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Health Minds Healthy College

Healthy Minds Healthy College

Anxiety

How to Not Feel Helpless: Managing what we can and cannot control in times of crisis

June 2, 2020

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Guest post by our friends at BEACON. 

When it feels like bad news is an everyday occurrence, it can be a difficult and challenging experience. For many, the stress and anxiety that come along with this may also be accompanied by the feeling that we’re losing control, that we’re powerless, and we lack the resilience to properly cope – extreme situations tend to bring about extreme reactions.

Even when the news seems bleak, it’s crucial to maintain a sense of perspective. There will always be things that we can and cannot control in life – it’s often a question of how much we worry and obsess over the things that we have little or no control over, that can cause the most anxiety.

 

There are ways, however, to manage these things, and maintain a healthy outlook.

Compare Your Troubling Thoughts with Reality

Be aware of thoughts that you’re having and the extent to which those thoughts correspond to reality – and to the reality of your family and your immediate circle. If you have thoughts about people getting sick or about the news being more than you can handle, counter that by remembering that there’s a good chance that no one you know has COVID-19.

And if you do know someone who does have it, remind yourself that you can’t control the outcome. Practice realistic thinking limited to people you know personally, rather than about people from other cities who we don’t know.

Focus Your Attention Elsewhere

Find activities and things to do that are enjoyable, and that won’t bring your attention back to thinking about stressful events such as the coronavirus pandemic. It seems like when people talk, they often spend the whole time doing so about their anxiety and discussing worst-case scenarios. Make a point of having conversations about other topics, and consider designating talking about coronavirus as “off-limits” for a while.

Don’t Overwhelm Yourself with News

Try to limit the news that you consume, both in terms of the amount of time spent and from certain sources. You’re unlikely to miss anything important, so there’s no need to spend an excessive amount of time reading articles that all say the same thing.

Make sure that the sources you’re reading from are scientifically-based and reliable – that kind of news is likely to not change very quickly.

• • •

It’s never easy to deal with bad news and trying times, but it’s also important to know that there are always things you can do to limit the stress and worry you may feel. But remember that freaking out or panicking doesn’t help the situation; calm thinking will actually help with better decision making.  It can be easy to get swept up into a state of panic but at the end of the day, we’re better equipped to make good decisions if we remain calm.

Coping through this uncertainty

March 19, 2020

During this time of uncertainty it’s natural that our stress response will kick in. We are likely being bombarded with constant updates from the news, social media, our workplace, and our friends and family.

Our routines along with the expectations placed on us are changing quickly. We may also be in a state of waiting for answers or direction, which can be unsettling. With this heightened state of stress, it’s not surprising that our thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviours will be affected.

In addition, people who have experienced traumatic medical or other experiences in the past may have some of those feelings, memories, and fears come flooding back.

Here are some common ways that experiencing this stress can effect our body, mind, spirit and emotions.

  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Tearfulness
  • Frustration
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Upset stomach
  • Headaches
  • Desire to use drugs or alcohol
  • Hopelessness

Everyone is different and your response is neither right nor wrong, it’s simply your response. You may be experiencing something that is not listed above and that’s okay. What matters is that we are not helpless in the face of this stress; we can do our best to actively manage it.

Think about what you normally do to manage stress and reflect on how you can adapt that to the current circumstance. If you usually spend time with friends, can you chat on the phone or have a video call? If you usually go to the gym, can you walk or run outside? Or stream an online workout video?

Here are some immediate actions that can be helpful at this time.

Limit news and social media consumption. Stay informed, but be sure to take breaks from the feed and focus on information from reputable sources like the RRC newsletter and Manitoba Health. Is there someone in your feed who is triggering extra anxiety? Don’t be afraid to mute or unfollow them for now.

Remember the basics. Be sure to eat nutritious food, get fresh air, move your body, and get enough sleep. Without those basics, it’s hard to manage stress well.

Connect with others. Telephone, text, or video calls can be a great way to stay in touch. Instead of rehashing all the details, try to focus your conversations on how you are feeling, how you are coping, and mundane everyday matters.

Practice kindness. Everyone around us is likely experiencing heightened stress as well. Be kind, be patient, and leave space for people who are not at their best. We can get through this better if we work together.

Breathe. Taking slow, deep breaths that fill you belly can reverse the stress response and bring some clarity to your thoughts and actions. You can find a helpful video tutorial here.

Reach out for support. Sometimes, in order to be at our best we need to consult a mental health professional. There are several people ready to assist you. Read more here.

Better Mental Health Through Digital Therapy

March 3, 2020

For so many of us, mental health is an important topic – every day, conversations related to mindfulness or self-care come up. Frank discussions about our mental well-being are also top of mind.

There are no quick fixes to our mental health, and some of us feel overwhelmed, like we’ve lost control of things; others simply can’t shake feeling down. These are issues that many students deal with every day. But the good news is that there’s help available with BEACON digital therapy – now available to Red River College students at no cost with referral.

BEACON can empower you

Designed to improve your mental health and build your resilience to life’s challenges, BEACON provides Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (or CBT), an evidence-based form of psychological therapy. It’s also considered the gold standard when it comes to helping people with mild to moderate depression or anxiety.

How CBT works

The premise behind CBT is that, with regular practice and guidance, we can manage the distressing thoughts and behaviours that come along with stressful, challenging situations – in a way that positively impacts our lives. It can be difficult at first, but with commitment to therapy, you can see your resilience grow.

Therapy on your terms

You use BEACON wherever and whenever you choose – all on your phone, tablet, or computer – with no appointments to keep. And your BEACON therapy is guided by a registered mental health professional, to help you develop crucial lifelong coping skills.

To get started, connect with any of the following:

Students attending a regional campus may contact an Academic Success Coach at their campus.

Staff who are interested in BEACON should inquire about extended health plan coverage. Many of our employee benefit packages do cover BEACON’s services, since they’re provided by registered social workers or psychologists.

This service enhancement aligns with the Healthy Minds Healthy College strategic priority to improve access to mental health services, using innovation. If you have questions about BEACON’s partnership with RRC, please contact Breanna Sawatzky, Mental Health Coordinator.

 

Anxiety Forums on Campus: Psychologists to educate on coping skills

February 11, 2020

February is Psychology Month; a time when Psychologists engage the public, educating us on how psychology works to help people live healthy and happy lives.

To celebrate Psychology Month, the Manitoba Psychological Society has organized a variety of educational seminars for the public on a wide variety of psychology-related topics. RRC is fortunate to be hosting two such events. We’ve called them “Anxiety Forums.”

Each forum will include a talk by a prominent Psychologist as well as audience Q & A. Free pizza lunch is provided during both forums!

What is Anxiety?

According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba (ADAM), everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. It’s completely normal and can even be helpful. For example, if you’re anxious about an upcoming test, your anxiety can motivate you to study well. However, anxiety can sometimes become severe and negatively affect your life. If your anxiety has reached this point, you may have an anxiety disorder.

Here at RRC we see many students who are experiencing problems with anxiety. These problems affect academic success and overall well-being.

Anxiety Forum Details

During the two forums, the speakers will share helpful coping strategies related to managing anxiety in a College setting. Although the primary target audience is students, staff and faculty will no doubt benefit from the material presented and discussion to follow.

Registration is not required. All are welcome.

EDC: Wednesday, February 12th, noon-1pm in P107, The Roblin Centre with Dr. Elizabeth Hebert

NDC: Thursday, February 13th, noon-1pm in the White Lecture Theatre with Dr. Jason Ediger

 

More About the Presenters

Dr. Jason Ediger, C. Psych.

Dr. Ediger has a special interest in blending cognitive behaviour therapy with mindfulness based approaches to change and coping. His practice focuses on anxiety, mood difficulties, chronic pain and health concerns in adults and adolescents. He has extensive experience with disability claims and return to work issues. Read his full bio here.

Dr. Elizabeth Hebert, C. Psych.

Dr. Elizabeth Hebert provides psychological treatment services for anxiety disorders, OCD, PTSD, and other mental health concerns. Her main research interest is the development and evaluation of psychological treatments for anxiety disorders and the cognitive-behavioural mechanisms underlying these disorders.

Climate change and mental health: the intersections

September 24, 2019

With the upcoming General Strike for Climate Action happening at the Manitoba Legislative Building on Friday, September 27th, climate change is top of mind for many people. RRC’s Sustainability Office is marking the occasion in several ways.

Given this timing, it’s fitting to examine how mental health and climate change are connected. Once we take a look, there are indeed several ways that climate change affects mental health.

First, natural disasters place increased strain on people living in areas affected by droughts, floods, forest fires, hurricanes and the like. The trauma caused by these events increases risk of depression, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder. While not everyone exposed to the trauma develops a disorder, when a whole community is affected by such a disaster, there will certainly be an increased demand for mental health services and a disruption to the community as a whole.

In addition, many people experience climate change related grief in response to experienced or anticipated loss of natural environments. Lakes, land, forests, and other natural environments help us develop a sense of place and are key settings in which we build good mental health. The grief related to losing these is very real and impacts a person’s well-being.

Yet another way in which climate change affects mental health is through climate anxiety: worry and fear related to the consequences of climate change. Many people can be concerned, even very concerned, about climate change while still functioning well in their lives. For some, however, this anxiety can become intense and lead to feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, intense anger, inability to continue with daily activities and even thoughts of suicide.

If you are feeling this extreme form of climate anxiety, please reach out for support. Students can connect with RRC Counselling Services or use the student benefits plan to connect with a therapist in the community. Staff can reach out to our Employee and Family Assistance Program.

For anyone whose mental health is affected by climate change, it can be helpful to participate in direct positive action and to be around others who understand your concerns. So, check out the activities that the Sustainability Office has planned and get involved.

References:

Lewis, J. (2018). In the Room With Climate Anxiety PART 1. Psychiatric Times, 35(11), 1–2.

Focus on climate change and mental health. (2018). Nature Climate Change,(4), 259-259. 

Wellness Weekly: Curated Readings

August 27, 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.

Making Friends

NPR notes that the act of making and being a friend is as simple as it is difficult. They spoke with experts to help find ways to make new friends, as well as to take better care of the friendships you already have. Read Accept The Awkwardness: How To Make Friends by Julia Furlan.

Healthy Eating on a Budget

Are you trying to save money on food? Get the school year off to a healthy start by planning your meals for the next few days or week ahead. It takes a bit of time, but it will help you save money later. The Dieticians of Canada has Ten Tips for Planning Meals on a Budget.

Dealing with Panic Attacks

Panic attacks can feel terrifying in the moment. Managing your thoughts and behaviours can go along way toward reducing the frequency and intensity of panic symptoms as well as how much they interfere with your life. Over on the Anxiety Canada blog, Dr. Melanie Badali shares 5 Tips for Dealing with Panic Attacks – The BRAVE Way.

 

Missed the Anxiety Forum? Watch the Recording Here

February 21, 2019

On February 14th RRC hosted an Anxiety Forum featuring local Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Jason Ediger. Thanks to the eTV crew, we have a recording available here.  Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services provided ASL interpretation, which is also featured in the recording.

Dr. Ediger spoke about Anxiety in a college context and helped us understand worry, panic attacks, performance anxiety, social fears, and more. He provided helpful tips and introduced coping techniques that so many can benefit from.

Additional thanks to the Manitoba Psychological Society and Dr. Ediger for offering this public education at RRC.

If you think the services of a Psychologist could help you reach your goals, you’ll be pleased to know that these services are covered under RRC’s Student and Employee Benefit plans. You can use an online directory to find a Psychologist near you.

Further information and resources about anxiety can be found at the Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba.

Anxiety Forums on Campus: Psychologists to educate on coping skills

February 8, 2019

February is Psychology Month; a time when Psychologists engage the public, educating us on how psychology works to help people live healthy and happy lives. (Canadian Psychology Association)

To celebrate Psychology Month, the Manitoba Psychological Society has organized a variety of educational seminars for the public on a wide variety of psychology-related topics. RRC is fortunate to be hosting two such events. We’ve called them “Anxiety Forums.”

Each forum will include a talk by a prominent Psychologist as well as audience Q & A. Free pizza lunch is provided during both forums!

What is Anxiety?

According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba (ADAM), everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. It’s completely normal and can even be helpful. For example, if you’re anxious about an upcoming test, your anxiety can motivate you to study well. However, anxiety can sometimes become severe and negatively affect your life. If your anxiety has reached this point, you may have an anxiety disorder.

Here at RRC we see many students who are experiencing problems with anxiety. These problems affect academic success and overall well-being.

Anxiety Forum Details

During the two forums, the speakers will share helpful coping strategies related to managing anxiety in a College setting. Although the primary target audience is students, staff and faculty will no doubt benefit from the material presented and discussion to follow.

Registration is not required. All are welcome.

EDC: Tuesday, February 12th, noon-1pm in the Great West Life Lecture Theatre with Dr. Elizabeth Hebert

NDC: Thursday, February 14th, noon-1pm in the Black Lecture Theatre with Dr. Jason Ediger

The NDC forum will also be recorded and streamed by eTV for the benefit of regional campuses.

Follow the link below to view the Anxiety Forum live streaming presentation: rrc.ca/etv/streaming/

Click on the ‘Live Stream’ image to play. No username or password is required. The stream will go live shortly before the presentation begins.

During the live presentation, you are encouraged to ask questions or add comments. To do so, please click on the “word bubble” icon found on the bottom right of the player. Please include your name, email address (if you require a follow-up response), and a subject heading.

Note: You can also use the “word bubble” to report any technical issues.

More About the Presenters

Dr. Jason Ediger, C. Psych.

Dr. Ediger has a special interest in blending cognitive behaviour therapy with mindfulness based approaches to change and coping. His practice focuses on anxiety, mood difficulties, chronic pain and health concerns in adults and adolescents. He has extensive experience with disability claims and return to work issues. Read his full bio here.

Dr. Elizabeth Hebert

Dr. Elizabeth Hebert is a psychologist in the Department of Clinical Health Psychology and an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. Her research focuses on anxiety and worry and the factors that drive them, including difficulty tolerating uncertainty in daily life. Dr. Hebert is the psychologist for the Shared Care Program in Winnipeg. Her clinical work focuses on primary care settings, and includes evidence-based psychological treatments for anxiety, mood, and ADHD; psychodiagnostic and cognitive assessments; and interdisciplinary consultation.

 

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.

Music For Wellness Workshop December 7th

November 26, 2018

Curious about how you can use music to manage stress and improve your mental health? Join certified music therapist Rachel MacEwan for a Music for Wellness workshop and try out some wellness enhancing strategies, using music.

Date: Friday, December 7th
Time: 12:05 – 12:55pm
Location: Prairie Lights Meeting Room (NDC)

Bring your lunch. Free dainties and tea will be provided.

All staff and students are invited.

Guiding us through different aspects of music therapy, Rachel will invite us to listen to music, make music, and analyze lyrics, all to promote good health while relieving stress and anxiety. Come on out and give it a try!

For questions or accessibility needs, please contact Breanna.