Friday, March 27, 2009

Organize for Success

Relaxation Tip
Watch out for “peace stealers” like television or too much time in front of any screen – this wears a body out. It can catch you up and eat your precious time. It may feel like you are relaxing when you are in front of the screen because you are not moving your body or trying to accomplish a task. Your precious mind however, the one you want to pass your tests and solve problems and motivate you, is being bombarded by whatever is on the screen and then has no way to work this stimulation out through movement. Try taking a break from “screen” activities as a way of relaxing.

Organized For Success
Getting organized is going to make your life a LOT easier. Being organized can reduce your stress and increase your chances of success.

Your Student Success Mentors can help you one on one with time management.To find out who your mentor is and make an appointment you can visit the Student Success Hub above SAL and book through Jodie

The following 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.

ASL signed video about time management

Directed to high school but good graphics and info

Friday, March 20, 2009


Relaxation Tip

Try this little shower tip to reduce pain and stress. In the shower, grab your hair close to your scalp and tug up to release tension. Rub your fingers in small circles over your entire head to stimulate blood flow.

Relationship Stress

Relationship breakups and stresses are definitely a part of college life. Students going through this often feel lonely and sad and they lose their motivation. Be aware that these feelings can be expected and that it is important to address them right away so as to minimize the impact on your academic goals.
Breakups can create so much emotional drama and turmoil that emotional, mental and physical health becomes impacted. It may be difficult to want to eat or study or keep up with a physical fitness routine.
Taking proper care of your emotional being is also an important part of your education at this time in your life. How you deal with emotional stresses and turmoil now, can set a pattern for your future. Loyalist has a counselling department and counselling sessions are free to students. Often, a couple of meetings with a counselor are enough to at least keep you afloat and on track. These older and wiser people can help guide you through a crisis.

Gay and Katie Hendricks about toxic attraction and genuine love

Friday, March 13, 2009

Balancing Act

Relaxation Tip:
If you have been sitting for a while, get your oxygen flowing by sitting up straight and lacing your fingers behind your head. Pull your elbows back, stretching your upper back and chest muscles. Bring your elbows forward. Repeat.

Some healthy coping behaviour that help a person feel balanced are: Exercise, down time for self care, a mixture of work and play and a time management schedule.

Other coping strategies people use but are more likely to leave them feeling unbalanced in the long term include: Chronic use of alcohol or other drugs, avoidance of a commitment or responsibility, procrastination and overeating.

Addiction can happen slowly. We can slowly begin to rely on less than healthy means of dealing with our stress – eating, relationship drama, drugs, gaming. How do we tell when we cross the line from a passion to an addiction?

Cynthia Jane Collins in her book “The Recovery Spiral” defines addiction :
“…if we habitually or compulsively - with or without awareness or intention - use any activity, substance or person[s] to move us away from our true selves, we are practicing addictive behaviours.”

A few exerpts from Gabor Mate’s new book about the many facets of addiction, “In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts”:
Mate says about addiction, “In the final analysis, it’s not the activity or object itself that defines an addiction but our relationship to whatever is the external focus of our attention or behaviour.
This author also talks about a Vietnam veterans study which pointed to similar conclusions as the "Rat Park Study". Many soldiers in Vietnam used readily available heroin addictively. When they returned home and were no longer exposed to the conditions of that war, the greater part of them no longer used. Similarly, rats living in cages were offered the choice of an addictive substance and they readily chose it. When the rats were placed in “Rat Park” rather than a cage, they stopped choosing the substance. “Rat Park” was also a cage but much larger and with features added that gave interest and stimulation to the daily lives of the rats. Mate’s conclusion: –“under certain conditions of stress many people can be made susceptible to addiction, but if circumstances change for the better, the addictive drive will abate.”
In Mate’s words, “physiological stress reaction causes a maelstrom of hormonal secretions and nervous discharges that involve virtually every organ and system in the body. The most potent stressors are loss of control and uncertainty in important areas of life, whether personal or professional, economic or psychological. What do all stressor have in common? Ultimately they all represent the absence of something the organism perceives as necessary for survival- or its threatened loss.
In humans, the most common stressors are emotional rather than physical. Naturally this suggests that developing some intelligence about how emotions work is a very good strategy for dealing with our stress.

Try to be sure some of the habits you are developing for dealing with stress make sense for you and contribute to your long term sense of wellness and balance. Check out the website link for "What's With Weed?" You can take an assessment to see where you are at with weed use and how you compare with others your age. You can see short videos of young people talking about their weed use. You can pick up tips on how to reduce the harm of weed use if you are interested in doing that.

Daniel Goldman talking about social intelligence

Signed video about emotional and multiple intelligences

Friday, March 6, 2009

The No Panic Button

Relaxation Tip
Draw or doodle aimlessly for a few minutes. Colour like when you were a kid – with no expectation of being “good” at it or making a “pretty” picture – just have fun. Put on your favorite music and dance around your room like “there’s nobody watchin.”

Coping Tips for Panic Attacks

1.Remember that although your feelings and symptoms are frightening, they are neither dangerous nor harmful.

2.Understand that what you are experiencing is merely an increase of your normal reactions to stress.

3.Do not fight your feelings or try to wish them away. The more willing you are to face them, the less intense they will become.

4.Do not add to your panic by thing about what might happen. If you find yourself asking “What if?” try telling yourself “So what!”

5.Stay in the present. Be aware of what is happening to you rather than concern yourself with how much worse it might get.

6.Label your fear level from zero to ten and watch it go up and down. Notice that it doesn’t stay at a very high level for more than a few seconds.

7.When you find yourself thinking about fear, change your “what if” thinking. Focus on and perform some simple, manageable task.

8.Notice that when you stop thinking frightening thoughts your anxiety fades.

9.When fear comes, accept it, do not fight it. Wait and give it time to pass. Do not try to escape from it.

10. Be proud of the progress you have made. Think about how good you will feel when the anxiety has passed. And it WILL pass.

Relaxation skills are taught and practiced twice weekly from 1-1:30 Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Mind and Wellness office in the Student Success Hub. Feel free to drop in for any of these sessions.

Shows massaging of an acupressure point for dealing with anxiety, panic and palpitations

Technique to deal with the anxiety guys have to approach a girl

Friday, February 20, 2009

Healthy Thinking

Relaxation Tip

Get clues from your physical body as to how you are doing emotionally - unusual body aches that don’t go away – if you pay attention early on, you can usually connect some thoughts that are causing them and take the steps necessary to remedy the situation.

The Body/Mind Connection

Back in the day, people thought of their body and mind as very separate entities. We are now much more aware of the intricate connections. Our body deals with stress through both conscious and unconscious pathways which we are not always aware of. Perhaps thoughts in our mind lead to a reaction from our nervous system that create an emotion. Perhaps an emotion creates thoughts in our mind.

You might get a message from your body that you are feeling very fearful about a presentation to the class. You might get the “butterfly” feeling in your gut, feel sweaty, even nauseous. You can tell yourself, “I’m fine, I’m well prepared, there is no reason to be nervous.” Your body is, however, a more truthful indicator than your mind. That is why it is important to train yourself to be aware of the signals from your body.

Denying that stress is there does not make it go away. Stress tends to build and accumulate. If we don’t use some skills to decrease our stress level, we head into the next stressful situation with some leftover stress from the previous situation. Taking time during your day to take a few simple deep breaths, to slow down, stretch and pay attention are all good strategies for keeping stress at a good and manageable level. As you learn to pay attention, there is greater ability to discern between tension and relaxation and there are more options to do something about it.

Very interesting research is being done in many scientific domains that show us how much our own thoughts and perceptions create our reality.

Thymus tapping to relieve stress

Friday, February 13, 2009

God! God. God?

Relaxation Tip:
Go to a very quiet place and take a very long walk alone.

Got God?

College is a time for experimentation in many areas, including spiritual beliefs. Some students may have attended synagogue, church or faced east to pray on a regular basis because they were at home with family. Being out on their own, some of these practices fall by the wayside because of the pressures of academic life but also because students may start to search and question for themselves.

In a survey done by students in 2007 at Loyalist, 62% of our students did not feel that spirituality and religion were the same thing. Do you feel spirituality plays a strong role in your life? What about religion? 43% of students in the poll in 2007 said they searched for greater meaning in their lives.

Being at college may mean you have the opportunity to be exposed to different belief systems. Some good rules of thumb for entering into interesting discussion:

Discuss ideas to learn, not to criticize
Take advantage of the diversity on campus to get to know about other beliefs.
Don’t push your ideas on others; rather be ready to discuss and share information.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and challenge your own stereotypes.

Students may find their “beliefs” take a back seat to the pressures of college. Others may find that the pressures are a way of deepening and strengthening their beliefs as they have to actually call on inner strengths to get them through the pressures of these first years out on their own.

Separating body and mind separates purpose from intent. Bringing them together brings purpose and intent into union and you end up feeling like there is meaning in what you are doing and living.

Short video with white robed man explaining awareness- being aware of a thought that causes stress

TED link Karen Armstrong provocative original thinker on the role of religion in the modern world.

Friday, January 30, 2009

It's NOT all in your Mind

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

Relaxation Tip:Practice walking more slowly in the halls. Notice how your mind thinks you have to be in a hurry all the time. Challenge your own thoughts. Walk slowly and notice how difficult it is to keep your pace slowed down. With practice it will become easier. And why would you want to walk slowly? When you slow your body, your thoughts will slow down as well and you will FEEL more relaxed. Try it.

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 overwhelmed.

You can find some good relaxation techniques at this site.

This site on youtube will speak a relaxation to you with some beautiful imagery.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sex, drugs and rock and roll

Relaxation Tip
Take a minute right now. Take a deep breath. Rotate your shoulders in small gentle circles forward five times and backward five times. Take another deep breath and feel the relaxation.

Loyalist students report that their number one health concerns are drugs and sex. Those two put together often create heartache for young adults. You tend to make choices and decisions sexually that you aren't happy with in the long term when you are "under the influence."
Some students use alcohol and other drugs to feel more at ease in social situations and decrease their stress. Remember though, if you don’t balance your use, you aren’t developing social skills or stress strategies, you are just developing drug habits. Use of any substance is going to be totally up to you. Using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs to deal with stress or just to experiment is your choice. If you think about it, when you are finished drinking or smoking or using, 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. 1. 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. 2. Party smart and avoid binge drinking. Be creative – party drug and alcohol free. What a concept! 3. 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.
If you are interested in seeking out other students who are interested in varied and exciting experiences that aren’t defined by alcohol, use our comments sections for ideas. It’s not about total abstinence, just allowing yourself a lot more choices about how often, how much and with whom you choose to drink.

OK so we've talked about sex and drugs. Where's the rock and roll? Well, apparently it will never die so it is out there somewhere. Go find it and enjoy!

At this site you can choose Substance Use to view information and charts about drug effects.

This site offer some good tips for “drinking smarts.” 20 minute video about stress and drugs

This site offers a short animation series about tobacco.