Nuggets of wellbeing wisdom – introduction from the Mentemia launch – blog 1#

We launched Mentemia last month with an online webinar by Mentemia’s psychologist Dr Fiona Crichton. You were invited, but you may have been to busy to  join, which is exactly why you need to make the most of Mentemia’s wellbeing resources!

Just for you, I’ll summarise the Mentemia launch and each of the six pillars of wellbeing in a series of blogs to help you access wellbeing as simply and quickly as possible.

Or you can watch the webinar (45mins) here: University of Canterbury – Mentemia Staff Launch (vimeo.com)

What is Mentemia?
• A workplace wellbeing platform/phone-based app
• Evidence-based, effective resources in bite-sized activities that everyone can add into their day
• Proactive tools based on the ‘six pillars of wellbeing’ to help you not just cope with stress, but thrive.

With a background in science and academia, Dr Crichton understands the unique university environment and the pressures on staff.

“You can’t look after others unless you are looking after yourself,” she reminded us.

She recommended that we integrate good habits and actions into our daily routines; not wait until we feel sad, stressed or overwhelmed. Just do one small thing from each pillar every day. It only takes a minute – literally.

Here’s a handy acronym:
LEAD:
Look after you – prioritise your own wellbeing
Experiment – find out what works for you
Adapt – change it up when needed
Develop habits – build small actions into your day

Dr Crichton recapped the physiology of stress, starting with the brain. As many of you will well know, but it’s worth remembering, the amygdala keeps us safe, and constantly scans the environment for danger. However, it has no context so it can’t differentiate between a thought, a memory or a new thing in the environment – they can all be perceived as threats.

The amygdala tells the hypothalamus to send out stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, and we all know how that goes – muscles tense for flight, fight or freeze, digestion shuts down, immunity is compromised, etc. All this happens before the pre-frontal cortex (PFC) has a chance to assess the situation and tell the amygdala to stand down.

Good stress/bad stress – some stress enhances performance; chronic stress impairs health and happiness.

What to do?

Dr Crichton says we want to encourage good connections between the PFC and the amygdala. We can train our body to relax following flight or fight, we can soothe an overactive amygdala and we adopt habits that help us stay calm in the first place – techniques that are all covered in the six pillars of wellbeing on the app.

In the next blog, I’ll look at Pillar 1 – Chill. For now, you can check out some ideas for a DOSE of feel good brain chemicals below.

Got something to add? Comments are welcome!

Download Mentemia now

Mentemia is also available to UC students – you might like to point your students towards the 6 Pillar videos on Vimeo.

Stay well,

Breeze from the Communications team.