Category Archives: Wellbeing

2021 Women of Influence

The search for 2021 Women of Influence continues! We would like to encourage everyone to nominate an incredible wāhine they know who helps making Aotearoa a better place, especially as we have so many here at UC. 

There are ten award categories that can be entered into, and you have until 16 August to make your nomination. 

The Women of Influence programme is also hosting its annual Speaker Series in July and early August, with breakfast events in Tauranga, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Please find details for the Christchurch Speaker Series here>

These events provide great networking opportunities for your work teams, colleagues and friends with a stellar lineup of speakers and hosts that make for an engaging and thought-provoking morning –  a great way to get out of the office for a couple of hours and come away feeling inspired!

For more about the speaker lineup and to book tickets, as well as more about nominations, visit www.womenofinfluence.co.nz

Nuggets of wellbeing wisdom nuggets for very busy people – Pillar 2: Do

Last instalment, we talked about Pillar 1: Chill. Now that you have the skills to relax your body and mind, let’s move to pillar 2: Do.

Still taking our cue from Dr Fiona Crichton’s webinar for UC staff, we can see that ‘Do’ is about learning and keeping our brains active and creative. It’s not just about learning in the work context, but also about allowing time for creativity, which is essential for both brain health and wellbeing. 

You might like to ask yourself: What did you do for fun when you were young? Writing stories, drawing, making up plays?

Nuggets of wellbeing wisdom nuggets for very busy people Pillar 2: Do

In Mentemia, you can discover activities to help kickstart your creativity and learning.

  • Brain gym
  • Puzzles
  • Draw a map of your neighbourhood
  • Set goals

Watch The 6 Pillars: Do to learn more.

Dr Fiona Crichton’s webinar made sense of Mentemia’s value for UC staff. If you missed it, you can watch the video here. Dr Crichton, a research psychologist, explained the research behind the app’s seemingly simple activities and reminders. Each activity is evidence-based and very effective in addressing chronic stress, especially for very busy people. No matter how full your schedule is, you will benefit from even a 2-minute wellbeing activity.

You can download the app from your phone’s app store. Stuck? Don’t stress. Read more here: Mentemia | University of Canterbury

Next time: Pillar 3 – Connect

Nuggets of wellbeing wisdom nuggets from Mentemia – Pillar 1: Chill

How are you feeling? Chill is the way we train our body to relax after stress. Very important! How do we relax? You can’t be stressed and relaxed at the same time – we seesaw between these two systems, but you can kick in the relaxation or ‘rest and digest’ system with these simple techniques: Actions

  • Breathe into the belly – this sends a signal to the amygdala (alert system) to stand down
  • Be present to the present

Thoughts and emotions

  • Put feelings into words
  • Develop an action plan
  • Learn that feeling uncomfortable sometimes is OK
  • Grounding ourselves – for example, stretch your arms above your head and plant your feet on the floor.

Find more short and sweet activities on the Mentemia app. Find out more about Chill here: The 6 Pillars: Chill on Vimeo Dr Fiona Crichton’s webinar made sense of Mentemia’s value for UC staff. If you missed it, you can watch the video here. Dr Crichton, a research psychologist, explained the research behind the app’s seemingly simple activities and reminders. Each activity is evidence-based and very effective in addressing chronic stress, especially for very busy people. No matter how full your schedule is, you will benefit from even a 2-minute wellbeing activity. You can download the app from your phone’s app store. Stuck? Don’t stress! Read more here: Mentemia | University of Canterbury Next blog: Pillar 2 – Do

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. 

Travel safely on these dreary days

With this (not so) delightful weather, it’s important to check that we’ve adjusted our routines to suit the conditions as we come to and from campus on these cold, grey and sometimes wet days.

Walking / footpath users: Be aware of wet or frosty grounds if you are walking or using the footpath travelling to and from, or around campus. Take care moving on painted surfaces and in areas that are shady. Consider your footwear, use handrails when you can and walk on the grass during frosty mornings to avoid slippery surfaces.

Driving: Make sure you fully defrost your windows before you set off – it’s illegal to peer through a defrosted section the size of your hand, not to mention incredibly challenging. It’s worth using a drink bottle with good long distance squirt action and cold or luke-warm water. Don’t forget to turn your windscreen wipers on and get out of the way of the flicking water. A scraper might also do the trick too.

Biking: Stay warm by wearing plenty of layers. Make sure you can be seen by using a white/yellow head light and red tail light – some fluro clothing is a good idea too. Take care if it is wet and slippery on the road (road paint can be especially slippery when wet), and be careful in areas that don’t get sun during winter days.

How ever you’re travelling to/from and moving around campus, take care to plan extra time so you reach your destination safely, and prevent unnecessary stress in your day.