Mental Health

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Wellness Wednesday Graphic

09/01 - Action for Happiness

Welcome to the 21/22 school year. It has been so exciting to welcome students back into our buildings and we look forward to an incredible year. This month, our wellness focus is on Personal Responsibility and Self-Awareness. Research would indicate that although our genes influence about 50% of the variation in our personal happiness, our circumstances (like income and environment) affect only about 10%. As much as 40% is accounted for by our daily activities and the conscious choices we make. So the good news is that our actions really can make a difference.

This "Action for Happiness" calendar provides daily suggestions for small steps we can all take to live happier and healthier lives. This month we're encouraging everyone to be kinder to themselves (as well as others), especially when things go wrong. Self-care increases our resilience and helps us get more out of life. It also helps us accept others as they are too. One suggestion for practicing self-care is to "talk to yourself like someone you love." So often we are much harder on ourselves than we are on others so take some time this week to notice your inner voice and challenge yourself to be more kind. For more information, read this article from Mayo Clinic.

Take care and be as well as you can be.


09/22 - Managing Expectations

As we continue in Self-Care September, we examine how to manage the expectations we put on ourselves and the ones we feel from others. Research suggests that expectations (whether that is pressure from your family, personal pressure you apply to yourself or even expectations your teacher has of you) can directly impact upon your performance. Expectations can be good and help to motivate us to achieve what we are capable of, but they can also be crushing and lead to feelings of overwhelm.

Managing your personal expectations is extremely important for your mental health. This is a short video about a U of M athlete who uses mindful self-compassion in the face of challenges. Here are some suggestions that might help you:

  1. Challenge your assumptions about yourself and others. You don’t know what you don’t know. If you find yourself ‘assuming’ something, do some research to challenge or verify your belief.
  2. Be encouraging to yourself and others. Pressure can be positive when it’s encouraging yourself or another person to do something good, e.g. “I’m going to learn a second language in my spare time, to increase my opportunities to study/work abroad.” The opposite of this is negative pressure, where you are using put-downs, or are focusing on avoiding a negative outcome, e.g. “Stop being such an idiot and get this assignment done so you don’t fail.”
  3. Separate behavior from identity. If you make a mistake, it doesn't mean you are a failure. Be forgiving of yourself and others.
  4. Keep things in context. Often our expectations don’t account for context. If your barista was rude to you, you might assume they are a rude person. However, adding the context that they had just had a big pay cut, three customers had just been abusive towards them and they were really stressed because their dog was unwell might change how you viewed the situation. Rather than jumping to conclusions or taking things personally, it can be helpful to try and remain neutral and curious, by asking, “What else might explain this behavior?”

Take care and be as well as you can be.