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How I Completed My Diploma During a Pandemic: One student’s story

May 8, 2020

Guest post by RRC student, Stuart Maddocks

The COVID-19 pandemic was one of the hardest experiences I have faced as a student. It disrupted my routine of having to leave my home to sit in a classroom with my friends and classmates. Additionally, being at home made me more distracted than I would be in the classroom. To overcome these challenges, I had a few strategies to help me get through the rest of my program. Here are some highlights of the methods I used to complete my final year as a Red River College Library and Information Technology student.

RRC Student, Stuart Maddocks

Work on Mental Fitness

For my first strategy, I used the Headspace meditation app. This application is a subscription-based service that provides meditation and yoga exercises for overcoming negative feelings. Exercises on Headspace range from simple guided meditations to “Everyday Exercises” with a different theme each day. As a student, I love Headspace’s student support section which covers topics from presentation stress to job interview anxiety. These exercises helped me get a good night’s sleep after a stressful day of online learning.

Current and future students can visit Headspace at: https://www.headspace.com/ or download the Headspace app on Apple Store or Google Play.

Get Moving

In addition to Headspace, I exercised at least 30 minutes each day. I would go for walks around my neighbourhood and through parks. It helped me get some fresh air after an intense study session. Walking outside provided me a change in scenery away from my usual surroundings at home. These daily exercises also helped me stretched my legs after sitting at my desk for a few hours. Lastly, walking helped me be more active with the gym being unavailable during the pandemic.

Reward Yourself

As a Red River College Alumnus, I cannot stress enough the importance of awarding yourself. In my case, I would watch movies after I complete assignments. Additionally, watching movies allowed me to escape my day to day life from the stresses of the pandemic and college life. I usually watch escapist movies from the Star Wars or James Bond franchises. The locations and settings transported me to another world for a much-needed distraction.

I hope these strategies will be useful for you when you are studying or starting your careers.

If you are an RRC student, staff or alumnus who would like to write a guest post, please contact Breanna Sawatzky.

 

Mental Health and Counselling Supports Available

March 19, 2020

You don’t have to go through this stressful time alone. Many of our supports are ready to assist you, using telephone or video conferencing technology.

For Students and Staff

Mental Health Coordinator

Breanna Sawatzky, the Mental Health Coordinator provides supportive listening, connection with resources, and consultation. Services are available for all students and staff, over the phone or via video conferencing.

Appointments can be made by sending an email to Breanna.

For Staff Only

Homewood Health (EFAP)

Homewood Health is an Employee and Family Assistance Program for RRC employees. It’s part of your employee benefit package and comes at no cost to you or your dependents.

Homewood offers short-term counselling and support related to a wide variety of issues.

The EFAP is completely confidential; they will not release any personal information to Red River College.

Connect via the 24-hour toll-free access number at 1-800-663-1142. You can also access support and information online.

For Students Only

Counselling Services for Students

Counselling is available for students during study week and for upcoming weeks as may be necessary. At this time, counselling is available by phone and soon video conferencing.

If you are already have a counsellor, contact your counsellor by email.

If you wish to connect with a counsellor and book a first time appointment, please complete our online form.

For students attending Regional Campuses, counselling is available through a local provider.

Please contact your Regional Campus counsellor directly for appointments. They will advise regarding their current mode of service delivery.

Indigenous Student Supports

Please email the Indigenous Student Supports counsellors directly. They will set up an appointment to talk with you by phone. Brin at brmitchell@rrc.ca and Nolin at nturenne@rrc.ca

Beacon Digital Therapy

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. BEACON is provided by registered mental health professionals, digitally, through your computer, smart phone or tablet. Read more here.

Wellness in the time of COVID-19

March 17, 2020

We are going through an unprecedented time at Red River College. Many of us have been asked to work or study from home, and aren’t participating in our usual activities. When our usual routine is disrupted, it can have an effect on both our physical and mental health.

Below you will find some resources to help maintain physical and mental wellness during a time of social distancing. Whenever possible, the following resources are free to either Red River College staff and students (look for the ^), or free for t0 general public (look for the *). For additional information, continue to check www.rrc.ca for updates.

Fitness and Physical Health Options

RRC Recreation Services ^

Fitness Apps

Several are free, but check to ensure before you download. Some examples include:

Fitness Bloggers

Follow your favourite fitness professional on social media, or check out a new community to share your progress.

Fitness Streaming

Many fitness facilities and companies are live streaming classes or providing online content. Check your local yoga studio, gym or other fitness facility to see if they are hosting anything. Alternatively, check out one of the options below.

  • Planet Fitness – Facebook
  • Host your own! Use a video chat or meeting service to join your friends in a virtual group workout.

Subscription Services

Please note that these options may involve fees.

Mental Health and Wellness Options

Mindfulness & Meditation

Relaxation

  • ADAM* audio guided relaxation
  • Get outside and observe nature
  • Clear the Deck exercise to calm worry*
  • Have a cup of tea
  • Enjoy a warm bath or shower

Social Connection

  • Schedule an informal coffee break on WebEx. Grab your beverage and just chat about whatever you feel like.
  • Send voice messages or hold video calls with friends and family
  • Virtual friends/family meals
  • Proactive #COVIDkindness, while keeping physical distance
  • Send thank you notes
  • If children are home from school, consider creating a daily schedule

Creativity

Remember, taking care of your wellness will help sustain you through this challenging time. Be sure to make your well-being a priority.

Movies for Mental Health: Join Us!

September 19, 2019

On October 8 and 9 RRC is hosting Movies for Mental Health, an interactive workshop that uses the emotional power of short film to initiate dialogue with students on the topic of mental health. This FREE event is delivered by a non-profit called Art With Impact and will be hosted at both the Notre Dame and Exchange District campuses.

This peer-to-peer learning event is two hours long and features:

  • free pizza lunch for all who attend the workshop,
  • facilitated discussion,
  • three short films from Art With Impact’s library, and
  • a resource panel with campus and community services.

Join us in creating a healthy environment at RRC through dialogue and growth!

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.

Wednesday, October 9, 11am – 1pm in room P107 The Roblin Centre at Exchange District Campus

Tuesday, October 8, 1-3pm in the White Lecture Theatre at Notre Dame Campus.

For any questions or accessibility needs, please contact Breanna Sawatzky.

This event is sponsored by the Healthy Minds Healthy College Initiative and RRC Students’ Association as we observe Mental Illness Awareness Week. All students and staff are welcome.

New Light Therapy Stations in the Library

November 13, 2018

Due to our northern latitude, many Winnipeggers experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), while others experience a milder form of winter blues. SAD is a form of depression that occurs mostly during the fall and winter months, when days shorten and sunlight decreases.

Light therapy, sitting near a specialized light each day, is one form of treatment. This is why we’re pleased to announce that both the Notre Dame and Exchange District Campus Libraries now have light therapy stations.

If you’ve been feeling changes to your mood, lower energy levels, or any of the symptoms listed below, you may want to give light therapy a try. Staff and students are invited to work or study at the station anytime the library is open.

You may also loan a smaller, portable lamp from A/V Services. That lamp may be used anywhere in the library that is near a power outlet. You’ll find instructions on proper use as well as important notes posted above the lamp.

To be effective, light from the lamp must enter your eyes indirectly. While your eyes must be open, don’t look directly at the light. Keep your session to 30 minutes, unless otherwise directed by a physician.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)

  • Feeling tired, depressed or sad
  • Increased appetite
  • Craving for carbohydrates and starchy foods
  • Weight gain
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Social withdrawal
  • Lack of interest in usual activities
  • Inability to concentrate, to focus
  • Loss of sexual desire
  • Body aches and pains

If you feel that you may be experiencing any form of depression, including SAD, please speak to your primary health care provider.

Sources: The Mayo Clinic Website – www.mayoclinic.org and Northern Light Technologies Product Instructions

 

 

 

 

 

Staff Mental Health Support, Through Lifeworks

May 4, 2017

 


 

Every year, one in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem, whether it’s a struggle with depression, anxiety, addiction, severe stress, or another issue. And millions more will be affected by a mental health issue in someone they love.

Contact LifeWorks, toll-free, any time: Are you concerned about a child who may be suffering from anxiety, a family member who may be abusing opioids, or about an issue in your own life? Our caring, professional consultants are available 24/7 with expert advice and confidential support.

Log in any time to the program website: This month, see the Mental Health Support feature on our home page. You’ll find links to articles, infographics, and a new podcast, “Managing Your Moods,” featuring Christine Padesky, clinical psychologist, bestselling author, and cognitive behavioural therapy expert. She describes simple research-tested skills you can learn to improve your mood and boost happiness.

LifeWorks is here to support you and your loved ones through whatever challenges you may be facing.

Call LifeWorks toll-free, any time: 1-877-207-8833
TTY: 1-877-371-9978
Visit us online at www.lifeworks.com or login.lifeworks.com.
(username: rrcefap; password: efap).

New Red River ReliefLine: Online peer support for students

March 23, 2017

Students here at RRC have so much on their plates that life can easily become overwhelming. Sometimes connecting with a peer who really listens can be just what someone needs in order to feel validated, put problems in perspective, and move forward in a healthy way.

We’re happy to announce the launch of Red River ReliefLine – a confidential, anonymous, online, 24/7 peer support service that is available free of charge to students.

Students can link to the service here to connect with a trained peer listener, using their computer, tablet or smart phone.

To become a user, you’ll be asked to share your email address, date of birth and a unique username. Other users and listeners will not be able to see your email address or date of birth.

Listeners From Around the World

Listeners complete online training in active listening and providing compassionate support over chat. Listeners are not counsellor or therapists and do not give advice or conduct therapy. Listeners do, however, provide emotional support and a safe space to sort out what happening in your life.

Red River ReliefLine is a customized version of the service called 7 Cups of Tea that has users and listeners from all over the world. This means that students can access listeners who speak a wide variety of languages. We hope this feature will be particularly helpful for our refugee, immigrant, and international students.

In addition to supportive chat conversations, students can access simple therapeutic exercises through ReliefLine, using the Growth Path feature.

It can feel risky to reach out for the first time, but getting support from a kind listener can be so worth it! We encourage students to use ReliefLine whenever they need it.

If you’d like more information about ReliefLine, have comments about your experience with it, or are interested in becoming a listener, please contact Breanna at blsawatzky@rrc.ca or 204-632-2061.

9 Tips From The Anxiety Forums

February 21, 2017

Last week RRC hosted two Anxiety Forums. For each event, we invited a prominent local Psychologist to speak about anxiety and then answer audience questions on the topic. The sessions were jammed full of thought provoking and useful information. Below are the 9 learnings that most resonated with me.

  1. Anxiety is adaptive. The physiological reactions related to the feeling of being anxious helped our ancestors survive. When threatened, increased heart rate, greater blood flow to large muscles, and sweating all helped early people escape danger and survive disasters.
  2. The best response to a panic attack is to “sit and breathe.” Often people feel like when they’re having a panic attack, they have to leave the situation they’re in (eg. classroom, bus), but leaving the situation is not necessary. Sit through it, breathe, and it will pass. In addition, picking something visual in your surrounding on which to focus can be helpful.
  3. Facing fears gradually AND regularly is best. Just as you wouldn’t pick up a huge, heavy weight on your first visit to the gym, you shouldn’t face your worst anxiety provoking situation all at once. Start gradually, by exposing yourself to a situation that challenges you in a manageable way. For example, if you have major anxiety around public speaking, you might start raising your hand in class every day until that action no longer feels unbearable. Then you’d move on to regularly practicing another activity that gets you a little closer to your end goal of public speaking. The keys are gradual AND regular. If this process isn’t working, chances are you’re either not doing it gradually enough or not often enough.
  4. Feelings are King. We tend to focus a lot on our feelings, because they’re very obvious to us. This can lead us to ignore the thoughts and behaviours that surround an anxiety provoking situation. Feelings, thoughts, physical reactions, and behaviours are all connected though, with each influencing and being influenced by the other. Starting to recognize the thoughts and behaviours that feed into anxiety can be a good beginning.
  5. Realistic thoughts are better than positive thoughts. Empty positive thoughts, such as, “everything will be okay,” are not grounded in strength, and therefore are not as helpful as realistic thoughts. “I’ll do well on this test if I give myself enough time to study and get a good sleep tonight,” is more likely to be a helpful thought, decreasing anxiety, since the thought is more realistic.
  6. Think through your anxious questions. If you keep saying to yourself, “what if I fail?, what if I fail?,” answer that question with what is likely to happen. Will you have to do better on the next test? Will you have to retake a course? Answer the ruminating question and then find ways to work toward success.
  7. Periods of reflection are important. Take time on a regular basis to reflect on how your mental health is doing. What’s important to you? What would you like to improve? What are some habits you’d like to work on? What are some things that are going well? Make realistic plans to reach your mental health goals.
  8. You will never have 100% control. As much as we’d like 100% control (so that we’d never have to feel anxious again), this is not going to happen. Instead, we have to grasp on to the little piece of control we do have and build on that.
  9. Sometimes we can manage on our own and sometimes we need help. Some of the strategies both Dr. Ediger and Dr. Abdulrehman discussed required being able to create plans, assess our thought patterns, come up with healthier thoughts, and try new ways of coping. Sometimes we can manage this process on our own. Sometimes a friend or family member can help us. Other times a professional like a counsellor or psychologist can be very helpful. If you’ve tried to make a change on your own and have faced road blocks, perhaps meeting with someone would help.

RRC students can set up a counselling appointment here.

RRC staff can set up a counselling appointment here. User ID: rrcefap        Password: efap

Check out the Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba for a lot of great information and resources.

These are 9 learnings from the Anxiety Forums that stood out to me. Are there any points you’d add?

Breanna

 

Handling Change

September 15, 2016

Whether you’re moving, in transition, or you’re starting over, LifeWorks is here to help you through the changes in your life.

You may be leaving home, starting a new job, getting used to a roommate, or adjusting to life as a single person. Maybe you’re coping with a health change, or the challenges of a new phase of life. Contact LifeWorks any time, 24/7, to speak with a professional consultant for confidential support and resources.

You can also log in any time to www.lifeworks.com to access helpful online resources such as these:

Call LifeWorks toll-free, any time: 1-877-207-8833
TTY: 1-877-371-9978
You can also visit www.lifeworks.com
(username: rrcefap; password: efap).

Traveling out of Country for the Holidays? See this info from the Minister of State

January 6, 2015

December 15, 2014 – As many Canadians escape the winter cold this holiday season to visit family and loved ones or to celebrate with their toes in the sand, it is important that Canadians understand what they need to do to ensure that their well-deserved vacation does not turn into a holiday disaster.

Canada’s team of dedicated consular officials assist thousands of Canadian travellers abroad each year. We provide consular assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through more than 260 points of service in 150 countries. However, there are some situations that not even a Christmas miracle can resolve. That is why Canadians need to prepare before they travel to ensure that their vacation goes off without a hitch. Here are some tips from me to you this holiday season:

  1. A Canadian Passport Is Not a “Get-Out-of-Jail-Free-Card” Canadians should recognize that they are subject to the local laws of the country they are travelling, which are often different from those in Canada. Canada cannot intervene in foreign judicial processes, just as we would not accept a foreign government intervening in ours. Canadians abroad are expected to adhere to local laws, just as they would in Canada. We keep Canadians up-to-date on country-specific advice and information which can be found at: Country travel advice and advisories.
  2. Say Yes to Travel Insurance Canadians are urged to always purchase travel and medical insurance before they leave Canada. In almost all circumstances, the Government of Canada—and the taxpayer—will not help pay for a ticket back to Canada or medical treatment. Don’t let unforeseen bills ruin your vacation and your wallet. For more information please visit: Travel insurance.
  3. Register With Us Canadians can register their travel plans with our team of consular officials for free either online or through our mobile app. The purpose of registering is solely to ensure that if there is an emergency in the area you are travelling in, such as a natural disaster or civil unrest, we can reach you quickly and provide you with guidance and assistance. This quick registration will take you two minutes but will provide us with invaluable information to help assist you when you need it most. For more information on our Registration for Canadians Abroad, please visit: Registration of Canadians Abroad.
  4. Know How to Reach Us Canadian consular officials can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through our call collect number (613) 996-8885 or by email sos@international.gc.ca. We staff this line with live officials at all times. Call us immediately if you are in trouble.
  5. We Love to Help—But We Cannot Supply You with Maple Syrup Yes—Canadians have asked us to supply them with an emergency supply of maple syrup and have even asked us to arrange for a chauffeur for their pet poodle through the airport during their holiday travel. As much as we love a good Canadian breakfast staple and are pet lovers ourselves, unfortunately Canadians have an unrealistic expectation of what we are here to help them with. For a list of what consular officials can and cannot do, please visit: Consular Services: general.

Finally, from my family to yours, I would like to personally wish you warm wishes this holiday season and safe travels wherever it may take you.

Lynne Yelich Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular)

Remember to check with a travel clinic to ensure all immunizations are up to date. Some countries may ask about your immunization status. Keep track of your immunizations by downloading this app. It includes any health alerts.

Courtesy of Health Services