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Wellness Wednesdays

09/02 - Catastrophizing

By nature, human beings crave routine and information about the future. For many reasons, not knowing our next steps can feel like a real threat. One of the most beneficial things that we can do for our own mental health is to not believe everything we think. Take a moment to imagine the "best-possible scenario." How does that change your perspective and your feelings? For a more in-depth look, check out this video.

09/09 - Monotask

Here is ONE tip to make it through your daily "to-do" list. MONOTASK instead of MULTITASK, which means to focus on ONE thing. Set a timer and devote 20-30 minutes to ONE assignment or ONE class. Don't respond to emails or texts or check on your Instagram. Reward yourself with a short break before moving forward. Repeat this process until you come to the end of your school day. For more, watch this short video.

09/16 - Brain Dump

The act of taking 1-2 minutes to write down ALL the things that pop into your head without judgment. These could be things you are worried about, things you need to get done, or anything else floating around in your brain. You might be surprised at how calming this simple activity can be. Watch this quick video for a complete picture of how to do it.

9/23 - Practice Relaxation

Relaxation is a skill and finding it difficult to relax is extremely common. Try taking 1 minute to focus on your breath. Counting as it goes in and out. As your mind wanders, just bring it back to counting breaths. Researchers at Columbia University found that slow, deep breathing was associated with reductions in stress in groups affected by post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as groups managing daily stress. Visit this link for a one-minute mindfulness activity on letting go of stress.

9/30 - Talk About It

When a thousand stressors weigh on your brain, sometimes the only way to relieve the pressure is to talk about it. Studies have shown that simply talking about our problems and sharing our negative emotions with someone we trust can be profoundly healing—reducing stress, strengthening our immune system, and reducing physical and emotional distress.You can talk to a friend, a parent, teacher, coach, or find support from a therapist. Watch this short video to hear real people talk about how reaching out helped them. 

10/7 - Help Others

If you hold the door open for someone, smile at a random stranger, or help your neighbor unload their groceries, clearly it is good for them. But did you know that it's likely good for you too? Research indicates that those who consistently help other people experience less depression, greater calm, decreased pain, and better health. They may even live longer. Your challenge for this week is to do 5 small acts of kindness and see what it does to your overall wellbeing. For a deep dive into this research, check out "How to Make Giving Feel Good."

10/14 - Get Moving

A recent study from Harvard Medical School looked at the relationship between physical activity and symptoms of depression and the results speak for themselves. Even if you don't join Crossfit or run with the cross country team, something as gentle as a walk or taking the stairs on a regular basis can protect your mental health. Watch this amazing video on The Brain-Changing Effects of Exercise.

10/21 - Find the Good

With all that is going on in the world, it can be very challenging to see anything but the negative. Social Psychologist, Alison Legerwood has studied this tendency and provides some helpful ideas for retraining our brain. One simple exercise is to find the good. The next time you have a situation with a friend where you feel upset with their lack of understanding of you, think about how lucky you are to have them in your life. Check out this TedTalk on other ways to overcome getting stuck in the negative- Getting Stuck in the Negatives (and how to get unstuck).

10/28 - Happiness Advantage

Shawn Anchor, the author of the book "The Happiness Advantage," points out that success does not equal happiness, and oftentimes happiness is the precursor for success. "If you cultivate happiness while in the midst of your struggles, work, at school, while unemployed or single, you increase your chances of attaining all the goals you are pursuing...including happiness." Shawn goes on to say, "Happiness is not a mystery. You have to train your brain to be positive just like you work out your body." For a more in-depth look at Anchor's work, watch this short video summary of his book, The Happiness Advantage.

11/04 - Positive Self-Talk

The conversations you have with yourself throughout the day are impactful–the quality of these conversations influence the way you tend to think of yourself as a whole. Self-talk is something you are doing almost constantly, and it can be either encouraging or distressing. The good news is, positive self-talk can be learned! 

A good way to start to reshape the way you think is to ask yourself some challenging questions. 

  • Is there a different explanation for what is going on?
  • What is the worst thing that could happen?
  • What is the best thing that could happen?
  • What is the evidence that supports my thinking?

Check out this video for some greater insight: Bill Harder on Self Talk

11/11 - Just Breathe

Did you know that yawning is an important skill for anxiety relief? We often try to tame anxiety by changing our thoughts—questioning the worst-case scenarios in our heads, interrupting rumination with some kind of distraction, or going to therapy. But breathing offers a different approach, bypassing the complexities of the mind and targeting the body directly. Instead of trying to think yourself out of feeling anxious, you can do something concrete—breathe slow or fast, in a particular rhythm, or through a nostril—and sometimes find immediate relief.

To read about this more in-depth, check out: Is the Way You Breathe Making You Anxious?You can also review practical tips on how to breathe to reduce anxiety here: Diaphragmatic Breathing (Anxiety Skills #12)

11/18 - Science of Productivity

As we continue with virtual learning, we know that this format can be a real challenge. Motivation and productivity vary greatly from day-to-day. We have a few tips to keep you going during this time. Take a deep breath...we're going to get through this together. Let's begin with a few simple starting points.

Science of Productivity

  1. No distractions
  2. Set reasonable limits
  3. Plan it out
  4. Positivity

Start with these 4 things. Keep it simple and try to stop your brain when you notice it going away from the intended focus - just bring it back and tell yourself something positive. And, above all, give yourself grace. This is new; this is different. It's going to take time to adjust, and that's okay.

11/25 - Stress Management

During the coronavirus crisis, mental health has been a struggle for students and adults alike. The Child Mind Institute has started the "We Thrive Inside" campaign to promote wellness during this difficult time. Here are some tips from them on managing stress: 

  • Cut yourself some slack!
  • Be smart about what you’re reading and watching.
  • Set achievable goals. 
  • Practice mindfulness and self-care.
  • Stay connected virtually.  
  • Accept your feelings. 

Watch this video for tips from Olympic Athlete, Missy Franklin: We Thrive Inside with Olympic Athlete