Take a moment for yourself: Tips for mental wellbeing

Photo of Cindi Thronson standing on a path at the Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Cindi Thronson

Master’s Student, Health Behavior and Health Education

It's easy to get overloaded with classes, assignments, work, and extracurricular activities and many students often feel like they need to put mental health aside to find time to get everything done. It often feels like there is never enough time in the day. Mental health is incredibly important for students, and college students have a tendency of prioritizing everything else above their mental health. 

However, if you don't make an effort to do something for yourself and for your mental health, all of your other tasks will begin to take a toll on your energy and mental well-being throughout the day. As students, we sometimes forget that there is life outside being a student and that we are people outside of school, which has a major impact on our mental health. 

This topic is important to me because I, myself, have a tendency of looking at my never-ending to-do list and trying to spend every minute that I can studying. This perfectionist tendency has led me to feel like I need to optimize every aspect of my day and be too hard on myself when I don't achieve the unattainable goals I had for the day. This mindset has caused me exhaustion and burnout in the past. I've had to learn that if I don't start adding selfcare into my routine, my mental health will hurt, and it'll be harder to add it into my routine after school.

Here are a few tools I try to use when I am trying to better focus on mental health: 

  • Try out wellness coaching at Wolverine Wellness. 
    Wellness coaching is a collaborative conversation between a coach and a student. We take a holistic approach to wellbeing, and we can chat about your general wellness, relationships, sleep, eating and body issues, and anything else you would like to talk about. 
  • Take a walk outside.
    We have the Nichols Arboretum here on campus (right down the street from the School of Public Health!) and it’s a great place to get into nature and to move your body. 
  • Take a few deep breaths between classes.
    If you finish a class, or you’re moving between homework projects, take a moment to breathe deeply. We recommend talking three deep breaths–in for four seconds and out for seven seconds. This will help relax your nervous system and get your brain ready to move on to the next task.
  • Prioritize your sleep.
    Our bodies need seven to nine hours of sleep each night to perform at their best. Inadequate sleep quality is associated with depression, anxiety and other mental health challenges. 

The decisions and steps we take now will make lasting impacts (negative and positive) on our mental health in the future. It's important to take a step back every once in a while to check in on yourself to see how your mental health is doing. Adding selfcare into your routine will help you feel more refreshed and joyful. Take a moment to do something for yourself. Treat yourself for doing well on an exam or completing an assignment or even just braving the ever-changing Michigan weather to make it to class. You and your mental health matter. Remember we are not just students and that we are people first.

About the Author

Cindi Thronson is a second year Master of Public Health student in Health Behavior and Health Education. She is passionate about holistic well-being and is also a wellness coach at the University of Michigan’s Wolverine Wellness where she works with students to discover what wellness means to them.