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Health Minds Healthy College

Healthy Minds Healthy College


Thrive Week Highlights

November 19, 2019

Earlier this month we enjoyed Thrive Week, a time to focus on balance and self-care to promote positive mental health. Our planning group delivered a variety of activities to encourage staff and students to get active, relaxed, connected and creative. Here are some activities that folks enjoyed.

The Paint Party at EDC, featuring Kisa MacIsaac from Power of Painting (and RRC alum).

A nature walk through Chickadee Trail at Birds Hill Provincial Park

A student enjoying a visit from St. John Ambulance therapy dogs. Photo: Gabby Piche

Thrive Ambassador and Business Administration student, Veronica Feliz, helping students and staff sign up for a free massage. Photo: Katlyn Streilein

Registered Massage Therapist, Jason Mathes, helping a student de-stress. Photo: Katlyn Streilein

MC College students providing free manicures and braids. Photo: Sarah Vandale.

A few of the painters from the NDC party with Painting on the Prairies.

There was so much more going on that we didn’t manage to capture through photos. Even many of the regional campuses hosted activities.

We hope everyone who participated in Thrive Week enjoyed a break from the grind of school and work and is inspired to make time for balance and self-care on an ongoing basis.

This week was possible thanks to funding from the Red River College Students’ Association, Human Resource Department and Healthy Minds Healthy College Initiative. Big thanks as well to the planning group: Amanda Dorscheid, Beverly Wood, Priyanji Mediwake, Arsalan Zaheer, Carmen McIntosh, Erin Edwards and Breanna Sawatzky.  Student volunteers who served as Thrive Ambassadors were a huge help.

Stay tuned for more Thrive style events in the new year.

Boosting Mental Health Can be a Walk in the Park

November 5, 2019

A walking path through Birds Hill Park

Being active in nature is great for your mental health. When the seasons change and the temperatures drop, we tend to stay inside more. Getting out for some fresh air and movement (even just walking), before the January deep freeze, can be really helpful.

This is why, for Thrive Week, we’re heading for a nature walk at Birds Hill Park.

All students and staff are invited; we have a bus chartered to transport us all.

To join the nature walk, simply email Breanna to reserve a seat on the bus. Meet us at the Notre Dame Campus bus loop at 10am Saturday, November 9th. The bus will return us to the same place at 2pm.

We’ll spend some time bird watching, walking through the trails, and enjoying some hot chocolate.

According to Manitoba Sustainable Development, this park is “a mosaic of landscapes not commonly found in such close association, such as esker ridges, dry prairie, wet meadows, bogs, and aspen-oak and mixed boreal forest communities.” 

Dress for the weather and pack some water and a snack. Family members are welcome.

Date: Saturday, November 9

Location: Meet at the Notre Dame Campus Bus Loop

Pick up time: 10am

Drop off time: 2pm

Contact: Breanna Sawatzky


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.


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. 

She Wore Flowers in Her Hair 2019: Happening Saturday, June 8th!

June 4, 2019

She Wore Flowers in Her Hair is an event in support of mental health awareness in memory of Jaedra Winter who died by suicide in June 2015. The aim is to raise awareness, spread love & create a community where people feel safe talking about mental health. All proceeds go to Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba.

The event takes place at Kelburn Estate and starts at noon on Saturday, June 8th. Pre activities such as Bootcamp by Johana Seier and a Volleyball tournament will commence at 11:00 am. Pre registration for these events is 10:30 AM – 11:00 am.

Bring a lawn chair, cash, Picnic blanket, yoga mat, sunscreen, etc.

Activities include:
Live Bands
Inspirational Speakers
Flower Crown Workshop ($5)
Craft Table
Self Care Booth – come make your own self care bag with goodies! (FREE)
Therapy Puppies
Pony Rides
Silent Auction
Makers Market
SWF Merch, Pop, Chips, Cotton Candy on sale!
Lunch by Pony Corral (1:00 PM – 3:00 PM, FREE)
Laughter Yoga
Yoga by Modo Yoga
Closest to the Pin Gold Competition with prize
Axe Throwing by Lumberjax
Card Readings
Photobooth by Photomonkey

Tickets are on sale now

Follow She Wore Flowers in Her Hair on Instagram @officialsheworeflowers
& Facebook, for more information.

Join Ride Don’t Hide, the Largest Mental Health Bike Ride in Canada

May 23, 2019

RRC’s 2018 Ride Don’t Hide Team

You’re invited to participate in CMHA’s ‘Ride Don’t Hide’ – Canada’s largest bike ride for mental health.  The event is held on Sunday June 23rd in 25 communities across the country with 4 and 20 kilometer route options. CMHA’s Manitoba and Winnipeg division is starting recruit bike riders for the event and RRC is excited to participate.

According to CMHA, Ride Don’t Hide is a nationwide fundraising bike ride that brings mental health out into the open. With almost 10,000 riders and hundreds more family members, friends and volunteers across Canada taking part, the ride raises more than $2 million each year for the Canadian Mental Health Association. Get on your bike and join the movement. Ride. Don’t hide.

CMHA is a community partner, helping RRC with our Healthy Minds Healthy College Initiative. This makes participating in Ride Don’t Hide an ideal opportunity for us to show support in return.

In 2018, our team had a wonderful time participating in this meaningful and well organized event.

If you’d like to be part of the RRC team for Ride Don’t Hide, please contact Breanna Sawatzky or 204-632-2061. Participants can chose to raise funds, or just ride. Students, staff and faculty are welcome.

The 2019 Get Movin’ Challenge Starts Friday

January 29, 2019

RRC’s Recreation Services is hosting this year’s Get Movin’ Challenge. Those who are involved are trying to log 7,000 steps per day, through a variety of activities. Sign up to join the fun. The prizes are fantastic this year!

Since physical activity contributes to a healthy mind, we’re supporting the Challenge with three group walks outdoors at the Notre Dame Campus. These walks are a perfect opportunity to connect with friends or colleagues, meet new people, get fresh air and sunshine, while logging 3000 steps.

Walks will start at 12:15 outside the Campus Store (NDC) and will return to the same place by 12:50.

Bring your warm gear; walks will go ahead unless the Environment Canada website indicates a temperature of -27 C or lower with the wind chill factor.


Wednesday February 6, 13, and 27

All students, staff and faculty are welcome to join; there is no need to register.

Wellness Walk: Get 3,000 Steps and Some Fresh Air!

February 16, 2017

The Wellness Committee’s Mental Health Subcommittee has arranged two wellness walks as part of the Get Movin’ Challenge. Those who are involved in the Get Movin’ Challenge ae trying to log 7,000 steps per day, through a variety of activities, although you don’t have to be signed up for the Challenge to come out.

The wellness walks will be great opportunities to log some steps, while getting fresh air and connecting with friends and colleagues. Students, staff, and faculty are welcome. There is no need to register.


The Plan

We’ll be meeting at noon. Everyone is welcome (students, staff, and faculty). After a short teaching on mindful walking, we’ll head out together for a 30 minute walk, logging roughly 3000 steps. Mindful walking is not a fancy or complex idea; it’s simply the practice of being aware of your experience as you walk.

After the walk, we’ll gather together, enjoying some fair trade tea and hot chocolate, courtesy of the Wellness Committee.


Why a Wellness Walk?

We know that being active is great for our physical and mental health. Outdoor, mindful walking with friends leads to many health benefits, including better mental clarity, a boost in positive emotions, and improved self-esteem. Taking a break from studying or sitting at your desk, getting out for movement, sunlight and fresh air will actually make you more productive over the course of the day. So, come out and join us!

When & Where


Date: February 28th

Meeting Location: The Cave Lounge

Time: 12:00 noon – 1:00 pm


Date: February 27th

Meeting Location: Roblin Centre Cafeteria

Time: 12:00 noon – 1:00 pm

*We’d like to send a special thanks to Dayna Graham and Debbie Donato for their help in coordinating the EDC walk.

Outdoor Workout: Terry Fox Fitness Trail

October 26, 2016

While we enjoy the fall season, don’t forget to set aside some time for exercise and fitness. While the days become shorter and more crisp in Winnipeg, there is no reason why you can’t enjoy the outdoors while working being active. There are many outdoor options in the city, from various parks, to green spaces, playgrounds and sport fields. One hidden gem at the Assiniboine Park is the Terry Fox Fitness Trail.

Created over 30 years ago, the Terry Fox Fitness Trails is area where people of all fitness levels can enjoy exercise in the beautiful Assiniboine Park. Re-opened in June of 2016, and located in the South-East corner of the park, the 1km Trail has been extensively renovated and has replaced all 12 pieces of it’s fitness equipment.

The beauty of the park is that you can create a workout that fits you on that day, the only limit being your imagination. Along the running trail, each piece of equipment has signage explaining each exercise with diagrams. The trail is open year round, 24 hours a day.

Click Here for a Global News video touring the updated Terry Fox Trail

Click Here for the Assiniboine Park Map


The Dirt on Gardening!

May 17, 2016

Before I started gardening, I thought it was a nice pastime for sedentary folks.   Was I wrong !!!   8 years ago I moved into a new home & decided that on the May Long weekend I wanted to create a flower garden in a corner patch of my yard.   I’d never embarked on this type of activity before, so basically I winged it.   In a matter of 3 days, I dug up the space & charted out my flower patch; I hauled bricks from the store to the car to create the flower bed; shoveled a truck load of dirt into the garden. I was exhausted and elated at the same time!   My first DIY project was underway.       Then it was onto research of best plants to grow in that area – do I want annual or perennials? Or a combination … hmm, so many choices!   I especially enjoyed digging in the dirt, carefully planting my chosen gems

During the course of that summer, I proudly watched the flowers and plants grow & prosper, I felt a sense of accomplishment and happiness, which continues today as I’ve expanded into vegetables and herb gardens. I like the physical aspects of gardening as well as the stillness that I feel as I prune and pluck the weeds, at one with the earth.   I experienced the other side of the emotional spectrum as well – cursing the weather; disappointment when a prized perennial doesn’t return the next season; seeing my lilies get consumed by bugs seemingly overnight!

Check out this great article that captures all the fantastic health and wellness aspects of gardening – The Dirt on Gardening!

Nancy Cumbers

The Honesty of Fall

October 6, 2014


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Highbush Cranberries dripping with dew

The transition from summer to fall can be a difficult one. Idyllically, summer is a time of warmth and abundance, of growth and prosperity. The land is alive with a variety of birds, insects and flowers, as people roam the landscapes and head off for summer adventures. The trees are full of leaves and seeds, while the fruit bearing shrubs have shared their bounty with people and animals alike.  Many people have spent time swimming in their favourite lake or other watering hole, attended an outdoor music festival, or sat in the sun soaking up the rays while reading a book or enjoying a BBQ.  We’ve all wished at some time that summer would last forever and that winter would never come (or make as brief an appearance as possible).

But as we all know, the time inevitably comes when the nights begin to cool off and we hear that familiar honking sound as the geese return from the north.  We watch with trepidation for harbinger of winter, as the trees suddenly lose their clothing and leave the branches bare. The chaos and exuberance of summer is replaced by something a bit more honest, as the land is once again stripped down to its essence.

The Naked Forest and the Wild Harvest

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Chokecherries dangling

As someone who enjoys trail walking, I am always amazed when the forest opens up in the fall, and I can once again see through the landscape as opposed to having  my view of the sky and the horizon obscured by leaves. The study of leafless trees is a great educational tool for understanding a forest ecosystem.

One of the easiest ways to identify a tree in the summer is by looking at the size and shape of a leaf, or by the flowers, seeds and fruit.  The wobbly and bulbous oak leaf is iconic, as is the classical maple tree emblem that we all know so well as Canadians. Many can recognize a choke cherry bundle or a Saskatoon bush when the berries come out.  However, when the leaves come off and the fruit has fallen to the ground, it can be a bit trickier to distinguish one shrub from another.

For most people, there is little need to know the difference between one tree or shrub and another. However, as someone who likes to make winter trails through the bushes and to trim shrubs in the winter to help “revitalize” an overgrown hedge, knowing one species from another is very important. Some species such as Hazelnut are very prolific and will regrow instantaneously from new shoots when trimmed (like a lilac bush), whereas plums and young oaks are rarer and don’t multiply to the same extent.  When you focus on the bark alone and the overall shape of the tree other features become apparent.  You begin to differentiate between the dead wood that is great for stating fires and the living stems. The mossy stems and weathered bark are tell tale sign of aging.  When you look often enough, you begin to see that some stems are purplish (Saskatoon), others are white (like cranberry), some are light brown (hazelnut).

When you look at the shape of the tree or shrub, you can begin to see the effect of the older shrubs have over younger ones as they crown over them, forcing them to shoot out sideways or produce week and gangly stems that are desperate to steal whatever lights pokes through the canopy. By contrast, young growth has an immediate vibrancy and color that is unmistaken.  The dormant buds appear ready to burst even though they are just beginning their seasonal rest.

There are even a few shrubs that keep their berries into the winter, such as the highbush cranberry with its ruby red color and sour smell, the hawthorn with its long and very sharp thorns and mealy dark red berries, or rosehips with their prickly stems and hundreds of tiny seeds inside. I try to hold off picking too many of these in the fall, as they are even more delicious in January when out for a winter walk or snow shoe. Read More →