Going away to university is very exciting. It’s the first time for many being on their own, navigating new situations, and taking control of all aspects of their lives. Students are not only completely in charge of their studies, they are also in charge of their physical and mental health. They will face many challenges that will test the depth and breadth of their experience of themselves and the world. While it’s exhilarating, it can also be very difficult.
According to a survey done by thestudenthousingcompany.com, 73% of student suffer from homesickness while away at university. Homesickness is a lot more than just missing your friends and family back home. It can be very debilitating for the those experiencing it. Homesickness is actually a sort of grieving process, says the Huffington Post article “What Happens To Your Mind And Body When You Feel Homesick,” during which people long for something familiar. There are physical symptoms associated with homesickness, such as insomnia, anxiety, appetite problems, and difficulty concentrating.
Weighted Products to Assist With Homesickness
Bringing a few pieces of home to a new environment is one way to help fight off feeling lonely. Made with care, and Made in Canada, a Hippo Hug weighted blanket is a special item made especially for the person it will help. All blankets are comforting, but a Hippo Hug weighted blanket for homesickness has additional physical and psychological benefits.
Weighted blankets apply what is known as deep pressure touch stimulation, which has the same effect as a hug from a loved one. A weighted blanket can provide your student comfort and reassurance even when you are not there. Deep pressure touch stimulation works by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. The even weight of a Hippo Hug blanket causes the release of dopamine and serotonin, which soothes and relaxes. Plus, they can be made with any fabric of your choosing, making them a personal item you can design with your child so they will always have the memory of the love that was put into choosing the best blanket available.
Weighted blankets have also been shown to boost the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep processes. Good sleep is very important for maintaining mental health and allowing for brains and bodies to operate properly. Being properly rested helps with concentration and learning so your student can get the most out of the post-secondary experience.
Additional weighted products to help students include:
- Hippo Sit Weighted Lap Pads. We created our weighted lap pads with classroom use in mind, providing the benefits of deep pressure touch stimulation in travel form. They are smaller so they can be taken anywhere, are made using waterproof material and come with a removable, washable cuddle cover.
- Sequin Pillows. Not only are sequin pillows great for those who fidget, they are also fun and fashionable. Playing with a sequin pillow is calming, providing soothing sensory stimulation.
- Hippo Chill Crash Mats. There’s nothing better after a long day at school than coming home and collapsing in to one of our Hippo Chill Crash Mats. Sized at approximately 35 inches by 70 inches, they are even large enough to be used as a spare bed.
More Ways to Fight Homesickness
Additional ways for students to help themselves feel better during a bout of homesickness include:
- Keeping informed on student services available for anyone experiencing difficulties, and using them when necessary.
- Creating connections with other students outside of the classroom, such as by joining a club or a team.
- Staying in touch with loved ones through apps like texting and FaceTime, and being honest about how you are feeling. Nobody quite knows how to make you smile like a family member.
- Adhering to a structured routine including study time, meals, and workouts, which will help immensely with anxiety.
- Creating a comfy retreat in dorm rooms or accommodations filled with things that provide comfort and joy.
- Getting out into new surrounding to enjoy the great opportunities provided by a unfamiliar space.
- Eating well and exercising often.
Stress is Also A Major Problem for Students
According to the 2016 National College Health Assessment (NCHA) survey, which was implemented as part of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Healthy Campus initiative, about 40% of the 1,004 University of Calgary students surveyed reported stress as being a major negative factor in their academic performance. Sleep difficulties were also reported by 27% of the respondents.
Fortunately, post-secondary institutions in Alberta offer a number of mental health awareness programs, and students are being taught early to recognize the signs that they may need help. The stigma surrounding mental health issues has been increasingly eradicated, however there is still work to be done.
How Parents Can Help Their Child Away From Home
When a child is off at school for the first time, parents have the anxiety-inducing role of attempting to provide as much support as possible from afar with the knowledge that they may not be able to help in the same way they used to. They have to rely on the capabilities they have instilled in their child, and also that their child has the confidence necessary to approach hardships knowing they can handle them.
Here are a few ways to support university students from many miles away:
- Express support when problems arise, but also give them time to solve their own problems. This will teach resiliency in the long run.
- Encourage them to take advantage of services available to them at their university.
- Don’t belittle them for not knowing what you think they should know. If they have suddenly forgotten how to do laundry, don’t get mad, just talk them through the process once again.
- Sending care packages is a wonderful way to show that you are thinking of them often.
- Don’t expect immediate perfection. Grades at university are generally not as strong as in high school to start. It is common to struggle in the first year, so don’t panic and tell your child to just keep working hard, the results will start to show.
To remain even closer to your kid, why not create the same Hippo Hug weighted blanket for homesickness for yourself as you do for your child, so that you all can feel connected when headed to bed.
Let Us Help You
A weighted blanket for homesickness may be able to be covered by benefits. The most success we see is through claims using wellness accounts. To improve your chances of having your blanket covered it is always a good idea to obtain a doctor’s note. We may also be able to assist in the process, just let us know.
If you are not sure what kind of weighted blanket is best for you, we offer a unique Try Before You Buy program to tests some different kinds. The right size and weight of blanket is a personal choice, and we are here to help you make the right one.