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Laura Burd

Meet Laura Burd

Hometown: Binghamton, NY
College: College of Human Ecology
Major: Human Biology, Health, and Society
Year: 2024

Spotlight on Mental Health and Wellness

Promoting the health and well-being of all students is foundational for academic and life success. The Student Mental Health Collective works to advocate peer-to-peer discussion in the support and enhancement of student well-being, and reduce the stigma of mental illness.

As part of this discussion, SMHC is speaking to students from across campus to share experiences and helpful tips that support fellow Cornellians and fosters community around collective mental health on campus.

What does physical wellness mean to you? Why is it important?

Looking back on my freshman year, my physical and mental well-being suffered because, as my coursework piled up, my physical health took the back burner. A fear of mine was that my academics would suffer if I took time for self-care and necessary sleep. As a pre-medical student, this narrative was something that I felt was ingrained in the dialect of my peers and online resources. Since shifting my mindset, however, I found that quite the opposite was true: I was able to be a more engaged student and truly focus on learning, rather than getting certain grades on my transcript.There is an irony in the pressure for pre-med students to disregard their physical health, and I came to realize that the values that drove me to pursue a career in medicine did not align with the stereotypical concept of a sleep-deprived, overly-caffeinated pre-med student.

Since then, I have shifted my mindset to prioritize my physical well-being through my decisions in my personal life and the communities I choose to surround myself with on campus. I came to value health and well-being as my consistent top priority, with an understanding that taking care of my physical well-being would enable me to live the balanced life I want during my college years. I have truly found that nothing is more important than your health and well-being; when you are taking care of yourself, everything else will follow. However, shifting my mindset and learning how to consistently prioritize my physical and mental health has been anything but a linear process. I am constantly unlearning unhealthy habits I learned freshman year and growing in my understanding of what practices and movements work best for my body.

One example I implemented this past year is that once it hits a certain time in the night, I stop my work and studying regardless if I could or should do more. I have come to understand that getting enough rest is more important than those extra few pages of notes or just-a-few-more flashcards. Pushing myself through my body’s queues for its physical needs just resulted in my body having to take time to rest, oftentimes at times that didn’t fit into my plans. In this way, I have learned to have a level of trust in my body and viewed responding to signals, like tiredness,hunger, etc., as communicating effectively with my body.

The same goes with exercise; I believe that moving my body should be a celebration of what it can do and a way to have fun. When my body signals that something might be too much or to rest during physical activity, I have come to appreciate these signals and honor the communication that comes from being more in-tune with my body. All in all, I view physical wellness as a way to honor, trust, and care for my body. When I started prioritizing my physical health, my mindset shifted and so many other areas of wellness started growing in my life.

What are your favorite ways to take care of your body?

One of my favorite ways to take care of myself is through cooking! As someone who is interested in nutrition and food, I am always excited to try out a new recipe or try to recreate something I tried at a restaurant. Going along with that, I also have found that being intentional with eating and to treat meals as a time to connect with my body and the friends and family I share meals with. I have come to understand that taking time, even half an hour, out of my day to sit down and nourish my body without outside distractions is incredibly grounding and important for my physical and mental well-being. Also, having a morning routine that puts my health and well-being first has been a great, consistent way to start my days.

I spent years looking for a perfect morning routine, but never seemed to find one that really stuck. However, I have now decided that a “perfect” morning routine is really just doing a little bit of your favorite things in a designated time that you make for yourself.This really looks different for everyone and looks different for me everyday – maybe it's a morning yoga routine, some journaling, drinking tea outside, or calling a friend. Lastly, I am so grateful to be able to honestly and openly talk with my friends and community about physical and mental well-being. Having a support system, much of which I’ve found through Cornell CHAARG, has empowered me to prioritize my physical and mental health.

How have you created community through physical activity?

CHAARG has been an integral part of my experience creating a community through physical activity in college. CHAARG is a women-focused health and wellness organization that meets for weekly workouts with a different instructor or studio in the Ithaca area. These workouts have exposed me to so many different ways to move my body, from CrossFit and kickboxing to aerial yoga and guided meditation walks. Also, CHAARG has small groups and bolt buddies, which are two programs thatallow connection between members outside for the weekly workouts. These smaller settings have allowed me to build close friendships with CHAARG members; I feel I always have someone to lean on for motivation with my physical and mental health and support in working towards my personal goals. CHAARG has enabled me to take some time away from campus and explore the greater Ithaca community, especially in health and wellness spaces. This has been a refreshing change of pace, compared to the rush and buzz of campus life.

Also, I have relearned that physical activity is away to honor your body and all the ways that it can move. Working out can and should be fun, and hat is certainly something that I have taken from CHAARG and applied to many aspects of my life.Most of all, I am incredibly grateful for the community that makes up CHAARG. I feel surrounded by a supportive, empowering community that inspires me everyday to become the best version of myself. Through CHAARG, I have found a regular routine for physical activity and connection with like-minded, strong women. I am consistently inspired by CHAARG members and could not be more appreciative of this community!

What clubs are you involved in?

CHAARG, Rho Psi Eta pre-health sorority, and FIG Lab nutrition research

What’s your favorite spot on-campus or place to hang out with friends?

Human Ecology Commons

This series was developed on recommendations from Cornell's Mental Health Review. A wide range of supportive resources are available at for students in need. An Ithaca-based Crisisline is available at 607-272-1616.

Students in need of professional mental health support can call Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 607-255-5155 and employees can call the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) at 607-255-2673.