Caring for your mental health through the summer

The Center for Counseling and Wellness is closed for clinical services during the summer months, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use this time to invest in your emotional wellness! Here are some tips for strengthening your mental health year-round, based on the “head/habits/helpers” framework.

  • HEAD: Learn new things
  • HABITS: Care for body, mind, & spirit
    • Take action each day in support of your mental health. Whatever is in your toolbox of coping skills, be intentional in working those practices into your life, and take time to do things just for fun.
    • Engage in prayer and/or meditation. Consider using an app such as Abide or Headspace to provide structure around these practices.
    • Avoid mindfulness numbing, whether through social media scrolling or substance misuse. Take time to engage in activities that ground you and get you in touch with yourself so you can pay attention to your needs.
    • Eat regular meals throughout each day. Fuel your body with healthy food , avoid unhealthy dieting, and practice mindful eating in support of your physical and mental strength.
    • Get 7–9 hours of sleep per night, keeping a consistent bedtime routine. Be intentional about your sleep hygiene to maximize healthy rest.
    • Move your body every day, whether that involves stretching, walking, or more intensive exercise. For guided online exercise options, check out this list compiled by Calvin’s group fitness program. You can access yoga videos created specifically for Calvin students on our CCW YouTube channel (bonus: they’re trauma-informed).
    • Spend time in nature - walking outside in green and blue spaces is great, but even just a few moments looking at nature out the window or listening to nature sounds will benefit your body, mind, and spirit. Aim for at least 2 hours per week for maximum benefit.
  • HELPERS: Nurture supportive relationships
    • Spend time with people who energize you and build you up, including some time with people in-person each day as you’re able.
    • Reach out to your peers for anonymous support through the Calvin Unmasked app, which is moderated year-round by Calvin students.
    • Talk with a counselor about painful emotions, such as anxiety or depression. A list of available off-campus counselors can be found at ThrivingCampus, and on-campus counselors are available for weekly group therapy and short-term individual therapy through the CCW during the academic year.
    • If you are living with others (whether family, friends, or new roommates), keep open lines of communication. Having clear guidelines about day-to-day expectations while also spending intentional time together will help create a positive environment.
    • Participate in a faith community that is supportive of your spiritual growth and mental health. If you have questions about your faith journey, consider talking about it with Campus Ministries.
    • Be a helper to someone else! Support a friend in quarantine, volunteer for a cause you believe in, or simply make a point of smiling at others. Don’t forget to keep healthy boundaries and practice your own self-care along the way. If you’re looking for tips on talking about mental health with a friend, check out the videos at Seize the Awkward.
    • Utilize a mental health support line. The Optum Help Line offers free, 24/7 professional support at 866-342-6892—and in the state of Michigan, those with anxiety related to COVID-19 can access phone support through the Spectrum Health COVID-19 hotline (dial 2).
    • To stay safe when interacting with others in-person, follow CDC recommendations regarding COVID-19. If you have not yet been vaccinated against the virus, talk to your doctor about next steps for getting protected.

As always, don’t try to handle a mental health emergency on your own, whether it’s yours or a friend’s. There are numerous 24/7 crisis resources available in the United States, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the Crisis Text Line, and the Steve Fund (for young people of color). In the Grand Rapids area, emergency mental health support is available through the Pine Rest Urgent Care/Contact Center. On campus, Campus Safety is available 24/7 to help connect you with needed emergency supports.

We hope you have a wonderful summer, and we look forward to seeing you in the fall!

Concerned about a student’s well-being? Submit a Student Concern report for follow-up by caring staff members on campus. In case of emergency, call 911 or Campus Safety (616-526-3333).