Ensuring your health & well-being

Exercise and recreation

Help manage and cope with stress and improve your brain function by trying out yoga, meditation, or aerobic exercise. Check out Bloomington's Recreational Sports Youtube Channel for free workouts focused on cardio, circuits, dance, and flexibility and strength.  

You need 30 minutes per day or 4-5 hours per week of aerobic exercise, which: 

  • Makes BDNF proteins (“Miracle Gro for the Brain”) 
  • Boosts your concentration
  • Lowers stress 
  • Improves your mood 

Tip 1:  Exercising 4 hours after learning something new improves your ability to recall information! 

Tip 2:  Learning a new complex physical skill produces new connections in the brain which you can use for learning other new concepts. 


You need at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Most recommendations state that young adults need 7-9 hours of sleep. 

What it does: 

  • Creates memories 
  • Boosts concentration 
  • Lowers stress 
  • Improves mood 
  • Repairs body and brain 
  • Prevents disease 

Tip 1:  If you didn't get enogh sleep, take a 20 minute nap or a 90 minute nap. That shorter burst nap is enough to quickly refresh you. Or if you need more, give yourself at least 90 minutes to get into a deeper sleep cycle so you can recharge more fully. 

Tip 2: Use sleep routines (go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning) and turn off screens about an hour before bed for good sleep hygiene. 

De-stress now

What stress does: 

  • Interferes with learning and memory 
  • Prohibits you from being able to problem-solve or seek creative solutions
  • Can launch you into fight or flight mode, which can lead to high levels of stress and panic/anxiety

De-stress right now

  • Square breathing is a breathing exercise that can immediately take you from panic to calm:
    • Step 1: Breathe in counting to four slowly. Feel the air enter your lungs. 
    • Step 2: Hold your breath for 4 seconds. 
    • Step 3: Slowly exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds. 
    • Step 4: Hold your breath for 4 seconds

Repeat steps 1 to 4 until you feel re-centered. 

More techniques:

  • Count backwards from 10 ("Staircase"): In your mind, you are at the top of a set of 10 stairs.  You walk slowly down each stair, counting backwards as you go. With each stair, relax more and more.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Slowly tense, then relax each major muscle group 
  • STOP (Stop, Tune-In, Observe, Proceed):  Stop what you are doing. Take some deep breaths to center yourself in the moment. Observe what is going on with your body, emotions and mind. Proceed with what you were doing making a choice to incorporate what you just learned.

Lastly, there are some great apps you can download from your device's app store that will help you de-stress, calm down, relax, sleep, and meditate. And they are constnatly changing as new apps get added. Here's a list of topics to search for in your app store (most are free):

  • calming music and sounds
  • relax
  • sleep
  • ambient sound
  • meditation
  • breathing
  • yoga
  • PTSD
  • stress relief
  • gratitude
  • affirmations
  • mood tracker

Of course, if you're finding yourself in an emergency situation where you feel unsafe, visit your nearest emergency room or call 911. If it's not an emergency, but you do need help, check your campus's resources for mental health support. Anxiety and stress are often things that can be overcome with a little extra support from a professional counselor. 

Find resources on your campus

Boost your mood

It sounds simple, but if you can find a way to boost your mood, a better mood will help in lots of areas of your life! 

What it does:

  • Reduces feelings of depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, and social isolation 
  • Activates and relieves your stress response 
  • Reduces body image issues 
  • Improves your immune system 

Tip 1: Find time for fun and laughter! Watch a favorite comedy special or revisit your favorite outlet for LOLs. Find things that make you chuckle and post them around your room. Be sure as you do this to be aware of what is and is not funny. Don’t laugh at the expense of others. 

Tip 2: Take breaks from social media. Social media sites are built to addict you to their content; you get a dopamine rush every time you get a like. Fight back by turning off notifications, setting time limits for checking social media, and keeping your phone away from your bed at night.

Tip 3: Dance! Dancing gets both your brain and your body involved. Dance is like a “pleasure double play” in your brain – it releases endorphins, and music stimulates the brain’s primal reward centers at the same time. Dancing also activates the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for emotions and memory. When you dance with others, your brain relaxes because you are in a group, even if you don’t actually talk to anyone.

Tip 4: Connect with your campus's mental health resources.

Prevent eye strain

With the increased use of screen time over the last decade (for instance, online meetings and increased use of social media), eyestrain has become more common. 

Unfortunately, eyestrain makes you tired and reduces your ability to concentrate. It's important to take steps to avoid eyestrain.

To prevent eyestrain: 

  • Make sure your computer screen is about 25 inches, or an arm's length, away from your face. The center of the screen should be about 10-15 degrees below eye level. Consider using a document holder if you need to look at materials while working on your computer in order to reduce how much your eyes need to readjust. 
  • Limit screen time. Follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Take a longer break of about 15 minutes after every 2 hours you spend on your devices. 
  • Blink often to refresh your eyes. If they feel dry, consider using artificial tears to refresh your eyes.  
  • Put a humidifier in the room where you most often use a computer or other device and reduce any blowing air. 
  • Make sure the lighting in the room you’re in is bright enough. You don’t want your device to be brighter than the surroundings. Cut glare by using an anti-glare cover. 
  • Use the right eyewear for you. Switch between contact lenses and your glasses to give your eyes a break. 
  • Adjust your devices for comfort.  Raise the contrast on your screen and make sure your screen is not lighter or darker than your surroundings. Make text larger when possible.

Healthcare and well-being campus resources

Campus health centers 

Many IU campuses either have their own campus-based health care center or may have an arrangement with relevant community resources. The campus centers usually provide a range of services such as vaccinations, birth control and STI services, and general health screenings and referrals as needed. 

Campus counseling and psychological services centers 

Many students face normal developmental concerns as well as personal and academic pressures during their college experience and find that it is helpful to discuss these issues in a supportive, professional and confidential environment.  Often, personal problems such as anxiety, depression, and lack of coping skills (to name a few) may present and hinder academic growth and success. Every IU campus has an office to help students learn and/or enhance skills to deal more effectively with problems that may be interfering with academic success and personal well-being. These offices provide students with access to a wide range of treatment modalities and referrals to outside resources as needed.Every IU student also has access to Timely Care -- free, 24/7 online mental health support designed especially for college students. You do not need insurance to access Timely Care. 

Timely Care

Find your campus's healthcare and well-being resources

Spot the signs of crisis 

Your peers and loved ones may be struggling. Here are some signs that your friends may be in crisis: 

  • Neglect of personal hygiene. 
  • Dramatic change in sleep habits, such as sleeping more often or not sleeping well. 
  • Weight gain or loss. 
  • Decline in performance at work or school. 
  • Pronounced changes in mood, such as irritability, anger, anxiety or sadness. 
  • Withdrawal from routine activities and relationships. 

If you notice the above changes in behavior: 

  • Check in on your friend and lend an ear. Sometimes people just need someone to listen to them. 
  • Connect them with campus mental health resources. 
  • If you're still concerned, reach out to their loved ones and let them know you're concerned. 
  • Encourage them to seek professional help by reaching out to their primary care doctor or therapist. 

If you suspect a loved one is in danger of self-harm or suicide, do not wait to seek help. Call 988 to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, or 911 for immediate police / fire / medical assistance or take them to the emergency room. Don't leave them alone. You can also call the Trevor Lifeline for LGBTQ young people (866-488-7386) or text HOME to 741741 to reach a volunteer Crisis Counselor.

Pro tip: Food, water, nature

Food: Brain starved for energy = more effort and less results. You need: 

  • Regular meals with proteins, whole grains, and fruits/veggies 

Water: Even low levels of dehydration affect school performance. Try:

  • Drinking whenever possible and when you feel hungry


Nature: Has dozens of positive long-term mental and physical health outcomes. Two of those are:

  • Just looking out at a green landscape lowers heart rate and transitions you from fight or flight mode (stress and anxiety) to tend and befriend (relaxation). 
  • Boosts levels of natural killer cells (type of white blood cell that boosts immunity and fights disease) in your bloodstream.