Tips for Homesick College Students

Being away from family, friends, and community can evoke an unfamiliar level of loneliness. Getting homesick is normal. Here are some tips that will hopefully ease the discomfort.

Long, Long Way From Home

Part of the experience of going away to college is the “being away” part. Classes are a small percentage of focused time at the new location. Downtime, evenings, and weekends, at first, can be dreadfully lonely. But this is an important aspect of entering adulthood.

As adults, we often have to manage new surroundings—some desired, others imposed. Moving to a new city for marriage, a job, or financial reasons can evoke the same feelings a new college student experiences on campus. That’s why learning what that lonely-thing feels like and then finding and using coping skills is so important.

A Student’s Best Friend

A recent study conducted in British Columbia found that dog therapy benefitted first-year collegiates. The University in Canada implemented the research project because the dropout rate is so high amongst the most homesick students.

The researchers were exploring ways to minimize loneliness in order to reduce dropout levels. They were successful when it came to dog therapy. Once a week, 22 students (for eight consecutive weeks) socialized in a group with puppies and other college mates. Their homesickness was eased by the end of the eight weeks.

Additionally, the dog therapy group had a “higher satisfaction with life.” 22 students in the control group (who did not engage in dog therapy) remained homesick, and were three times more apt to dropout than the other students.

Speaking of friends, the University of Oregon provides tips on how to meet others when in a new town with all new faces. Counselors recommend:

-eating meals with roommates, classmates, or anyone else looking for company at mealtime.

-watch a movie with a couple of new friends.

-join a club on- or off-campus with other with like-minded individuals (i.e.,. hiking, sci-fi, live music, etc.)

-don’t worry about being shy. Most people are nervous reaching out.

-don’t worry about making a new best friend right away. Relationships require cultivation.

When you’re alone:

-don’t be ashamed about feeling lonely. It’s a natural experience that everyone goes through.

-get outdoors, exercise, or dance. Get out of your mind and into your body.

-listen to or play music.

-volunteer. Help a friend or a stranger. Focus on loving rather than being loved.

Going back home for a visit can warm the soul. But if you do it too often, you won’t give yourself the proper opportunity and effort it takes to build on your new life. Hang in there. You will feel so proud of yourself for conquering your fears. You’ve got this!

CanaGel Melts


Your Dog May be the Best Therapist

If you suffer from panic disorder, a trained dog, cat, or horse may provide the therapy you need.

Anxiety Abound

“Service” dogs have been widely used to help people with all types of disabilities. These days, helpful creatures participate with us in Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT). These dogs, cats, and horses, are not merely pets. They are animals trained to provide support to a human in need. Your therapeutic pooch can even help you manage a panic attack.

Animal-Assisted Therapy

Panic disorder is often treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both. A panic attack is a sudden overwhelming surge of anxiety. Symptoms can include: hyperventilation, chest pain, trembling, choking feeling, nausea, sweating, and a sense of being completely out of control. Panic disorder would encompass repeat episodes of attacks as well as a perpetual fear of having another attack.

“Talk” therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy may help you discover the key triggers for your attacks. Observing thinking patterns will be necessary. You’ll want to explore negative thoughts, their origins, and how you can replace them with positivity. To do that, you’ll need to feel somewhat secure and safe. Some people are unable to manage to get that far. This is precisely where AAT might benefit.

A therapeutic animal can aid with stress-reduction. Research has shown that pets can help lower blood pressure and relieve anxiety. Using animals can assist a person in feeling more trusting in a therapeutic environment. AAT may hasten and enhance the treatment process.

A specialist who uses AAT for mental health services such as panic disorder and agoraphobia must be a qualified mental-health services provider.

Special Training

Besides providing emotional therapy, there are service animals that also provide “physical” emotional support. Some dogs are trained to provide deep pressure therapy to their owner during a panic attack. The pressure of the weight of a medium sized dog against the sufferer’s abdomen and chest has been reported to have a significant calming effect.

If claustrophobia triggers your panic attacks, a dog can be trained to keep others from entering your personal space. He will repeatedly circle you, keeping other people at a preferred distance. And if you’re in the middle of an attack, your dog can be trained to lick your face, distract you, and reframe and re-orient your reality.

It’s Curable

Depending on the type of remedial work you’re putting in and if medication is assisting, will determine your progress. If you are a panic attack sufferer, that does not mean you will always suffer. A process is entailed, but through therapy, mindfulness, meditation, and possibly a therapeutic animal, you will be able to lead a less-worrisome life.

For more articles on mental health, family, and best living check out


How a Pet Can Optimize Your Health and Decrease Medical Bills

Growing up, we had pets, but they weren’t the profound family members that since, in adulthood, I’ve learned them to become. We had some goldfish (probably won at the county fair) that either jumped out of the bowl in the night and met their life-without-water fate or passed from murky-water illness.

My dad also brought home a puppy one Christmas, but she was never properly trained, had anger issues, and bit my sister and I so often that she was sent to a “farm” one day while we were at school.

It wasn’t until years later, while living alone, it occurred to me that I could have a pet—an animal of my choice that I would be responsible for and love unconditionally.

I adopted a kitten (with encouragement from a co-worker who, not ironically, had six cats), and Frederick the Feline became my partner, increasing my household number of residents to two. Frederick brought me great joy (and hopefully vice versa) on a daily basis.

It wasn’t until my boyfriend at the time abruptly ended our five-year relationship, that I realized Frederick literally saved my life. My pet helped me through one of the most disconcerting and difficult emotional times I had experienced to that point.

It’s tough for me to wrap my brain around the thought that there are many people (even “experts”) who do not subscribe to the theory that pets provide an emotional or physical benefit to humans.

There is, however, a plethora of research that points to improved state of mind and physical health, and even saves on health care costs by being a pet owner. One such example is from The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) released research in April 2013. They identified seven key areas in which human health is positively impacted by animals: allergy and asthma immunity among children, Alzheimer’s, autism, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dogs Rock! Dogs, in particular, have been found to decrease physical and mental decline in owners. Regularly walking your dog makes you less likely to become obese. You are also more apt to be social—whether by talking with your pooch or other dog-walkers/owners.

Research has shown that dogs, as pets, have: decreased stress levels along with depression incidences, lowered blood pressure, and increased serotonin levels from playing—overall, creating a calmer human. Side note: A person with a dog who has suffered from a heart attack is far more likely to be alive one year later than a person without a canine companion.

Not to make it seem like dogs are the “best” pet (because all creatures are fabulous), but another argument pro-pup is that kids find console with their dogs. “When children are asked who they talk to when they get upset, a lot of times their first answer is their pet,” reported Dr. James Griffin. And Dr. Oz points out that exposure to a pet during infancy may mean less chance of developing asthma or eczema later in life.

For the elderly set, research shows that Alzheimer patients have less anxiety and unexpected outbursts when an animal is in their presence; this even includes fish. Watching fish glide through water creates a calming effect. This pet-induced tranquility has been known to also lower blood pressure (in people of all ages, by the way).

Cats, as pets, tend to be low maintenance, which also relieves stress from caregivers. Expressing love and feeling love and empathy are positive states of being. Nourish your well being by opening your heart to a pet (…and other humans.)



Man’s Best Friend is the Best Medicine

Man’s Best Friend

They say a dog is a man’s best friend, but this story of a 73-year-old man and his dog takes this to a whole new level.

Love Sick

Seventy-three-year-old, James Wathen was hospitalized due to an illness. Over the course of a month, his condition worsened and he stopped eating. At the same time, his Chihuahua, Bubba, was brought to an animal shelter for care while James was in the hospital. “Bubba” also stopped eating and became ill.

Remarkable Recovery

Once hospital and shelter staff figured out the separation was literally killing both the man and his dog, the two friends were reunited. Soon after, both made a full recovery.