Top 10 Tips for Thriving at Cornell

Prioritize self-care – including connecting with others – to support your academic success and get the most out of your time at Cornell. 

Start your semester strong! Consider these tried-and-true tips to support your health, well-being, and academic success ... and help you get the most out of your time at Cornell!

And if you ever need need extra support, help is available 24/7.

1. Prioritize self-care

Maintain and build on your natural resilience by prioritizing self-care: eat well, get good sleep, move your body, and do something you enjoy every day. Resilience helps us bounce back from adversity, challenge, and setbacks. Learn more on our Building Resilience page.

2. Establish 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 become more organized and efficient. 

3. Get good sleep

Getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night (yes, really!) is one of the most important things you can do to protect your mental health and improve your academic performance. 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. Learn about ways to improve your “sleep hygiene” on our Sleep page

4. 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.

5. Protect your immune system

Wash your hands often, nourish your body with healthy food, and get enough sleep. Get your flu shot, and be sure to stay up to date with your COVID boosters.

6. Move your body

Exercise – even taking a brisk walk – 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 opportunities each week, including some free options. 

7. Connect with others

Cultivating social connections – and avoiding social isolation – is one of the best ways to build resilience and thrive at Cornell. Positive peer relationships and supportive interaction with family, faculty, and staff are known to be important factors in students’ academic performance and emotional well-being. Find opportunities to connect through Cornell's Campus Activities office.

8. 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.

9. 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.  

10. 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 Office of Spirituality & Meaning-Making and the David M. Einhorn Center for Community Engagement are two campus resources that can help you explore and find what is most meaningful to you.

If you need support ...

If you’re struggling – or just feel like you could benefit from talking to someone – support is available. Here are some places to start:

  • Call us 24/7 (607-255-5155) to consult with Cornell Health. When we're closed, you can speak with a mental health professional from our on-call service, ProtoCall.
  • Drop in to an online "Let's Talk" session to speak informally with a Cornell Health counselor. It's free, confidential, and available daily Monday–Friday. 
  • Explore our group counseling and individual counseling options.
  • Contact Student Support & Advocacy Services in the Dean of Students Office for help navigating difficult life events and crisis situations.
  • Those living in university housing can connect with your residential staff for support.
  • Speak with your academic advisors or professors if you need extra help, or anticipate difficulty meeting deadlines.
  • 24/7 support is also available through these local and national hotlines and text lines, with options especially for students of Color and LGBTQ students.

Visit Mental Health at Cornell for additional options for support, as well as information about how to help others, practice self-care, and get involved.