“check yourself before you wreck yourself”

Nobody talks about how ugly taking care of yourself can be. Yes, sometimes it’s taking a warm baths, sometimes it’s sending memes to friends, sometimes it’s keeping an aesthetically pretty journal. And sometimes it’s crying silently on your couch at 3am, hugging yourself and trying to reminding yourself that you are good enough.  Self-care isn’t always fancy face masks and bath bombs. Self-care is not always cute…and that’s totally okay. Self-care is actually fairly hard at times. Self-care includes a lot of adult-ing, and activities you most likely will try to put off. Self-care sometimes means making tough decisions which you fear others will judge. For example, cancelling plans. Self-care also involves asking for help; it involves being painfully honest with the ones you care about, yourself about what you need. Also after some days of feeling your mental state decline  its difficult to bring yourself to do something that takes care of yourself.

If you have to cancel plans in order to take care of yourself, then you do you. If you think getting out and continuing with your plans is taking care of yourself, then you do you. Everyone is different and I think sometimes we forget that. We have to keep in mind and be understanding when friends, family members need time for themselves. You may be one to keep busy and go on adventures to relax and de stress, however your best friend might be one to stay in and have a Netflix kind of day. Everyone is different, that’s how the world goes round. No everyone has the same mind and heart as we do and I think that’s important to keep in mind.

How do you take care of yourself?

When most people ask us if we take care of ourselves, most of us would say yes without hesitation. You figure you do take care of yourself because today you got dressed, went to school, showered, ate, you might have slept or at least tried to. But that isn’t what self-care is about. And if we look closely the majority of us aren’t taking very good care of ourselves.

Self-care seems like a simple concept but in reality it is very difficult and overlooked. Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental health, emotional well-being, and physical health.

Self-care is the key a balanced life which improves mood and reduces anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others. Self-care isn’t something we dislike doing or have to force ourselves. In a way we might struggle with getting into a habit that involved taking care of ourselves, but it shouldn’t be anything we really dislike doing. It is supposed to refuel us mentally, not drain us.

 

 

So when someone does ask “what do you do to take care of yourself?” that can be a tricky question… how do I take care of myself? Even though self-care means different things to different people, there’s a basic checklist that can be followed by all of us. Here are some examples to help get you thinking how you can take care of yourself.

-start by creating a “no list”. It is definitely easier to start off by listing things that you know you don’t enjoy or dislike. (i.e. Not checking emails at night, not doing homework past a certain time, not attending gatherings you don’t like, not answering your phone during lunch/dinner, not talking on the phone past a certain time, etc.)

– Have a nutritious, healthy diet. A good diet is just as important to mental health as it is physical health. I know this can be super difficult while attending university but experts have conducted studies and noticed there is a link between diet quality and common mental disorders like depression and anxiety.

– Get 7-8 hours of sleep each night and practice good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is super important! Having bad sleep hygiene may be contributing to the tiredness you experience.  Good sleep hygiene includes limiting naps during the day to 30 minutes, avoid caffeine/nicotine close to bed time, exercising to promote good quality sleep, avoid eating close to bedtime, ensure adequate lighting during the day and little lighting at night, establish a bed relaxing time routine, try to go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day, and make sure your sleeping environment is comfortable, dark, quiet and cool temperature. Bright light from lights, cell phones and TV screens can make it difficult to fall asleep. So turn those light off or adjust them when possible. Most smart phones now have a “Night shift” brightness setting you can adjust. If the sleeping environment isn’t up to par you can try using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, white noise machines, apps with relaxation audio, diffusers, fans, etc.

– Exercise. Increases serotonin levels, leading to improved mood and energy.

-Use relaxation exercises and/or practice meditation. You can do these exercises at any time of the day. Some have found that putting lavender a diffuser before bed helps calm them. Lavender is a natural relaxer and it smells wonderful.

-Spend enough time with your loved ones. Depending on the relationship with your family, spending time with your loved ones may contribute to your mental well-being.

-Do at least one relaxing activity every day, whether it’s taking a walk or spending 30 minutes unwinding.

-Do at least one pleasurable activity every day. Maybe you want to go to the movies, try a new recipe, or meeting with friends. Even if it’s watching one episode of your favourite TV show do one thing that makes you happy.

-Find hobbies that interest you. Even if it’s once a month you can fit in with your schedule do it. Having a hobby is a nice distraction and will contribute to an increased mood.

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Weighted Blanket

Due to my depression, anxiety and my sleep disorder, my sleep at night is often horrible. I feel as if I am constantly waking up, waking up feeling unrested. Regardless of the quantity of sleep, or practicing a good sleep hygiene I always feel tired.

Many of my friends, and support groups online recommended a weighted blanket. I’ve been reluctant to try it as they can get quite expensive. Anyways, I caved at the beginning of the school year and bought one online from amazon. They say the weight of the blanket you order should be 10% of your weight, which would help you sleep better and faster.  I bought a 15 lb. blanket. It stated that the  blanket can help you release stress and anxiety to make you relaxed. Research has shown that a weighted blanket can provide outcomes for people with a wide variety of disorders and conditions. Weighted blankets have been studied in the following conditions:

ADHD, anxiety disorders, agitation, Asperger syndrome, brain trauma injuries, cerebral palsy, dental anxiety, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, sensory processing disorder, Tourette syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s, dementia, down syndrome, fibromyalgia, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, seizure disorder, restless sleep, tension, and well as many other conditions, disorders.

The weighted blanket can help reduce and relieve anxiety and agitation by applying gentle pressure therapy to the body. This pressure almost feels like a hug to many people. This type of pressure has been proven to trigger the release of serotonin and dopamine in the brain and body. Serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitter’s that play an import role in the body, the “feel-good hormones”. I worried that if I were claustrophobic the weight of the blanket may trigger me, however I found that wasn’t the case.  After a minute of having the blanket on me I didn’t really notice the weight anymore. I felt my body relax for once. It was an enjoyable moment of feeling your body calm all at once. I have to say I slept amazing the first night I tried it. Every night I’ve used it since I’ve woke up feeling a lot better. I also have to note that I don’t wake up as often in the middle of the night. The blanket can be used in various ways, it doesn’t have to be for sleeping. You can lay it across your lap, wrap around your shoulders, while watching tv. You can fold half of it under your body with the other half covering your body. You can use it to cover your full body, or half body when you sleep or while you are sitting. The possibilities are endless. You can find a method that works best for you.

I urge anyone with the conditions listed above to give it a try. Because it’s changed my life.

Disclaimer, everyone is different, it may not help or cure your symptoms but from my experience I found this helped!

 

Student Mental Health Advisory Committee

Applications for the 2019-2020 academic year are now being accepted.

Are you interested in student mental health and wellness?

Student Mental Health Services is looking for students to be a part of a Student Mental Health Advisory Committee. The main role involves developing and reviewing mental health and wellness initiatives at the university. This position also involves working in groups, as well as organizing and implementing events at both north and downtown locations. This would be an excellent leadership opportunity for students who are passionate about advocating for mental health. There is a time commitment of 25 hours between September 2019 and April 2020.

Are you interested in volunteering?

Please send a one page letter of intent and email your submission to studentlifeline@uoit.ca by March 25, 2019.

  1. Describe why mental health and wellness are important to you.
  2. Define a message about mental health and wellness that you believe in.
  3. Explain at least one idea or event that can help the university be more involved in students’ mental health and wellness. Please be specific and detailed.
What is the Student Mental Health Advisory Committee?

The Student Mental Health Advisory Committee is a group of students passionate about wellness and advocating for mental health. The Committee is an opportunity for any student at the university, including individuals with lived experiences, to develop and review mental health initiatives.

What kind of time commitment is required?

There is a time commitment of 25 hours over the fall and winter terms of the current academic year.

“Never let anyone tell you what progress is.”

This is especially true in post-secondary education setting, we sometimes forget that our academic standing doesn’t define our worth. Just because we aren’t scoring high on tests doesn’t mean we are less than of a person. I want remind everyone, especially first years, that your grades do not define your worth. We all been there. We’ve all either failed a midterm, bombed a quiz, did tressful presentation that maybe didn’t go as well as we wanted. Maybe we’ve failed and maybe we passed barely scrapping by. We’ve all been there and it sucks.  When we see a grade we know we could have done better on, it actually hurts so deeply. As Mandy Hale once said, “Self-worth is so vital to your happiness. If you don’t feel good about you, it’s hard to feel good about anything else”. But I want to share with you a post I saw online a while ago that I wish I saw in my first year. This post really helped me realize your worth is so much more than your GPA.

“Never let anybody else tell you what progress is.

You are the only one who knows

where you’ve been and how far you’ve come.

You are the only one who knows

what you were up against.

You are the only one who can honestly tell yourself

whether or not you’re getting better.

So, my love,

if you walk out of that presentation thinking you killed it,

and get the scoresheet back to find out you

“Need more confidence”

or “weren’t loud enough”

or whatever else it is you struggle with,

I urge you to throw that feedback to the wind.

The person who gave you that score

doesn’t know your life story.

They weren’t there for the time in eighth grade

when you had a panic attack in English

before having to read your writing to the class.

They didn’t watch your ninth grade class presentation

during which your hands shook so much you

dropped your note cards on the way back to your seat.

All they know about you is what they saw that one time.

They scored you off of what they believe is good,

but they haven’t seen how much better you’ve gotten.

Just because you aren’t up to their standards

doesn’t mean you didn’t just crush your own.

You are getting better.

You are getting better,

and just because others can’t see that

doesn’t mean it isn’t true.”

-Unknown

You can apply this poem to all aspects of your life. Just because you aren’t where you want to be doesn’t mean you haven’t come a long way. Progress is progress no matter how small and you deserve to celebrate that. Maybe you won’t pass the course, maybe you won’t do as well as you want to on an exam and that’s okay. Maybe you started off with horrible grades in the semester and worked your butt off only to get okay marks, or maybe you still didn’t pass- but that’s okay. You can retake a course, sure it would suck, but your health and mental health are so much more important. You need to celebrate the small victories in life. Celebrate that you tried, you worked hard. We are all in the same boat being at university. University is overwhelming, especially all the while of learning to be an adult too. It’s a huge step to take and it is going to be overwhelming at times. Just always remember your grades don’t define your worth. Just because you didn’t do well doesn’t mean you’re not doing as well as a person. Take care of yourself first and try the best that you can. And if you have tried your best and it’s still not enough than that’s okay. We all have weaknesses, we all have things we wish we were better at. Just remember your academic standing does not determine your value as a person.

I’d also like to point out that if you notice yourself falling behind there are many resources UOIT Student Life has to offer. UOIT’s Student Learning Centre  you can learn study strategies to improve your tests and assignments, work with a writing specialist or peer tutor to develop your writing, work with a math specialist, physics/engineering specialist, or peer tutor to tackle new concepts in science and engineering. They can help improve your writing, speaking and listening skills as a student for whom English is an additional language. You can attend a workshop to strengthen academic skills. They can also help you keep up with your coursework, learn study skills and prepare for tests and exams in the peer-assisted study sessions (PASS).

You can also contact your TA, or even form study sessions with other students in your class. Don’t be afraid to reach out to any of these resources if you are struggling. There are so many other students that are in the same boat as you that you might even make some friends along the way.

 

https://studentlife.uoit.ca/student-learning/index.php

Quotes to live by

“Understanding is much deeper than knowledge. There are many people who know us, but very few who understand us”

“If you’re searching for that one person that will change your life, take a look in the mirror- its you”

“Self-worth is so vital to your happiness. If you don’t feel good about you, it’s hard to feel good about anything else” Mandy Hale

It’s interesting to note that the most kind and courageous souls you meet in life tend to be those who’ve faced the most cruelty and conflict. The vicious world might sharpen us like a blade, but whether we use that power to protect people or cause them pain, is always our choice.” -Beau Taplin

“Reminder: Happy people don’t go around making people unhappy. People who are generally happy in life often want to spread that emotion like wildfire. So the next time someone tries to bring you down and ruin your day, remind yourself that people who are internally happy don’t behave that way. It’s not you, the problem is with them. Wish them peace and walk away.”

“don’t let anyone tell you that it’s a bad thing to feel things deeply. a full heart is a strong heart and being soft doesn’t make you weak. being soft and loving makes you radiant. you deserve all of the love in the world and so many good things.”

 

“people who need help sometimes look a lot like people who don’t need help” Glennon Doyle Melton

“I am so afraid of disappointing the people I love, I often forget that I am someone I love too. And I need kindness just as much as I believe the people I love do.”

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” Audrey Hepburn

“You can’t just turn off depression. It doesn’t work like that. It comes and goes like the seasons. With stormy months and months of sunshine. Do not think I control the weather of my emotions because it is not that easy.”

“Butterflies can’t see their wings. They cant see how truly beautiful they are, but everyone else can. People are like that as well.”

“if you have been brutally broken, but still have the courage to be gentle to others then you deserve a love deeper than the ocean itself” Nikita Gill

“Every single day, happiness is a work in progress. Every single day, the concept of love, and self-love is a work in progress. It’s never just going to come easily” Taylor Swift

I am so afraid of disappointing the people I love, I often forget that I am someone I love too. And I need kindness just as much as I believe the people I love do.

“Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s a bad thing to feel things deeply. A full heart is a strong heart and being soft doesn’t make you weak. Being soft and loving makes you radiant. You deserve all of the love in the world and so many good things.”

“Be protective of you, your aura. Be protective of the garden that you’ve watered for so long within you. You’ve worked too hard on yourself to let anyone with dirty feet walk all over your soul.”

“The walls we build around us to keep sadness out also keeps out the joy.” Jim Rohn

“Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers”

“Don’t compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 15. Follow your own path, write your own life story.”

How Do You Take Care of Yourself?

How do you take care of yourself? Here is a list of ways to practice the subtle art of self-care.

1.A comfort box is a great simple idea that you can try at home. A comfort box is a box which you can fill with things that relax you or calm you. Bags and backpacks can also make great portable alternatives to an actual box.

Here are some possible things a comfort box or bag could include:

  • Your favourite chocolate or candy
  • Your favourite Books or poems
  • Colouring kits or drawing materials
  • A journal
  • Play Dough
  • A soft blanket
  • Non-triggering films or TV series
  • Comfort food recipes
  • Playlists of soothing music
  • Bath or shower items (bath bombs etc)
  • Scented candles
  • Bubble wand
  • Body lotions
  • Pictures of loved ones and/or pets
  • Herbal tea
  • Stress ball
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Relaxation or meditation exercises or audios
  • Old birthday cards
  • Friendship bracelets or recovery bracelets
  • glitter jars
  • encouraging notes/letters
  • essential oils
  • List of reasons to stay alive
  • List of things you like about yourself
  • Stickers
  • Bubble wrap
  • Crayons and a colouring book/printed colouring pages
  • Letters from loved ones

What would be in your comfort box?

  1. Taking time out of your day just for yourself. Whether it’s going on a 30-minute walk and taking pictures of what you see (i.e. garden, nature, scenery) set time limit dedicated to just you and your peace.
  2. Stargaze
  3. Treat yourself to your favourite meal
  4. Put on your diffuser. Lavender is a naturally relaxing scent
  5. Listen to songs you haven’t listened to in years
  6. Organizing your drawers, cupboards
  7. Puzzles
  8. New recipe
  9. Draw, paint, make art
  10. Start a new hobby
  11. Make a list of 25 of your best qualities.
  12. Make a list of what you’re grateful for
  13. Dumping your brain out. Everything you think/feel dump it all out. Whether that’s writing or typing it out on a computer, just purge everything out
  14. Go on a jog, exercise. You don’t need to run or even be good at it to reap these benefits. Just get your body flowing. Yoga, playing with your dog, lifting weights, walk around your block — extra points if it ends up at an ice cream shop.