Life is stressful, particularly life in a College or University. There is a lot going on as a student, holding down a job, stretching a small budget, relationships, breakups, cranking out that big paper or studying for midterms and finals. This is all a bump in the road of life.
What stress is: For the purpose of this blog; stress is your body’s reaction to circumstances in which it feels it needs more strength, stamina, and alertness in order to survive and thrive. This reaction involves a release of hormones into your bloodstream. This revs you up and gets you ready for action: your heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, and breathing increase, your blood vessels dilate, your pupils dilate to enhance your vision, and your liver releases stored glucose for your body to use as energy. Both stressors and the body’s stress response can be either positive or negative. The Journal of Medical Science tells us that unresolved stress negatively affects your health and well-being.
According to Health Central stress can be either chronic or acute. Chronic stress is long term and is the stress you feel while in school, thinking about the student loan you eventually have to pay back or worrying about your future job. This kind of stress causes more harm to your health over a long period of time. Acute stress, which is short term, builds in a short time frame and you feel it right before an exam, as your writing a paper or when thinking about whether to go to work or study for your exam. Acute stress causes more short term health effects.
What does stress do to us?
- Chronic stress can cause:
- Stomach ulcers
- Heart disease
- Acute stress can cause:
- Weight gain
- Increased blood pressure
- Decreased libido
- Increased emotions
- Social isolation
- Poor concentration and memory
But how can I deal with it?
Heart and Stroke Foundation research states that coping is one of the most important skills. Learning to deal with stress will help you live a happy life.
Tips to manage your stress: Don’t worry, according to PsychCentral stress can be managed once you find what works for you. A huge key to dealing with stressors is your resilience to that stress. Here are a few ideas on how you can develop your resilience to chronic or acute stress:
- Exercise. Yes, pounding out your frustrations in a run, walk, bike, or playing Wii can really help you deal with life’s stresses.
- Get out in Nature. There are parks and walking paths all over Winnipeg, check out your nearest one the next time you need a break.
- Make a list of what is stressing you out. Put everything that you need to get done or that is causing you stress on a piece of paper. Once you have that list, look at each individual item and write down small immediate things you can do to relieve each stressor. Your list will get smaller fast.
- Get plenty of sleep, or take a nap to help you relax. This really helps for acute stress.
- Get social with some friends. Sometimes you just need a night out to forget your troubles.
- Stick to a routine. The more planned your week is, the less out of control you will feel and this will reduce your stress.
- Set realistic goals. Whether it’s leaving time to study or write that paper, splitting time between school, work and your social life. Make sure you can handle it.
- Reduce caffeine consumption. Or avoid it after 2 in the afternoon to ensure a good night’s sleep.
- Learn to say “NO”. A big part of stress is that we take on too much. Simply saying no to more unnecessary commitments can be a big time saver and make you feel lighter. Don’t worry about being a people pleaser all the time.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, get some help managing your stress. Seek out someone to talk to or chat with a trusted friend or family member. RRC has counselling services available to you. Unloading can go a long way to reducing your stress. For more great tips on how to deal with your stress see Stress Management website or RRC’s Managing Stress information website.
Our next blog will have tips for good nutrition.
Alexis and Candice
U of M Practicum Nursing Students in Health Services
Did you know that getting the flu vaccine does not guarantee that you will not get sick?
Why is that?
First of all, there are many strains of the influenza virus. If you do get the flu shot but come into contact with an influenza strain that was not in that season’s flu vaccine, the vaccine does not protect you against it. The vaccination only protects against 3-4 of the common influenza strains. Anyone with a chronic illness, the elderly, and very young children have weaker immune systems. As a result of their weaker immune system these individuals may not produce the same desired immune response to the vaccine as a healthy adult, and as a result are still at risk of getting the flu. That being said however, the immunity that they do get from receiving the vaccine is still better than not receiving the flu shot at all. By receiving the flu vaccine the chronically ill, elderly and very young may be able to prevent the virus from causing more damage it could have otherwise caused if they were not vaccinated.
A little about the virus…
There are different types (also called “strains”) of the influenza virus. Each year these strains undergo genetic drifts, which are minor changes in its genetics. Our immune system operates by identifying specific antigens on the influenza virus. These antigens are the elements that trigger your body to build up an immune response, resulting in future immunity. Since our body’s immune system is very specific, even small changes in these antigens can allow the virus to escape being detected. This means that you will need a new flu vaccine each year.
What is in the vaccine and how is it made?
First, researchers identify which strains of the influenza virus we are most likely to encounter this season by looking at what influenza viruses are circulating around other continents (such as Asia). The most common circulating viruses (usually 3 to 4 strains) are selected and are injected into chicken eggs. Once the viruses have multiplied in the eggs, they are collected, killed, and made into the vaccine. The influenza virus used in vaccinations is DEAD, meaning you cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine! Each batch of flu vaccine is tested numerous times to ensure proper concentration, that the desired “antigen” (the element that triggers your body to build immunity) is present, sterility, and most importantly safety. Once the vaccine is approved by the manufacturer, the vaccine is submitted to Health Canada to make sure it is both safe and effective. Health Canada also performs on-site evaluations of the vaccine manufacturing process and requires samples for testing in Health Canada laboratories. Vaccines are only ready for use after they are approved by Health Canada. Health Canada is responsible for continuous monitoring of vaccine safety and any side effects once the vaccine is distributed for use.
Find out more in our post on common myths about the flu and the flu vaccine!
From Health Services Student Nurses Thomas and Alexis
Each year many myths surround influenza and the decision whether or not to get vaccinated. In order to make the best and most informed decision whether or not to get the flu shot, it is important to understand what information is based on fact, and what is a common misperception or “myth”. Here are five of the most common myths about the flu and flu vaccine:
Myth #1: The flu vaccine can give you the flu. FALSE
The flu vaccine contains only deactivated or “dead” influenza virus. This means that the vaccination against the flue cannot cause you to catch influenza. Influenza nasal sprays may be referred to as “live attenuated influenza vaccines” as they do contain live flu virus, however it is important to note that these viruses are engineered to remove the parts of the virus that actually make people sick. The reason this myth is still around is because people often mistake the side effects of the vaccine (such as a runny nose or sore throat lasting for days) as them having caught the flu.
Myth #2: The flu is annoying but it’s harmless. FALSE
As stated in our first blog “If you think flu season is coming up…you’re right!”, people commonly mistake the “stomach flu” and the common cold as influenza. In reality influenza is much more serious than either of these conditions. The flu will not only sideline you from school or work for up to two weeks, influenza hospitalizes 200, 000 people/year in the U.S, and it kills almost the same number of people per year as breast cancer kills! Influenza is more than annoying… It is potentially deadly.
Myth #3: People who are young & healthy don’t need to worry about getting vaccinated against the flu. FALSE
While it is true that a young and healthy person will likely fully recover after the flu, no one is protected against influenza without the getting the flu shot. Being young and healthy does not make you immune to the harsh symptoms of the flu or how long you will suffer from it. If you do not receive the flu vaccine you’re at greater risk of catching the flu, meaning you are more likely to suffer from sudden onset fever, coughing, headaches, sore throat, runny nose and extreme fatigue for up to two weeks! Students and staff need to be aware that catching the flu will mean missing numerous days of both school and work. This can all easily be avoided by getting the flu shot! Another important reason for individuals to get vaccinated is that influenza is easily transmitted to your loved ones. Even if you are healthy, your young children, chronically ill family members or friends, and the elderly have a greater risk of catching the flu, suffering from its symptoms, and are at greater risk of actually dying from the flu!
Myth #4: Flu shot protects me against influenza for years. FALSE
As stated in our second blog “How is the flu vaccine made? Is it safe?”, the flu virus undergoes seasonal genetic drifts that change the identity of the virus each flu season, and allow it to go undetected by your immune system. Vaccination against the flu is specifically targeted at the strains of the influenza virus that are believed to circulate during this flu season only. This means that the immunity you received from being exposed to the flu or getting a flu vaccine in previous years will not be effective in the next flu season (or in following years).
Myth #5: The flu shot is the only way to protect myself from the flu. FALSE
Each year researchers do their best to design the influenza vaccine to target the most common strains of influenza circulating in the world. Sadly, this does not mean that the strains the vaccine protects you against will be the strains that you actually encounter-you may still get the flu even though you got the flu shot. One of the major benefits of getting vaccinated against influenza is that you may only suffer mild to moderate flu symptoms rather than severe symptoms as a result of the protection you do receive from the flu shot! It is also very important to wash your hands often, cover your cough, and avoid individuals who appear sick to protect yourself as the influenza virus spreads easily through coughing, touching and sneezing. By keeping your hands clean and away from your face and mouth you can also decrease your risk of getting the flu. Many students can be touching the same equipment as you and germs spread by touching. Keep a little bottle of sanitizer in your pocket.
For more information concerning the flu and influenza vaccination check out the
our previously posted influenza blogs.
For dates and times of flu clinics held at RRC please visit the Health Services webstie for more information and to download the needed form to take with you to the clinic. Clinics start at Stevenson Aviation Oct 22, NDC Oct 23,24,25, EDC Nov 1 and LTC Nov 7,8. There is no cost for getting the flu vaccine. See you at the clinic for your flu shot!
From Health Services Practicum Nursing Students Alexis and Thomas
The following article was written by Neil Reimer, a Red River College student in the Creative Communications program for “Community News Commons”, an online news hub. The story is about “foreign students” (Neil Reimer’s term) and the challenges they face when they come to Canada and adjust to life at Red River College. Neil Reimer interviewed Gabriela Ludusan, Mentor Program Coordinator, and focused the article on the impact and importance of the Cultural and Language Mentor Program. This article is posted with permission from Neil Reimer.
Foreign students at Red River College have to face many challenges living in Canada. Fortunately, they don’t have to do it alone.
One of those students is nineteen-year-old Nipneet Butter. She comes from Punjab, India, and is studying Applied Accounting. It was hard for her to leave her home. Now, her biggest challenge as a foreign student living in Winnipeg is meeting new friends.
“Leaving your friends with whom you have spent all your happy and sad moments is definitely challenging and heartbreaking,” said Butter.
She would like to see her fellow students outside of the class more often but doesn’t feel there are enough opportunities to bring them together.
In order to meet more people and to try to make friends she has signed up for The Cultural and Language Mentor Program, a program offered twice a year at the college, from September to December and again from January to April.
The Program pairs an international student with a Canadian staff or student for friendship, English language practice and cross-cultural exchange. Last year there were 280 completions.
Ayomikun Kayode is from Nigeria, and now lives in Winnipeg. A recent graduate of Red River College, Kayode also took part in The Cultural and Language Mentor Program while studying at the college.
“I was able to have very great partnerships with two wonderful people that were always ready to advise me accordingly, support me even outside of school, and introduce me to lots of opportunities out there,” said Kayode.
Read More →
The ME Company: A resource guide to networking and branding yourself in today’s economy.
- How to avoid the little things that will destroy your resume
- How to access the hidden job market
- Networking: What works and what doesn’t
- How to get an informational interview in the company of your choice
Thursday, October 24, 2013
White Lecture Theatre, Notre Dame Campus
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
If you are interested in attending the information session please register online at: http://connect.rrc.ca/Resource/StudentEmploymentServices/
A note from your Academic Coach on Cognitive Cross-Training
Think about yourself and how you learn. What do you read, think about and pursue when you “don’t have to”? How do you learn this information? What resources do you tap into? What learning style do you employ?
You may notice that learning is easier when you are genuinely interested, when your natural curiosity is peaked.
Now, think about your college classes. How is information shared with you? What can you do if the teaching style of your instructor is a bit different than your learning style? And, how do you make seemingly uninteresting material engaging. How can you make it your own? Because, at the end of the day, you want to incorporate your brain’s natural learning preferences into your studying approach.
You can repackage the material
How can you repackage your material?
Mix things up! What does your study time look like? Is it a repetitive & predictable exercise? If so, string together a series of varied, but related activities. Begin by learning through your natural learning style and then incorporate an activity from each of the remaining 3 learning styles. Because, encountering the same material in different ways can help cement knowledge as you activate different parts of the brain.
Learn information from charts, graphs, flow charts, and other symbolic means.
Hear what you are learning. Learn from lectures, pod casts, group discussion, YouTube videos, web chats, and by talking things through.
Receive your information through words, reading, and writing in all its forms.
Learn through hands-on activities, either in real-life situations such as work-based learning, or in simulated lab environments.
Interested in knowing your learning style & finding out great tips on how to study using this learning style? Check out:
What can I do today?
Take it outside. Done your cable-knit sweater and walk on an autumn trail. Pose study/review questions to yourself and answer them as you walk. There is a school in Canmore, Alberta which is built on the model of a “Forest School.” Students spend at least one 45-minute block learning outdoors. Sometimes our best ideas come to us when we leave the 4 walls and synthesise information in nature.
In the final analysis, challenge yourself to synthesize information, apply it in new ways, be innovative, think about what you’re learning and apply it to future thinking.
Submitted by: Dayna Graham, Adult Learning Facilitator, Academic Success Centre
Work. School. Home. You know it, these days our minds are pulled in a million directions. Add to this phones, friends, and coworkers that want to beep, poke, ring and connect with you anytime, anywhere. (And they’re asking for us to respond immediately. Like, now. As in ASAP. It’s urgent!)
How it it possible to study with all these competing demands? Learning at RRC takes time and concentration. Your brain needs the space to focus on the important task of considering, absorbing and practicing using new knowledge and skills.
If you feel a buzz of activity is distracting you from learning, you may want to invest in developing a practice that can help you concentrate, de-stress and prioritize your thoughts. It’s called mindfulness, and it means centering all your energy and thought to one thing, at one time.
Though this sounds simple, this one step can have a profound effect on controlling your time and your mind’s activity. And this kind of control does influence your success at school, with recent studies have showing that mindfulness activities lead to higher grades on quizzes.
Mindfulness asks you to pay attention to one thing while ignoring distracting thoughts.
To help yourself develop mindfulness, try the simple meditation exercise found below. It’s relaxing and will help you focus and train your brain to eliminate thoughts that interrupt your intended area of focus. This particular exercise focuses on breathing, but you’ll find the skills you learn in this exercise are transferable to school-related activities.
Mindfulness is something that needs to be practiced and cultivated. Give yourself at least 15 minutes a day to practice this skill and you’ll be rewarded with owning your mental space and controlling the multiple distractions that bombard your mind daily. To find other online mindfulness resources, try visiting:
Read More →
Delaney Earthdancer is a tutor at RRC’s Academic Success Centre. Below is a story that illustrates how the value of tutoring reaches beyond simply reviewing coursework.
I collect rocks. Have done so for years. I have never asked myself why. They sit contented in large glass bowls throughout my house. They are a grounding presence.
A few years ago, I was tutoring a young man – early thirties – who was in the Apprenticeship program at Red River College. We met three times a week and focused primarily on mathematics and DC Fundamentals. He worked hard which is essential if you want to succeed in a college course. However, his history as a struggling student in grade school worried him.
As his final test approached, his anxiety became more apparent. Listening to him talk about his fears, I wondered what I could do to help him ground during the test.
Hmmm….. how about a rock? So, quietly and gently – in a listening spirit – I told him that I collect rocks. And I asked him, “Would you like a rock? You could put it on your desk, or in your pocket, and it could be like I am there with you as you write the test.” He hesitated, then his face softened with emotion and I knew my offer had touched him. There was silence and quiet considering. Yes, that would be okay. So, I brought him a rock.
A beautiful spirit-filled grounding rock.
A few days later – a big smile on his face – he came to me to tell me he had passed his test and his course. And he gave me a lovely polished rock. I still carry it with me.
Since that time, I will offer rocks to students who may need this small support. As a result, students in different areas in the college are now aware of the rocks, and will ask for one. I pull out my ceramic container of beloved rocks I keep at work and the student picks the rock that speaks to her/him. And later, I hear about how the rock was with them as they wrote their test.
The Aboriginal Liaison from MB Student Aid will be at the Exchange District campus to present information and answer questions regarding student aid – the process, how to apply, free money…!
MB Student Aid Presentation
- Tuesday, October 8th, 2013
- Aboriginal Support Centre P409
- Exchange District Campus
- 12pm –1pm
ALSO COMING UP
EDC Beading Club with Cheyenne & Monica
- Wednesday, October 16th and 30th
Inuit Wall Hanging Making Workshop – with Elder Levinia Brown
- Wednesday October 23rd, 2013
- Wednesday November 6th, 2013
- Exchange District Campus
- Aboriginal Support Centre Room P409
- 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
EDC Winter Feast
- Thursday, December 5th 2013
- Aboriginal Support Centre Room P409
- 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
For more information on any of these events please contact Cheyenne Chartrand at 949-8506 or email email@example.com
Flu, cold or stomach flu – which is it?
You may be wondering: Do I have the flu, or stomach flu, or just a cold? Contrary to popular belief, the “stomach flu”, which is the general term used to describe nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, is not actually caused by influenza. Influenza is a respiratory virus, meaning it affects your lungs and chest, not your stomach.
Although they can seem similar, a common cold causes a runny/stuffy nose, sneezing, a sore throat and is much less serious than a flu. The greatest distinguishing factor between the two is the gradual onset of a cold as opposed to the sudden feeling of severe sickness caused by the flu. In fact, an influenza infection can sideline you from school and work for up to two weeks!
What is influenza then, and what is the big deal?
The “flu” (short for influenza) is caused by the influenza virus, which invades your nose, throat and lungs. This is also how the virus spreads from person to person. All the lovely folks you see coughing, sneezing, and blowing their nose around you are victims to the virus’ diabolical strategy of infecting as many people as it can, as quickly as it can.
Picture this: You’re on a bus and someone has just sneezed beside you. You may not know this, but it’s likely you were unfortunate enough to inhale a good dose of your neighbour’s respiratory droplets. Depending on your health and immune status, you may be in for a rough ride of sudden onset fever (>38 *C), coughing, headaches, sore throat, runny nose, weakness and fatigue that can sometimes last two weeks or longer. Another characteristic feature of the flu, commonly described as the feeling of “getting hit by a truck”, is severe muscle and joint pain. It is also important to note that children may show somewhat different symptoms of influenza than adults (such as diarrhea, nausea and vomiting), as well as the symptoms listed above.
Why a flu vaccine?
A flu vaccine is the best known way to prevent you from the most common types of flu. That being said, it does not provide a 100% guarantee that you will not get the flu. Find out why and how effective the flu vaccine is in our following blog!
Check out our following blogs to learn about how the flu vaccine is manufactured, benefits of getting the flu vaccine and more interesting information as well as flu clinic dates.
From Health Services Practicum Nursing Students Thomas and Alexis