Between moving into your dorm room, figuring out your class schedule (and making it to class without getting lost), and making new friends, transitioning from high school to college living can seem overwhelming, especially if you’re moving far away from home. As you embark on this new chapter, it’s crucial to be prepared for the changes that come with it, including academic challenges, shifting sleep patterns, and more that can lead to an increase in physical and mental health issues. In fact, 9 out of 10 college students who face academic challenges report that it affects their mental health.
Continue reading for our comprehensive list of unique dorm essentials to pack for college to strike a balance between preparedness and overpacking while protecting your mental and physical well-being!
Embracing the “Color Cure”
The color cure, also known as color therapy or chromotherapy, suggests that both your physical and mental health can be improved through the use of different hues. Color therapy can be used to help with stress, depression, aggression, high blood pressure, sleep disorders, anxiety, certain cancers, and even skin infections. For instance, light therapy can be used to treat seasonal affective disorder or neonatal jaundice, a condition that affects the skin and eyes of babies.
You can incorporate the color cure into your college lifestyle by purposefully adding tones to your dorm room décor, based on your mental health needs. Here are a few colors to consider along with their corresponding health effects:
- Red: Adding this primary color to your dorm can increase heart rate and energy levels. In color therapy, red assists patients in emotional release, particularly for anger. If you often feel tired, consider adding LED strip lights that can change colors according to your mood to your dorm walls.
- Yellow: Bright and vibrant, yellow, can provoke feelings of happiness and optimism. Insert more yellow into your dorm by placing cheerful sunflowers on your desk or a hanging neon yellow sign on your wall.
- Green: Because green is the color of nature, adding green to your room can make you feel relaxed and rejuvenated, similar to how you might feel going for a nature walk or strolling on the beach. Drape green vines around your curtains or suspend plants from your ceiling to bring some breathing life to your living space.
- Blue: Light shades of blue are thought to promote serenity and calmness, while darker blues are thought to possess sedative properties, aiding individuals who struggle with insomnia or other sleeping disorders. Try adding a light blue picture of the ocean to your wall or adorning your bed with dark blue throw pillows.
As a busy college student, keeping your shared space clean can be hard. This task can seem even more difficult between classes, study sessions, and social events. However, dedicating a few minutes each day to tidying your space is crucial. It can help you stay focused, enhance your sleep quality, and improve your academic performance. Research conducted at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute indicates that disorganization can drain our cognitive resources and reduce our ability to concentrate. Additional studies have shown that clutter in the home can increase the likelihood of procrastination and may lead individuals to resort to avoidance and coping strategies such as excessive snacking or watching television.
To effectively maintain cleanliness in your dorm, it’s helpful to pack a few essential cleaning supplies. Consider storing a mini vacuum to eliminate dust, dirt, and molds that harbor harmful allergens. An all-purpose cleaner is also useful for wiping down your desk, windows, and other surfaces. Lastly, a trash can and mini trash bags that fit under your desk will help make waste disposal convenient for you. Apart from cleaning supplies, keep your dorm organized and utilize space by bringing a closet organizer and towel racks, a rolling cart that can double as storage and a nightstand in one, a laundry bag for dirty clothes along with laundry detergent, and/or plastic drawers to put under your bed, along with bed risers to provide the extra storage space needed.
According to the World Bank, proper hygiene is the most cost-effective way to reduce disease. Many illnesses and conditions can easily be avoided through appropriate personal hygiene such as keeping your hands, nails and feet clean, facial cleanliness, coughing and sneezing, hair and scalp washes, and more. When living in a shared and often crowded college environment, bringing the necessities to stay clean and healthy becomes even more essential. Let’s explore some important hygiene items you should remember to pack.
When packing your personal care products, don’t forget to include the basic necessities such as menstrual products (if applicable), deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, a hairbrush, a bath towel, and hair and body wash. Considering the limited space in shared dormitory bathrooms and the numerous items we use daily, it’s wise to pack a shower caddy. This will help you keep your personal products together and organized, making navigating a shared bathroom space easier.
Shower Flip Flops
Now that we’ve discussed the basic personal hygiene items to pack, let’s talk about a less commonly considered, but highly significant item that often gets left behind: shower shoes. While strolling around barefoot in the comfort of your own home may be acceptable, doing so in public, or shared spaces, such as dorms can expose you to several germs, bacteria, and fungi, left behind by fellow residents. Public showers are typically moist environments, providing a fantastic breeding ground for transmitting infections. Any break or opening on the skin, including dry or cracked areas, can grant these lurking organisms access to your feet and the rest of your body.
It’s important to note that not everyone that walks barefoot in a public shower will develop an infection. However, wearing shower shoes can help reduce your risk of contracting fungal and bacterial infections such as warts, athlete’s foot, and even MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus), a type of staph infection commonly found in crowded or shared spaces.
Prescription & Over the Counter
Having a personal supply of over-the-counter and prescription medications tailored to your specific needs can be a lifesaver, especially when avoiding late-night pharmacy trips. Let’s create your very own dorm first-aid kit! Start by considering the inclusion of over-the-counter medications and products to address common ailments:
- Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen: To help with pain, inflammation, fever, and swelling relief
- Lozenges or tea: To relieve sore throat, cough, and irritation symptoms
- Antihistamines: To provide relief from allergies such as hay fever, hives, and bug bite reactions
- Hydrogen peroxide: To disinfect wounds and prevent infection
- Oral Antiseptic: To trap and kill most germs before entering your body
- Band-Aids: To protect wounds from outside friction, damage, and dirt
Pro-tip: If you are relocating for college, make sure to establish a new arrangement to receive all necessary prescription medications promptly.
Now that you’ve curated the perfect first aid kit for your dorm, let’s discuss the importance of vitamins. College life often comes with a busy social schedule, and let’s be honest, it’s difficult to fit in a healthy and nutritious diet, especially with a limited kitchen. However, there are vitamins you can take to supplement the lack of food variety.
First off, if you find that you are more susceptible to germs than others, it may be beneficial to pack Vitamin D and Zinc. These vitamins support the proper functioning of your immune system, helping to bolster your body’s defenses. On top of being surrounded by more new people than ever which can lead to more sickness, our brains are also working harder than ever. Vitamins such as B12, which is known for its role in memory function, can aid in improving focus, ultimately helping you Ace your next exam!
It can be argued that accessories are the most important part of an outfit. Not only can they dress up or down any look, but they can also be used as fashionable and functional add-ons that can benefit your health, such as sunglasses for eye protection and supportive shoes for joint care.
As we age, our eyes go through changes that can cause vision problems such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts, and UV light is a big factor in contributing to these eye diseases. Finding a pair of sunglasses that delivers UV400 protection is the most important label to look for to achieve 100% UV protection. If your college campus requires a lot of walking between classes, it will also be important for you to have a supportive yet stylish, pair of shoes to get you to and from the dorm and class. According to Harvard University, there are a few key factors to consider when choosing the right shoes for you. Start by making sure the shoe is bendable at the ball of the foot, have a low heel, and that there is at least one finger’s width of wiggle room between your longest toe and the front of your shoe. This extra room accommodates any swelling that may occur during walking particularly in warmer weather. Pro tip: Try consulting a map of your college campus and noting the distance between your classes beforehand to help determine which accessories you’ll need.
When it comes to packing clothes for college, it is important to consider the weather patterns of your school’s location, as this will help you plan accordingly to prepare for the conditions you’ll face throughout your freshman year. Are you going to a school on the East Coast where it’s humid towards the beginning of the school year, and freezing in the winter? Pack rain boots, coats, and umbrellas for the winter to make sure you don’t get stuck drenched in the rain! Maybe you are going to school in Southern California, where the temperature stays moderate all year round. Either way, checking the weather shifts in your new area can even help you save space in your very limited-sized closet by switching out your wardrobe when you visit home for winter break.
What is mindful packing?
We’ve all experienced the temptation to cram our suitcases with options, only to wear the same shirt every day, ignoring the rest of what we packed. This is why packing mindfully, especially when it comes to moving into a new place, is extremely important. It helps you avoid accumulating things that aren’t a necessity, aka clutter, which we previously discussed as having a negative impact on our mental health and focus. Plus, it’s an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate your current possessions, try on all your old clothes, and let you of items that no longer serve you.
How To Avoid Overpacking
Now that we’ve covered what to bring to college in detail let’s address what NOT to bring. By being mindful of what items you leave behind, you can streamline the packing process and ensure a clutter-free living space. Here are some key considerations:
- Check the provided furniture: Before doing your college shopping, check what furnishings are already provided in your dorm. Typically, a dorm will have a mini fridge, desk, closet, bed, and drawers.
- Kitchen products and appliances: Many dorms have restrictions on kitchen appliances that can pose fire hazards. You should leave items such as toasters, blenders, and air fryers at home. Be sure to check your dorm’s policies for which items are prohibited, as they differ from dorm to dorm. Additionally, most colleges have meal plans for freshmen to utilize so that you won’t have a need for these products in the room.
In this blog, we’ve discussed the college essentials to pack for your mental and physical well-being during your freshman year, ranging from room décor and toiletries all the way to medicines and clothing. Which items will you be packing, and which will you be leaving at home?