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Health Minds Healthy College

Healthy Minds Healthy College

Mind it!

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 Through Music: More Virtual Thrive Events!

January 19, 2021

Music is an excellent wellness tool. Whether you put on some music to shift your mood, express yourself by making music, or learn a new musical skill – the emotional and spiritual power of music can’t be denied. While we stay home as much as possible these days, it’s still important to take meaningful breaks from work and academics, giving our bodies and minds a chance to recharge.

Music Workshop Series

For these reasons we’re happy to invite staff and students to a series of Thrive events centred aound music and delivered by the Manitoba Conservatory for Music and Arts.

Registration for each workshop opens two weeks in advance. After registering, you will recieve a Zoom link to join the event. All workshops run 7-8pm on a Wednesday. There is no cost to attend and you do not require your own instrument.

January 27: Improvisation

Music improvisation uses music patterns and concepts to create free form and stylistic new arrangements. Learn how to take your music knowledge and add your personal expressions to create a new arrangement. Register here. 

February 17: Songwriting Collaboration

Participate in the creation of brand new music! Tune in to observe, provide your creative input toward lyrics and melodies, help improvise or vote on song ideas. We will use Garage Band to create a new music composition on the spot. Registration opens February 3.

March 24: Song Sharing

What are some of your most loved songs and why? Bring a favourite song to this “round table” session and we will listen, discuss the artist, structure and meaning. You are welcome and encouraged to play your song using an instrument, or find a recorded version (whatever your preference). Let’s talk about what makes this music great! Registration opens March 10.

April 21: Feel the Beat

Tap your feet, clap your hands and break outthe pots and pans as you learn how to tell an exciting story through percussion soundscapes. Registration opens April 7.

A Mindful Start to 2021 (with prizes!)

January 12, 2021

As we begin a new year amid ever present challenges, it’s a good idea to take time to develop a healthy mindset, along with stress management skills. With this in mind, you’re invited to join dozens of other RRC students and staff in a 30 Day Mindfulness Challenge.

Can you receive difficult messages with openness? Can you reverse the stress response and calm your nervous system? Are you able to step back from your thoughts and watch them come and go? All of these skills are key to building good mental health and all are part of the 30 Day Mindfulness Challenge curriculum.

The Challenge takes just five minutes a day, anytime, anywhere and on any device, yet there is evidence that it lowers stress, increases resilience, improves teamwork, and strengthens leadership skills.

The Challenge teaches ‘mindfulness-in-action’ so people don’t need to stop what they are doing to become calm, present and focused.

Learn more about the Challenge and other mindfulness resources here.


All RRC students and staff can register for the challenge here. You can even register a buddy to keep you motivated. You can register any time, but your challenge will officially begin on the Tuesday after you register.

Prize draw

Complete all 30 days of the Challenge and you unlock a certificate that will get you entered into a draw for prizes, including one of two $50 gift cards to Good Local. Simply send your certificate to before February 28 and you will be entered to win.

Please contact Breanna Sawatzky with any questions.

Webinar Invitation: Reducing Your Holiday Stress

December 1, 2020

Even if you adore the holiday season, chances are you find your stress levels rising in the month of December.

Holidays always come with their fair share of stress – but this is a year like no other, with added complications brought on by the challenges imposed by COVID and lockdown restrictions. We’ve all got different ways we cope with stress – but what happens when these challenges start to feel daunting, when it feels like we could really use some support? There are real and effective things you can do to rise to the occasion.

Join clinical psychologist Dr. Leorra Newman for an important and timely conversation on how reduce your stress and enjoy the holiday season.

Date: Thursday, December 10th

Time: 11am Central )

Register here


5 Everyday Exercises to Strengthen Your Mental Health

December 1, 2020

Adapted from our friends at BEACON.

Life has been stressful, uncertain and scary lately – that’s for sure. As everyone is grappling with all these things (and with the intense emotions that come along with them), we’re looking for better ways to strengthen our mental health whenever we have the chance.

Thankfully, there are plenty of things we can be doing every day to help maintain a healthy perspective. These five can be used to relax, recharge or simply mentally regroup, so you can get back to resiliency and meet challenges as they come.

Move that body
Exercise isn’t just great for your physical health – when you engage in activity, your body releases stress-reducing endorphins that can also help boost your mood and alleviate some of the anxiety and depression you’re feeling. Now that so many of us are stuck at home without access to gyms and equipment, try to find alternative ways to get physical, such as a body weight-resistance routine, going for a quick jog or a relaxing and revitalizing solo yoga session. Try joining our live (virtual) yoga class, Fridays on WebEx.

Disconnect for a few
If you’ve been paying attention to the news related to COVID-19, you know that it can be an endless – not to mention an endlessly stressful – stream of information. Likewise, if you’re on social media all day long, or if you’re now working from home and trying to adapt to new routines, it can be difficult keeping up with all the meetings, emails and everything else. It’s important to take a few moments for yourself – by disconnecting you can shift your focus away from stress-causing information. Unplug for a while. The world will get along just fine without you for a few minutes.

Do something nice (for someone else)
Now is a time when a little kindness goes a long way – whether it’s helping a neighbour from a safe distance, sending a note to a relative or donating to a local food bank. A kind act can benefit your mental health by elevating your self-esteem while helping you focus on empathy. Kind acts can also boost your brain’s dopamine levels, which means that you’ll feel just as good as the recipient of your positive actions.

Switch it up
The one thing many of us are feeling right now is the sense of sameness – it’s Groundhog Day every day. Our day-to-day routines under COVID-19 can be awfully repetitive, which, in turn, can negatively affect our mental health. While it’s true that a normal routine can add to our sense of security and safety (which many people are craving right now), switching up certain parts of your day can have its benefits. Try an impromptu midday walk if you can, work in a different area of your home or get take-out from a new spot. By altering your routine, you won’t feel quite so stuck in a rut.

Let the music play
If you’re experiencing a lot of stress, anxiety or negative feelings, try putting on a familiar piece of music that you enjoy – anything from Beethoven or Brahms, to Taylor Swift or Shawn Mendes will work. Listening to music will not only relax you and lift your mood; it can also help to enhance your motivation to get things done – something a lot of us may be looking for right now.

Shorter Days Bringing You Down?

November 17, 2020

This time of year, the shortened days and chilly temperatures can take a toll on our mental health. Even in a usual November, less daylight, more time spent indoors, and less physical activity can lead to a case of the winter blues. This year, as many of us are studying and working from home with less reason to leave our home, those winter blues can really drag us down.

Yes, it’s not technically winter yet, but here in Manitoba, we feel it already. Many people report having less energy, experiencing lower mood, and having more intense food cravings.

There are things we can do, however, to help promote good mental health. Here are some suggestions:

  • Get outside during daylight hours. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, the light and air will help.
  • Exercise regularly. Whether indoors or outdoors, regular exercise boosts your mood and energy levels. Movement of any kind helps. Try our livestreamed Friday lunchtime yoga class.
  • Connect with friends virtually. Make a point of spending time with people with whom you can chat and laugh.
  • Develop good sleep habits. Whenever possible, go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. Leave smartphones and tablets in another room.
  • Eat a balanced diet. We tend to crave carbs more in the winter, so make sure you’re still eating some veggies and fruit daily.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Sometimes, the seasonal change can trigger the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a treatable mental health condition. SAD is a type of Clinical Depression that is related to changes in the seasons. According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD symptoms that are specific to winter depression are:

  • Irritability
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Problems getting along with other people
  • Hypersensitivity to rejection
  • Heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain

If you’re feeling low for days at a time, have thoughts of suicide, or are using alcohol/drugs to cope, see your doctor or access RRC supports for students or staff.

Getting Better

Treatments for SAD can include medication, talk therapy, and light therapy. Light therapy involves sitting near a special lamp so that you’re exposed to bright light. Light therapy mimics natural outdoor light and appears to cause a change in brain chemicals linked to mood.

Borrow a Light Therapy Lamp from Library Services

Interested in trying light therapy? SAD Lamps are availaible on loan from Library Services. Simply complete the booking request to arrange the loan.

If you’re feeling the winter blues, whether it’s SAD or not, please reach out to someone and talk about it.

Anti-Racism: A Dialogue about Transforming Higher Education

November 10, 2020

An interview with Priyanji Mediwake, RRC’s Diversity and Inclusion Specialist

B.S. Hi Priyanji! I understand that RRC students and staff are invited to an upcoming virtual event that tackles the topic of racism in higher education. First, can you tell us more about your role at the College?

P.M. I am the Diversity and Inclusion Specialist for the College. I am part of the Human Resources Services team supporting and overseeing work relating to the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) portfolios. My focus is on building an accessible, safe, welcoming and inclusive campus environment for our students and staff. It has been my privilege to work alongside Red River College’s Anti-Racism Steering Committee to organize this event.

B.S. In what way is racism related to wellbeing?

P.M. Here in Canada we know that racism still exists within our communities. Racism can occur on a structural/institutional level (education, government, etc.), at the individual level, or through the process of macro- and micro-aggressions. Experiencing or internalizing racism can have significant impacts on one’s mental and physical wellbeing.

Feeling a sense of belonging, whether that may be at work, school, or in the general community, contributes to good mental health. Experiencing racism really prevents that positive sense of belonging. Further, research has shown us that experiencing racism negatively affects mental health and leads to increased risk factors for dying by suicide or developing depression, anxiety, problems with substance abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition, when people experience stressful situations such as discrimination, their body moves into a state of fight or flight. When this system is frequently engaged, it causes inflammation that can lead to chronic, long-term health problems.

Racism also fuels intergenerational trauma, leads to harmful internalized beliefs, and contributes to feelings of helplessness or avoidance behaviors.

B.S. What can an RRC student or staff do if they’re experiencing racism?

P.M. If you or someone you know is struggling with issues related to racism, please reach out to us. If your mental health is being negatively affected by this, there is a suite of supports available within the College for students and staff, including Counselling Services, Mental Health Supports, and Elders in Residence.

If you are seeking BIPOC-specific mental health resources within Winnipeg, please refer to the BIPOC Mental Health Workers Resource List. 

B.S. What do you want staff and students to know about the upcoming event?

P.M. Our upcoming virtual panel discussion, Anti-Racism: A Dialogue about Transforming Higher Education, takes place Wednesday, November 18 at noon on WebEx.

The discussion will unpack the ways in which racism and discrimination present themselves in our society. Panelists will discuss how each of us can be a stronger ally and anti-racist on and off campus. We will delve into ways to safely talk about race and discrimination, and explore how post-secondary institutions can transform themselves into more inclusive spaces for staff and students.

This panel is presented in partnership with the RRC Students Association. Ginger Arnold, an Instructor in Social Innovation and Community Development, will moderate the discussion.

Please join us in starting this important dialogue at the College!

B.S. How can people participate in the event?            

P.M. You can visit the link below to learn more and register! Once you register, you will be sent a WebEx link to join us on November 18 from 12 noon to 1 pm for this panel discussion.

B.S. Thank you Priyanji. I hope many students and staff will tune in for this important event. 

Friday Lunchtime Yoga is Back!

October 13, 2020

Holly Pluchinski, owner of Kayfabe Yoga, is back to teach a weekly 30 minute yoga class exclusively for RRC staff and students.

Yoga is a fantastic way to connect mind, body, and spirit while giving yourself the mindful movement you crave. As we all do what we can to cope with change and uncertainty, a regular yoga practice can take the edge off all of that stress.

Book the time in your calendar and do something good for yourself.

Date: Fridays, beginning Oct. 16
Time: Noon – 12:30pm
Location: WebEx, register here for the December 18 session

Participants will be able to see Holly demonstrate, however participants themselves will not be visible to others. The class is suitable for all ability levels.

You don’t need fancy equipment, or the perfect setting — just the desire to tune in and move.

Questions can be directed to Breanna Sawatzky, Mental Health Coordinator.

Mental Illness Awareness Week: A time for understanding

October 6, 2020

Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) is an annual national public education campaign designed to help open the eyes of Canadians to the reality of mental illness. At any given time, 1 in 5 Canadians are experiencing a mental illness, yet the topic is often surrounded by silence and shame.

The rapid change and stress brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has put even more strain on people, making this the ideal time to talk about mental illness openly and respond to everyone with compassion. There are many ways that you can observe Mental Illness Awareness Week; below are a few suggestions.

Faces of Mental Illness Campaign

The Faces of Mental Illness is a national outreach campaign featuring the stories of Canadians living in recovery from mental illness. Each year several Faces of Mental Illness are highlighted.  Check out these lived experience stories to expand your own understanding.

Movies for Mental Health Event

Register for our first virtual Movies for Mental Health event, which takes place the afternoon of Wednesday, October 21. This free virtual workshop uses the power of film to unite folks in community, connection, and conversation.

Learn About Supports Available to RRC Staff and Students

Exploring available mental health services prepares you to take those important first steps when you need to seek help. It also prepares you to support others, directing them to supports when they are in need.

The Wellness microsite contains information on supports for students, supports for staff, crisis resources, and supports for all. Spend a bit of time exploring these.

A Confidential Consultation

If you feel overwhelmed by the many options, book a confidential consultation with Mental Health Coordinator, Breanna Sawatzky, who can help you select a place to begin.

Mental illness is a reality for many, including our coworkers, students, family members, friends and ourselves. Having solid knowledge about the realities of mental illness as well as resources for healing can help us all feel more understood and supported. So, this Mental Illness Awareness Week, take some time to enhance your own understanding.

Movies for Mental Health: Join Us Virtually

September 22, 2020

On October 21 RRC is hosting Movies for Mental Health, a virtual workshop that uses the power of film to unite folks in community, connection, and conversation. This FREE event is delivered by a non-profit called Art With Impact and will be hosted online.

The interactive, online experience will feature an anonymous, chat-based discussion on mental health, the stigma that frequently surrounds mental illness, and media portrayals of mental health issues.

Following this will be a live screening of three award-winning short films and therapeutic activities to consciously connect minds and bodies.

The event will culminate in a panel of lived-experience speakers and mental health resources, empowering us to share our own stories and access support available to us in these uncertain times.

Last year, students who attended found the workshop helped increase awareness of mental health, reduce stigma, and improve knowledge about where to go for help.

The Details

Date: Wednesday, October 21

Time: 1-3 pm

Location: Online! Register here.

For any questions or accessibility needs, please contact Amy.

This event is sponsored by the Healthy Minds Healthy College Initiative and RRC Students’ Association. All students and staff are welcome.

Want to Share Your Story?

We’re looking for a student participate the panel discussion. By volunteering your time and expertise, you play a crucial role in creating an event that will reduce the stigma around mental illness and encourage others to seek the help they need.

Being a Student Panelist

As a student panelist, your role is to share a real, lived-experience story to show the power that live storytelling can have in reducing mental health stigmas. Your generosity in talking about your experiences – the good parts and the bad – will actively help your peers to overcome their own inhibitions that might prevent them from getting help. You are living, breathing proof that recovery and healing are possible and that mental wellness is real and attainable!

As you begin to put together your five-minute story, we invite you to reflect on what your main message is – what you’d like the audience to take away from your story. That can help guide you as you decide what you’d like to share. It can also be helpful to decide what pieces of your story, if any, you’d prefer not to share. You are in charge of what you share, and there is no pressure to go beyond what is comfortable for you.

If you’re interested in this opportunity, please contact Breanna today.