Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Student Life

Exams.  Studying. Parties.  Midterms. Projects.  Thesis. Group work.  Grades. Tests.  Tuition. Work. Roomates.  

Oh, the life as a student.  Sure, being a student has its benefits even beyond the educational side of it, but it also comes with inevitable stress.

You're bouncing around from class to class, buildings to libraries, dealing with the pressures of exams & midterms, and all the while you're fighting a cold or the flu, you have 4 projects that are worth 60% of your final grade, and it's only the second week back in this semester.

Student life is not easy.  There is a lot of pressure to excel & succeed, and it can be truly overwhelming.  For those of us who have surpassed the post secondary education part of our lives, there are definitely times of stress that will forever stick in our memories.

Students can often wear themselves down when they don't take the appropriate measures to take care - of their physical selves, as well as their mental selves.  In fact, when a student continues down a slippery slope of not taking care of themselves, one may potentially experience depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and thoughts or actions of self harm or suicide.

This doesn't mean that if you're having a particularly bad day or week that all of a sudden you're going to have these thoughts running through your mind, however it is possible.

How can a student take care of their overall being?  It's not always going to be easy, but with practice, students can adapt to coping skills that will benefit them all school year round.


- Diet & Exercise - 
This does not mean you have to hit up the gym 5 days a week on top of your regular schedule and buy all organic foods, but it does mean to eat healthy meals (skip the fast food in the cafeteria and go for some homestyle cooking, or a fresh salad/soup combo) and to try and get at least 30 minutes of exercise in your day.  A great tool to help you get moving, are the active wear bracelets that you can sync to your smart phone.  A gentle vibration will remind you when you haven't moved in awhile - get your heart rate up with a walk, go for a skate on the canal, or hit up the gym!

- Do Something For YOU - 
Finding something that you love to do, will help ease the stress!  If it's going for a mani/pedi, or grabbing the guys to watch a game at the local pub, or if it's simply cranking the music and letting it all out in an impromptu dance party, do it!  

- Furry Friends - 
Do you have a pet in your home?  Or a friend with a dog or a cat?  Studies have shown that just 15 minutes with a furry friend can help ease major stress.  Many universities have Pet Therapy Programs, where animals who have gone through therapy training will visit on designated days, to help brighten the lives of students.  Ask your Student Centre if anything like this exists and how you can attend!  Or, visit your local Humane Society and volunteer as a dog walker.

- Talk It Out - 
Knowing that you have a place to turn to in your time of stress is helpful.  This is where we at the Distress Centre come in handy.  Since we're 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, we are always here, ready to listen and support you.  If you're cramming for a test or a midterm and are at your wit's end, pick up the phone and call us.  Talking about what ails you, is one of the best ways to cope.  Our Crisis Line Responders are non judgmental, unbiased, and are people, just like you & I.  

If you have a student in your life, pass along our blog post so that we can help each of them get through potentially tough times.

We're always here, and always ready to listen : 613-238-3311

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Exercise For Your Mental Health


It's one of those things.  One of those "I'm going to start going for a run after work, five days a week!", and "Oh let's sign up for that free month of yoga at the local studio!" and the "I got a gym membership for the classes!"

Then they sometimes turn into...

"Ugh, I don't want to go run tonight, I'm exhausted."

"I'm too sore from the last yoga class & I didn't have a clue what I was doing!"


"I don't know anyone at the gym, so the classes are boring."

Sound familiar?

When you choose to exercise, you may not realize, but while your body is getting in shape, your mind is too.

Our minds & bodies are synced together 24/7.  When we exercise, it's no different.  

Exercising doesn't mean that you need the $750 gym membership (although if that motivates you, then great!) or that we need to be sporting the latest workout gear by celebrities, or even that you have to go run 5k every night.  

When you workout, in whatever form that may be (swimming, running, cycling, group exercise, hiking, walking, sports, skating, etc) your body releases endorphins, which trigger a sense of happy in your brain.  When your brain feels these endorphins, it sends them throughout your entire body, making what you're doing, feel even better!

How much exercise is recommended?  30 minutes a day.  Take a walk on your lunch.  Play with the kids in the backyard.  Do a home exercise dvd.  Go to the gym & do cardio or circuit training.  

Other benefits from those 30 minutes of your exercise include:

  • Less tension, stress & mental fatigue
  • Natural energy boost (throw away those energy drinks please!)
  • Improved sleep
  • Less anger & frustration
  • Sense of achievement (yes, you really did just leg press 150lbs!)
  • Appetite for healthier foods (these paired up together are a winning combination!)
  • Appreciation

If you need a step in the right direction, start small.  Focus on one exercise you enjoy doing.  If it's a walk, that's great!  Take on one exercise and own it, stick with it for 3 months, and you'll notice a difference!

Prefer the social aspect of working out?  Check out a gym that's close to your house, and encourage a friend to join you so that you have a workout partner all the time.  There are many gyms with memberships under $40 a month.

Always remember to consult your doctor when beginning an exercise regime, to rule out any potential complications.

Remember, above all, you CAN do it, and we're here to support you through it all.  613-238-3311