In the ever-changing landscape of academic pursuits alongside the complexities of personal life, maintaining wellness is a crucial component of a student's journey. As we transition into the winter semester, finding ways to prioritize well-being is essential for student flourishing. At U-M’s College of LSA, the newly implemented Well-Being Initiative stands as a beacon, ensuring students' mental health and overall wellness are prioritized.

Two key players in the initiative are the college’s Mental Health and Well-Being Student Advocates, Janelle Zora and Brandon Bond, who are the driving force behind the mission of Well-Being at LSA. Acting as a bridge between students, staff, faculty, and administration, they serve as student advocates, with an emphasis on those from underrepresented groups, similar to the Hub. Their goal is to elevate student voices, harnessing lessons learned from their own experiences to enact policy changes that will improve student well-being and make a lasting impact on the university.

In this article, we delve into their wisdom, offering student-centered guidance on how LSA students can prioritize and enhance their mental health and well-being throughout the upcoming semester and their entire undergrad journey.


Q: What are some holistic tips you would give students to ensure they’re prioritizing their overall well-being ahead of the winter semester? And, how can they balance all the priorities of life without sacrificing their mental health?


1. Celebrate your achievements.

“Students at U-M are very high achieving, which can be great for motivation, but there's a certain point at which stress gets to be too much for us,” Janelle notes. “We lose our peak and it's no longer motivating.”

She explains the importance of doing things just to enjoy learning, highlighting that we don't have to be an expert or perfect at everything, but learning for the sake of learning and truly thinking about what it means to be human and experience things in a human way is sometimes enough.

Additionally, when we think about mental health and well-being, it can often have a negative connotation. Janelle says taking moments to truly celebrate your accomplishments and find joy in those moments is key, including intellectual pursuits.

Brandon’s take is straightforward.

“We have lots of life to live – there’s time. With so much happening, we feel the need for immediate gratification, so we don’t always think about the long term or our pasts.”

In other words, even though you may not feel on top of the world in terms of wellness or your mental health isn’t at its peak, it helps to reflect on your past achievements and consider how they may positively impact your future.


2. Rest and reflect.

Although it seems like a no-brainer, rest is an essential part of well-being but can sometimes be overlooked and under prioritized when life gets hectic. Janelle says, in balancing personal and professional life (and everything in between), there must be time set aside to reflect to avoid burnout.

“I think there has to be time dedicated to literally allowing yourself to sit and do nothing,” she says. “Students have to come to terms with that idea – the world will continue to turn.”

A tactic used by Brandon during his time of reflection is to evaluate: how will this affect my healing journey? When making decisions, it’s helpful to consider if your future actions are worth pausing your wellness to pursue. He notes that if your healing journey does pause, you must have a “resume” phase.” 

Brandon also weighs in with his take on surviving versus thriving. 

“It’s important to be more conscious that what we might see marketed as wellness isn't always wellness,” he explains. “A lot of times things as simple as taking a bath or a walk, or eating is considered wellness, but that’s just survival.”

The Student Advocates make it clear that these steps are important to thriving – your basic needs as a human should not be a benchmark for well–being.

3. Take inventory of yourself.

Janelle starts off by explaining the importance of students taking time to reflect on their own definition of well-being. She encourages the exploration of the multifaceted nature of well-being, referring back to LSA’s 8-dimension model, what it symbolizes, and how different aspects intersect. You must know what’s important to you before taking steps to achieve wellness.

Brandon also stressed the importance of “conducting a personal inventory,” urging students to not only consider their current desires in each dimension of wellness but also reflect on past states and how they've evolved over time. He highlights the significance of identifying areas where one may not have felt secure in wellness and making it a goal to work towards improvement.

In his last semester of school, Brandon worked to figure out which aspects of himself he wanted to improve upon.

“Asking yourself critical questions that figure out who you are at your foundation when all of your titles are stripped away will help you figure out who and what you want to be and fill those gaps,” Brandon explains.

Brandon notes that, throughout this process of self-inventory, students need to recognize what’s in their domain of control, which can be anxiety-provoking.

“It’s helpful to set boundaries for yourself: ‘this is what’s in my control, so let me spend my time and energy here.’”

Once your wellness priorities are in line, Janelle recommends a bit of proactive planning. Acknowledging the challenge of finding support during a crisis amid hundreds of available resources, she suggests creating a personalized resource guide, outlining a few specific resources to tap into as a way to mitigate the feeling of overwhelm.

4. Be authentic.

Drawing on her experience as a health educator, Janelle underscored the importance of students being genuine and authentic in their well-being journeys. She highlighted the positive trend of students today being open about their reflections on personal health and well-being.

“I think it's been very helpful to dismantle the stigma that has come around conversations pertaining to mental health, and that we can be open and vulnerable and authentic,” Janelle emphasizes, encouraging students to normalize sharing when they're not doing well.

Reflecting on her own experiences, Janelle says one strategy she has found to be transformative is distinguishing between “realistic and romanticized” versions of well-being.

“I try to think about both my SMART goals and what’s actually realistic and feasible for me at the current moment,” she says. “Then, taking a step back and truly seeing the things that we can be grateful for help romanticize very normal aspects of life.”

She stressed that perspective is key, urging students to embrace imperfections and appreciate the journey of learning for the sake of learning and understanding what it means to be human.


In times of stress or doubt, Janelle advises students to put things into perspective.

“There’s always been a solution, even if it wasn’t the one that I was expecting. And, there’s always people to help with whatever you may be going through.”

Embodying each aspect of wellness is a life-long learning process, which should be celebrated.

The Hub, alongside our Mental Health and Well-Being Student Advocates, encourage you to prioritize your wellness during the upcoming semester. 

You can find helpful tools and resources, and learn more about the Well-Being initiative by visiting their website.