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Health Minds Healthy College

Healthy Minds Healthy College

Nature

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.

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.

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. 

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
Meditation
Closest to the Pin Gold Competition with prize
Axe Throwing by Lumberjax
Card Readings
Photobooth by Photomonkey
AND MUCH MORE!

Tickets are on sale now
http://weblink.donorperfect.com/sheworeflowers2019

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.

Dates

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

NDC

Date: February 28th

Meeting Location: The Cave Lounge

Time: 12:00 noon – 1:00 pm

EDC

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