In the final stretch of holiday season, what can you purchase for the college student who has “everything”? From the perspective of a COLLEGE CAMPUS DOC and mom of two college students, here are my top five gift choices: (Disclaimer: NO financial ties to any products mentioned)
- Weighted blanket: Expensive ($100+)? Yes, relatively, but for anyone dealing with anxiety or insomnia, these are worth their weight (pun intended) in gold. These blankets feel like a massively prolonged hug, and have been shown to reduce anxiety and improve sleep. Any brand works, but if your student is particular about textures, buy this one in person so you can feel the fabric. I have found good quality ones on sale (plus with coupons) at large home good stores for around $70. Scientific evidence? More robust studies welcome, but an oft quoted one is Journal of Sleep Medicine.
- Light therapy box: Expensive ($75-$100)? Again, relatively yes, but less cost than medication and fewer side effects. Why? This is for anyone who feels sad, withdrawn or sluggish with the longer nights and less sunshine, particularly anyone diagnosed with winter seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This gift is obviously more useful for college students in northern locations, as the further north of the equator you live, the higher the incidence of SAD. Scientific basis? Check out this recent systematic review in Journal of Affective Disorders.
- UBER gift card: ANY amount works! Because no one wants to be the designated driver, and every parent wants to know their kid’s driver is sober. Enough said!
- Gift Certificate for a Massage: (~$35) Many college campus rec centers offer massage therapy for current students at a significantly reduced cost compared to independent businesses. This wonderful perk is especially helpful around midterms, finals, or social traumas (including heartache). Note: you will likely need your student’s ID and login info to view, schedule or purchase this from their campus website.
- Personal Training Sessions: ($20-40/session) Again, many college campus fitness centers now offer very discounted personal training sessions, with the cost going down as the number of sessions go up. For college students (especially freshman) who are worried about gaining the Freshman 15 pounds, or those who tend to sprout roots in their dorm room, having a once a week guided workout at the gym can offer wonderful physical AND mental health benefits.
BOTTOM LINE: Think HEALTHY gifts for your favorite college student (or spouse or friend or…) this year, and Happy 2019!