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Healthy Minds Healthy College

Stress

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.

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.

 

Thrive Week Activities at EDC

October 28, 2019

Thrive Week, November 4-9,  is a time to focus on the importance of balance and self-care in developing positive mental health that supports success in learning and working.

We invite you to take a moment to do something that gets you active, creative, connected or relaxed – whatever it is you need for balance. All events are free and open to students and staff.

Exchange District Campus

Monday, November 4

Therapy Dogs
11:30am – 1pm in the Atrium
Come relax and pet a sweet, calm therapy dog.

Tuesday, November 5

Mental Health Workshop 
11:30am – 1:00pm in P107
Join educators from Klinic to explore the topic of mental health. Snacks provided.

Wednesday, November 6

Mindfulness Workshop
noon – 1pm in the Gym
Join Mario DeNegri to explore mental strategies for focus and peace.

Paint Party with Power of Painting
4pm – 6:30pm in the Dining Hall
Follow step-by-step instructions and a creative touch to your very own canvas.
Email blsawatzky@rrc.ca to save a prime seat, or just show up. Spaces limited. Snacks provided.

Thursday, November 7

Fresh Fruit and Resource Table
11am – 1pm in the Atrium
Grab a healthy snack and learn about mental health and wellness resources.

Yoga
4:15 – 5:15 pm in P107
Stretch, breathe and move your way to balance.

Friday, November 8

Braid and Manicure Bar
9am – 2pm in the Library Hallway
MC College students will help you relax as they pamper your hair and nails. First come, first served.

Wellness Weekly: Curated Readings

October 1, 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.

Food and Mood

Ever wonder if a certain eating pattern is best for your mental health? When we make everyday food choices, many of us think first of our physical health and appearance. But there’s another factor we may want to consider in picking foods: their impact on our mental health. Read What Is The Best Diet for Mental Health by Kira M. Newman.

Creative Hobbies

If you’ve been trying to get a little more mindfulness in your life, whipping up a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies might be exactly what you need. Read more about how Research Suggests Taking Up Baking Can Help You Feel Better by Gwen Moran.

Stress and Memory

You spend weeks studying for an important test. On the big day, you wait nervously as your teacher hands it out. You’re working your way through, when you’re asked to define “ataraxia.” You know you’ve seen the word before, but your mind goes blank. What just happened? Elizabeth Cox details the complex relationship between stress and memory in her Ted-Ed animation: The Surprising Link Between Stress and Memory.

 

Have a favorite health and wellness related read that you think we should feature? Send it over to Breanna.

Mindfulness Challenge Prize Winners!

July 29, 2019

Richard LeSage, Course Developer

In May and June dozens of staff and faculty members participated in a  30 Day Mindfulness Challenge. Upon completion, those who engaged reported the following outcomes:

  • 95% noticed improved mental health.
  • 90% were better able to focus.
  • 95% found they were managing their stress better.

And because everyone loves prizes, all who completed the challenge were entered onto a draw for one of two passes to Float.Calm or a “Take 5” prize pack. We’re pleased to announce the winners, as determined by a random number generator.

 

Winners!

Lisa Case, Instructor, Applied Computer Education

Float Calm Gift Certificate #1 – Richard LeSage

Float Calm Gift Certificate #2 – Lisa Case

Take 5 prize pack #1 – Debbie Donato

Take 5 prize pack #2 – CindyLou Benoit

Take 5 prize pack #3 – Lyle Dunlop

Take 5 prize pack #4 – Damien Goodridge

Take 5 prize pack #5 – Bridget Budney

 

Congratulations to all the prize winners. If you have not yet claimed your prize, please contact Breanna.

Congratulations as well to all those who invested the time needed to complete the challenge. In our busy schedules it can be difficult to make time to learn and practice wellbeing strategies like mindfulness. Cheers to your improved focus, sense of calm and ability to manage stress.

Debbie Donato, Employment Advisor

The 30 Day Mindfulness Challenge is available to all RRC staff, students, and faculty members. It takes 5 to 10 minutes a day and can begin any Tuesday that works for you.

Improve Your Attention, Focus and Sense of Calm with the Mindfulness Challenge

May 14, 2019

Are you feeling motivated to invest 5 minutes a day in your own mental health? If so, please join fellow colleagues by participating in a 30 Day Mindfulness Challenge beginning either May 14 or 20.

This online training can be done anytime, anywhere and on any device. The Challenge teaches ‘mindfulness-in-action’ so you don’t need to stop what you’re doing to become calmer, present and more focused, all of which lead to a happier, healthier work environment.

Registration
Click here to register for the Challenge using your preferred email address. During the registration process, you’ll also be asked to input your mobile number and your ‘buddy’s’ email address (everyone in the Challenge gets to take it with a buddy of their choice, including friends or loved ones from outside of RRC).

Prizes
Complete all 30 days of the Challenge by June 25 and be entered to win some fabulous prizes, including one of two Float Calm experiences. Just scan or mail your certificate of completion to Breanna Sawatzky to be entered. If you’ve already started a challenge, jump back in and finish!

Did you miss Geoff Soloway’s RED Forum presentation on the Challenge? No worries, you can watch his recorded webinars.



 

If you need technical support registering, please email register@mindwellu.com. Your RRC contacts for this are Jacqueline Wood and Breanna Sawatzky.

7 Actions to Help You Perform Well on Exams

April 23, 2019

Image courtesy of the Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health

Exam period is a particularly stressful time. Consider these tips so you can take a positive approach to doing well and demonstrating your learning.

  1. Exercise. Take some time from your exam preparation to move and be active. Some experts recommend concentrating on your material for approximately 50 minutes, then taking a ten minute break to walk and give your attention a rest.
  2. Relax. Maybe you relax my meditating, deep breathing, petting your dog, drawing or getting lost in a good song. Take time each day to this kind of true relaxation.
  3. Eat well. Feed your brain with high quality foods that give you energy to do your best. Notice foods that make you feel drowsy or sluggish and avoid those.
  4. Recognize your achievements. Remind yourself of your successes over the term, including things you’ve learned and skills you’ve developed. Keeping this positive mindset will help you remain focused.
  5. Sleep. It’s tempting to stay up all night, cramming, but sleep allows your memories to consolidate and better prepares you for your exam. Sometimes, you may even dream about the material, which is pretty neat.
  6. Reward yourself. If you stick to your study schedule and get some good work done, reward yourself with something that will boost your mood and motivation. Choose your rewards wisely to ensure they don’t derail your schedule and budget!
  7. Plan time away. Schedule your breaks to you can enjoy them guilt free, knowing that they are part of your plan. Work hard and rest. Work hard again and rest again. Repeat as needed, keeping that positive cycle going.

These strategies will help you stay on-track and perform your best on upcoming exams. Good luck!

Relax With a Visit From Some Therapy Dogs

April 16, 2019

The end of term can be a very stressful period, with students experiencing added pressure to complete projects and perform well on exams. Taking a break to relax can help students cope with this stress so we’re welcoming the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program to campus. Students will be encouraged to sit with, feel, touch and pet a trained dog, enjoying the relaxing effect this can have on their mind, body, and emotions.

According to St. John Ambulance, the nation-wide program boasts 3,354 volunteer teams who assisted more than 120,000 clients throughout 2015. Therapy dog teams visit hospitals, retirement residences, care facilities, schools and universities.

Therapy dogs have been on campus in the past, and many students have genuinely enjoyed the visits.

Please join us at the following times/locations:

Tuesday, April 23 in the Cave Lounge at NDC, 11:30am-1:00pm

Thursday, April 25 in the Atrium of Roblin Centre, 11:30am-1:00pm

For more information, please contact Breanna Sawatzky at 204-632-2061 or blsawatzky@rrc.ca

CreComm Student Invites You to “Love Your Mind” With Free Self-Care Workshops

January 14, 2019

“It’s time for you to take self-care into your hands and Love Your Mind,” urges CreComm student, Jennifer Pazdor. She, in partnership with Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba, is hosting two individual days of self-care for youth and young adults in Winnipeg.

The workshops will cover five areas of self-care:

  • Mindfulness
  • Yoga
  • Nutrition
  • Expressive Art
  • Music

Each topic will be taught by a skilled instructor who will explain how the technique can impact your wellbeing and help you learn to use the technique in your life.

Workshops are free to attend so choose the day or location that’s best for you and reserve your ticket on Eventbrite.

January 19 workshop: Prairie Lights Dining Room (Red River College Notre Dame Campus, 11360 Skinner Rd.)

January 20 workshop: Temple 23 Winnipeg (Exchange District, 62 Albert St.).

Food and beverage will be available. There will be door prizes and giveaways. Each attendee will receive a self-care package at the end of the workshop with some gifts and guides to self-care.

Donations to Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba are welcome.

Follow Love Your Mind on social media for more information: @loveyourmindwpg and check out their website: loveyourmindwpg.com.

Get 2019 Off to a Mindful Start

January 8, 2019

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

We’re pleased to invite you to participate in a 30 Day Mindfulness Challenge beginning any Monday.

This online training 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 calmer, present and more focused, all of which lead to a happier, healthier work environment.

Watch this short video to learn more about the Challenge.

Registration

All RRC students, staff and faculty can click on the link http://bit.ly/RRC30Day to register for the Challenge. You can even register a buddy to keep you motivated.

If you have any questions about the 30 Day Mindfulness Challenge or need any help registering, please email register@mindwellu.com and the Challenge tech team will get back to you. Your RRC contacts for this are Jacqueline Wood and Breanna Sawatzky.