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Improving Mental Wellness for International Students

March 22, 2022

This is a guest post from Rong (Angela) Ge, a current student at the Language Training Center, she is currently completing her practicum with the Campus Well-Being Unit at RRC Polytech. Angela graduated from Nanjing University with major in Psychology. She worked in an education service centre for the past three years and has helped hundreds of international students settle down in Winnipeg. For now, Angela is moving forward to study in the Health Care field and is focusing on the individual mental wellness in the community.

How Do we improve our mental wellness as International Student?

Studying abroad is a challenge for each and every international student. If you are an international student, do you have a moment like this? Not feeling well but can not tell your parents thousands of miles away, or feeling so lonely and overwhelmed at night?

The main cause of mental health barriers among the international students is that they are taking too much pressure. Therefore, it requires special attention on their mental wellness.

Academic Stress

Generally, most of the parents have high expectations. They hope their children can adapt quickly to a non-native language environment and achieve excellent scores. In fact, the students need more time to get used to the new environment, since they just arrived in a different country, meeting different people, having a different life style. However, when the international students are unable to achieve the desired goals, they are considered not working hard enough.

Economic pressure

Most international students, therefore, depend on their family savings to fund the tuition and living expenses. Compared with the local students, their tuition fees are much higher, and they need to live on a budget to keep life balanced.

Emotional and social stress

This barrier is particularly acute among international students. Initially, their parents who used to take care of them are far away, and the old friends who used to listen to them are not around. Lacking friends and social activities make international students feel even more lonely.

What can we do?

In this special period, all of us are gripping for a way out, but we should pay more attention to the international students, especially their psychological construction. Every international student is brave and excellent. It is worth praising that they can go abroad to live and study alone. However, since there are some misapprehensive voices in the society, many international students are afraid to seek help when they encounter psychological issues, for fear of being looked down upon.

Hopefully, every international student can be safe and healthy.

Here are some tips for improving mental wellness.

  • Develop a good habit

Good Habits are essential to our health. They can make the chances of achieving and maintaining our lifestyle goals such as exercising regularly and managing learning time, along with increasing quality of life.

  • Self-regulation

Take a break when we are facing with a tough situation. Take the time to think things through, make a plan, wait patiently before acting.

  • Get enough sleep

Sleep is an essential function that allows our body and mind to recharge. Healthy sleep helps us reduce stress and improve our mood, think more clearly and do better in school, and get along better with people.

  • Go outside and in the sun

Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping us feel calm and focused.

  • Live in the moment

Abraham Maslow once said, “The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.” Only in the present can help us achieve true happiness, peace, and joy.

  • Seek help in the community

By the time reading this blog, there is no doubt that you are a member of this community. To support students and staff to stay well in spirit and mind, RRC Polytech is committed to providing excellent counselling service and support.

Click here to learn more about counselling here

Keep in mind, you are not alone. Growing and learning are important, but you need to allow yourself to pause, take a break, and then move forward.


关注国际留学生心理健康问题

作者简介:葛蓉(Angela Ge),现就读于红河理工学院语言中心,毕业于南京大学社会心理学专业。 在过去的三年,Angela曾就职于一家教育服务中心,协助和陪伴数百位国际留学生在温尼伯展开留学生活。如今,Angela计划学习医疗领域的相关课程,并且持续关注社区中个人心理健康问题。

对每一位国际留学生而言,海外求学永远是一项挑战。如果你是一名国际留学生,你是否有过如下的时刻?伤心失落却不能告知千里之外的父母,亦或者是某一个深夜,孤独和无措相伴?

造成国际留学生心理健康问题的最主要因素,是他们承担了太多的压力。因此,这需要我们更多的关注。

学业压力

一般来说,大部分的家长给予了过高的期待。他们希望自己的孩子能快速的适应非母语环境且取得完美的分数。可实际上,学生们需要更多的时间来习惯新的环境,因为他们目前正处于一个新的国家,会遇见不同的人,拥有不一样的生活方式。然而,当留学生们没有办法达到预期的目标时,他们就会被认为是努力不够。

经济压力

大多数留学生是需要家庭的支持才能支付学费和生活费的。相较于本地学生,他们的学费会高很多,所以需要省吃俭用来平衡学业和生活。

情绪和社交压力

这个问题存在于大多数的留学生当中。照顾我们的家人远在海外,愿意倾听的挚友不在身边。缺乏朋友和社交活动,使得留学生们越发觉得孤独。

我们可以做什么?

在这个特殊的时期,每个人都在寻求出路,留学生们需要我们更多的关注,尤其是他们的心理健康。每一位留学生都是勇敢和出色的,他们在海外求学和生活的行为值得我们称颂。但是,因为有一些不理解的声音存在,有些留学生在面临心理问题时,不敢寻求帮助,怕被别人瞧不起。

真心的希望,在求学的道路上,留学生们能安全和健康。这里有些小贴士可以帮助大家提高身心健康。

  • 养成良好的生活习惯

好的生活习惯对健康尤其重要。它们可以让我们有机会实现和维持我们的生活目标,比如定期锻炼和管理学习时间,同时提高生活质量。

  • 自我调整

在我们遇到困难的时候,让自己休息一下。在做出下一步行动之前,好好的考虑,做一个计划,或者静静的等待。

  • 保有充足的睡眠

睡眠可以让我们的身体和头脑在夜间充电。健康的睡眠可以减少压力和改善绪,考虑事情更清晰,在学校表现的更好,以及和他人友好相处。

  • 出门晒晒太阳

研究表明,曝露在阳光下,可以使大脑释放一种叫血清素的荷尔蒙。血清素与改善情绪、帮助我们感到平静和专注有关。

  • 活在当下

马斯洛(著名的心理学家)曾经说过:“活在当下的能力是心理健康的一个重要组成部分。”只有活在当下才能帮助我们获得真正的幸福、安宁和欢乐。

  • 在社区中寻求帮助

当你读这篇文章的时候,毫无疑问你已经是我们的一员。为了支持学生和教职员保持良好的精神和思想,红河理工学院致力于提供优秀的心理辅导服务和支持。

点击这里了解更多:    https://www.rrc.ca/counselling

记住,你不是一个人。成长和学习虽很重要,但是你需要允许自己停下来,休息一下,然后继续前行。

Mindwell Programs- Leadership, Meditation, and Drop-In Mindfulness

December 14, 2021

As we step into the new year, MindWell is offering bite-sized programs and classes to help you create lasting positive change to support your mental health and wellness into the new year. Below are some of the offerings of MindWell programs and drop-ins available to RRC Polytech, staff, faculty and students.  All you have to do is sign up for a MindWell account and you will have access to all mental health workshops and drop-ins. 

 

What’s on Offer?

  • Taking Care of the Mind that Leads

For all managers and people leaders, learn how to ground and remain resourced, relaxed and responsive as you effectively lead your team to success.

Learn more >>>

app.mindwellu.com/rrc/webinar

  • Learn to Meditate: Modern Mindfulness for a Busy Life

Akin to training your muscles at the gym, mindfulness capabilities can be strengthened by meditation. Learn the basics and create your own simple meditation practice.  All skill levels welcome! 

Learn more >>>

app.mindwellu.com/rrc/dropin#thu_programs

  • Choose Your Own Well-Being

MindWell’s virtual mindfulness studio with drop-in classes every day of the week! Sign up for one of these 20-minute sessions to get your daily dose of mindfulness and community! Find what works for you, and learn new skills to support your wellness.

Learn more >>> 

app.mindwellu.com/rrc/dropin 

 

If you have any questions please feel free to contact our Mental Health Coordinator, Pamela at pvillafranca@rrc.ca

Trouble Sleeping?- Tips for Healthy Sleep

November 23, 2021

Do you find yourself staring at the ceiling, trying to fall asleep? Do you struggle to find comfort in your bed? Is your mind racing as you try to sleep? 

Our foundational need for sleep increases during times of stress and anxiety, and our ability to maintain a healthy sleep schedule often feels impossible. As a result, sleep problems among students are prevalent and can feel frustrating. Sleep difficulties may include not falling asleep, staying asleep, and even waking up multiple times during the night.  

Many folks have been experiencing disrupted sleep patterns since the start of the pandemic. This is a normal reaction to a very abnormal situation. Our bodies are on high alert because we have experienced many transitional periods over the last 19 months. We need to be focusing on caring for ourselves a little more attentively, in knowing that our needs will look different than they did pre-pandemic.  

As a result of sleepless nights, we can trace the connection between rest and our mental health. For example, we may feel tired throughout the day, have trouble concentrating, and notice changes in our motor skills. Emotionally, we may feel higher levels of sensitivity, anger, or sadness. Establishing a sleep routine when we are experiencing stress can help create a sleep pattern that rejuvenates us.  

Here are some helpful tips:  

Set a regular sleep schedule:  

Try to maintain a consistent sleep pattern for the whole week. Giving yourself a wake-up time and consistent bedtime across the week helps make getting up every day a little easier.  

Create time to relax before bed away from blue lights: 

Doing relaxation practices before bed, outside of technology, helps to make us feel grounded. Relaxation practices could be reading, meditation, stretching, doing yoga, and having a shower. Blue lights from technology stimulate our brain and can impact our ability to fall asleep and gain access to restful sleep.   

Boundaries with your bed  

Set boundaries concerning how much time you spend in bed. Avoid studying in bed, watching TV, or any activities that might stimulate the brain to produce cortisol (the stress hormone), making it harder for us to sleep because our brain may associate our bed with stress. 

Try to move during the day

Moving based on your body’s ability helps with stress management and can help us fall asleep. Take a study break, go for a walk, or schedule yourself time to move your body throughout the day. Dancing, running, and walking are all forms of movement that help better our mental health and help us navigate healthy sleep patterns. 

Small routine changes 

Looking at your daily rituals and assessing how they impact your sleep patterns helps determine guidelines you can set for yourself. Minimizing your caffeine intake (as hard as it is) often helps folks manage their anxiety and stress levels, which translates into achieving the sleep they need. Avoid using caffeine and nicotine right before bed, and avoid eating large meals right before bedtime. We can experience the physiological implications of these activities, which can hinder our ability to sleep.

Trouble sleeping is often our body’s way of telling us that we need to pay extra attention to our needs. Therefore, we must be mindful and gentle with ourselves when we are experiencing shifts in our schedules or figuring out how to navigate a Covid-19 world.  

Solutions for Better Sleep: Q&A with Dr. Elizabeth Hebert

January 19, 2021

How’s your sleep? If you’re finding it hard to get enough good sleep, you’re not alone.

Sleep is a key part of overall health and wellness so when it’s difficult or disrupted, your whole life can suffer. Join Dr. Elizabeth Hebert, licensed clinical psychologist and sleep expert, to find effective sleep solutions.

Date: Thursday, January 28

Time: 1-2pm

Platform: WebEx (register here)

Improving your sleep will help you do well in your studies, at work, and in life. Don’t miss this session and be sure to bring your questions for Dr. Hebert. All staff and students are welcome.

If you can’t attend at the scheduled time, watch staff and student news for a recording.

Questions or accessibility needs can be directed to Breanna Sawatzky.

Wellness Weekly: Curated Readings

January 8, 2019

In our Wellness Weekly, mental health roundup feature we curate some of the best writing on the web related to health and wellbeing. Here is some recommended reading for this week.

  • On Psychology Today, David DiSalvo writes about sleep’s connections with learning, emotion regulation, and anxiety. He presents evidence that disrupted sleep derails the brain’s normal cycle, affecting memory, the nervous and immune systems, and more. He also informs readers that “sleep therapy” could be an effective method of treating anxiety disorders and goes on to give some tips for recovering from sleep loss. Read Understanding the Connection Between Sleep and Anxiety.

 

  • Over at NPR, Maanvi Singh writes about some of the benefits of expressing gratitude. She summarizes many different forms of gratitude, including writing thank you letters and keeping a gratitude journal. In addition to the noted benefits, Singh also highlights what gratitude can’t do and some gaps in the research. For a richer understanding of gratitude and perhaps some ideas to apply personally, read If You Feel Thankful, Write it Down. It’s Good For Your Health.

 

  • On the Harvard Business Review, Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan explore the now ubiquitous topic of resilience. They argue against what they call a “militaristic, ‘tough’ approach to resilience and grit.” Instead, they outline evidence that rest periods are the key to resilience and eventual success. Rest from work and from screens, in fact, is key to reducing accidents and other health and safety problems. They assert that the “key to resilience is trying really hard, then stopping, recovering, and then trying again.” Find this interesting? Read Resilience is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure.  

Do you have some favorite reading you’d like featured? Contact Breanna.

The Rebel in You – A 12 Week Wellness Program

September 5, 2017

Sometimes starting an exercise program can be more challenging than the working out itself. Having to figure out how to get started, learning new terminology to what’s the difference between a rep and a set as well as knowing what to exactly do while in the gym. That is why we designed a custom program specific for The Rebel in You.

This program is a complete guide to getting moving and started on a journey of healthy living. Inside you’ll learn different terms and a glossary of definitions. The program booklet has advice as to why being active is the right thing for you to do and it gives tips to help keep you on track, even when we find ourselves with a setback, we can still learn from it and use the tips to get back on. You will be shown how to find your target heart rate to make sure that when you are training aerobically you are being efficient and reaching the level needed to reach your goals. It also helps you with how to make and set goals!

Included in the program booklet is a couple of full workout programs, which you can do at your own pace and you can keep track of it with the weekly calendar data chart to measure progress. Each program can be done for the entirety of the 12 weeks, or you can switch to another one if you feel you’d like to be challenged a bit more from the previous program. One of the programs is designed without any equipment which means it can help you become more familiar with movement and your body but also it means you can also do it at home. At the end of a workout or on a day you feel you need a stretch you can use the stretching guidelines to help balance out the work you’ve been putting in from the exercising.

Regardless of your level of fitness or experience, this program is designed to help you get a little bit more from your wellness plans and to help guide you in a total wellness program. The Rebel in You wellness booklet can be found on our website and it is free to download. Feel free to ask coworkers to join in, or family members to help provide support and a bit of social gathering time while you do something good for you. To be well is less about how you “should” go to the gym, or about the time you denied yourself dessert but more of an understanding that you matter and are important. That the higher value you place on yourself to take one more step or do one more rep pays out not only in your future self but also in your present self. We all are living a life where life happens, so we do not need to wait for life to happen in the “right way” for us to be well but we can practice being well in ourselves with each moment so that we create a life of wellness and well-being.

 

 

Don’t skimp on sleep

April 22, 2015

sleepy student

Have you ever been so tired that you can barely keep your eyes open? Or how about that horrible groggy, sluggish feeling after a night of tossing and turning that no matter how much coffee you drink, doesn’t go away?

Hopefully, you don’t feel this way often. If you do, you’re probably suffering from lack of sleep or poor quality sleep. Both can be detrimental to your daily functioning and ability to pay attention and do well at school.

If you want to do something about feeling so tired (who wouldn’t?), try these tips for getting some high quality shut-eye:

  • Create a healthy sleep environment. Ensure your bedroom temperature is on the cool side and that your room is dark. You also might want to try some white-noise in the background. This could be a fan on a low setting or some soothing, soft music.
  • Exercise: Being physically active during the day can help regulate your sleep pattern. Just be sure to try and finish physical activity at least three hours before bedtime.
  • Park it. Set aside some time an hour before you head to bed to make a to-do list for the next day. This will free up your mind for the night and enhance the quality of your sleep. Just promise yourself once the list is complete, that’s it for the night!
  • Head to bed and wake up at the same time. Get in the habit of going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, even on the weekends (I know, this can be tough). This will help regulate your body’s internal clock, which will make it easier to get up and start the day without feeling sluggish.
  • Wind your mind and body down. Do something relaxing before you sleep. Reading a book or listening to calming music are both good winding-down activities. Try to stay away from electronic screens (laptop, smartphone) right before heading to sleep as the brightness stimulates your brain and can make you feel alert. Still not sleepy? Try drinking some warm milk or having a light snack.
  • Deep breathing. Thinking about your breathing as you lay in bed can help calm you down and reduce anxiety. Here is one breathing exercise you might want to try.
  • Reflect. Think about what you did that day, everything you accomplished and things that you’re grateful for. This will leave you feeling calm and positive as you drift off.

Want more info on sleep? Visit the National Sleep Foundation.

Are You a Healthy Sleeper?


October 15, 2014

sleepy student

Now that summer is over and you’re back in college (or starting college for the first time), getting enough quality sleep is really important.

Regular, consistent sleep patterns will help you feel more energized, alert and attentive when you wake up in the morning. Healthy sleep patterns can also enhance your cognitive functioning, learning and memory.

A lack of sleep can lead to an array of problems. For example, people with persistent and untreated insomnia are at risk for experiencing depression for the first time or a relapse of depressive symptoms. There is also good evidence showing that insomnia is a risk factor for the development or recurrence of anxiety disorders and substance abuse problems.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the recommended amount of sleep for people 18 and over is between seven and nine hours each night. The quality of that sleep is also important, which our lifestyle and health habits can negatively or positively impact.

Try answering the following questions. They can provide good insight into whether you are getting enough sleep.

  • Do you have a consistent sleep schedule? (i.e. get a similar amount of sleep each night).
  • Are you productive during the days that you get your usual hours of sleep?
  • Do you have a constant urge to nap?
  • Are you dependent on caffeine all throughout the day?
  • Are you able to fall asleep easily at night?

For more on sleep including tips and sleep quizzes, visit the National Sleep Foundation.

Are you getting enough sleep?

September 9, 2014

With so many things demanding our attention these days, its wishful thinking for many of us to get six let alone eight hours of sleep at night.

But the benefits of regular sleep, from concentration to memory, are hard to beat — and no, caffeine isn’t a substitute!

Dr. Russel Foster is a circadian neuroscientist in Oxford, England and studies the complicated intricacies of sleep and brain functioning. In his TED talk presentation Why do we sleep? he says one of the biggest problems is that society doesn’t value sleep and that large segments of the population are sleep-deprived.

Watch his TED talk for more insight into why we need sleep or read some of the highlights from his talk below.

Fast Facts

  • The average person will spend 36 per cent of their life asleep. If you live to be 90-years-old, you will have spent 32 years sleeping!
  • In the 1950s, people were getting an average of 8 hours of sleep. In 2013, the average person was getting about 6.5 hours with many people clocking just 5 hours of sleep a night.
  • At some point in their life, 31 per cent of drivers will have fallen asleep at the wheel due to sleep deprivation. Scary!
  • People who get 5 hours or less of sleep every night are 50 per cent more likely of being obese.

Why do we sleep?

Studies have found that sleep enhances our creativity and our ability to process information and problem solve. In fact, some areas of the brain are more active during the sleep stage than during the awake stage!

Sleep deprivation can lead to

  • poor memory
  • impulsiveness
  • poor judgment
  • irritability/moodiness
  • stress
  • worsen symptoms of mental health issues

How to tell if you’re sleep-deprived

  • if you take a long time to get up in the morning (think about how many times you hit the snooze button)
  • need lots of stimulants throughout the day to stay awake
  • grumpy, irritable
  • your classmates, colleagues or friends tell you that you look tired

Tips for improved sleep

  • try not to have any caffeine after lunch
  • reduce your amount of light exposure 30 minutes before heading to bed (turn off your phone and computers)
  • make your room as dark as possible
  • ensure the temperature in your room is cool