Category Archives: Wellbeing

Looking ahead – Stress Less Study Week

Kia ora UC whānau,

We know that this is a stressful time for a lot of you. UC Wellbeing and the UCSA have partnered to offer some activities and giveaways to help you get through this period of intense focus, commitment and for some, anxiety and nervousness.

Giveaways next week!

Tuesday 26 October – study packs filled with snacks and supplies. Pick yours up from Haere-roa at 12pm

Wednesday 27 October – UC Wellbeing will be around campus with fruit and snacks to fuel you through hump day!

Thursday 28 October – keep an eye on the UCSA socials for info on  coffee giveaways

Friday 29 October – get your vaccine at Haere-roa for a free burger and keep an eye on the UCSA socials for details on our ice cream giveaway

Morning Wellbeing Webinars

Join us at 9am each morning for a 15 min wellbeing webinar from an expert at UC. We have all sorts of content to cover, from movement and stretching, to fighting the fear of failure, how to best fuel your brain and make the most of the study and exam period.
 
Jump on and follow along, we can’t wait to see you!
👉 Tuesday – Morning movement and stretching with UC Rec & Sport – https://canterbury.zoom.us/j/93462172997
 
👉 Wednesday – Feeding your brain during exam time with Professor Julia Rucklidge – https://canterbury.zoom.us/j/98595596218
 
👉 Thursday – Fighting the fear of failure with George from UC Wellbeing – https://canterbury.zoom.us/j/95391458255
 
👉 Friday – The four pillars of wellbeing with Dr Jane Scott and Dr Victoria Price from Te Whare Hauora  | UC Health Centre – https://canterbury.zoom.us/j/97787929400
 
Support 
 
Visit the Wellbeing Hub for a range of info on anxiety, stress, study skills and fear of failure
 
Need to talk? Contact the team at Atawhai Ākonga | Student Care
 

Wishing you all the best with these last few weeks,

UC Wellbeing
 
 

Four approaches to managing anxiety (3min read)

There are many causes and ‘flavours’ of anxiety. Some are formed from patterns of thinking, some are from fear-based experiences. But there are also a lot of common factors to anxiety and the good news is there are a lot of strategies that can help manage it.

Because of the way that our brains are wired, we often spend time trying to ‘think’ our way out of our worries or fears, distracting ourselves, or very commonly avoiding the thing that gives us fear (e.g. putting off study or trying not to think of something we are afraid of).

Paradoxically, worry is a type of ‘mental avoidance’ where we fool ourselves into thinking we’re dealing with an issue but, actually, we don’t directly address the thing we fear. Like with a lot of these strategies, avoidance tends to feel better in the short term but often leads to an increase in anxiety over time.

So what helps? 

  • Head (be mindful). One of my favourite sayings is “don’t believe everything your mind tells you”, and learning to disengage from our negative thoughts and worries is a great strategy. One way to do this is to learn mindfulness strategies that help us notice (but not necessarily engage with) our thoughts. There are a lot of apps that can help with learning how to be more mindful.
  • Body (engage in diaphragmatic breathing). The sympathetic nervous system is often triggered by our worries and fears but we can ‘short-circuit’ this flood of cortisol and adrenaline by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system (which leads to increased feelings of wellbeing and calm). To do this, I highly recommend developing a habit of diaphragmatic breathing. There are lots of YouTube clips on how to learn this very cheap and effective technique (and you can take it anywhere).
  • Life (set up ‘worry time’). Limiting avoidance is really challenging, but also really helpful, as thinking directly about what is causing worry can be helpful. Sometimes I ask clients to schedule undistracted ‘worry time’ each day (10mins) which research shows can reduce our fear response.
  • Other people (seek support). Like tackling any negative emotions or states, it is important to seek support from others. Sometimes it can just soothing just being in the company of others or more helpful to support with structuring upcoming study or exams. If you feel that your anxiety is having a big impact on your life, please seek professional support.

Mairin Taylor
Clinical Psychologist & Counselling Lecturer
School of Health Sciences

ICYMI: this blog post is part of a series with contributors from across the University invited to write about wellbeing topics that are important to them. Here are some quick links to the others:

Looking after your mental health in work and life

Caring for your mental health is a crucial career skill, and with World Mental Health Day having taken place on the 10th of October this year, here are five critical aspects of your mental well-being that you can take care of in and out of work.

Mental health work life balance

1. Coping with stress and pressure

A survey by British charity MIND identified work as the number one cause of stress. Stress can manifest itself in many different ways, from racing thoughts to a strong sense of dread. Whatever work you’re doing at the moment, acknowledge what’s causing your stress.  Use breathing techniques, mindfulness and meditation to calm your mind and find perspective, and talk to managers, tutors, advisors, friends and family to help identify priorities and actions you can take.

2. Looking after your physical health

Although sugar, alcohol, and caffeine are the go-to solutions for most people when stressed, they can cause a crash in blood sugar levels that create feelings of irritability or even depression. A healthy diet of whole grains, vegetables, nuts and natural sugars along with good sleep and exercise will regulate your system, keeping you calmer and more centred.

3. Building positive working relationships

In a post-pandemic world, many of us are still feeling isolated. We need to remember that our relationships are precious, and when it comes to working, the positive relationships we have with our colleagues and peers can make all the difference to our state of mind. So, nurture those meaningful relationships in your life and work: show appreciation for others, avoid gossip, take a constructive approach towards conflict and focus on developing your own emotional intelligence.

4. Balancing work and life

More and more of us are working from home nowadays, making it hard to define a boundary between work and personal life. Prioritising your workload, avoiding procrastination, managing expectations and taking time for proper breaks throughout the day are all key to optimising your productivity, allowing you to finish on time. And when you’ve finished working, switch off completely.

5. Becoming more resilient

Resilience is about your ability to cope with challenges and change and to adapt to new circumstances. That attribute has been tested in the extreme for everyone worldwide in the last year and a half. Along with the above, having a cheerful inner voice and focusing your energy on the things you can change will help you bounce back from any challenges life can throw at you.

Whilst there are many things you can do to help take care of your own mental health, it’s important to remind yourself that help is out there if you need it, and there’s nothing wrong with asking for it. So, if you feel like it’s impacting your ability to thrive in work and life, speak to someone you trust about it and consider talking to a professional.

Noho ora mai,

Te Rōpū Rapuara | UC Careers Team