Wednesday, January 6, 2021
At the risk of causing extreme eye rolling, the Wellness Team would like to suggest that you take some time over the long weekend to clean your room. Tidy, organized and clean living spaces contribute to mental wellness. A tidy room increases productivity and efficiency by reducing distraction and fostering a sense of calm. Clean sheets and a made bed in the morning lead to a better night’s sleep. Once the job’s done you’ll feel productive, accomplished and proud of your space. A clean and tidy room can also improve your relationships with your family.
If the job seems too much to tackle all at once, break it down into chunks. Put all the laundry in the hall or take dirty dishes to the kitchen to deal with later. Make the bed or tidy your dresser. You might prefer to set a timer for 15 or 20 minutes and then stop when the timer goes off and do more later. Once the basics are done you can look after the bigger things like clearing out clothes that you no longer wear, organizing your closet or doing your laundry.
So crank you the tunes or put on a favourite movie and clean your room!
They say that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. The Wellness team thinks that the tough have a plan to get them going. In a typical school year, projects and tests tend to cluster at the same time causing some people to feel overwhelmed. Making a plan to get through these times can help you succeed and reduce your stress. It sounds simple but start with a written “to-do” list. Is there anything on the list you could get help with, or put off until later to take some pressure off? Next start by tackling the easy to achieve things first and crossing them off the list. You’ll immediately feel like you’ve accomplished something and you’ll have some momentum to get started on the bigger things. Then consider due dates and deadlines to organize the remaining items on your list. Next, break down the tasks into manageable pieces and set goals. Use a timer to stay focused for specific amounts of time. Then get to work, chipping away until you’re done. The details of your plan don’t matter but having a plan that works for you might. Plan to be well, Wildcats.
The Wellness Team would like to offer you some ways to manage setbacks. Whether it’s not doing as well as you’d hoped on a project, not being able to participate in an event, or trying something new and not succeeding, life will naturally take some disappointing turns. This past year has brought setbacks big and small to everyone around the world. There are positive ways to cope with a setback starting with letting yourself feel disappointed. Being let down hurts and that’s ok. It’s sometimes helpful to get some perspective; how will you feel in a week, a year, five years? Remember that situations are disappointing but you are not and situations are temporary. Sometimes the most valuable lessons are learned by failing. Be proud of your efforts and think about what you’ve gained, even if things didn’t work out the way you planned. Many of the other wellness tips we’ve offered you can help you navigate a disappointment. Practicing mindfulness or gratitude, healthy thinking habits, fostering healthy relationships, even trying to laugh at your situation can help you work through your thoughts and feelings and move on. Be well, Wildcats.
The Wellness Team would like you to consider the practice of mindfulness. People practice mindfulness for many reasons including to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. There is also evidence to suggest that it improves physical health. Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism but in simple, non-religious terms, it is bringing your attention to the present moment without judgement. We spend a lot of energy thinking about yesterday and tomorrow that we sometimes miss what is happening right now. Mindfulness asks that we pay attention to our thoughts, feelings and our bodies, look at those sensations objectively and accept them as they are. There are many ways to practice mindfulness from breathing techniques to yoga to organized meditation groups. Consider finding a mindfulness practice that works for you. We can get started right now with a deep breath in . . . holding it for a few seconds . . . and exhaling slowly. Be mindful and be well, Wildcats.
Last week, the Wellness team asked you to get thinking about your thinking. We have another tip today to help you be sure that your ‘thinking habits’ are helpful to you.
Pay attention to the language that you are using in your thoughts. Language that is absolute or black and white, is usually not accurate and can indicate unhelpful thinking habits. Watch for words like ‘always, never, everyone, no one’. Catch yourself, those words can be replaced with more accurate words like “sometimes, rarely, some people”. These simple changes to your language can have a helpful impact on how you feel.
The thought “Wellness messages are NEVER interesting to me” is very different from “Wellness messages are rarely interesting to me”!
Try it out.
The wellness team would like to get you thinking about your thinking.
We are all generally familiar with some of the habits that we have that aren’t helpful to us (like biting our nails, playing with our hair, checking our phones repeatedly). We know that our body can develop habits,but did you know that our brains can do the same thing? We can develop habits in the ways that we think, and our thoughts themselves can sometimes be unhelpful and often untrue. Pay attention to the things you tell yourself. Are you speaking to yourself in the same way you would speak to a good friend, do you find yourself saying things to yourself that aren’t helpful or aren’t even kind. Notice those thoughts and know that habits can be broken. Challenge yourself, by catching those unhelpful thoughts, and consider what you would say to a good friend in your situation. Be kind to you too. Keep well, Wildcats!
Past wellness tips have suggested that healthy sleeping, exercise, nutrition and hygiene habits are important for mental wellness. Organizing these good habits into a daily routine can further contribute to mental wellness. Scheduling the things you need to accomplish every day and turning that into a daily routine means those tasks become habits instead of a daunting “to-do list”. You’ll have a sense of accomplishment by crossing those items off without too much effort. Routines contribute to feelings of comfort and contentment by putting you in control of your day. Having structure to your day frees your mind to cope with any surprises that may come your way. A routine is a great antidote to procrastination - you have a plan for all those things that get in the way of the big project, the online game with your friends, or the social-distanced walk with your neighbour. Be organized and be well, Wildcats.
Valentine’s day/Family Day- friendships, family, pets, etc.
The Wellness team wants to take this week that includes both Valentines Day and Family day, to remind you about the importance of love for your mental health. Tolstoy suggests “there are as many kinds of loves as there are hearts” and all kinds of healthy love can contribute to our mental wellness. Romantic love, the love of family, the love of friends, the love of our pets, and the love for ourselves all need our attention and care at times. Take the time this week to nurture your love. Set aside time to spend with each other being fully present (no phones,t.v, homework, etc), communicate honestly, be appreciative of each other, do something kind for someone you love, listen with curiosity to each other, even someone you’ve known your whole life has something new to share. Building healthy relationships can have a long lasting impact on your mental wellness.
It may seem obvious but looking after yourself is important for mental wellness. Bathing, brushing your teeth, eating and drinking, wearing clean clothes and taking any medications you need are the basics of self-care. When we’re learning and working at home, these basics sometimes get neglected. However, taking care of the basics keeps your body healthy and contributes to your mental wellness. Starting your day off with a shower, brushing your teeth, and dressing in clean clothes sets the tone for the rest of your day. Lots of people like a bath or shower before bed to help them relax and sleep better. Others find a shower in the morning wakes them up and refreshes them. Find what works for you, and maybe the others who share your bathroom, and make that your hygiene routine. Looking after these small tasks creates a sense of accomplishment that you can carry into your school or work day. If you look and feel good, you will want to spend time with people and people will want to spend time with you.
Having to stay at home is an opportunity to upgrade our self-care routines beyond the basics. Treating yourself to home manicure, a bubble bath or a facial mask is a great way to relieve stress and boredom. Maybe try styling your hair in a new way or learn a new make-up technique. You could invite a family member or friend to join you; online if they aren’t in your household. You could even skip the track pants and dress up just for fun. There are lots of ways to look after yourself that are fun and relaxing.
Take care of yourself and be well, Wildcats!
The Wellness Team would like you to know that sometimes laughter really is the best medicine. Humour is essential for coping with tough times. Laughter relaxes the body and stimulates the release of the feel-good endorphins. A shared laugh can diffuse tense situations and reduce anger and frustration. Humor and laughter add joy to life, eases anxiety, and improves mood. Your physical health is improved with laughter. Recent studies have found that a good laugh can boost dopamine levels which strengthens the immune system and can even relieve pain. People who love to laugh tend to live longer. Laughing together with family, friends, schoolmates, or co-workers promotes good emotional bonds and facilitates teamwork. Finding the funny in a shared situation, say maybe a global pandemic, connects us to each other and reduces feelings of isolation. Whether it's a funny movie, a stand-up set, corny "dad-jokes", silly puns, sketch or improv comedy, find what is funny to you and share it with a friend. Keep in mind that laughter at the expense of another really isn't funny but laughing at yourself is a great way to manage small setbacks and little obstacles. Oh hey, did you hear about the farmer who won an award? She's out standing in her field.
We’re all doing our part to keep each other healthy by staying home but the Wellness Team would like to remind you that it’s a good idea to get a little sunlight exposure each day. It is thought that sunlight can ward off stress and depression by increasing serotonin, one of the so-called “happiness hormones”. Higher levels of serotonin can lift mood and increase a sense of satisfaction and calm. Sunlight also helps calibrate the body clock by reducing melatonin levels, the hormone that makes you sleepy. Also known as the “sunshine vitamin” your daily requirement of Vitamin D is met by the body with just 30 minutes of sunlight. Among other health benefits, Vitamin D is thought to reduce depression.
The positive effect of sunlight isn’t dependent on the outdoor temperature so even if it’s cold, a little time outdoors during daylight hours is worth bundling up for. Maybe step out on your porch, deck or balcony during your online class lunch break, turn your face to the sky, take a few deep, mind-clearing breaths of fresh air and enjoy a few minutes of healthy sunlight.
Let the sunshine in and be well, Wildcats!
The Wellness team wants to remind you about the importance of sleep. As we get back into a more regular routine, we may notice that our sleep schedules are out of sync as a result of holiday routines. Did you know that adolescents need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night? Getting enough sleep is important for so many reasons. Sleeping well can help you manage your moods, leaving you feeling a little less irritable or moody. Good sleep helps important parts of your brain function better, improving your memory, attention, decision making, and can promote creative thinking.
What can we do to improve our sleep? Try to maintain a sleep schedule, go to bed and get up around the same time each day. Create a comfortable, cool, quiet and dark place for sleeping. Before bed try to “wind down” by doing less stimulating activities, such as reading or listening to calm music and, try to avoid screens in the time before bed, as the blue light can signify to your brain that it’s time to wake up.
Even small changes can help improve sleep. Start tonight.
Sleep Well and Keep Well Wildcats!