid’s dorm room? They’ll have the tools to stay healthy throughout the school year — and you’ll be less worried.
We’ve pulled together a helpful checklist of items you might want to send.
1. Over-the-counter medications for everyday illnesses
Autumn is more than back-to-school time. It’s also the start of cold and flu season. Minor health ailments such as sneezing, sore throats and headaches can keep students cooped up in their dorms.
“All students should head to college prepared to care for minor ailments,” says Jennifer Brull, MD. She’s a family physician in Plainville, Kansas, and a member of the board of directors of the American Academy of Family Physicians. “Having a supply of over-the-counter medicines and a first-aid kit may save them from an urgent care visit or a late-night trip to the pharmacy.”
Having basic supplies on hand can help your kid avoid a trip to the store when they aren’t feeling well. Some ideas:
- Nasal sprays
- Expectorants (such as Robitussin®)
- Pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) and ibuprofen (Advil®)
- First-aid kit with bandages and antibiotic ointments
- COVID-19 tests
You can get over-the-counter pain relievers or schedule a virtual visit at the Optum Store — from any location. Start exploring.
2. Immune boosters
There are ways students can keep themselves from getting sick. Eating healthy foods is one of them. A nutritious diet can protect healthy cells and strengthen your immune system, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Keeping their dorm room (and hands) germ-free is another good habit.
Add these to your list:
- Protein bars, trail mix, nuts and dried fruit
- Daily multivitamin (to fill gaps in their diet)
- Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes
Fitness gear. Motivate your kid to work out by adding exercise essentials to their care package. Some fun options include:
- New running shoes
- A yoga mat
- A fitness tracker
- Resistance bands
“College students should aim for about 150 minutes of exercise per week,” says Dr. Brull. “Whatever activity brings them joy and keeps them physically active is worth adding to a fitness routine.”
(FYI: The Optum Store carries a range of multivitamins to fit your family’s needs.)
3. Stress relievers
It’s easy to get stressed out at college. Final exams, part-time jobs and a lack of sleep can all take a toll. In fact, missed sleep may increase the chance of depressed mood and anxiety in college students, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Tuck in a few items that will help your kid relax and de-stress. Some ideas:
- A journal to write in
- A white-noise machine to help them sleep better
- A cozy blanket
- Aromatherapy essential oils
Remind your student about these resources
Many colleges and universities have services that help keep students healthy and safe. They are usually included in the tuition costs.
Remind your kid to take advantage of perks such as the health center, fitness center and mental health counselors. Feeling sick at college is no fun. Your care package is the next best thing to being at home. But they should know that they can get help on campus if they need it.
Nutrition: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (n.d.). “Nutrition and Immunity”
Sleep and college: American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2019). “Insufficient sleep linked to mental health in college students and athletes”