You know how the summer just flies by, almost like you blink and it's over? Is it just me or does the winter do the complete opposite? The cold, the wind, the dark; you'd almost think we lived in Canada or something! Okay I jest, but the winter really does get to me and many others. People call this the winter blues and it seems most prominent in February after at least 2 months of cold weather and short days, and at least a month (and maybe more) still to come! Lucky for you, there's lots you can do to break those blues!
In the winter, I sit in bed and read. A lot. While reading is relaxing, sitting in bed all day is not helping anyone get out of their winter funk! Try not to fall into that trap, your bed is a warm and cozy trickster; get outside and explore the winter wonderland right outside your door! Really don't think you can take the cold? Check out one of many malls, shopping centres or even the underground PATH in the GTA to explore while getting some much needed exercise!
Between holiday meals, and heavy foods to warm us up from the cold, you might notice your diet has changed, especially a move to heavier foods. This can contribute to you feeling a little less energetic than you were. Watch out for soups, stews, pastas and other foods not made fresh! They'll be high in sodium which can cause headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath and other side effects that will leave you not feeling yourself. Stay warm inside learning to make your own soup from scratch for you and your friends!
The winter is an especially hard time for people who are less fortunate, give back to your community by volunteering! Helping someone else can be a great way to help yourself. Check out Volunteer Toronto, the United Way, or Get Involved for opportunities! And don't forget your fellow students! York is U, the York Federation of Students and various student clubs always need volunteers to help run events and keep campus exciting!
While many of us feel a little listless and dull during the winter months, there is an actual condition brought on by the winter weather that can alter your mood. It's called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and it can be characterized by lack of energy, over sleeping, and irritability among others. SAD is a mood disorder akin to depression and may require more action than the suggestions above.
If you'd like to talk to someone about your winter blues or SAD you can contact Counselling and Disability Services on campus, or one of many other resources.
Perfectionists who can’t stop thinking about being perfect are more likely than others to suffer psychosomatic symptoms when faced with the daily hassles of living, a new study at York University shows.
“In both men and women, we found that daily hassles and negative emotions contribute to the link between perfectionistic thoughts and psychosomatic symptoms,” says lead author Gordon Flett, a psychology professor in York University’s Faculty of Health and Canada Research Chair in Personality & Health. “The perfectionist who makes a big mistake and can’t stop thinking about it will likely start to feel ill, especially if he or she has other stressors in daily life,and tends to be a chronically dissatisfied, unhappy person.”
The study of 228 university students, published in the April issue of the journal Personality and Individual Differences, is the first empirical evidence that frequent perfectionistic thoughts are associated with experiencing more frequent psychosomatic symptoms.
Rather than focus on the perfectionist trait itself, researchers in this study focused on perfectionistic thoughts. They asked students to report how often they had thoughts focused on the need to be perfect and felt negative emotions such as anxiety, sadness, anger and depression. Students were also asked to complete a 49-item questionnaire developed at York to measure daily life hassles among university students, ranging from struggling to meet their own academic standards, to time pressures, romantic or friendship problems, and assorted annoyances. In addition, they reported how often they experienced 17 psychosomatic symptoms, from headaches to fatigue.
Although the study was designed for students, the results are in keeping with earlier research that found a heightened stress response among perfectionists in threatening situations. The findings from this study should be applicable to all age groups, says Flett.
“An important practical implication of this research is that it shows that people who chronically experience perfectionistic thoughts need positive interventions such as relaxation training and stress counseling, and, ultimately, they need to stop engaging in this type of thinking,” says Flett. “What we are really indicating is that there is a health cost associated with always thinking about needing to be perfect. This is amplified by the stressful existence that so often accompanies perfectionism.”
This type of thinking may contribute to health problems, even among highly accomplished people known for their perfectionism, says Flett.
The study, “A mediational model of perfectionistic automatic thoughts and psychosomatic symptoms: The roles of negative affect and daily hassles”, was coauthored by York University’s Danielle Molnar, a Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada postdoctoral fellow, as well as York graduate student Taryn Nepon and University of British Columbia professor Paul Hewitt.
Thinking back on their first year as Psychology students at York, Aranda Wingsiong and her classmate Lindsay Rubinfeld, were concerned about fellow students they knew of who were struggling with depression or anxiety yet were reluctant to seek support due to the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
“There was this idea that there’s something wrong with me if I need to talk about it” says Aranda, now in her fourth year of study, recalling the perception among students who hid concerns about their mental well-being. Although there is plenty of professional counseling support available to students on campus such as Counselling and Disability Services, a number of her fellow students felt intimidated by the thought of approaching a professional. That is where Aranda and Lindsay felt they could fill a need, not as counselors – they stress that they are not professionals – but as a go-between or liaison between students and mental health professionals. To that end, they established a student organization in the summer of 2011 called Active Minds at York. They are now an officially recognized organization with Student Community Leadership and Development (SCLD).
Modeled on the U.S. organization based in Washington D.C., Active Minds at York seeks to promote a dialogue about mental health at York by holding events such as movie screenings, panel discussions, and mental health awareness weeks. The organization works to increase students’ awareness of mental health issues, provide information and resources regarding mental health and mental illness, encourage students to seek help as soon as it is needed, and serve as liaison between students and mental health services.
“It’s not about mental illness, it’s about mental health and a lot of students tend to forget about that,” says Aranda. She added that students will go to the gym to stay in physical shape but “you have to take care of your mental health too” in your first year when it comes to dealing with the stresses and anxieties of a new environment, trying to excel in class, juggling jobs, relationships and family. Aranda stresses that you don’t have to have a diagnosable mental health disorder to talk to a counselor; in fact, many students see a counselor to talk about roommate issues, test anxiety, and adjusting to life in college. “It is important to address what’s going on when you first recognize a change in yourself—waiting until things get really bad before you seek help isn’t good for your health, or your experience here on campus. Our campus will be happier and healthier when we have an open dialogue around issues of mental health.”
For more information about Active Minds at York, visit: https://yorku.collegiatelink.net/organization/activeminds or firstname.lastname@example.org
I don't make new years resolutions. The idea of it is just so unrealistic to me; I consider a resolution to be something immediate, like you resolve to jump into a cold pool on a warm day. It's something you can do right then and there if you really want to. So when people make a 'resolution' in the new year to become and A+ student or to lose 10 pounds, I cringe. It's not that the end result isn't impossible, it's that I know it won't be immediate. So every time our resolution maker goes to visit friends instead of studying or eats a cookie instead of a piece of fruit they will feel guilty. I don't think that's fair to anyone (I'd eat the cookie too!) so instead, I set goals.
Goals are actionable items, as much as resolutions, but the idea of a goal is to allow for learning, growth, and flexibility whereas resolutions are just so... resolute. A goal is about development not decision. Goals are SMART:
So instead of resolving to lose 10 pounds, make a goal to eat healthier and become more active in time for swim suit season. Instead of becoming an A+ student, visit the library and writing centre to raise your grades 10% this semester. Don't be too hard on yourself if you're not progressing like you think you should, revisit your steps and always remember you're a work in progress!
It's a brand new year! A chance to set new goals, try new things, and learn new lessons; what an amazing opportunity! January is such a refreshing month: exams are finished, holidays have passed, and things just feel slower after the hustle and bustle of December.
January is kind of a paradox for some students: you're beginning a new year while the previous (school) year is still continuing. When everyone else is starting something new, you're coming back. That's not a bad thing though. You've got a semester behind you: 4 whole months of trial and error, of practice, of mastering your school skills. You are in a prime place to make realistic, achievable, and informed goals for the 4 months ahead of you based on the 4 months behind.
So this January, continue your year by starting anew! Start making regular dates with Scott and Steacie, brush up on your learning skills, establish yourself as a big deal on campus, and work out that body along with your brain!
Exam time is here and whether you've been a diligent student keeping up with your readings and assignments or (like the rest of us) just trying to to make it through, there's going to be some stress that goes along with this time of year! Stress can present itself in many different ways: over or under sleeping and eating, mood swings, obsessive studying, a complete lack of motivation, and more. Here are some of my exam time stress management tips:
This Thursday November 15th suit up to raise awareness about mental health! College Councils across campuses are encouraging students to get dressed in their Sunday best when they come to school and to visit their council office's to donate what they can to support the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH.) Students can also enter to win raffle prizes as well as attend a downtown pubnight.
Spearheaded by Vanier College Council's Director of Publications, Dave Barnett, the theme day is a fun and easy way to have students show their support, and get people asking questions about mental health.
So this Thursday, don your blazers and ties to keep calm and keep classy while you spread the word about mental health.
As a part of the ongoing "Let's Talk" campaign, this Wednesday November the 7th will be our first Mental Health Fair! Located in Vari Hall from 10-3pm, there will be tables set up with resources from on and off campus all relating to mental health. Whether you're interested for yourself, a friend, or even for an assignment, the mental health fair will be a great resource!
See you there!
-Counselling & Disability Services
-Canadian Mental Health Association
-Mental Health Helpline
-York University, Employee Wellness
-Mad Students Society
-Mood Disorders Association of Ontario
-North York General: Addictions Program
-Partners for Mental Health
-Peer Health Education
-Responsible Gambling Council
-York Federation of Students Health Plan
-York University Psychology Clinic
-York University Asperger Mentoring Program
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