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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!

Let’s Unplug

Social media. It seems, at first, like such a helpful way to foster connection and community with friends, family, and people all over the world. Pictures and messages, ideas and encouragement all at our fingertips. 

So why is it that the hours spent scrolling can leave us feeling… empty? 

Research now suggests that instead of fostering connection, social media stirs up feelings of loneliness, envy, and an addiction to constant feedback.[1] This impulsive consumption of social media makes it harder to step away and further separates us from friends, family, and chances to engage socially in our everyday lives. While isolation can contribute to loneliness, someone can be surrounded by people and still perceive a gap between desire for attachments and their ability to experience connection.[2] When that separation occurs, it can create feelings of disconnection or a lack of authenticity in relationships.  

Even passive use of social media correlates with social comparison and self doubt [1] to keep us feeling lonely or believing the lie that we are not enough. While failed attempts to genuinely develop connections online is an involuntary separation for people, it can create a state of mind that makes developing relationships more challenging, despite the underlying desire to have human contact. [3]  

There is hope! 

A study out of Penn University demonstrated that using less social media than normal leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness. [4] This knowledge of the relationship between social media and mental health can help empower us to take control of our online consumption and actively choose to unplug. While you may not identify personally as someone who is struggling with these feelings, you can still make the choice to unplug and help protect and promote your overall well-being.

So, how do we ‘Unplug?’

Step One: Awareness

Start by tracking your mood before and after you spend time on social media. While pen and paper always works, apps such as Mood Panda or Daylio are easy ways to quickly track your emotions. Repeatedly noting your feelings around Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or SnapChat will show you patterns over time of how engaging in social media impacts your mood. 

Step Two: Goal Setting

Figure out how much time you are spending on social media. Most phones take out the guesswork and provide a break-down of time spent by categories and apps. Evidence supports working to reduce your use by about 30% of what you are currently spending. Set a goal to decrease your time all at once, or decrease at intervals such as 10% a week. Set phone limits to help hold yourself accountable.  

Step Three: Stay The Course

Once you have decided to unplug and set a goal, you may need to distract or delay your social media urges. When possible, plan ahead and schedule activities you enjoy during the larger periods of time you typically spend on your social apps. Starting a new hobby or joining a club might be helpful in productively filling unstructured free time. 

Quick activities that distract you from reaching for your phone in the moment, can be relatively simple to complete:

  • Count backwards from a large number
  • Name all the colors you see in the room
  • Find an object near you and observe it in detail, paying close attention to the color variations, the patterns, the subtle details, and the way it feels
  • Play with a fidget device
  • Practice a 3 minute body scan mindfulness exercise 
  • Color, doodle, or draw 
  • Complete a wordsearch or a crossword puzzle
  • Call a family member or friend just to say “Hi!”

Step Four: Celebrate Your Outcomes 

Review the changes and patterns from the mood tracking you began in the first step. How have your emotions shifted since you first made a commitment to unplug? Take a moment to notice the ways your day-to-day has been positively impacted and write down a list of the benefits you can see and feel.    

Your mental health matters.

The correlation between social media use and feelings of loneliness and depression is real, but you can make the decision to unplug. Seeking a connection with friends and groups all around campus will continue to help improve the quality of your relationships and to fill your time with creative and purposeful activities. Explore the organizations and events here at MTU and plug-in to something new!

#ItsOkToNotBeOk #MentalHealthMatters #MentalHealthAwareness #Unplug

[1] Konnikova, M. (September 10, 2013). How Facebook Makes Us Unhappy. The New Yorker.

[2] Psychology Today. (2022). Loneliness. Retrieved on June 28, 2022, from,a%20deep%20and%20pervasive%20loneliness.

[3] Cherry, K. (May 24, 2022). Loneliness: Causes and Health Consequences. Retrieved on June 28, 2022, from[4] Hunt, M.G., Marx, R., Lipson, C., Young, J. (December 2018). No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 37 No. 10.

Suicide Awareness

Suicide does not discriminate – people of all genders, ages, and ethnicities can be at risk. [1] Suicidal behavior is complex, but knowing the warning signs can help save lives. 

The most recent ACHA Survey (Fall 2019) found that 33% of Michigan Tech Students had experienced thoughts of suicide. These ideas are more common than many people realize. Thankfully, most people do not act on these thoughts and even fewer die by suicide. Persistent or intense suicidal thoughts are not a typical response to stress, and warning signs should be taken seriously. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing any of the following signs [2] – particularly if this behavior is new or increasing – please get help as soon as possible

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themself
  • Looking for a way to kill themself
  • Feelings of hopelessness or having no reason to live
  • Feelings of unbearable emotional or physical pain
  • Talking about feeling trapped, or believing there are no solutions
  • Believing you are a burden to others
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated
  • Engaging in reckless behavior
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themself from friends and family
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Extreme mood swings

How to Help Myself

You are not alone. Getting immediate help from your support network before behavior escalates can help you decrease or overcome suicidal thoughts and feelings. [3] If you think you may need to talk to someone, but are unsure where to begin:

WHO: Friends, trusted professors and staff, mental health professionals, your doctor, or a spiritual leader

WHERE: Professional, confidential help is available. Call My SSP at 877-376-7896, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988, or text ‘HELLO’ to 741741 for free and confidential help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Local resources include the Center for Student Mental Health and Well-being at 906-487-2538 or Dial Help at 800-562-7622.

HOW: Be direct. Say, “I am having suicidal thoughts” or “I’m thinking about suicide and I want to talk but I don’t know how.”

In addition to working with a professional to identify the source of suicidal thoughts, restrict your means of self-harm, and make a safety plan [4]; you can work to reduce stress and anxiety in the following ways: 

Take Care of the Basics

  • Sleep 7-8 hours a night and establish a bedtime and wake-up routine
  • Eat nutritious, well-balanced meals regularly throughout the day
  • Move your body without judgment in a way that feels good for 30 minutes a day
  • Schedule an activity during the day that brings you joy – listening to music, time with a good book, a walk with a friend, or watching a funny movie

Seek Connection

  • Journal your thoughts and feelings; if you’re having trouble wondering how or where to begin, maybe try using pre-made prompts and sticking to a routine. ‘Daily Haloha’ is a self reflection app available on iPhones and androids that can help you get started
  • Practice self-compassion by being gentle and kind to yourself. Try speaking to yourself in the way you would speak to a friend or loved one
  • Connect with your body through yoga, dance, gardening, painting, or another hobby that allows you to express yourself in a new or different way
  • Schedule regular time with a friend

Enhance Coping Skills 

  • Learn to ground yourself; Stand barefoot, outside, and focus on the sensations that come up
  • Practice mindfulness through activities that engage your senses; Focus on 5 things you see, 4 things you feel, 3 things you hear, 2 things you smell, and 1 thing you taste
  • Learn to take calming breaths such as 4-7-8 Breathing; Breathe in through your nose for the count of 4, hold the breath for the count of 7, exhale completely through your mouth for the count of 8. Repeat 3 times
  • Begin a meditation practice; Apps such as HeadSpace, Calm, Insight Timer, Aura, and Simple Habit are good places to start

How to Help a Friend

QPR: Question – Persuade – Refer

If you think a friend might be thinking about or planning suicide, calmly and directly express your concern: “I have noticed you are going through a hard time, and I am concerned that you may be considering suicide. Have you ever had, or are you currently having suicidal thoughts?”

  • Be supportive, not judgmental. Listen to what they share with you and acknowledge their feelings.
  • Thank them for trusting you and validate their choice to share.
  • Do not promise to keep it a secret. If they confirm suicidal thoughts, let them know for their own safety, you must share that information with necessary individuals so they can get help. 

Persuade them to seek help, and offer to help them reach out. Encourage them to call My SSP at 877-376-7896, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988, or Dial Help at 800-562-7622 for free and confidential help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. If you are concerned about someone’s immediate safety, call 9-1-1 or Public Safety at 906-487-2216.

Michigan Tech is committed to promoting a supportive and respectful environment. If you are unsure about who to talk with but you want to share a concern, please utilize the Report a Concern Form.

The resources provided in this post are just the beginning of what is available online and in the community. If you are interested, QPR Training is a way for non-mental health professionals to learn the tools and resources to help someone in mental health distress. MTU provides this training at no cost to students, and it can be completed in less than an hour. 

Access QPR Training Link

Use Access Code: MTU 

If you feel safe doing so, remove dangerous items that your friend might use to attempt suicide. [4] After the first conversation, continue to stay connected with your friend. Let them know you are going to follow up and talk with them about this again, so you can help them begin to understand they are not alone. Provide support for your friend while respecting your own limits and well-being. When in doubt, reach out for help. If you begin to feel overwhelmed, please contact a mental health professional for support.

#ItsOkToNotBeOk #MentalHealthMatters #MentalHealthAwareness #SuicideAwareness


[1] National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). Suicide Prevention. Retrieved on June 14, 2022 from,   

[2] Suicide Prevention Lifeline. (n.d.) We Can All Prevent Suicide. Retrieved on June 16, 2022 from, 

[3] The Jed Foundation. (n.d.) Tips for Managing Suicidal Thoughts. Retrieved on June 16, 2022 from,

[4] Mayo Clinic Staff. (May 21, 2022). Are You Thinking About Suicide? How to Stay Safe and Find Treatment. Retrieved on June 16, 2022 from, 

This October is MTU’s Mental Health Awareness Month

This month, the Center for Student Mental Health and Well-being is turning a spotlight on our student’s’ ability to adopt healthy behaviors that promote and protect their mental health. October 2nd – October 8th, 2022, is ‘National Mental Illness Awareness Week’ in the U.S., and on Monday, October 10th, the World Health Organization’s global initiative ‘World Mental Health Day’ is observed. This global attention to mental health provides us with an opportunity to raise awareness and mobilize efforts on campus in support of our students’ mental well-being.   

One-in-five adults in the U.S. experience a mental illness each year. Mental health is an essential component to our overall well-being. When we feel mentally well, we can work productively, enjoy free time, and contribute actively to our communities. Fortunately, promoting and protecting our mental health is often even more simple than we realize.  

Connect Well: Find your people 

  • Stay connected… schedule regular time with family and friends who help you to cope in positive ways
  • Focus on developing quality relationships over quantity, invest in a few close friends with similar attitudes, interests and values
  • Be friendly to strangers – small conversational moments (with a cashier or a neighbor) can often make a difference in building a sense of connection

Recharge Well: Make time to rest and reflect

  • Practice gratitude… be specific -and write down!- the things you are grateful for each day
  • Incorporate relaxation exercises -meditation or calming breaths- into your daily routines. Apps such as Calm, HeadSpace, or The Mindfulness App are a good place to start
  • Schedule an activity during the day that brings you pleasure – listening to music, time with a good book, a walk with a friend, or watching a funny movie

Live Well: Learn and shape the life you want

  • Learn to identify and challenge negative or unhelpful thoughts
  • In moments of stress, try guided imagery, such as this guided visualization to calm your mind
  • Keep a journal to track your thoughts and feelings

Play Well: Care for your physical self

  • Stick to the basics
    • Keep a morning and nighttime routine; try to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night
    • Drink water and eat well-balanced meals at regular intervals 
    • Move your body in ways that you like (walk, dance, yoga, or ski!) every day
    • Avoid drinking excess caffeine

To elevate the commitment we have to mental health and to strengthen the tools and resources available to students, we are inviting you to connect, recharge, live, and play with us this month through various workshops and events happening all around campus.

Take a look at our calendar of events so that you can join us and begin learning how to take care of what matters most… you! Mental health matters – Make caring for your mind a priority.

Find out more about creating your own unique ‘Be Well’ plan to promote and protect your mental health and follow us on Instagram: @mtu_wellbeing Facebook: Michigan Tech WellBeing or Twitter: @mtu_wellbeing 

#itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealthawarenessmonth

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. 

Incorporating Self-Care into Your Summer Schedule

You have just completed the semester. Congratulations! You made it! You overcame life’s uncertainties and pushed through while giving it your best! How did you do it? Well, I would guess that many of you had to implement self-care into your schedule whether you realize it or not. Did you take the time to take a break from your studies and go for a walk? Or maybe you really enjoy art and made time to draw or paint. 

There are two times when self-care seems to become most difficult – when we are really busy or when we have a lot of unstructured free time.  You have just made it through finals week, and I am sure many of you pushed yourself to your limits, studying late or working double time to finish that big project. Maybe you skipped that reinvigorating walk or told yourself that you did not have time to draw anything that week. It happens to all of us, but how do we overcome this competition for our time? Now summer break is upon us and it can be hard to keep a routine. It’s great to have a break, but how do we use this time for both relaxation and rejuvenation while still utilizing the self-care strategies that work for us even when most of our schedules aren’t booked with studying and classes?

Now is the time to make the most of your self-care routine, whether you are just getting started or are well-versed in your self-care needs. Make a self-care plan and implement it over the summer so that it will become second nature to you when the fall semester starts. We’ve all heard that it takes a while to form a habit, so coming up with a plan now when your academic stress may lower is a good idea. In addition, it is important to train your brain to recognize that sleep, exercise, eating habits, and other self-care activities are just as important as the time you put in studying for your classes. Take a look at this article from Psychology Today on Self-Care: 12 Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself.