Ways to Wellness: Find Your Way
Fall 2017 brings a new school year with the renewal of concerns about stress among students. From navigating classes to keeping up with your social life, things can easily get overwhelming. Whether you’re in your first or final year, mental wellness is important but can be difficult to prioritize.
Everyone’s experience of mental health is unique. Everyone’s journey has their own different starts, paths and destinations, but if there’s one thing we can do together, it’s that we can create a campus that is supportive, responsive and connected.
This year’s “Ways to Wellness” campaign is set to broaden our idea of ways that we can manage stress and find out what works best for us. The campaign outlines some pathways that you may find helpful as a student and some resources that might be helpful along the way. Not everyone follows the same pathway and different students might enact the same pathway in different ways based on our experiences and identities. It is our objective to help students find their own personalized way to wellness.
Here are five general pathways that could help you stay well this year. Many of them can be interpreted in multiple different ways depending on your interest, ability, and comfort level. We’ve listed a couple here to get you started but remember there are lots of other ways to get involved!
When things get tough, it’s easy to feel isolated. Surrounding yourself with healthy and positive relationships through a supportive community can make things easier. Some ways that you can include connection in your life are by:
- Going for coffee or tea with a friend
- Becoming a member of a club or student society
- Getting to know someone over lunch
- Making time for family
- Joining an intramural team
- Finding an organization in the community that you can volunteer with
Trying things that are new to you outside the classroom can be very rewarding! You can try this out by:
- Trying a new hobby
- Learning a new skill (e.g. cooking, knitting, DIY crafting, coding, drawing, writing)
- Gaining new skills through volunteering
- Learning about the Hamilton community
Being mindful of yourself is an important step that can help to expand your mental wellness. Some people take a few minutes every day to breathe and take notice of the world. Some people take a few minutes to take their medication and recalibrate their days according to how they are feeling. Being mindful and practicing self-care looks different for everyone – do what feels best for you! Some examples of ways to pursue this are:
- Taking time to reflect on feelings and conversations
- Be aware of your limits and when you would like to take time for yourself
- Taking time to enjoy your meals
- Stopping to enjoy a sunset or other parts of nature
- Trying activities that focus on breathing (e.g. yoga, meditation, tai chi, etc.)
Making time for activity throughout the week can be very helpful for your stress level. Remember that being active doesn’t necessarily mean formal exercise at the gym – it could be walking to class or trying a new sport or activity. Choosing an activity that you enjoy and makes you feel best is the most important part. You can try this by:
- Walking to class
- Meeting a friend to go outside
- Going for a hike and exploring local trails
- Playing an instrument
Being aware of what your mental health looks like and what works for you can help identify when extra support is needed. Take notice and talk to others if you notice that there are changes to your thoughts, mood, and behaviour. That goes reciprocally too – take notice of changes in those around you. Remember that mental health looks different for everyone – if you don’t know, just ask. There are supports available on campus and in the community. Whether you’re caring for yourself, or others – sometimes reaching out to supports in the community can help. Some ways you can do this are by:
- Getting to know your moods and habits
- Reaching out to others to see how they’re doing
- If you need help supporting others, peer support services on campus can give you some suggestions and resources.