Welcome to our special section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.

Recently, it’s been somewhat difficult to find joy throughout my day. With winter and gloomy weather on the horizon, I’ve struggled to find activities and events to look forward to. Thanksgiving is basically cancelled and my university’s spring break has been reduced to two days. The future just seems to keep getting bleaker. 

That being said, I’ve come to realize that the fog I’ve been sucked into is mostly self-induced. Although we are all living through unprecedented times that definitely take a toll on our mental health, we can be autonomous and find positivity all around us. Here are some actionable steps I’ve taken to feel better about the world and myself:

  1. Exercise more — A healthy body = a healthy mind. Period. Take care of yourself by pushing your physical limits. Find a COVID-safe workout class to gain a sense of community and togetherness. Feel healthy and alive by doing an online Yoga class in your home. Set a daily pushup goal and do your best to beat it every day. You know your body better than anyone else, so make sure to give it the ironic fuel it needs by exhausting yourself. 
  2. Set designated mindfulness times — Rather than spend all day fixated on work or T.V., set aside some time to be present. Whether that be through a guided meditation or a walk around your neighborhood, find a moment to unplug and connect with the world around you. Consciously be grateful for what is good. 
  3. Learn something new! — It’s so easy to get school-burnout and feel that our online learning is inefficient. So, find time to seek out information that flexes your mind. Use your innate curiosity to learn something new you are genuinely interested in. Go down a Wikipedia spiral. Read a Reddit thread that challenges your perspective. Find inspiration in a new podcast, recipe, or educational T.V. show. Learn how to play a new instrument, an editing program, or a music software on YouTube. We were made to learn. So do it 🙂
  4. Find something overlooked — Have you been procrastinating doing something for a long time? Is there something you’ve been too lazy to clean up or organize? Why not do it now? Find a creative way to make your daily routine more efficient and easy. After organizing my previously very messy kitchen, I felt much better and ended up saving myself a lot of future time. 
  5. Create something — We often forget to use our creativity as we get older, often seeing that use of brain power as a waste of time or unimportant. That’s just not true! Using your creativity helps you reinvigorate your sense of self and reconnect with the jubilance of life. Doodle for an hour. Make some music. Write a creative poem or short story. Create a unique piece of furniture or art for your home. There are countless ways to get out of the fog and find joy.

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More Thrive Global on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis