Unwind Your Mind

This semester we developed sessions for Unwind Your Mind to help students and staff manage the impacts of COVID-19 and created online webinars to help cope. Check back daily as we will be updating this with information on food that makes you feel good, self-care, routine and boundaries, grieving and anxiety, and supportive listening remotely.

Stay up-to-date on the latest COVID-19 university information.


Unwind Your Mind is a mental health initiative developed to support student well-being throughout the academic year by creating environments for students to de-stress. By providing these spaces in libraries across campus, we hope to encourage students to take breaks in their studies to connect with their well-being.

Unwind Your Mind is offered through the Healthy Campus Unit in collaboration with U of A Libraries, LiveWell, and campus partners.

Self-Care - April 8

Unwind Your Mind Self-Care

 

Self-care is an activity we do in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. In times like these it is important that we all set aside time each day to take care of ourselves. Good self-care can help improve your mood and reduce anxiety. Agnes Wainman explained, self-care is “something that refuels us, rather than takes from us.”

It is important to know that self-care is different for everyone. What may work for one person may not work for another. Self-care can take on so many different forms! Some examples of self-care are reading a book or a magazine, taking your dog for a walk, creating a TikTok video, enjoying a relaxing bubble bath, painting, cooking, dancing, participating in a group fitness class, or taking a nap! 

Looking for new self-care activities or tips and tricks? Check out the University of Alberta’s Healthy Campus Unit’s Instagram @ualbertahcu to check out their April Self-Care Challenge. Each day they’ll post a new self-care challenge to their story for you to try. Use April as an opportunity to take care of yourself!

Some other self-care resources for you to take a look at!

  • Healthy Campus Unit is doing a weekly Stay-In Connected email! Receive weekly communication with ideas on how to stay healthy and connected during physical distancing. Sign up link here.
  • Campus & Community Recreation - They’re posting workout videos on their Instagram and Facebook pages! 
  • Also checkout other local gyms! A lot of gyms are hosting Instagram live workout sessions! A favourite is Champs Boxing Studio!
  • Take a scroll through BuzzFeed. They have lots of fun articles to read and always recommend the best products for some self-care
  • Practice Mindfulness through the CMHA or follow along with the Alumni Student Support & Engagement Team’s youtube channel for mindfulness
  • Don’t forget to check-in with yourself - complete the U of A Mental Health Check-in
  • And check-in with others - use Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, Snapchat, etc. to connect with your friends
  • 20 Self-Care Practices for the Mind, Body and Soul 
Grieving Loss and Experiencing Anxiety - April 9

Unwind Your Mind - Grief and Loss

 As we attempt to navigate life during COVID-19 as a community, we are also united in our feelings of grief and loss. The definition of grief is not limited to the loss of a loved one; it also includes grieving the loss of a relationship, financial security, the rituals and ceremonies of ending the year. Grieving a loss is natural, and the uncertainty of our current context can create anticipatory grief. Some people may experience sadness, others anger, and some may be feeling a sense of general unease or worry. Giving ourselves the permission to name our emotions and allowing ourselves experience them are the first steps in coping. Sharing your experience and staying connected can also be helpful. 

We invite you to anonymously share an experience of grief and loss associated with COVID-19 measures. Students, staff, and faculty are all welcome to participate. Submissions will be shared online as a way of building a collective understanding of what this time means to our campus community. The submission form is here.

Remember, you are not alone, and it is ok to allow yourself to grieve.If you do need more formal support, there are people ready and available to help.

Supports and Resources

Mental Health and Wellness Supports for Students  

AHS Mental Health Help Line 

Online Social Connection Resource List

More Information on Grief and Loss During COVID

How do I cope with the stress and anxiety of a pandemic?

How Are Students Handling Things During COVID-19?

Grief and COVID-19: Mourning our bygone lives

 

Supportive Listening Remotely - April 14

Supportive Listening Remotely

Now, more than ever, we're leaning on each other for support. For lots of folks, this is really difficult when we can't be face-to-face. You might wonder -- how could you possibly show the people in your life that you care, and that you're here for them when they can't see the concern in your eyes, or hear the gentleness in your voice? Is it even possible to show care and empathy through a text or email? For those of us who provide support through text and chat services, this is something we navigate on the daily. Let us show you how possible it is to be the same supportive person you are irl while connecting remotely.

This video highlights 4 main support skills that can be really impactful when supporting someone remotely:

  1. Normalizing and validating: sometimes it can mean a lot to be told you’re not alone in how you’re feeling, and that it makes sense. We can craft all sorts of narratives to invalidate our own emotions, so taking the space to let someone know it’s alright to feel how they’re feeling can go a long way. 
  2. Paraphrasing and summarizing: If we’re not together in-person, it can be hard to show that we’re actually listening. So, if we’re supporting someone remotely, paraphrasing and summarizing can be a way of communicating not only that you’re listening -- it also gives people space to correct you if you’re maybe not fully getting it! This can be especially important through text, because there’s a lot that’s open to interpretation when it comes to the written word. 
  3. Asking open questions: Asking a few open questions in a supportive conversation through text can help give the person seeking support some space to share their concerns. It also shows that we’re engaged and that we care about knowing more. It’s important that we don't ask too many--because we don’t want to take control of the conversation--but a few here and there will keep the conversation going and provide clarity when we’re not sure we’re on the same page.
  4. Highlighting resiliencies: In times like this, it can be hard to know what we need, or to see all of the ways in which we are actually taking care of ourselves. If you notice something like this in the conversation with the person you’re supporting, highlight that! It’s important that this comes from a genuine place, and not one of trying to create positivity or optimism just for the sake of it. Ultimately, something as simple as “It sounds to me like you really do know what you need, and that’s awesome!” can go a long way.
Routine and Boundaries - April 15

Unwind Your Mind - Routine and Boundaries

Maintaining a routine while adapting to learning from home can be difficult- but routines are a key factor in maintaining mental wellness. Routines help reduce mental fatigue, so simple actions such as getting up at your usual time, showering and getting dressed as you would for work or school can be helpful in retaining a sense of normalcy during these unusual times. It is important to create an environment which will enable you to achieve this routine- some of the ways in which you can do this are:

  • Creating a workspace: Whether it’s your kitchen table or a desk in your bedroom, you know that when you’re in this space, you’ve committed to doing school work, attending online lectures, or studying.
  • Take breaks: Many studies have found that pausing for a moment to relax and reboot is essential for achieving productivity, success, and a positive outlook, especially for students hunkered down in front of a computer. Not taking breaks can lead to a decrease in academic performance, and in some cases, anxiety, insomnia, and depression. Taking a break can look like: taking a walk, stretching, getting a healthy snack, drinking water, or having a brief chat with friends (via video or phone, of course). Try to refrain from watching netflix or scrolling social media during breaks.
  • Maintain social relationships via phone and video chat. Loneliness and isolation are common issues during this era of working and learning from home. Making time to connect with friends and family, whether it be through video or phone, is critical to maintaining mental wellness and a sense of routine in our daily lives.

In order to create a routine, setting and maintaining boundaries with friends and family is important. Boundaries are the limits you set between yourself and others to ensure that you are safe-guarding your time, physical space, energy, and thoughts. These are especially important in protecting your routine as you transition to doing school from home. For example, letting friends and family know that during certain hours, you will not be able to respond to them because they are your ‘school hours’ will help you to establish your school work routine. Once that has been articulated, it is important that you enforce that boundary. This could be done by: enabling ‘do not disturb’ on your phone, putting on headphones while you’re working, or closing the door to the room you are working in.

To summarize: being clear about your boundaries, enforcing those boundaries, and maintaining a routine will help in achieving mental wellness as we adjust to the new ‘normal’. Stay safe everyone!

Feel Good Food - Updated Regularly

Unwind Your Mind - Feel Good Food

During this time, eating and nourishing our bodies is a form of self-care! We will be providing fun, quick, and easy snacks or meals that our Dean of Students Staff have been enjoying while working from home! 

Charlotte's Fried Rice