What you need to know for a successful semester – Observer

ECC’s new Wellness Services Counselor shares examples of how you can improve your mental health throughout the semester. (Michelle Doherty)

Checking in with yourself at the beginning of the semester is an important part of your success at Elgin Community College. Fernanda Sanchez-Ewald is ECC’s new Wellness Services Advisor. She shared some ways you can maintain good sanity throughout the semester.

The key ingredient to a successful semester is being proactive and planning ahead. She suggested creating a mantra at the beginning of the semester. Her examples were: I do my best and that’s enough, and I strive for progress, not perfection. Once you have a mantra that is right for you; Create a plan for how your semester should go.

“Be exactly what you want to do,” Sanchez-Ewald said. “It might seem like taking a bubble bath a few times a week, exercising three times a week, and watching what I eat. I’ll make sure to get up and take a break if I’m studying for too long. And maybe schedule a few breaks into your study time.”


The allocation of breaks during the study period is different for each student. A student might want to take a five-minute break after studying for 25 minutes. Another might schedule a 10-minute break after every hour. During these breaks, Sanchez-Ewald suggested going out into the sunlight and breathing the fresh air. She also recommended listening to your favorite songs during your breaks.

Another way to maintain your positive mental health throughout the semester is through exercise. Sanchez-Ewald shared that exercise reduces anxiety and depression. If going to the gym isn’t your thing, fear not! Try going for a walk, YouTube a beginner yoga routine, or plan to meet up with friends to play a sports game.

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“Something that I think can be helpful for most people is a little bit of mindfulness,” Sanchez-Ewald said.

Mindfulness means paying attention and being present in the moment. She said that mindfulness can be difficult, especially when you’re not used to it. Sanchez-Ewald recommended a few mindfulness apps: Calm, Headspace, and Insight Timer. She explained that starting with just a few minutes a day can improve your overall mental health.

Sanchez-Ewald also explained that getting a good night’s sleep is crucial. Getting enough sleep is a top priority when it comes to success.

Each student’s plan will be unique to them. Creating a plan for yourself might look different than someone else’s, and that’s okay. Choose what works best for you. Sanchez-Ewald said it will help you find a plan that works best for you.

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If you try all of the above but still feel it doesn’t help; Contact the wellness services here at the ECC. There are different ways to make an appointment. Some of these possibilities include: walk in and request an appointment, call the Student Success Center and make an appointment by phone or online through Access ECC.

“Since the pandemic, we have flexibility in how we meet, that can be a phone call or an online meeting,” Sanchez-Ewald said. “They can always make an appointment and video chat if they’re more comfortable with that.”

Sanchez-Ewald is bilingual in English and Spanish and can advise in both languages. Please get in touch if you have problems and need help.

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