Author: Meredith Raasio

Sickness at School: Strategies for Staying Healthy in College

Being sick in college can seriously challenge your ability to perform your best. No one wants to sit through class, take an exam, or show up to meetings and be expected to pay attention when their health is struggling. Read on to see a list of resources and health facts to help you navigate taking care of yourself.

Hand Washing

Hand washing is an integral part of sickness prevention and can help to prevent the spread of diarrheal and respiratory infections. Germs can spread when you don’t wash your hands and prepare food or drinks, cough or sneeze into your hands, and touch tour nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Play What you need to know about handwashing video
Preview image for What you need to know about handwashing video

What you need to know about handwashing


Regular physical activity is important to both your body and brain. Everyone should attempt to get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. We have multiple resources on campus for your exercise needs; The Outdoor Adventure Program (OAP), Student Development Center (SDC), and Mont. Ripley Ski Hill. There are also lots of different apps and videos online that can help you to maintain whatever fitness goals you desire.

My SSP also offers virtual fitness classes designed for students who would like to exercise from the comfort of their own space.

Play Wendy Suzuki: The brain-changing benefits of exercise | TED video
Preview image for Wendy Suzuki: The brain-changing benefits of exercise | TED video

Wendy Suzuki: The brain-changing benefits of exercise | TED


Eating right and fueling your body with healthy foods can keep your immunity up and your ability to fight illnesses high.

Check out MyPlate, a resource created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help you better understand how to balance your diet.

Stress Reduction

Did you know that stress can actually make you physically ill? Some stress can actually be good, but there is a difference between good stress and bad stress.

Play Good Stress Vs. Bad Stress video
Preview image for Good Stress Vs. Bad Stress video

Good Stress Vs. Bad Stress


The common cold and other respiratory illnesses can seem trivial until you actually contract them. Cold symptoms normally last for between 2 to 3 days and the recovery period can last for up to two weeks. If you have contracted a fever stay home and take steps to keep yourself healthy. You should not expose yourself to others until you have been fever-free for 24 hours or more.

You should see a doctor if you have trouble with the following:

  • Trouble breathing or fast breathing
  • Dehydration
  • Fever that lasts longer than 4 days
  • Symptoms that last more than 10 days without improvement
  • Symptoms, such as fever or cough, that improve but then return or worsen.
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions

Unfortunately there is no direct cure for the common cold so the best thing that you can do is to take preventative health measures.


The flu is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus, and is contagious. Influenza generally affects the nose, throat, and even the lungs while accounting for a variety of symptoms. One of the best ways to protect yourself from the flu is by getting the vaccine. You can visit our Local Provider webpage using the link at the bottom of this post to learn more about the providers in our area that offer the flu vaccine. Or, contact our local Health Department in Hancock.

You should see a doctor if:

  • You are pregnant or have recently given birth
  • You possess certain risk factors or have a chronic illness

Please note that the flu and the common cold can seem similar. To help distinguish between the two visit this resource page created by the CDC.


The Western UP Health Department offers students a comprehensive guide to Covid-19 procedures and guidelines. Students can get tested for Covid-19 using the Drive-up COVID Testing portal. The CDC also offers numerous guidelines and strategies for Covid-19 prevention. 

Visit the CDC’s page regarding Covid-19 symptoms too see if what you are experiencing is cause for concern.

If you suspect that you have contracted Covid-19: 

  • Stay home for at least 5 days and isolate from others in your home.
  • Mask when around others. Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Take care of yourself by getting rest, staying hydrated, and taking over the counter medications like acetaminophen to feel better. 
  • Get in touch with a doctor or your local health department. Look out for emergency warning signs like having trouble breathing, confusion, persistent pain or pressure in the chest area, inability to stay awake, and discoloration in your lips, skin, nail beds, or skin tone. 
  • If you choose to seek medical attention please call ahead to your provider to let them know your symptoms. 

Please visit the Local Resources webpage for more information about local healthcare providers. 

  • Both Walmart and Walgreens in Houghton offer flu and Covid-19 vaccines through their pharmacies. Please call ahead for an appointment. Students can also pick up vitamins, medications, and other personal health materials at both locations as well. 

The Well-being of Video Games

What is your favorite thing to do at the end of the day? For some, it is jumping into the never-ending world of gaming. There are games for every genre and every level of play. Coordinator, Hannah Bershing, shares with us a game that she has recently found interest in. After a long day, it’s something she looks forward to – as she can escape reality for a bit and rewind.

“After recently being introduced to the game Tunic, I have learned how relaxing video games can be. Coming home at the end of the day and spending some time exploring the fantasy world as a little fox, is what I look forward to, as I’m sure others can relate to it after a long day. 

Some genres of games provide social features that enable you to connect with your friends or others online. This can open the door to finding others with your shared interests! The Oxford Internet Institute of Research found that those who could connect with others through games like Animal Crossing, were reportedly happier the longer they were online and playing with others.

An important aspect of well-being is finding those to connect with and creating relationships with people – which can be easier said than done. However, gaming could bridge the struggle of helping people find others who are also interested in the same things. Online gaming also has other properties that are beneficial to well-being, such as the ability to use creative skills and problem-solving strategies to enhance experiences. For example, in Tunic, I can customize my fox’s avatar and choose my path of play in the world provided. I can help rescue fairies or explore every other unique element of the world. This alternate universe allowed me to still keep my mind active, while also choosing my path of play and creativity. 

During the spring  2022 semester, I observed the E-sports team for a class paper I was writing and one of the most impactful things I observed was the connection between members. The game they played brought them together and allowed them to work with others to fight battles and play against other teams. Although video games are often looked down upon for various reasons, there is another side that people often overlook that covers creativity, self-expression, healthy competition, and connection. So, whether you are hanging out with a fortnight realm with friends, completing missions in Skyrim, or playing Animal Crossing after a long day of classes, it’s important to consider whether or not you are playing as a form of self-care. Then, depending on what you observe, lean into your game and the time you set aside to relax and unwind.”

We have developed a short list of video games that are well-known for their themes related to mental health and well-being. Although we have not played all of them ourselves, each game comes highly reviewed and we hope that it will offer you some enjoyment!

Great Outdoor Month

June marks the observance of Great Outdoor Month! The Keweenaw Peninsula abounds with explorable potential, beautiful landscapes, and unique features. The CSMHW staff are particularly excited about getting outside this month, so we put our heads together and came up with a list of some of our favorite spots in and around Houghton Michigan.

Favorite Locations

  • Hungarian Falls

Maybe you’re chasing waterfalls, looking for a sick hammocking spot, or just looking to get in a quick hike with some beautiful views. Whatever the case may be, students enjoy this hike because it’s a classic trail that pretty much every MTU student makes a point to hike at least once.

  • Nara Nature Trails

The Nara trails are a popular walking, running, skiing, and sledding location for MTU students and Houghton County residents. The Nara trails connect to the MTU trail system. One of the best things about the Nara trails is that they are accessible from the Copper Country Humane Society! Meaning that you can take a furry friend as a walking companion!!

  • East Houghton Waterfront Park

The East Houghton Waterfront Park is another well-known location for MTU students. The East Houghton Waterfront Park hosts lots of green space, sits adjacent to the Houghton skate park, and has docks for swimming. The park is definitely one of the most convenient locations for students if they don’t feel like making the drive to a beach.

  • The Quincy Mine

Yet another iconic stop in the Keweenaw, the Quincy Mine is one of the most well-recognized landmarks. Visitors can explore the grounds of one of the largest copper mines in the area, take a guided tour and tram ride down into the mine, and visit the steam hoist.

  • Houghton Waterfront Bike Trails

The paved bike trails on the Houghton waterfront are used for much more than boking. So head out and get some exercise whether that be running, walking, or biking! If you get tired of the trail, you can stop off in downtown Houghton, go for a swim at princess point, or stop to visit the Pilgrim River nature trails and boardwalk.

  • Estivant Pines

Originally a part of a greater nature preserve, Estivant Pines boasts 500+ acres of forest, perfect for hiking. Another draw is the mountain biking trails maintained throughout the summer and fall. If you’re looking for some medium difficulty hiking, head up to Copper Harbor to experience this little piece of well-preserved landscape. Some of the trees are so tall and old that you won’t even be able to fit your arms around them!

  • Porvoo Park

Porvoo Park, located on the Hancock side of the canal, is one of the most peaceful spots to hang out with friends, have a picnic, or take in the canal views. There is a swing set and a lit pavilion for anyone who wants to use the park. One of the best features? Porvoo Park is within walking distance of K.C. Bonker’s and Milly’s, meaning that great coffee and pizza are totally an option!

  • Big Travers Bay

This location definitely makes you work for the experience of lounging on the beach in the sun. If you’re willing to make the 30-minute drive from Houghton, the sandy beach won’t disappoint. As a bonus, there are camping spots located lake-side. Just make sure to reserve your spot before you camp!

  • Bear Bluff

Bear Bluff is a good option if you want to do a longer hike than Hungarian Falls. The hike takes around 1.5 hours with a 3.1-mile trail loop. The views from the top of the buff are unmatched, especially during the fall.

Plant-A-Palooza & the Benefits of Keeping Plants

MTU’s Student Leadership and Involvement organization put on their Plant-A-Palooza event last week and we had a blast! It was so fun to hang out with the MTU community that is still active on campus for the summer.

Did you know that plants can be beneficial to your well-being in multiple different ways? We have listed the ways that plants can be helpful to your well-being below. Click the link at the end of this post to read more about each point!

Plants can…

  • Decrease stress levels.
  • Help to increase your attention.
  • Provide a source of therapeutic activity.
  • Help you heal from sickness faster.
  • Increase your productivity habits.
  • Positively impact the way you view work.
  • Improve the air quality indoors and outdoors (depending on the type)

To read more about each of these points, visit the link below!

5 Tips for Surviving the Summer in an Unsupportive Environment

If you’re anything like me, the summer months signal a much-needed reprieve from school-related activities. Near the middle of April, all I can think about is how wonderful it will be to trade my class google calendar for a consistent work schedule, and I look forward to lazy summer nights spent with family and friends. Although students are mostly off-campus for the summer, scattered around the US doing all kinds of exciting things, I’ve been thinking a lot about our MTU community and the different circumstances people face over the summer related to their living situations. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about those living in or navigating unsupportive environments and how isolating and challenging that can be. 

Perhaps you feel that you are struggling to navigate an unsupportive environment right now, or you know you will have to in the future. Maybe you are a friend working to help someone else navigate their unsupportive environment. Maybe the people you are currently living with do not affirm your identity, maybe they struggle to show love or empathy, maybe your home is politically divided and tense, or maybe the people you live with are unable to see past their own problems and therefore struggle to see the good things in you. While being mindful that every situation is different and has its own unique set of challenges, I hope this post offers some encouragement and visibility. 


  1. Acknowledge and Accept That Your Environment Isn’t Your Ideal

I love talking about resilience. For this post, let’s suppose that resilience is simply defined as the ability to withstand and recover from difficulties. One component of lasting resilience is that of radical acceptance. I like how HopeWay explains radical acceptance, so I’ll give you their definition. 

“Radical acceptance is NOT approval, but rather completely and totally accepting your mind, body and spirit that we cannot currently change the present facts, even if we do not like them. By choosing to radically accept the things that are out of our control, we prevent ourselves from becoming stuck in unhappiness, bitterness, anger, and sadness and we can stop suffering.”

So, suppose you’re currently navigating an unsupportive environment. I think the first significant step is to recognize your situation for what it is and then accept that for right now, despite the discomfort around you, you will not allow the living situation to overshadow the progress you’ve made.

Of course, if your environment is unsafe, posing a present danger to you or others, or is causing you to consider dangerous behaviors, you should seek help. Please refer to the resources page at the end of this post for more specific information. 

  1. Practice Self-Care

In my opinion, self-care is so crucial for everyone in their everyday life. However, self-care becomes essential when a person has to live in an unsupportive environment or without a strong support network because suddenly, you are your own greatest advocate. Moving back to hometowns without college friends and resources can be really tough. So, even though breaks are often restful, they can also be quite unsteadying. 

If you feel any of this, I challenge you to show up for yourself. This might look like going to the gym, going on a walk, making a new recipe, starting a new hobby, or building a routine for yourself. Be selfish with your time when you need to be, and find ways to cultivate joy. Self-care will look different for everyone, but at the end of the day, it is how we show love to ourselves, and it’s one of the easiest ways to develop balance and connection when the other parts of our life feel disconnected. 

  1. Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries is a majorly important life skill. Setting boundaries is how we communicate what we need and tell other people how we are comfortable getting what we need. When living in an unsupportive environment or with a small support system, setting boundaries can be complex because of the dynamics of the environment. However, boundaries are worth pursuing because they are how we will be able to cultivate peace and balance within the dynamics of the group. 

When setting boundaries, consider your needs and then consider the group. It is well within your rights to look out for your needs. However, also consider compromise. For example, if family mealtimes are difficult for you but are important to your parent(s), you might consider trying to reach a compromise where you only attend one or two a week instead of all seven. 

  1. Pick Your Battles

In the past, I have found that I am easily angered when I perceive someone as disrespecting me or my boundaries. My mind always runs through familiar phrases like, “why would they do that?” and “don’t they know that this makes me feel disrespected?” However, unsupportive people do unsupportive things, and that’s just an unfortunate fact in life. No matter how hard we try, arguing and blaming the unsupportive people in our life will only cause US harm because it promotes a cycle of bitterness. 

Here’s another challenge from me to you. Evaluate your “battles.” Then, ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • Is it worth the energy to engage in the fight that this person is trying to start? 
  • Is it helpful in the long term to hold on to bitterness or blow up at this person who inevitably will not see a problem with their behavior? 
  • Is the change I want realistic, given the attitudes of the people involved? 

Sometimes the answer to all of these questions will be no, and that’s just the way

 it is. Think of radical acceptance again. 

  1. Find Safe and Supportive Spaces

Finding safe, supportive, and allied spaces is another essential piece to surviving unsupportive environments. A sense of community and belonging goes a long way toward promoting personal resilience. Sometimes these spaces can look like a hometown friend group, a counselor-patient relationship, in-person or online support groups, discord servers, or extended families like grandparents or cousins. A safe space could also be less about the people and more about the environment. For example, anything that offers relief, like spending time in your favorite room in the house or reading a book, can also count as a safe space. 

Another note is that sometimes the perfect safe space won’t exist. Maybe you’ll only be able to find a safer and more supportive space than the previous one. That’s okay. Don’t discount the value of a safer space simply because it doesn’t check all of your boxes. Also, be careful that your safe space is actually safe. Just because the people in that space agree with you always doesn’t mean that they always act within your best interests. If the safe space makes you bitter or promotes an unhealthy us-versus-them mentality, it might be time to reevaluate if that space is actually safe and has a positive influence on your well-being. 

In closing, I want to remind you that if your situation has become unsafe or poses a danger to you or someone you know, we are not advocating for you to simply accept the environment for what it is. We encourage you to reach out for help! Please refer to the resources listed below for more information about crisis lines and confidential support. We miss you Huskies, and we hope you have a wonderful summer! 


Radical Acceptance

The quote that appeared in the text above was taken from the page connected to this link.

Healthy Boundaries


Confidential, short-term, solution-focused counseling and resources. Free to all MTU students and accessible all year round. Download the app and follow the prompts! 

Trevor Project

Text START to 678678 or call 1-866-488-7386. This resource is specifically geared towards those who identify or are allied with the LGBTQ+ community.

Crisis Text Line

Text START to 741-741 for a free, confidential conversation with a trained counselor 24/7

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) for nationwide peer-support services. This is not a crisis line but it does provide information, resource referrals, and community support for those who have a mental illness or live with someone who has a mental illness.