Mind your mind over the holidays

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: CHRISTOPHER MISZCZAK
It is more important than ever to seek out support and resources to maintain your mental health.

I have heard it time and time again now, that the one thing that we need now more than ever is a message of hope — especially with everything that we have been dealing with in the past year. There are many who already believe this and know that control already is in our own hands.

Richard J. Davidson, a famous neuroscientist once asked, “Why is it that some of us are more vulnerable to life’s slings and arrows, and others more resilient?”

This question makes one ponder on the very nature of being mindful and the tools that we already possess to be more mindful. This question becomes central to not only keeping that narrative of hope but also being able to hold onto it longer.

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“If you are struggling, ask for help,” said Nikki Ross, acting manager for personal counselling at Fanshawe College. “Fanshawe College and the larger London community have worked very hard to make sure these resources are available to our students. Almost every year there are some students in February or March, close to the end of their academic year saying, I did not know this was here, I am so glad that I found it, and I wish that I found it sooner.”

This year has really shown us how quickly our world can change. It has turned upside down on us. It has shown us just how important it is to reach out, for us to come together, to work together, and to support each other.

Access that support and know that it is OK to do that. We have seen tremendous resilience in faculty, staff, and students who have adapted to new ways of learning, teaching, and interacting with each other.

It is more important than ever to engage in that support and those services; to consider the things that we can do for ourselves, to offer a little bit of self-compassion, and to let ourselves off the hook a little bit in terms of our usual expectations. Ross added it is also important to work together and support our wellbeing as best as we can.

Your internal resources are the things that you can learn to do on your own, that you can determine when you are going to use them and how you are going to use them. It is almost like building a little toolbox. Keep a healthy routine, eat right, use breathing exercises or simply your five senses to notice things around you to ground you. You can also ask your family and friends to remind you to be mindful.

Fanshawe College offers plenty of services for its students including a WellTrack app for techniques on mindfulness and a peer support group. This is among many other services to help students through any kind of stressful moment in their time at Fanshawe College. The important thing to remember is that these resources are there for them to use!

Ulises Gonzalez is a mental health worker with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).

“Life happens and it has a way of becoming its own, with that comes circumstances and variables that are out of our control; life has always been this way, however this year we have seen that magnified to the extreme amid the virus,” he told Interrobang. “Some of the most effective ways to take on that stress on the short term, are to practice some breathing exercises, eating well, healthy sleep schedule, exercising, and other forms of self-care.”

There will always be difficult situations in any year. It is how we come out of those situations that really build a strong foundation in being able to withstand the adversity that life throws at us. One must realize that there are learning opportunities in the difficult situations we face. Having a pandemic be part of our lives, we must be resilient within ourselves to see what we can do as individuals to maximize our time.

We all hate to be out of control, to feel uneasy, to be uncertain about the future, and this year has really heightened those prolonged feeling and emotions. However, one must be able to differentiate on what they can and cannot do. One must be realistic to what power they DO possess. You have the power as an individual to be resilient, adaptable, strong, and so much more. Of course, sometimes this can be hard to achieve and perhaps a little intimidating but that is why there are resources and people who can help you on your path.

One thing is for certain, however: we have come out of this year stronger, better, and wiser. For that we should be proud of what we have accomplished this past year despite the challenges. Be mindful of your own mind, be mindful of the emotions that are your own.

It has been said many ways by many different individuals, but the message is still the same even if we need to be reminded of it from time to time. You have more control over your own mind and emotions then you even realize to get a glimpse beyond the illusion for a moment of clarity.

You can learn more about Fanshawe’s mental health resources at fanshawec.ca/student-life/student-services/counselling-services.