Friday, December 14, 2007

Time to chill

Relax. A relaxed mind can maintain focus longer and remember better. If you felt stressed about assignments and exams, one of the best things you can do is teach your mind to relax. It only takes minutes.

Repeat a word or sound or phrase that has meaning for you (one, peace, om, relax). Gently disregard any thoughts that come to your mind and return to the repetitive focus.

Let some fresh air blow through your brain – head outside and walk vigorously for 5-10 minutes – don’t take your worries with you – focus on your breathing

Off for the holidays? Plan a day of no plans. Better still, try for a bit of time each day where you can do absolutely nothing. No TV, no computer, no friends, no tasks – just wander around with nothing to do!!!

It's a time to replenish your fuel so eat well, sleep well, rest well and be active. And well doesn't mean to excess! Moderation is liberation.

This site on youtube will guide you through a relaxation exercise.

At this site you can hear some radio interviews that explain mind training and at the bottom of the screen you can move to the videos for some more info.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Breath new life into your study habits

With deadlines and exams upon us, try some new ideas to bring some freshness to your fatigue with academics!

1.Try studying with a buddy to quiz each other. It makes the task seem more fun, less lonely and daunting.

2.Try studying in a new location that you haven’t tried before.

3.Try studying and working on different assignments rather than doing one thing for hours at a time. Alternate tasks to help maintain your concentration and focus.

4.Don't forget to make time to feed the hard working brain. It will work best for you if you feed the body good food, go out for even a few moments of fresh air or to gaze at the stars and have some fun. Brains love to laugh. If you hear yourself saying, "I don't have time to relax or eat well or have some fun," this belief is FLAWED. Experiment for yourself to see. A brain that is in a well cared for body works more smoothly, learns more easily, remembers more clearly.

Check this site for tips on managing your time and good study and learning skills.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Support the Women You Love

Dec 6 National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women.

This is a day to reflect on the violence still present in our society against women and girls. Think about how you are participating in this violence yourself. Don’t let belittling comments go unchallenged. Assert your own beliefs without shaming anyone.

Being part of creating a healthy society is part of creating a healthy, balance in your own well being.

On Thursday, December 6 the Remembrance will be held at the Empire Theatre this year. This is an incredibly empowering time as communities across the country come together to remind us that violence against women is still a very real and daily issue. It doesn't just happen somewhere else. It happens here in our college and in our hearts. Call the Empire Theatre for tickets 613 969-0099.

This is the national site with information about this day of remembrance

This site addresses women’s health concerns.

This site is the Canadian Women’s Health Network and has many resources available in many different languages.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Staying Healthy Through the Winter

Staying healthy through the winter

1.Bundle up and go outside – fresh air and sunshine are essential to maintaining good health

2.AVOID sugar and junk snacks especially at this time of year – they will sedate your brain so you can’t think clearly

3.Nurture friendships – healthy relationships boost the immune system.

4.Brainstorm with friends for ideas on how to party without drugs and alcohol. Alcohol acts as a depressant – not something you want to contribute to as we head into shorter, colder days.

5. Staying active is essential to emotional health and emotional health has a direct impact on physical health. Check out this website for interesting information on how exercise is one of the best medicines for stress.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Kindness decreases Stress

Much fear and anxiety is based on a self-centredness. It is natural, in many ways, to be centred on the self. The human organism does need to watch out for itself. At the same time, a constant preoccupation with our own concerns can make our world seem very small. We can spend so much time thinking about our assignments, our finances, our relationships, ourselves, that we don't even realize that we are actually thinking the same kinds of thoughts over and over and over .... and that these thoughts can be creating a physical stress reaction in our body.

Some interesting studies have shown that developing compassion is a good way to reduce anxiety and stress. Taking time for a kind action can be very simple. Getting out of your own thought circles and thinking of someone else is like allowing fresh air to clear your mind

Some simple ideas for practicing acts of kindness once a day:

Thank a teacher for their work

Help someone with a computer problem

Wash someone else’s dishes

Hold a door open for someone with a load of books

Smile at someone

Take a moment to notice the cafeteria staff - learn their names - say hello.

Say good morning to security staff.

Noticing the people in your environment is a simple way of getting out of your mindlessness.

Being kind to yourself is very worthwhile as well of course! Taking time for 5 slow, deep breaths is worth far more than the constant problem solving mode our minds are usually caught up in.

Good luck.

Active Stress Busting

Physical fitness is the cornerstone of all wellness. Developing and maintaining an active lifestyle is critical to your chance of success in all endeavours.

Exercise can actually increase your stress threshold. This means you can handle more stress when you maintain an active lifestyle.
Physical exercise is one of the most powerful “drugs” you can give yourself to keep your mind and body going strong.

Go for a walk, join a kick boxing class, dance at home. It is important to exercise for good health and well being, not just to lose weight. Choose things you enjoy - it is not meant to be a punishment! It is about developing a lifestyle that brings you pleasure.

You might want to try working out in the morning at the fitness centre before classes so you can feel energized for the day.

When you understand how important physical activity is to a strong, healthy mind, you will never again decide you don’t have time for exercise because you have too much studying to do!

This site has a wealth of knowledge on just how the mind and body are intricately connected and on how powerfully exercise impacts our quality of life.

At this site you can go to the physical section for good ideas on different types of exercise.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Let Food Be Your Medicine

Food has an incredible effect on how you feel. Most people have no idea the power food has in affecting how they think and feel.

Start the day with good food. You need to feed the body so the mind can feel energized and clear.
Food affects clarity of mind and calmness of body.

Nutrition is one of the most important factors in maintaining good overall balance in your health. A bowl of hot or cold whole grains cereal (not the kind with sugar listed as the second ingredient!) with nuts or fresh fruit on top is an easy, excellent routine to get into. There are many good cereal, fruit and nut choices to choose from so you look forward to this important, easy habit.

“Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.” Hippocrates

At this site you can take an assessment to see how you shape up as far as eating and activity health

Here is some information on eating disorders. If you have concerns about yourself or a friend, make an appointment with Valerie in Mind and Wellness up in the Student Success Hub.

Info on eating disorders

Friday, November 2, 2007

Don't Sweat It

Place one hand on your belly, breathe slowly and deeply, feel your hand rise and fall. Let your shoulders drop and feel your body relax and renew.

Try an experiment by doing this each hour in a day and see how it affects your day. Do it with a friend so you can remind each other.
Relaxation has a cumulative effect. If you include a brief period of relaxation into your daily schedule, your body’s ability to relax will increase.

“There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.” Ghandi

Remember – you have choices when it comes to your anxiety. A well cared for body creates a relaxed mind. While you are here at college learning “the tools of your trade” you will need to learn how to care for yourself as well. Learn to eat and sleep well. Learn what relaxes you, what brings you pleasure. And learn to use substances wisely.

Remember as well – it’s ok to drop a course, end a relationship, let go of some commitments –all of these things can be done with gentleness. It’s when we tell ourselves we have no choice, no way out, that we create a sense of incredible anxiety or depression. Reach out for support and help if you feel you overwhelmed. You can find some good relaxation techniques at this site.

There is also a site on youtube. Just type in "relaxation" at the youtube site and you have the option of 3 minute, 5 minute, even 30 minute relaxations that are quite wonderful.

At this site look under “How to overcome test anxiety?”

Monday, October 22, 2007

Tolerating roommates and being a tolerable roommate

The greatest conflicts are not between two people but between one person and her/himself."

Try to remember that each human being is trying for the same thing you are-to be happy and at ease. Don’t demonize those you don’t like.

“Peace starts within each of us. When we have inner peace, we can be at peace with those around us.” Dalai Lama

If you are having difficulty, try to address it immediately. Don’t tell yourself it is “no big deal.” Talk with the person you have an issue with. If you are unsuccessful in resolving the problem, you can talk to your RA or the residence staff.

This site has tips for living with roommates.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Feeling the squeeeeeze

Mid-terms! Major assignments! Group projects! Presentations!

You are now hitting the half-way mark of your semester. Are you starting to have some doubts about your ability to succeed in your post secondary education? There are lots of supports at the College to help you reach your goals

Fear not because fear just is not a helpful emotion at this point. A little stress isn't bad if it is the good kind of stress that motivates you to decide you can skip a TV show or two and maybe reduce the party commitments a little.

Fear itself though, creates a whole series of reactions in your body and brain which do not create an ideal internal situation for clarity of mind!

A few disappointing test results, a bad mark on an assignment? It happens to lots of students. Your best strategy at this point is not to linger and brood on what cannot be changed. Give yourself and your friends some pep talks and move forward. Take good care of yourself and your friends. Make each other good meals. Encourage each other to take time for the gym or a walk. Remind each other to get some sleep. Set up some study group times to encourage each other in staying focused and committed to your goals.

A mind that is anxious or full of fear does not learn easily. Relax your mind. Check out YouTube where you can type in "relaxation" and you will see many options for 5 min, 10 min or half hour relaxations. Or try out the relaxation/meditation every Tuesday and Thursday from 12-12:30 in room 2L26.

If you are finding you really do not understand some of your class work or feel unable to get yourself on track don't forget you have a student success mentor who can help support you and get you ON TRAK. You can book appointment time through Jodie in the Student Success Hub just above the computer lab.

The mentors also offer workshops on time management,coping with stress and notetaking. Check out the workshops remaining for this semester.

October 29 Student Success: Making It Work
4:00 pm in Room 2H16

November 5 Student Success: Making It Work
4:00 pm in Room 2H16
6:30 pm in Rez Common Room

November 12 Student Success: Surviving The Crunch
4:00 pm in Room 2H16
6:30 pm in Rez Common Room

Remember you are not alone here at the college. There are many supports to help you to succeed. We have counselors and a mental health nurse. You can make appointments with them as well through Jodie in the Student Success Hub.

Take a couple of deep breaths, roll your shoulders and let them drop. Another couple of deep breaths and reeeeelax your mind, feed it good food, give it some restful sleep, take it out for some fresh air. It will respond by learning with more ease and allowing you a feeling of peacefulness rather than stress.

Health Sexuality

I think it may be a sad comment on the state of our evolution that when we talk about healthy sexuality we usually mean how to avoid sickness and even death.

Healthy sexuality is more than protecting yourself from disease and pregnancy. These in themselves are extremely important issues. Also of great importance is developing an understanding of your own sexuality,how you function emotionally and knowing how to experience one of the great pleasures of our humanness without ignorance and shame.

Young students can be particularly vulnerable to unpleasant or even traumatic sexual experiences due to the use of alcohol and other substances. Using puts you at risk of making choices you would not usually make. Just a few moments of poor choice can create a lifetime of consequences. You also miss the exquisite experience when you are not fully present due to altered consciousness.

This website offers a really interesting discussion of the many facets of sexuality exploring more than just sexual feelings and sexual intercourse. It speaks to issues of body image, sensuality and how we view ourselves in our gender roles.

Loyalist College is a Rainbow positive college. Rainbow community includes gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, two-spirited and any other alternative you can think of as well as their allies. We have a weekly drop in group and an on-line Rainbow Message Board. For access info to either connect with Valerie in Mind and Wellness Services in the Student Hub or email her at

This is a great site with quizzes, virtual scenarios and the sex-fu challenge (a video game that challenges your sex knowledge)
The site offers a demo on using condoms as well as info on how to make a dental dam out of a condom. It has loads of other useful, up-to-date, down to earth, real life info.

Specifically addressing gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, trans, queer, etc.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sleep. Who Needs It?

There are so many more interesting things to do with your time than sleep, right? You have classes and assignments and tests. Maybe you have a job as well. You've got to spend some time with friends and have some fun; and staying fit takes some time too. Now, when exactly is there time for this sleep business?

Our culture in general has a sleep debt. Your poor human body unfortunately is not going to let you get away with so little sleep for long. As you get further into the school year, you may notice you have a shorter fuse? Get irritated by very small annoyances? Can't seem to focus for long? Reach for sugary treats of coffee more often to give you a quick boost? Can't get those assignments done as easily as you did before?

Sleep is one of most basic human needs for reeenergizing. Sleeping and eating disorders are becoming more prevalent among college age students.

Most college students fall short when it comes to getting enough sleep. Sleep is a powerful tool for maintaining balance. Sleep deprivation can hurt academic performance and increase stress. Sleep requirements vary for each individual but studies show college students need more than 8 hours/night! No kidding.

Learn to say NO. You won’t be able to do everything. And after a while nothing you do brings you any real satisfaction if you feel a constant sense of fatigue.

I heard a student in the halls last week calling out to a friend as they headed home for the weekend "And don't forget to get some sleep!" What a great friend. We all need those words ringing in our heads reminding us.

You will find some great tips at this site on how to develop some good sleep habits.

Look in the sleep and wellness section on this site.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Brain Holidays

Recently a lot of scientific research has been done on meditation. Following are just some of the benefits research has confirmed:
1. A relaxed, calm state of mind becomes a learned response when practiced continuously over time. Imagine remaining calm in any situation!
2. A large percentage of doctor office visits and counselling appointments are related to stress. Meditation is one of the best tools for coping with stress.
3. It increases concentration and focus ability

Meditation instruction and practice is available to any student at Loyalist on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Rm 1L26 from 12-12:30. Drop in and try it out.

This site has a wealth of information specifically directed toward college students. You will find sections on all aspects of health – mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. It speaks about the negative emotions most common to college students and gives tips on how to deal with them.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

MAD Student Society

Mad Students Society (MSS) is an organization run by and for students. MSS was created to provide peer support, advocacy and self-empowerment for students experiencing "mental health" issues in post-secondary institutions. You can check them out at the following website.

Whether you have a diagnosed mental illness or whether you just wonder if there is something "just not quite right," it is a good idea for all college students to have some information about mental illness. This is the age group where problems of this kind can start to show up and students often have misconceptions about what mental illness is. They think it can't happen to them.

Recently Margaret Trudeau,the former wife of Pierre Trudeau (Prime Minister of Canada from 1968-1979)spoke in Belleville. She did not believe that she had a mental illness for many years and spoke of the poor decisions and choices she made; the suffering she put herself and loved ones through and her great delight in being well now and being able to encourage others to seek help. She told the audience that she is often called courageous to be so public about what is often seen as a shameful illness. Margaret Trudeau said she did not feel like it took courage; she just felt so happy to finally understand she had an illness that could be treated and she wanted to encourage anyone who is struggling to at least ask for help and get assessed.

Check out the posters around the school. “Face Mental Illness” features ordinary people who are out of the closet about their mental illness – face the reality of mental illness by learning more about it.

“Too few Canadians know about the burden of mental illness on our society, and too few sufferers seek help when they need it. Mental Illness Awareness Week seeks to raise awareness of the level of mental illness in Canada; to reduce negative stigma about mental illness amongst the general population and health care professionals…” MIAW

Mental Illness can happen to anyone, at any age. The World Health Organization says it is 4th in the top 10 disabilities world wide. One of the best strategies to prevent illness of any kind is making a commitment to yourself –Maintain balance with basic self care. A healthy diet, adequate sleep, physical activity, relaxation and a good support network of family and friends.

Some people view mental illness from a biomedical model; seeing it as a result of genetics and neurochemistry. Others view it from a psychosocial perspective; linking it to “life events.”
Both points of view have validity and however you view it, the stats are significant enough to suggest everyone will be touched by it in some way over their life – be it a family member, loved one, friend, co-worker or self.

This web site features the stories of the people you see in the “Face Mental Illness” posters around the school. The website also has lots of information on mental illness and the impact it has on individuals, families and communities.

Some great sites for information on mental illnesses.

This site is a good site for holistic information specific to depression. It also has a discussion group moderated by health professionals.


At last -you are totally your own boss at this point in your life –open to all possibilities. Making responsible choices about all the new possibilities will set standards for the rest of your life.

Use of any substance is going to be totally up to you. Some students use alcohol, tobacco and other drugs to deal with stress. When you are finished drinking or smoking you are still stressed – you haven’t really dealt with the stress. As well, if you are using substances to deal with stress, you miss the opportunity to develop your own personal coping skills.

Some students use alcohol and drugs to feel more at ease in social situations. Again, if you don’t balance your use, you aren’t developing social skills, you are developing drug skills.

Binge drinking puts you at risk. (Binging is defined as 5 or more drinks in one session.) Every year students who thought it would never happen to them end up with alcohol poisoning. You are particularly at risk when you play drinking games.

Party smart and avoid binge drinking. Be creative – party drug and alcohol free. What a concept!

Learn to say NO. Don’t be led by the herd mentality. Be clear with yourself about making your own choices. No one makes you do anything at this point in your life. You are free to choose and free to be responsible for yourself.

Some party smart tips and info:

1) Go out with a group of friends you trust and have clear agreements about making sure everyone gets home safely.

2) Those most at risk for assault are those who are getting drunk frequently. Talk to a friend if you are concerned about their behavior. Encourage them to see one of the counsellors here at Loyalist.

3) Females and males have different notions about what they want when they are being "sexual." Females may be ok with kissing and some "making out" whereas males may feel this means they have permission for full sexual intercourse. It is important to know that whether you are male or female, you have the right to say "NO" at any point. Even if you have indicated you are ready for a full sexual encounter, you can say NO at any point. This is not bizzare behavior, nor is it "being a tease." This is adult, responsible behavior and people who call you names for the choices you make or make you feel ashamed do not have your best interests in their heart. This is not a person you want to be intimate with!

4) Alcohol and other drugs alter your awareness levels; that is why you use them, right? You want a break from your usual state of mind. Fine. Just remember that this is not a state in which you want to have a sexual encounter.

At this website choose "substance use" from the list of topics on the left and then choose "frequently asked questions (FAQs)" on the right for interesting facts on drugs and alcohol.

This site offer some good tips for “drinking smarts.”

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Overwhelmed yet?

A good tip for staying balanced is to be sure you are clear about your goals. What is it you want from this year?

Getting organized right at the beginning is going to make your year a LOT easier. Being organized can reduce your stress and increase your chances of success.

The student agenda is a great resource for keeping yourself organized. It also has information about all the support services available to students.

If you are not sure where to start – ask for help – Jodie in the Student Success Hub can point you in the right direction.

Student Success Mentors will be running workshops on Time Management , Study Skills and Managing Your Stress so check in with your Student Success Mentor early in the semester. They are also available to help you on a one to one basis.

Paying attention to your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual being will help you feel balanced. Be sure you are balancing fun time and academics - both are important.

Nourishing yourself physically can mean moving your body - a walk, climbing the stairs to get to class or playing on the intra school baseball team.

Physical nourishment also includes making sure to include fruits and vegetables in your daily meals, having some care about the amount of sugar and caffeine you put into your body and giving your body the chance to have 7-9 hours of restful, nourishing, replenishing SLEEP! Yes, sleep is something humans need.

Nourishing yourself emotionally includes spending time with people whose eyes light up when they see you, extending kindness to someone and noticing your own strong qualities.

Mental nourishment is almost a given at school. Here you are in college. Your mind has lots to be curious about and lots of interesting, knowledgeable people around. Your mind also enjoys vacations from its usual busy rounds so be sure to let your mind relax into a visualization or meditation. You can find some great meditations on YouTube - just type in relaxation and you will get a variety of different lengths and types.

To nourish yourself spiritually can mean time alone listening to music that feels like it soothes your soul. It might mean a few quiet moments in the garden or some quiet time thinking about qualities that are important to you such as kindness, forgiveness or generosity. Spirituality means different things to people but in general it refers to the sense of something bigger than just the physical body, bigger than just yourself.

These sites have great info particularly relevant to college students on issues of time management, study skills, social skills and dealing with stress to name a few.">">">

The Homesick Blues

This much I know. There are a lot of people out there feeling homesick. Once the excitement and newness and sense of freedom wears off and you start to settle in to college life; the homesick blues can hit.

You might think no one else is feeling like you; everyone else is too cool to care or they may seem really socially smooth. Believe me, there are lots of students feeling the same as you.

All those annoying family habits you were so happy to be free of, may now seem achingly sweet and far away. You couldn't wait to get here and now you can't wait for Thanksgiving to get home. Life is so funny like that. Once you are home for Thanksgiving, you might just be dying to get back to school again!

You will get through the blues - the homesickness does pass. Here are a few suggestions to help you make it through the night.

1) Talk to someone. Either a roomate you trust or a friend or classmate or let them know at home. Talk to your RA or make an appointment with one of our counsellors. Talking about it doesn't make you a failure - it will help lessen the distress. Allowing yourself to admit what you are feeling can help to start the letting go process.

2) Get out and get involved - school sports, student government activities, class group projects, study buddy or gym buddy - every one in their first year is in the same boat. Everyone is new and many are hesitant or shy. It can help to remember this as you try something new.

3) It's good to have familiar objects around you but take care not to spend all your time looking at photos of your beloved friends and family. Get out and look at some new faces.

4) Make a group meal with new roomates or invite some classmates for a pot luck.

5) Avoid making rash decisions about leaving college. It is important to give yourself time.

6) Don't go home every weekend. Start to build a life at school.

7) Be patient with yourself, give yourself time. It WILL pass.

Making New Friends at College

You made it. You have a life! You are getting a college education. The social scene is probably not what you are used to though. It might look sweet, but it might also look a bit intimidating.

You might have just come from high school where you've been with the same crowd for some time. You might have come out of the work force and you are used to a familiar group of co-workers and friends. Or, maybe you already have family, a job and a long-term set of social contacts. Whichever it is, the college social scene can seem exciting, challenging, daunting and even overwhelming.

College is a place where you can make life-long friends or where you can simply enjoy some light social contact with fellow students before you head back to family and well known friends.

Whichever is the case for you; friends are one of the great joys in life. One very important factor that determines how healthy a person is happens to be friendships. Studies show that people who have good supportive friends are ill less often and have greater longevity!

Commit to speaking to one new person every day this week. Or, at least commit to smiling at one person every day and see what happens. Studies show that behaving in a happy way (eg. smiling) can actually promote the feeling of happiness. A real example of “fake ‘till you make it.” Try the experiment.

Be comfortable and be yourself. Other students are just as nervous as you are. Trying to appear something you are not sets you up for discomfort.

If you want to make friends – be a friend – offer your help – lend a pen – participate in school sponsored events, set up study groups or meet for coffee.

If you are living in res – leave your door open – invite people in for a snack. Don’t use up all your time communicating by email with old friends from home – take some time to get out and meet some new people.

“The best way to experience true nurturing is to give true nurturing.” Caroline Myss

Good friends push us to develop the best in ourselves.

You can check out this site for ideas on how to develop some friendships, resolve conflicts and improve your communication skills.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Students Staying Balanced

Wellness is about BALANCE in all aspects of being human. This means you give attention to your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing on a daily basis. Each of these factors is interconnected.

Being extremely physically fit but not leaving time to nurture friendships or spend quiet, reflective time to nourish the spirit leaves you feeling unbalanced.

This blog will have weekly tips and ideas for developing a balance for yourself. Check in with yourself daily on your four different aspects– physical, mental, emotional, spiritual – to ensure you give attention to each.

Meditation sessions for Loyalist staff and students– Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:00 until 12:30. You are welcome to drop into Room 1L26 for some quiet meditation instruction and practice. Instruction will begin at noon and then practice begins at 12:15. There will be no entry to the room after 12:10 to allow for some short, uninterrupted meditation. Everyone welcome and you don’t have to be able to sit cross legged!