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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.

Registration

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 blsawatzky@rrc.ca before February 28 and you will be entered to win.

Please contact Breanna Sawatzky with any questions.

Live and On-Demand Yoga for Staff and Students

January 5, 2021

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
Time: Noon – 12:30pm
Location: WebEx, register here for the January 8 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.

In addition to the live weekly sessions, below are three recorded classes that are available for on-demnad viewing. Each is less than 20 minutes long and focuses on different a different goal. Try each one and see how you feel.

 

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

Set Your 2021 Intentions: Register for a Virtual Vision Board Wokshop

January 5, 2021

The RRC Students’ Association and RRC Healthy Minds Health College would like to invite staff and students to participate in a virtual Vision Board workshop as part of our Thrive series. This event is suitable for all skill levels.

Find your way into 2021 by creating a Vision Board that illustrates your hopes and plans for this New Year. Let’s leave 2020 well behind us by looking ahead and having some fun with images.

Join us Wednesday, January 13 from 7PM – 9PM for this fun session of creative collage.

SUPPLIES NEEDED:

  • Old magazines
  • Card stock or cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Glue

Register here.

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.

Need Some Stress Relief? Join Our THRIVE Virtual Paint Night

November 10, 2020

Paint your own version of this painting on November 19.

As the stresses of the term pile up, it’s even more important to be smart with your time and carve out a couple of hours to refresh your mind and spirit. A virtual paint night is the perfect opportunity to take this much needed break.

Kisa MacIsaac, RRC grad and owner of Power of Painting, will (virtually) lead you through an evening of self-care as you create your very own Winter themed painting.

THRIVE events encourage balance and self-care that in turn supports good mental health. All THRIVE events are offered at no charge to participants and are open to staff, students, and faculty.

The Details

Date: Thursday, November 19

Time: 7-9pm

Platform: WebEx

Register here.

Need Supplies?

For this virtual paint night, you’re welcome to use your own supplies or sign up to borrow a supply pack. Supply packs will include the canvas, paint, and brushes and can be picked up at your campus on November 17 & 18. Brushes and unused paint must be returned to your campus by November 30.

We have a limited number of supply packs, so be sure to register early.

There’s ample evidence that taking time to express yourself through creativity in a social group improves mental health and overall well-being. Don’t miss this chance to make yourself a priority.

A portrait of Kisa MacIsaacMore on the Instructor

Kisa MacIsaac (she/her) is Métis, a mother, artist, educator, and a RRC graduate (ECE diploma 2005). She works in a non profit early learning and child care program in Winnipeg’s inner city, and leads wellness painting events as well as creating custom artworks. Making art is medicine – it has the power reduce stress and anxiety, it is relaxing. Everyone can make art, it’s all about letting go of fear and just creating and going with the flow!
Check out: Power of Painting – Workshops and Art by Kisa
Facebook.com/powerofpainting
IG: @powerofpainting204

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.

https://www.rrc.ca/diversity/2020/11/02/panel-event-anti-racism-a-dialogue-about-transforming-higher-education/

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.