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The University of Waterloo is constantly updating our most Frequently Asked Questions.

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Please note: The University of Waterloo is closed for all events until further notice.

Mathie Wellness

Wellness is important for everyone in the Faculty of Mathematics. Every Wednesday we'll release a new wellness tip.

Follow waterloomath on Instagram and the hashtag #MathieWellness.

If you need primary medical care and mental health services, you can contact Campus Wellness. There are also helpline resources available: Good2Talk (1-866-925-5454) or EmpowerMe (1-844-741-6389).

Tip 1Physical activity

Physical activity may be effective in preventing or reducing symptoms associated with anxiety and depression. How physical activity improves mood or relieves anxiety is not yet clear. Some theories propose that physical activity (UK Dept of Health, 2004) (Fox, 1999):

  • Increases body temperature, thus relaxing muscle tension
  •  Releases feel-good chemicals that improve mood 
  • Offers a “time-out” from worries or depressing thoughts
  • Increases self-confidence, feeling of competence and a sense of mastery
  • Provides a sense of belonging and mutual support when participating with others.

Looking for more resources?

Online fitness classes from Waterloo Athletics

Waterloo Community guide to local trails

Tip number 2Creating healthy relationships

Create healthy relationships by looking at key communication skills. Communication is the key to having healthy relationships. 3 keys to improving communication are:

  • Using active listening.  Active listening is a way of eliciting information and emotion from the speaker. The more someone knows about a person, the more information they will have to build a relationship.  Plus, everyone what to feel heard!
  • Understanding non-verbal cues or "body language".  Non-verbal communication gives the speaker signals that you are paying attention without interrupting what the other person is saying. Examples of non-verbal signals: nodding your head, maintaining eye contact, facial expressions that are congruent with what the speaker is saying (smiles, grimace, pucker, frown, etc.), sitting up straight, leaning towards the speaker, uncrossing your legs and arms. 
  • Staying neutral. This involves limiting the expression of one's own thoughts and opinions and not offering advice without being asked.

Looking for more resources?

Tips for communication in your on-line classes

Active listening resources

Tip number 3Be open to new information

Be Open to new Information. An open-minded individual:

  • strives to develop a better understanding of the world
  • is willing to listen to other people’s beliefs and opinions
  • will learn from their insights and experience
  • tries new things (experiential learning) to foster personal growth.
  • understands their strengths and limitation

tip number 4Take scheduled breaks

Do you schedule your study and work time? Why not do the same for your breaks?  

  • Taking breaks from your study/work routine every 90 minutes can improve both focus and attention  

What you do in those breaks matters too! For some positive study break ideas give one of the below ideas a try today: 

  • Stretching or taking a walk 
  • Connect with nature by going outside  
  • Draw some doodles or colour a picture 
  • Eat a healthy snack 
  • Call a friend  
  • Take a power nap 
  • Listen to or play a song 

Looking for more resources?

Benefits of breaks on your brain 

Mindfulness and self-care strategies 

 

tip number 5Focus on foods that fuel you

Eat a variety of healthy foods each day. Eating a balanced meal can help keep you from feeling sluggish and provide you with the energy you need to be at your best.  The Canada Food Guide suggests filling ½ your plate with fruits and vegetables, ¼ of your plate with whole grains (rice, pasta, bread) and ¼ of your plate with protein-rich food (beans, eggs, nuts/seeds, meat, fish). 

It can be especially difficult at times when you are busy to make time for meals that are less processed.   Keep in mind that your meals don’t have to be complicated and you can use fresh, canned or frozen ingredients to make it easier for you. For some simple meal ideas see the Quick and Easy Meal Ideas from our campus partners.    

Looking for more resources?

Tips for healthy eating 

Nutrition resources on Campus

Some quick and easy meal ideas

 

Tip number sixSleep

Most people need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.  Do you get enough? Sleep is often what we sacrifice when our lives get busy with work, school, family life and socializing.  Shortchanging yourself on sleep can affect your mood, your ability to concentrate and your overall health.  It is important to prioritize sleep by maintaining a regular schedule.  If you are having trouble sleeping try:

  • Limiting screen time 1 hour before you go to bed 
  • Creating a good sleep environment that is dark, comfortable, quiet and cool  
  • Establishing standard bedtimes and wake-up times 
  • Covering your bedside clock so you are not focusing the number of hours you will sleep 
  • Adding meditation time during the day  

If you are still having trouble sleeping after making some changes to your routine talk to your doctor to look at creating a personalized plan together.

Looking for more resources?

Youtube video on the benefits of sleep from Campus Wellness

Tips on meditation 

 

tip number 7Learn to embrace imperfection 

In math, we often approximate things that we cannot know exactly, especially when infinity is involved. We never reach infinity, but that is not inconsistent with always getting closer to it! 

Furthermore, the function 1-1/x (for x>0) is always increasing even though the function values never reach the limit of 1. 

This is the same for life experiences that do not meet our expectations, which can lead us to a path of disappointment. One of the keys to managing our quest for perfection is to learn to embrace our imperfections. Some tips to embrace imperfection:

  • Focus on the process and not the result. If you are learning from your past mistakes, you are headed in the right direction. 

  • Practice self-compassion. No one will ever be perfect! 

  • Reflect on experiences or processes you enjoy 

  • Recognize imperfections in the world around you 

Looking for more resources?

Pushing back perfectionism 

What does perfectionism look like? 

How to savour the moment and cultivate positivity 

Overcoming perfectionism

tip number 8Stay true to values - Who do you want to be in this world? 

Research in the area of personal core values and mental health shows that we humans should spend some time thinking about our core personal values. Living your values can significantly predict your mental health and satisfaction with life. The realization of values indicating openness to change is especially associated with better mental health and higher satisfaction with life.  

Steps towards creating your core values:  

  • Reflect on your past actions. If you're not happy with what you find, having identified those values that you want to change is the first step towards improving them.  

  • If you strive to have specific values, make sure to think about them in your everyday decision making.  

  • Understand your character strengths. 

  • Look at people you admire and think about the values or strengths that you share. 

  • Record your ideas in a central place so you can re-visit them. 

Looking for more resources?

Online test for character strengths

Discover and choose your core values 

 

tip number 9Honesty

Being honest with yourself and others is a true reflection of your thoughts, feelings, and more specifically, academic struggles.   

Truthful self-expression can be vital to one's mental wellbeing as it liberates you from focusing on the fear of anticipated consequences.  

Self-expression and honesty can lead to your self-acceptance and then move into building self-compassion. 

Looking for more resources?

Why honesty is the best policy 

Tip number 10Make a plan and work the plan

One of the keys to reducing the stress around exams or significant projects and presentations is planning. Making a plan can help you set realistic time goals while ensuring you are getting needed breaks, sleep, and nutrition to be at your best.    

Some keys to making a good plan:  

  • Write it down and post it somewhere to help keep you on track.  

  • Start early and factor in other responsibilities.   

  • Share your plan with family, friends or housemates so they can support you.  

  • Attend a study skills workshop.  

  • Ask for help! Attend study sessions, office hours, use online classroom platforms such a Piazza and reach out to an academic advisor. 

Looking for more resources?

Exam prep tips 

Study skills workshop 

Productivity strategies 

Assignment planner 

 

Tip number 11Understanding stress

Stress is the body's response to anything that makes us feel threatened or pressured. It's caused by any kind of (perceived, imagined or real) demand where you need to adapt, adjust or respond. Some stress is necessary, but too much can be hard on your mind and body. Stress management starts with being able to recognize the symptoms of stress.   

Physical signs might include: 

  • Headaches 

  • Nausea 

  • Loss or increase in appetite 

  • Muscular tightness 

  • Difficulty sleeping 

Emotional signs might include: 

  • Sadness 

  • Frustration  

  • Poor focus 

  • Increased irritability 

You may experience signs that are different for you.  Once you can easily recognize stress, you can look at managing your stress with coping strategies. 

 

Looking for more resources?

Campus Wellness’ stress management video 

Stress management