Good mental health: What you need to know for a successful semester

Michelle Doherty, Digital Editor

ECC’s new Wellness Services Counselor gives examples of how to better your mental health during the semester. (Michelle Doherty )

Checking in with yourself at the beginning of the semester is an important part of your success at Elgin Community College. Fernanda Sanchez-Ewald is ECC’s new Wellness Services counselor. She shared some ways you can maintain good mental health throughout the semester.  

The main ingredient to a successful semester is to be proactive and plan ahead. She suggested creating a mantra at the beginning of the semester. Her examples were: I’m doing my best and that’s enough, and I’m going to aim for progress and not perfection. Once you have a mantra that is right for you; create a plan for how you want your semester to go. 

“Be specific about what you want to do,” said Sanchez-Ewald. “That might look like I’m going to take a bubble bath a couple times a week, I’m going to exercise three times a week, I’m going to be mindful of what I’m eating. I’m going to make sure that I get up and take a break if I’m studying for too long. And maybe schedule in some breaks into your study time.” 

Scheduling breaks during your study time will be different for every student. One student may want to take a five minute break after 25 minutes of studying. Another might schedule a 10 minute break after every hour. During those breaks Sanchez-Ewald suggested getting outside in the sunlight, and breathing the fresh air. She also recommended listening to your favorite songs while on your breaks. 

Another way to maintain your positive mental health during the semester is exercising. Sanchez-Ewald shared that exercising reduces anxiety and depression. If going to the gym is not your thing, fear not! Try going on a walk, YouTube a beginner yoga routine or plan to meet up with friends to play a sports game.

 “Something that I think can be helpful for most people is a little bit of mindfulness,”  Sanchez-Ewald said.

Mindfulness is paying attention and being present in the moment. She said that mindfulness can be hard especially if you’re not used to it. Sanchez-Ewald recommended some mindfulness apps: Calm, Headspace and Insight Timer. She explained that starting with a couple of minutes a day can improve your overall mental health.  

Sanchez-Ewald also explained that getting good sleep is crucial. Making sure you’re sleeping enough is a top priority when it comes to success. 

Each student’s plan will be unique to them. Creating a plan for yourself might look different from someone else’s, and that’s ok. Choose what works best for you. Sanchez-Ewald said that finding a plan that works best for you will help you stick with it. 

If you’re trying all the things mentioned above, yet still feel like it’s not helping; reach out to the Wellness Services here at ECC. There are a handful of ways to schedule an appointment. Some of those ways include: walking in and asking to schedule an appointment, calling the Student Success Center and scheduling on the phone or by making an appointment online through Access ECC.

“Since the pandemic we have flexibility in how we meet, so that can be a phone call or a meeting online,” Sanchez-Ewald said.  “They can always make an appointment and do a video chat if they’re more comfortable with that.”

Sanchez-Ewald is bilingual in English and Spanish and can provide counseling in both languages. Please reach out if you are struggling and need help.