January 2018

Take time for yourself this winter break

Words in cursive: Take care of yourself

You’ve no doubt been busy for the last couple of weeks with exams to study for and end of term projects. The break is just around the corner which will bring with it some much needed time for rest.

Strategies to minimize exam stress

person filling out a scantron sheet

It can be easy to feel stressed during exam season. It can manifest in many different ways including muscle tension, headaches, upset stomach, trouble sleeping, and just generally feeling overwhelmed. Different people feel stress around exam season for a variety of reasons including worrying about possible failure, not feeling prepared, feeling pressure from family, feeling like you have to compete with your peers, or having other life-events or difficulties happening at the same time as exams. Whatever the symptoms or reasons there are some simple strategies you can do to help minimize some of the stress.

Tips and tricks for handling academic stress

yearly planner

There’s a lot to balance in university life, between assignment deadlines, exams, co-op interviews, not mention jobs, friends, and whatever else you’ve got on the go, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Feeling stress during your time at university is a common experience that lots of people go through. So how can you manage these feelings and stay productive? Read our tips to find some strategies:

How to challenge your thoughts to reduce anxiety

Person writing in journal

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

When you are experiencing anxiety, your thoughts can get into a cycle of worries which can often exacerbate your anxious feelings. When you are in the anxiety cycle, the anxiety can lead you to overestimate the likelihood of bad events and negative consequences. Sometimes these thoughts are based on past negative experiences, but past negative experiences are not necessarily predictive of the future. For example, just because someone treated you poorly once, does not mean all others will treat you poorly in the future, or just because you failed a test once does not mean you will fail every future test.

Nutrition FAQs: Vitamin C, sugars, and raw vegetables

salad

Nutrition advice is everywhere these days and there is a lot of conflicting advice on what’s best. This week our Registered Dietitian, Sandy Ace, answers three FAQs.

How to stay healthy during cold and flu season

person lying under blanket on couch

Cold and flu season is upon us. Avoid lost time from work, school, and social engagements by taking precautions from getting sick. There are many things to consider to keep yourself healthy. Keep reading for tips to stay healthy during cold and flu season:

FAQs about the flu and the flu vaccine

With cold and flu season coming up, you might be wondering whether or not to get a flu shot this year. The answer is yes! Health Services provides flu clinics in October and November to help make it easy and convenient to get your flu vaccine and help stop the spread of influenza.

How to take care of your mental health

We’ve all got mental health to care for just like we all want to care for our physical health. We know to be physically well we need to exercise, eat well, and practice hand washing, but what does it mean to be mentally well? The Mental Health Continuum model was developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada and gives us a model to understand the full spectrum of mental health.

How to help a friend

Two women talking

Have you noticed a friend has suddenly stopped attending classes altogether? Or maybe they’ve started saying things that sound distressful or hopeless? Or they seem like they’ve lost control of their emotions? Sometimes you might notice a friend is struggling with their mental health and want to help, but it can be really hard to know how, or if you should approach them. Reaching out and showing a friend you care can really help them.

How to identify the symptoms of stress and strategies to manage it

Tea

Stress is the wear and tear our bodies experience as we adjust to our changing environment. In life, we can’t avoid all stress, so our goal is not to eliminate stress but learn how to manage it. Ideally, you’ll find your optimal level of stress that will motivate you instead of overwhelming you.

What are the sources of stress?

How to reduce your worry thoughts

A weekly planner on an ipad

Everyone worries about things sometimes, but anxious people tend to have a lot of worry thoughts. Some worries are helpful (e.g. for planning, motivating action, or considering others’ feelings) and we call these productive worries, but many worries are unproductive (e.g. worries that generate “what ifs” that do not lead to concrete, practical actions). Even when we know our worries are unproductive we can still find ourselves stuck worrying about them.

How to use simple strategies to reduce anxiety

students walking through campus

Think about a time in your life that something good happened. It could be a birthday or a vacation, a fun time out with friends or family, or maybe just a time you felt truly relaxed and at ease. Focus your mind on that experience for a moment. Try to relive that moment using all of your senses:

What after-hours supports are available?

Good2Talk logo

Sometimes when you need help or someone to talk to it doesn’t always fit into conventional office hours. We wanted to take this post to highlight the different options that are available to you if you need mental health support or medical assistance when our offices are closed.

Information regarding cannabis use and your health

cannabis leaf

With the legalization of cannabis in Canada, you might be curious about or considering trying pot. Or maybe you are already a person who uses cannabis and you are interested in our country’s changing rules. The perception of the prevalence of use of marijuana is different than reality.

Tips for practicing healthy habits and managing your health at university

Student working on laptop outside

Starting a new chapter at university is an exciting time. There are lots of new things to learn academically, new things to try, and new people to meet. You also might be new to managing your health. There are many things to consider to keep yourself healthy. Keep reading for our top 10 ways to stay healthy while at university:

Campus Wellness: Wellness Services to Support You

Students attending a seminar

Welcome, new and returning Warriors! Campus Wellness is excited to be here to support you as you come back to campus or are just arriving for the first time. Here’s an overview of some of the Campus Wellness services you can access as a University of Waterloo student:

How to savour the moment and cultivate positivity

students arriving on move in day

Do you feel negative thoughts cloud your memories of big events in your life or even your day-to-day living? It could be that you did have a positive experience, but because of the way your thoughts have framed the memory, you can no longer remember the good things that happened. Building your savouring skills might be the answer for you. According to Miriam Akhtar, the author of Positive Psychology for Overcoming Depression, savouring “is the capacity to appreciate and enhance positive experiences in life.” Savouring something involves slowing down and appreciating everything that is going on during a positive experience.

Single and Sexy celebrates 30 years of performances during Orientation week

2018 S&S cast

2018 marks the 30th anniversary of the creation of Single and Sexy. Single and Sexy is a play produced by Campus Wellness and supported by various departments and community organizations. The play replaces the traditional orientation lecture, with a high energy, entertaining, non-judgmental, powerful presentation of scenarios and attitudes first-year students may witness or experience.

Stress management and tips for finding a sense of balance

Scale of heart vs. brain

Everyone has experienced stress symptoms at some point in their life. Whether it is headaches, loss of appetite, muscle tightness, or any of the many other symptoms of stress; you’ve probably felt it. Stressful events could include deadlines, moving house, feeling pressure to exceed, or a job interview. According to Hans Selye, an endocrinologist who specialized in studies on stress, stress is “a positive or negative reaction occurring when there is a substantial imbalance (perceived or real) between environmental demand and the response capability of the individual.“

Tips for building your resilience skills

student using laptop in STC

Spend time outdoors for 30 days to improve your health and wellness

Spending time outside can increase both your physical and mental wellness. Your time outside doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. There are lots of ways to spend some time outdoors this summer. We’ve compiled a collection of 30 ways to spend time outdoors in the month of August. Some of them focus on physical activity, others are meant to encourage your sense of joy, community, or whimsy, and others are meant to help you disconnect from the day-to-day and cultivate your sense of calm. You might not complete them all and you can certainly do a single activity on multiple days, but the idea is to spend at least 30 minutes outdoors in some way, every day if possible.

Here’s our list of 30 ways to spend time outdoors:

How practicing gratitude could improve your mood

Journal with heart drawn in it

Healthy eating during stressful times

Healthy meal

Our need for nutrients actually increases during periods of stress. Ironically, this is the time when many people choose less nutritious foods. If you skip meals or rely on processed or fast foods instead of a balanced diet, your nutrient needs will not be met. Research links diets low in nutrients to an increased risk of depression and anxiety. Choosing nutritious foods and eating regular meals can improve your mood, enhance your energy and immune system and make it easier to manage stress.

How to practice moment-to-moment mindfulness

Girl walking with backpack

You might have heard of the term mindfulness in connection to meditation. But mindfulness strategies include more than just meditation. Mindfulness is the process of being present-focused (which means attending to the moment and not being pulled away by worries or regrets), non-judgmental (observing and describing our experiences), and accepting (not actively struggling against your experience). The great news is that you don’t need to spend a lot of time to practice mindfulness.

Test your sleep health knowledge

a bedroom

How well do you sleep on an average week? If you aren’t sure, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you ever fall asleep in class or at your computer?
  • Do you watch the clock as you struggle to fall asleep?
  • Do you routinely procrastinate and then pull all-nighters to meet your deadlines?

Sleep is an important part of a healthy self-care routine which also includes nutritious food, exercise, and mindfulness. Research shows that all-nighters and skipping sleep can impact your academic performance. Consistently getting an optimum amount of sleep is a way that you can do your best academically.

Spending time in nature to increase your wellness

Tents in a campground

Spending time outside can increase both your physical and mental wellness. A UK study which challenged people to do something outside for 30 days in a row found that “there was a scientifically significant increase in people’s health, happiness, connection to nature and active nature behaviours, such as feeding the birds and planting flowers for bees – not just throughout the challenge, but sustained for months after the challenge had been completed.”[i] Your time in nature doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. Keep reading for some ways to spend mindful moments outside.

Study break exercises you can do at a desk

cartoon woman doing yoga

When you are focused on studying or getting that latest assignment done, it can be easy to sit down and look up only to see several hours have passed without noticing. But long periods of sitting have been shown to be detrimental to both our physical and mental health. Try to take a physical activity break at least once an hour with these exercises that can be done at or near your desk.

Making friends and finding a sense of belonging

friends talking

A sense of belonging to a greater community can improve your motivation, health, and happiness. Studies demonstrate that a sense of social belonging can affect motivation and continued persistence, even on impossible tasks. That is, if you don't feel like you belong, you are both less motivated and less likely to hang in there in the face of obstacles.  

If you are feeling lonely or like you don’t belong it is important to remember:

Grocery shopping tips

Grocery store aisle

When you keep your kitchen stocked with healthy food, you’re more likely to eat better, so shop for groceries regularly. Before you go, have your menu planned and shopping list written out. One more thing: don’t shop with an empty stomach!

Learn about sexual health to help you make informed choices and protect yourself

condoms

According to a Statistics Canada study, 3/10 young adults did not use a condom the last time they had sex. Having sex without a condom increases your risk of unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV/AIDS.

Meal planning tips to save you time and money

noodles

While it may not be high on the list of things that you look forward to doing, planning meals can make life much easier and can also save you time and money. You’ll be amazed at how much less stressful meals can be if you sit down for 10 minutes once a week to figure out what you’re going to eat and write out a shopping list before going to the store. Here are more tips.

Staying cool in the summer

sunglasses on a beach towel

When the temperatures get warmer in the spring and summer it is especially important to make sure you are staying cool and hydrated to avoid conditions like dehydration or heat stroke. Follow our tips for keeping cool this summer:

Respiratory Therapist Available at Health Services

Respiratory therapist with student

Do you have Asthma? Did you know a Respiratory Therapist from St. Mary’s General Hospital comes to Health Services regularly to assist students in managing their asthma?

FAQs About Workshops, Seminars, and Group Therapy

Workshop group speaking in a circle

Campus Wellness offers a variety of ways for you to learn different life skills and personal development opportunities. Within our departments, there are many different ways that you can participate including Seminars, Workshops, Group Therapy, and Online Learning.

Stress Management Tips for Grad Students

To do list and pen

Stress is defined by the American Psychological Association as any uncomfortable emotional experience accompanied by predictable biochemical, physiological, and behavioural changes. We know that some stress can be motivational to help get through situations like deadlines; however, an extreme amount of stress can be psychologically and physically debilitating. Graduate students face a unique set of stressors, keep reading to find out more about key themes graduate students might face and strategies for managing them.

How to plan healthy meals

Salmon fillet with salad

Juggling the demands of school, social life, jobs, volunteer work, etc.? Planning ahead will make it easier to eat healthy meals while also saving you money and time. The few minutes it takes to plan your meals for the coming week are well worth the effort. Keeping your kitchen stocked with the basics will make it easy to prepare a quick, energy-packed meal. Meal planning is easy when you follow these simple steps.

Using your strengths to get through life’s challenges

Student smiling whilst conversing with someone

Everyone has character traits that they are strong in. Identifying your strengths can help you more easily navigate challenging times. There are many schools of thought that suggest that knowing what your strengths are can help you feel more prepared to navigate the ups and downs of life.

So how do you find out what your strengths are?

Easy ways to add a little meditation to your life

Water lily in a pond

Meditation and practising mindfulness can help you when you are in or approaching stressful situations. Taking time to calm your mind can not only help you during times of stress but can also help feel more even-keeled in your day-to-day life. The great thing about meditation is that you can practice it virtually anywhere and it doesn’t require a big monetary investment to get in to.

Keep reading to find some easy meditations you can do in 15 minutes or less throughout your day.

Tips for Better Sleep

Tips for Better Sleep - uwaterloo.ca/campus-wellness/blog

Do you ever fall asleep in class or at your computer? Do you watch the clock as you struggle to fall asleep? Do you routinely procrastinate and then pull all-nighters to meet your deadlines? Unfortunately research shows that all-nighters and skipping sleep are not helpful for academic performance. Consistently getting an optimum amount of sleep is a way that you can do your best academically.

Nutrition FAQ: What can I do with leftovers?

Omelette

Nobody likes to waste money or food, so what can you do with leftovers? Here are ten ideas for using food up:

How to help a friend

Friends hugging on a bench

Sometimes you might notice a friend is struggling with their mental health and want to help, but it can be really hard to know how, or if you should approach them. You might be unsure of what to say or worried that they might get angry or stop talking to you. But in reality, reaching out and showing you care can really help a person who is experiencing a mental health concern.

Social Media and Your Mental Health

Student looking at his phone

There are lots of studies out there that say that social media is bad for your mental health and can actually make people feel bad about themselves. There are also lots of benefits to social media, including helping people meet or stay in touch when they aren’t geographically proximate to each other, helping social movements organize, and bringing attention to important news.

So how can you use your favourite apps for connectivity, collaboration, and information without feeling the effects of negativity that can come with them? Read on for our tips.

Seven relaxation techniques

Knitting and Knitting Needles

With all the competing priorities in your life, it can be difficult to set aside time for yourself. But getting small pockets of relaxation as often as possible can help you in the long run, increasing focus and reducing the risk of burnout. The key is to practice your relaxation in ways that fit into your busy schedule and don’t interfere with your ability to get things done. So, what are some productive relaxation strategies you can use? See our ideas below:

Guided relaxation or meditation

Sexual health resources on or near campus

Person looking at information on computer and writing in notebook

Are you looking for sexual health information, advice, or treatment at University of Waterloo? Health Services and other community partners nearby are available to help. Read on for more information about what sexual health supports and services are close by.

Reasons to get the flu shot

We’re in the middle of cold and flu season. Getting the flu can impact your ability to attend your classes, complete assignments or attend to other commitments like going to work or seeing family. The flu can keep you off your feet for from 2 – 14 days. Have you got your flu shot yet?

What to expect at Counselling Services

A counsellor and a student talking

Deciding to seek help for your mental health can be a tough decision. Oftentimes the fear of not knowing what will happen when you go for help can be enough to deter some people from going at all. We’ve put together this blog post to help you understand what you can expect when you come to visit us.

Smoking cessation supports available from Campus Wellness

Health Services Waiting room

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution to quit smoking in 2018? If yes, Campus Wellness has a variety of supports and programs to help you stick to your goals.

The Imposter Phenomenon

Writing on a journal page that says "You are enough"

Have you ever thought something like the following?

  • “I don’t belong here. The admissions committee clicked the wrong button when I got my acceptance.”
  • “The co-op before me was so awesome, there’s no way I can ever live up to them. I’ll be fired when they find out I’m not as qualified as them.”
  • “Everybody around me is so good at what they do. I’m the only one who isn’t able to get that job in Cali.”

If yes, you might be suffering from something called Imposter Phenomenon or Imposter Syndrome.

After hours help near campus

After-hours resources - uwaterloo.ca/campus-wellness

What can you do if you need help after Health Services or Counselling Services closes? Luckily there are lots of places you can go or call for after-hours support. Read on to find out where to go:

Campus Wellness services available for you

Health Services hallway

Welcome back to another term at University of Waterloo. Here’s an overview of some of the Campus Wellness services you can access as a University of Waterloo student:

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