10 Ways to Support Your Mental Health at Cornell

It is possible to THRIVE – and not just survive – at Cornell.

1. Build up your resilience

Start with a foundation of self-care practices – eat well, get good sleep, move your body and take a few long, slow deep breaths every day. Resilience helps us bounce back from adversity, challenge, and setbacks. Learn more on our Building Resilience page.

2. Engage with others and resources

Struggling in a class? Talk to your professor or TA during office hours, or talk with student services in your college. And, when was the last time you hung out with that person who makes you laugh or reminds you to believe in yourself? Do it today; you’ll regain some perspective and move forward more easily.

3. Refuse to play the stress game

Sometimes we wear our busyness like a badge of honor, and compete with each other about who’s more stressed. Remember that stress diminishes your performance level and ability to cope with the regular ups and downs of life. For more, check out our Stress Management page.

4. Prioritize sleep

When we’re busy, it can be tempting to skimp on sleep. But a lack of sleep can increase anxiety, irritability, inability to concentrate, and depression. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night is one of the most important things you can do to protect your mental health and improve your academic performance. Learn about ways to improve your “sleep hygiene” on our Sleep page

5. Get some exercise

Exercise directly affects the brain, and is a great way to relieve stress and improve mental health. In the short-term, exercise can improve our mood by stimulating the body’s feel-good hormones. Recent research shows that regular exercise can be highly effective at reducing depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. Cornell Recreational Services offers numerous FREE opportunities every week, now including free hours at the gyms. 

6. Get back to a time management strategy

If you need help figuring out what works best for you, meet with the staff at the Learning Strategies Center. This excellent resource can help you to become more organized and efficient. 

7. Learn to meditate

Meditation has numerous proven mental health benefits, including relaxation, stress management, and improved sense of well-being. You can learn to meditate through Cornell's free Let's Meditate program. Other resources for guided meditation practice can be found on our Meditation page.

8. Get out in nature

Research shows that spending time in nature can have real, tangible benefits for your health and well-being. Get started by exploring nature right here on campus: visit Nature RX @Cornell.  

9. Find meaning

Recent studies show that cultivating a sense of meaning in your life can contribute more to positive mental health than pursuing happiness. Finding one’s own definition of “meaning” is very personal, but two great places to start are 1) to notice what you appreciate and express gratitude; and 2) share a talent or strength. The Cornell Public Service Center and Cornell United Religious Work are two campus resources that can help you explore and find what is most meaningful to you.

10. Learn when to ask for help

If you’re struggling emotionally, help is available. Cornell is a caring community with numerous people whose job – and passion – it is to help support students mental health and well-being. You can speak informally with a Cornell Health counselor any day of the week, Monday-Friday, but stopping by a Let’s Talk location. Or, schedule a brief assessment appointment with our CAPS team if you think you’re interested in pursuing individual or group counseling, or speak with your primary care provider. For urgent concerns, support is available 24/7 by calling us at 607-255-5155. EARS peer counseling is another great option for those who prefer to connect with a trained undergraduate or graduate student counselor. Visit Cornell’s Caring Community website for a complete list of support resources on campus.