Happy Friday everyone! We’re so happy to see students making their way back to campus for second semester and to see UIUC officially coming back to life again! However, we know it’s not quite time for students to be heading out to enjoy non-essential activities in town or with friends until February 8th. (So close, yet so far!)

It’s no secret that the continued restrictions and health guidelines have had a profound impact on everyone’s mental health this year. Whether you’re someone who loves to party or a total introvert - isolation can be hard, lonely and confusing. According to the KFF, over half of the adults in the United States have reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted as a result of covid-19. We may be in the final stretch, but with the coldest days of the year upon us as well it may feel hard to stay motivated and get energized for this next semester.

If you’re looking for some ways to boost your mood and get some actual self-care in while you’re stuck indoors, we thought we would share a quick list of tips that might go a long way:

1. Have a digital purge day.

While it may be easy to remember to keep your space organized, how often do you go through your phone or laptop? There’s no way around it - we spend a LOT of time in front of screens these days. Work, school, social interaction - it’s all online, and the clutter that comes with it is affecting us whether we realize it or not. Take some time to get rid of old apps you don’t use, old photos you don’t want, file away your old assignments and make sure you’re only following people you actually want to see on your feed every day. You might be surprised at what a big difference it can make! Check out this article by PC Mag for some more tips

2. Write stuff down.

Whether you are someone who typically keeps a journal or the thought has never crossed your mind, it’s no secret that it is a very effective way of processing your emotions. Set aside a time to sit down daily and write out what you are feeling, learning, your plans for the future or just a to-do list for the next day. If you struggle with what to write about pick up a prompted journal. The 5 Minute Journal by intelligent change is a particularly renowned resource to help you see the brighter side of life, and is available as an app as well.

3. Get active.

It’s probably something you’ve heard a million times this year - but it has never been more important to get intentional about staying active. If you go long periods of time with no exercise it can be detrimental to not only our physical health but your mental health too. If you’re not someone who likes to do home workouts try some yoga or Tai Chi, or get outside and go for a distanced walk. You’ll quickly start to notice how different you feel and it will become something you look forward to each day!

4. Make some plans!

As we’re coming up on one year of covid, it may be hard to stay hopeful even as we watch things improve. Making plans for post-quarantine may boost your motivation and be a daily reminder of what’s to come. Plan a roadtrip with your friends, book an AirBnb for this summer or even just pick out the first restaurant you’re going to head to once restrictions are lifted! Having something to look forward to can make a big difference.

5. Reach out.

Don’t forget that the way you feel is valid and real. It doesn’t matter what your year has looked like - you are not alone in your struggles and there is no shame for asking for help when you need it. Take some time to confide or connect with a trusted friend or family member, or book some online therapy sessions. A little processing can go a long way and completely transform the way you live.

We hope that you may find some of these as helpful as we have, and that you take some time to do something good for yourself this weekend. If there’s anything not listed here that you’ve found helpful this year, share in the comments below!