Stress

The Rebel in You – A 12 Week Wellness Program

September 5, 2017 • Written by

Sometimes starting an exercise program can be more challenging than the working out itself. Having to figure out how to get started, learning new terminology to what’s the difference between a rep and a set as well as knowing what to exactly do while in the gym. That is why we designed a custom program specific for The Rebel in You.

This program is a complete guide to getting moving and started on a journey of healthy living. Inside you’ll learn different terms and a glossary of definitions. The program booklet has advice as to why being active is the right thing for you to do and it gives tips to help keep you on track, even when we find ourselves with a setback, we can still learn from it and use the tips to get back on. You will be shown how to find your target heart rate to make sure that when you are training aerobically you are being efficient and reaching the level needed to reach your goals. It also helps you with how to make and set goals!

Included in the program booklet is a couple of full workout programs, which you can do at your own pace and you can keep track of it with the weekly calendar data chart to measure progress. Each program can be done for the entirety of the 12 weeks, or you can switch to another one if you feel you’d like to be challenged a bit more from the previous program. One of the programs is designed without any equipment which means it can help you become more familiar with movement and your body but also it means you can also do it at home. At the end of a workout or on a day you feel you need a stretch you can use the stretching guidelines to help balance out the work you’ve been putting in from the exercising.

Regardless of your level of fitness or experience, this program is designed to help you get a little bit more from your wellness plans and to help guide you in a total wellness program. The Rebel in You wellness booklet can be found on our website and it is free to download. Feel free to ask coworkers to join in, or family members to help provide support and a bit of social gathering time while you do something good for you. To be well is less about how you “should” go to the gym, or about the time you denied yourself dessert but more of an understanding that you matter and are important. That the higher value you place on yourself to take one more step or do one more rep pays out not only in your future self but also in your present self. We all are living a life where life happens, so we do not need to wait for life to happen in the “right way” for us to be well but we can practice being well in ourselves with each moment so that we create a life of wellness and well-being.

 

 

Struggle and Strength

May 17, 2017 • Written by

My 4-year old’s “Spidey Sense” always seems to kick when I am in the grip of stress, even when I try to hide it from him. I know he can tell if I’m frustrated, or anxious, or worried, or panicked, even if I do my best to seem cool and “together”. Sometimes he takes advantage of the moment and fuels the fire by acting out, and other times he offers an awesome leg hug. Either way, he notices.

Knowing that my kids see me not just at my best but also my worst is normal, but it can be hard. I think that for many of us, it’s an emotional battle to allow young people to see us truly struggling, whether in anger, sadness, disappointment, or stress – without feeling shame.

Have you ever read the work of Brene Brown? If you haven’t come across her yet, you are in for a bit of a life-changer.

Brene is a “researcher-storyteller” who has opened up the conversation about vulnerability, shame and human connection. Among many other things, Brene has written a beautiful Manifesto on Wholehearted Parenting that can be printed as a poster (for free!)


What I really, really love is her call to parents – and indeed to anyone who cares for young people –to model struggle and strength so that kids and youth can witness how we navigate those challenging, and sometimes ugly, emotions.

The Manifesto also talks about making a commitment to model self-compassion and embrace imperfections in front of children.

When my daughter sees me forgive myself (sometimes by me actually saying, “Darn it. I forgot to call my dentist back. That’s okay – I forgive myself!) – it registers in her mind that this is something she can try too.

As we work through giving ourselves grace to be wholehearted with our kids, I know many parents also struggle with age-appropriate language, especially when confronting more serious struggles such as depression or anxiety. I recently came across a news article that provides some advice about this and I encourage you to give it a read and let me know what you think.

http://globalnews.ca/news/3425035/parents-this-is-how-to-tell-your-children-youre-dealing-with-depression-anxiety/

I’ll leave you with the invitation to check out the Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto.

And, to check out more of Brene Brown’s amazing work, go here: http://brenebrown.com/

Leave a comment and let me know what you think about this topic!

RRC piloting online mindfulness training for faculty and staff: Enter draw for a spot!

May 9, 2017 • Written by

Red River College is piloting the evidence based 30 Day Mindfulness Challenge with 30 faculty and staff who will be selected by lottery. The training starts on Monday, May 29 and everyone who registers gets to take the Challenge for free with a buddy of their choice.

We’re pleased to pilot mindfulness training at the College as it dovetails nicely with our Healthy Minds Healthy College initiative’s goal of providing mental health supports in innovative ways. Faculty and staff who would like to be included in the lottery should email blsawatzky@rrc.ca by May 19.

The 30 Day Mindfulness Challenge has been implemented at the Mental Health Commission of Canada, UBC, WestJet, Memorial University, Harvard Law School and more. Research at Sauder School of Business found evidence that the Challenge lowers stress, increases resilience, improves teamwork, and strengthens leadership skills. The Challenge also teaches ‘mindfulness-in-action’ so people don’t need to stop what they are doing to become calmer, present and focused.

If the pilot is successful at RRC and we offer the Challenge again in the future, there may be a modest cost attached. Getting involved in the pilot is your chance to receive this training for free!

Bring new meaning to the phrase “Take it to heart”

May 2, 2017 • Written by

Our hearts are more than a symbol for our feelings, although the heart does respond to stress, attraction, anxiety, joy and depression among many influencers. Our hearts provide a “pulse” (pun intended) for our current state of health – if the pressure is too high or too low we experience negative side effects, and the body responds through physical reactions such as sweating, “blushing”, feeling dizzy or short of breath. It’s important to listen to your heart when faced with mental and physical concerns, it will indicate the severity of the situation and if need be will override your whole system.

Taking care of your heart can be as simple as what you put into your body, using recipes like these found through the Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/recipes/heart-healthy-recipes/rcs-20077163/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=heart-healthy. Nutritional habits, however, are rarely as simple to identify and stick to so don’t be hesitant to ask for professional assistance.

Physical activity, particularly cardiovascular exercise, will benefit your mind and body. The heart requires exercise to strengthen it, allowing it to pump blood more efficiently throughout the body and keep all vital systems nourished. Although it is not always necessary to lost weight to improve your heart health, weight loss is often a side effect of improved nutrition and physical activity. Canadians are busier than ever, in their work and home lives, and it can be very tough to set aside time each day to exercise. The best strategy in that case is to learn how to sneak more physical activity into your already established routine, such as these examples: http://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/weight-management-guide/easy-ways-to-sneak-exercise-into-your-day/

Stress is a leading cause of high blood pressure, a huge strain on your heart. Learning to cope with external stressors before your body needs to physically react to call attention to the issue will benefit your mental and physical health. Resilience is our greatest weapon against stress. Learn to improve your personal resilience through this guide: http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/resilience-training/in-depth/resilience/art-20046311?pg=2

Take your total health to heart, and take care of it!

 

Stress Relief with Therapy Dogs

April 27, 2017 • Written by

St Johns Ambulance therapy dogs and volunteers at the Roblin Centre, part of the Healthy Minds Healthy College initiative.

Laura McNaughton, Child and Youth Care student and Healthy Minds Healthy College volunteer – L – spends some time with Pepper.

Earlier this week we had the privilege of welcoming St Johns Ambulance therapy dogs to both the Notre Dame and Exchange District campuses. Students were able to reduce some of their exam period stress by spending time with these beautiful and calm creatures.

On the topic of animal companionship and health, Christine Holowick-Sparkes of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority writes, “A few minutes of stroking a pet dog prompts a release of a number of ‘feel good’ hormones in humans, including serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin. These help people calm down and relax. Petting a pooch also results in decreased levels of the primary stress hormone cortisol.”

A student spends some time with Cooper the Pomeranian.

There are many additional health benefits related to animal companionship. You can read more about them in Holowick-Sparkes’ full article.

If you want to spend more time with pets, but personal or financial circumstances make it difficult to own your own pet, you may consider volunteering at a pet shelter or even walking a neighbour’s dog.

Thank you to all the students and staff who came out to visit the dogs and to the St Johns Ambulance volunteers for being so generous with their time.

Being with animals is just one way we can care for our mental health, building mental and emotional resilience so that we can better manage stressors such as exams and project deadlines.

What are some other things that help calm you and reduce your stress? Some people take deep breaths, walk, spend time in nature or listen to calming music. Find what works for you and build some time into your study schedule for these healthy breaks.

 

 

 

 

Breanna Sawatzky, Mental Health Coordinator

 

 

 

Therapy Dogs on Campus! April 24th and 25th

April 20, 2017 • Written by

The end of term can be a very stressful period, with students experiencing added pressure to complete projects and perform well on exams. In order to help students cope with this stress, 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:

Monday, April 24 in the Cave Lounge at NDC, 11:30am-1:00pm

Tuesday, 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

New Red River ReliefLine: Online peer support for students

March 23, 2017 • Written by

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.

Mindful Ways Through the Holidays

December 21, 2016 • Written by

th01di7dl5With the holiday season upon us, there are some common stressors that many people face.

Jennifer Wolkin, over at Mindful.org lists these as experiences through which many people struggle:

1.Demands on Time

2. Loneliness During the Holidays

3. Expectations of Perfection

4.The Indulge/Guilt Cycle

5. Stress and Family Anxiety

She provides some thoughts on these as well as “mindful antidotes.” Mindfulness is simply the process of training the brain to be aware of the present moment. I encourage you to take a read through the full article: 5 Mindful Tips for Navigating Holiday Stress. 

Best wishes for a peaceful and healthy holiday season!

Breanna

‘Tis the Season for Stress

December 5, 2016 • Written by

holiday-season-2014As if the holiday season is not stressful enough in and of itself, many students will also be writing exams and completing major assignments in the coming weeks.  What makes these events so stressful? Well, I’ve heard stress described as your body’s reaction to any demand on it requiring change. This definition resonates with me because it can be applied to both positive life events (eg. new job, loved ones visiting from out of town) and negative life events (eg. losing a pet, unexpected bills).

The holiday season brings a lot of changes to our routine. We usually have more events to attend. We spend time with people who we don’t often see. Some people cook elaborate meals, decorate their homes, or purchase numerous gifts for friends and family. Even if you’re someone who loves these types of traditions, finding the time, money, and energy to participate can cause a great deal of stress.

stressAdd to this that many students have multiple exams and final projects due this month, and you have a recipe for difficulties. Even when stress is caused by positive changes, too much at once, or ineffective coping can lead to decreased ability to function and even burnout.

So how can you help yourself thrive throughout this time of year?

 

The AAAbc Model

A few years back I was introduced to the AAAbc model of managing stress. The timing could not have been better as I was 1. selling and buying a home, 2. starting a new position at work, and 3. seven months pregnant! I really found this model helpful in coping through that stressful time and I’d like to share it with you.

First, you define your stressor. Choose just one and write it at the top of a page. It might be:

  • Too many presents to buy and not enough money!
  • So many exams!
  • Seeing (insert name of critical family member here) at holiday dinners.

Next set up your page like the photo example below:.aaabc1

Alter: How could direct communication help? Is there any problem solving work you could do? Would organizing help? How about planning or time management?

Think about each of these questions and jot down some of your options in this situation. Write all your options down, even if you don’t think it’s a great option or something you’d be comfortable doing. This is just a brainstorm. You’ll decide what options are best when you’re done all of your brainstorming.

Avoid: Could you just walk away? What could you let go of? What could you delegate and to whom? What can you say “no” to? Choosing your battles and knowing your limits, could you withdraw?

Once again, jot down all your options, even if you don’t think they’re great options.

Accept and…

Build resistance: Could you take in better nutrition? Better sleep? Seek social support? Take a break to recharge? Pray or engage in other spiritual traditions/rituals? Would some time in nature help? Some exercise? Some time doing something you love to do?  Could you use positive self-talk? Are there unhealthy habits you I could stop?

Change perspective: Could you look at the situation in a different way? Are you exaggerating anything? Could you change your thinking to something more realistic? Could you think about the big picture? Could you focus on now and not the future?

Jot down the options that come to mind.

aaabc2

 

Now look over all the options you’ve come up with and decide on a strategy to try out. If you have trouble deciding, bring your sheet to a trusted friend or a counsellor. They’ll likely be able to listen and help you choose a path forward. In my example below, I’ve placed a check mark beside and underlined in read the options I have decided choose.

aaabc3

Each stressful situation is different and each of us has a different personality and life circumstance, so there is no one right way to handle stress. Working through a system like this, however, can help us feel less overwhelmed by our stressors and more capable of coping in a healthy way.

I hope you try it out this season!

Breanna

P.S. The AAAbc’s of Stress model was designed by Whole Person Associates.

 

Beating stress

December 8, 2014 • Written by

Lauren

Lauren MacLean is president of the Red River College Students’ Association. She is completing her second year of Business Administration with an accounting major. After receiving her RRC diploma she plans to continue her studies towards a Commerce degree. 

School is enough to stress anyone out, particularly at a fast-paced applied institution like Red River College.

In my program, Business Administration, we take six classes at a time. So when I decided to run to be the VP External of the Red River College Students’ Association (RRCSA) in February of my first year, it wasn’t an easy decision. I knew things were going to be intense and I wasn’t sure if I could do it, so I turned to my personal supports for advice.

I asked my parents, grandparents, sister, teachers, the VP External at the time and my friends what they thought. I received contrasting advice at times, everything from that they thought I would be fabulous at the job to others saying it was too much for me and that I would likely quit early.

In the end, I decided to go for it. After receiving the great news that I was voted in, I extended my program and delayed my graduation by one year so I could work with the RRCSA. I was so nervous and scared that going into my first term I was half-expecting my marks to tank and to have to resign. I figured I would be overwhelmed with responsibilities that I would collapse into a teary mess.

Then, on May 1, 2013 when it actually came time for me to step into the role, I was soaring! Each day got better and better as I launched projects with my team and flew around the country representing the RRCSA at conferences. It was like a light came on and I immediately understood what it meant to be driven, want to give back and thrive under pressure.

Then school hit, and man the pressure on! I went from having time to work on things, to having lightning-fast deadlines. Right before winter break hit was the most difficult time as I was attempting to tie up what felt like hundreds of loose ends before everyone left. December was the worst month I’d had in a long time.

But the funny thing is, I never once considered quitting. It’s like that option didn’t exist. I simply didn’t want or need an exit, no matter how hard things got. Through the all-nighters, massive projects and tight deadlines, I was still having fun! My support network was growing and soon my stress level became more manageable, which gave me the confidence to continue on.

This experience is what gave me the strength to run for President this year. Believe me, this position is a whole other beast, but every day I’m reminded of how many amazing people work and go to school at RRC. There’s simply no challenge I wouldn’t take on for these people, especially because I know I’m not in this alone. When the going gets tough, I’m not afraid or ashamed to turn to my support network to help get me through.

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