Emotional Wellness

illustration of two people on either side of a big happy face

How Are You Today?

How you feel and how you respond to those feelings are central to your emotional wellness. Emotional wellness includes both positive emotional experiences and responding to life's challenges and the painful emotions that may arise.

To build emotional wellness, pay attention to both sides. Try to build positive habits and emotional experiences while also finding ways to understand and respond to painful emotions or symptoms of mental illness in a constructive way.

Tips for Building Emotional Wellness

Emotional Wellness begins with your awareness of thoughts and feelings. You can't change what you're not aware!

A Simple Way to Begin

Building emotional awareness can start by simply noticing your emotions, both positive and painful, and giving them a name. Take a few minutes out of the day, maybe when you're standing in line or waiting for class to start, to ask yourself, "Where is my mind? How am I feeling?" and then just name what you notice without judging it. 

I'm feeling pressured...

I'm feeling excited...

I'm planning for what will happen tonight...

Take it further:

Journaling, talking more openly about feelings with trusted friends and family, guided meditation, and mindfulness apps are other ways you can build emotional awareness.

Notice patterns:

As you practice awareness, you'll begin to notice patterns in the way you think and feel. With time, you'll also get to know common triggers for these inner experiences and how you'd like to respond to them. 

Explore these mindfulness resources to learn more about building awareness of your thoughts and feelings: 

The Power of Postivity

While it's normal to feel down or have negative thoughts, our emotional wellness takes a hit when we spend the majority of our time in negative thoughts and emotions.

As you build awareness of your thoughts and feelings, notice how often you're dwelling on a negative thought, worried about the future, or complaining. Without judging the negative experience, ask yourself if there's another way of looking at this situation or a better-feeling thought you'd like to focus on. The goal isn't to be 100% positive all the time but rather to be aware of your thoughts and more deliberate in where you direct your attention. 

Practice 3's

A fun exercise for building on the positives is to practice a 3:1 ratio of 3 positives for every negative. Every time you catch yourself in a negative thought, see if you can come up with 3 positive things. Your positive thoughts can be about the object of your negativity or something completely unrelated. The only rule is that you come up with 3 positive things for every one negative. 

Journal to Boost Your Mood

Gratitude and optimism journals are another easy way to practice building on the positive. To start one, take a few minutes at the beginning and end of the day to think of 3 things you're looking forward to and 3 things that have gone well recently. That's it!

Explore these resources to learn more about building on the positives: 

Information & Exercises:


Healthy social relationships are an important part of your overall well-being, especially emotional wellness. They are thought of as one of the primary building blocks of human flourishing. 

Look for Face-to-Face Contact

Make a point of having quality face-to-face interactions in your daily life. Even if you feel you don't have a lot of opportunities, you can still have positive interactions with coworkers, classmates, acquaintances, or passersby. Try to make eye contact with the people you encounter throughout the day. Offer them a smile, a friendly comment, or small talk.

Build on Positive Friendship Qualities

In your closer relationships, make positive friendship qualities like validation, quality time, reciprocity, and conflict resolution a priority. Make a point of cultivating positive interactions built on these qualities and let the important people in your life know that you appreciate them.

When Quality Relationships Seem Hard to Find

  • Start where you can.
  • Have a heart-to-heart with the important people in your life about ways you'd like to strengthen your relationship.
  • Identify those people who feel good to be around.
  • Try joining social groups, clubs, or volunteer organizations where you could meet new people sharing similar interests.

Explore these resources to learn more about building your social support:

Your body needs care to function well physically and emotionally, and sleep and nutrition are a great place to start. Changes in appetite and sleep are often some of the first signs that your emotional wellness could use some care. You've probably also noticed that you're not at your best physically, mentally, or emotionally when sleep and nutrition aren't on track.

The link between mood, food, and sleep is undeniable, but when life gets busy, it can feel hard to stay on track. Explore these resources to take good care of your nutrition and sleep:



Apps and Online Tools: 

PERMA stands for:

  • Positive emotion

  • Engagement

  • Relationships

  • Meaning

  • Achievement

  • Vitality

These are the building blocks of human flourishing. When each of these domains is expressed in your life, you feel better and do better.

If you're feeling off-balance, do a quick self-test. Is one area of PERMA lacking in your life? How can you bring it back into alignment?

Explore these resources to bring more PERMA-V into your life:

Ever felt like hiding away? Maybe after a stressful day or when you’re feeling embarrassed? Everyone’s felt that way before. Sometimes, it’s a sign that you need just that: an escape. And sometimes, it means it’s time to reach out for support.

Here are 12 signs it’s time to reach out (rather than retreat):

  1. Feeling depressed, hopeless, or helpless.
  2. Feeling panicked or obsessed about a situation in your life.
  3. Feeling increasingly disconnected from the people in your life.
  4. Dissatisfaction with solitary time but afraid or reluctant to reach out.
  5. Difficulty getting out of bed.
  6. Exhaustion even after getting a good night’s sleep or taking a break.
  7. Difficulty focusing even when you have all the right conditions.
  8. Loss of motivation, interest, or pleasure in the things you normally care about.
  9. Changes in your normal sleeping and eating patterns.
  10. Mood swings.
  11. Feeling paralyzed by responsibilities or obligations.
  12. Having thoughts of hurting yourself or being better off dead. (Click here for more crisis support.)

More Ways to Reach Out:

How to Support Others Who Reach Out for Help: 

10 signs you need some time to yourself:

  1. Feeling pulled in too many directions.
  2. Small social interactions make you feel exhausted when they normally don’t.
  3. You’re so caught up in other people’s lives that you haven’t taken care of yourself.
  4. You’re suddenly forgetting things, canceling plans, and showing up late.
  5. Confusion about what you want in life.
  6. Feeling annoyed or resentful for things that don’t make sense to you.
  7. Filling your time with activities to avoid being alone. (Surprising but true!)
  8. Irritability.
  9. You’re constantly rushed or stressed.
  10. You don’t feel like yourself.

If alone time is what you need, begin here:

  • Ease into it with small routines. 
  • Let other people know if this will be a big change. 
  • Keep a “me time” wish list.
  • Remember that recharging is productive!
  • Explore what makes you you.

Explore these resources to make the most of your solitary time:

College can challenge and change every aspect of your life. This can be hard, but hard doesn't mean you're failing. The process of exploration is the fire that forges a resilient spirit. When you remain open to learning from the growing pains of life, you come out stronger than before.  

Explore these Stronger Than's resources for building your resilience.

Resources for Emotional Wellness

Try a Guided Meditation

Or Meditate On Your Own with These Tips

Campus Resources for Building Emotional Wellness

Counseling & Psych Services (CAPS)

Want to talk? We'll listen. CAPS offers a variety of counseling services.

Life Management Counseling

Free short-term, confidential counseling with a licensed counselor through participating campus departments:

LGBTQ+ Mental Health Support

The LGBTQ+ Resource Center offers one-on-one emotional support services as well as groups for support, discussion, and fun.

Thrive Center

The Thrive Center serves students who have been historically underrepresented on college campuses, are low-income, and/or are first-generation college students. Their mission is to enhance students' wellness in and outside of the classroom.

Thrive Center resources include:

Survivor Advocacy

Confidential services for student survivors of sexual or gender-based violence. Advocates can help student survivors connect with resources for safety planning, academic and housing accommodations, navigating Title IX, mental health and emotional support, obtaining an order of protection, filing police reports, and medical accompaniment/education about medical forensic exams.

Center for Compassion Studies

The Center for Compassion Studies was established to encourage investigation of the impact of compassion and contemplative practices on individual, group and environmental well-being, as well as to promote the availability of education and training in the cultivation of compassion.

Counseling through the Psych Department

The Psychology Department Behavioral Health Clinic (BHC) offers scientifically-validated outpatient therapy to individuals, couples and families at low cost. Psychologists-in-training, supervised by licensed clinical faculty in the Department of Psychology, provide brief treatment for personal problems including anxiety, depression, coping with illness, relationship and family problems, alcohol and substance use problems, life crises, and other issues.

Dog Days with the Dean

Come enjoy some puppy love! Lower stress, relax and connect with wonderful pets, their humans and one another.

Peer Counseling

Work with other students in group and in one-on-one settings as a peer counselor. Peer counselors learn rapport building, active listening skills, assessment, and Psychological First Aid.