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FEATURE_ARTICLE_PMH 

By: Danielle Alfaro
Assistant Marketing & Communications Coordinator
MRU Recreation

I sat down with Paul Manning-Hunter, Customer Experience Team Lead, to learn about his love of whitewater kayaking and recreation. Paul has been a part of the MRU Rec team for close to three years and shares how he has grown in various roles with the help of his favourite sport.

Q: When did you go to MRU and what did you study?

A: I moved to Calgary in 2007 because our training centre moved here. It was a perfect move for me because I knew I could go to school here as well as continue training. I started in Open Studies at MRU in 2008 and after two years I decided I wanted to switch into the Bachelor of Arts program. With the high demands of training and traveling for racing, I could only go to school part-time so I didn’t finish my degree until 2015.

Q: How did you get involved with Rec?

A: I was introduced to Rec through my classmate who worked here. She explained all of the benefits and cool stuff you get to be a part of as a Rec employee and I was sold! Soon after, I started as a part-time Customer Service Associate and have been here ever since. In my current role as Customer Experience Team Lead I am responsible for hiring and training the student staff at the Customer Service Centre as well as other customer service responsibilities.

Q: Tell me a little bit about your
background, specifically your
involvement with kayaking and how
you became involved in the sport.


A: Honestly, I can’t remember a time where kayaking was not a part of my life. I know I started around the age of two because my older brother and my dad were very involved in the sport and so I didn’t really have a choice. I’ve been told that my older brother duct taped me in a kayak and sent me through some rapids, but I’m mostly sure that’s not true… I was lucky to have a family so involved because I started training and racing very young which was a huge advantage once I got older.

Q: What have been some of
your biggest milestones and
accomplishments in kayaking?


A: I was on the Canadian National Team
from 2003 to 2012 and was North American Champion in 2006. I retired from racing in 2012 and since then I have been coaching for the National Team and the Alberta provincial team. I received the National Coaching Recognition Award in 2014 and 2015.

Q: What skills have you acquired from your experience that have helped you in your career at Rec?

A: As both a competitor and a coach, I’ve
learned many transferable life lessons that will stick with me forever.

Starting when I was a teenager, I was away from home for up to six months every year racing and so I had to learn discipline in order to get my schoolwork done. Getting to travel all over the world was really eye-opening and gave me an appreciation for other cultures. I’ve had public speaking/presentation opportunities that have increased my overall confidence. Coaching kayaking has also built my leadership and management skills, which I use every day at my job with Rec.

Q: What is next for you? Future
goals…


A: I love working at Rec as it is extremely team orientated. This was an attractive draw when deciding to join the team as I wanted to diversify my experience from something other than competitive sport. I can see myself continuing to be a part of the Rec team and I am also working
towards joining the fire department in the future.

Q: What advice would you give to
your younger self if you could meet
him right now?


A: Never close doors. Keep
yourself open to new people and
experiences. Don’t take life too seriously,
keep positive and have fun.

 


FEATURE_ARTICLE_Jenn

By: Danielle Alfaro
Assistant Marketing & Communications Coordinator
MRU Recreation

Jenn Sheehan moved to Calgary in 2010 and set her sights on the Bachelor of Applied Business and Entrepreneurship: Sport and
Recreation program at Mount Royal University (MRU). Growing up, she was always playing some sort of sport, so she knew this degree would be a good fit. Soon after Sheehan started, she was introduced to MRU’s Cougar Athletics through a guest speaker in one of her classes and was inspired to get involved. Sheehan began with Cougar Athletics in her second year as the Hockey Event Supervisor. Although she loved playing intramural sports and going to a variety of fitness classes at Rec, by her third year in 2011, she noticed she wasn’t as healthy as she used to be. With the help and encouragement of her roommates, she decided to make a change for the better.

Being involved in the sports world, Sheehan had previous knowledge of personal training and sought it out at Rec. Eager to hit the ground running, she pushed herself to exhaustion during her first session, which was when she truly became aware of her current fitness level.With the help of her trainer, Jenn Schmitz, Sheehan set out short and long term fitness goals to get started on right away.

Sheehan began with Schmitz shortly after her first trainer went on
maternity leave and instantly connected with her. Jenn Schmitz has
been a part of the MRU Rec personal training team since 2008 and is a true lover of all things adventurous. When she is not helping people achieve their fitness goals, she is hiking, biking and jumping out of planes. A certified personal trainer, Schmitz has also completed TRX suspension training, a YMCA advanced trainer certificate and is a level one agatsu kettle bell certified trainer.

At the beginning Sheehan saw her trainer twice a week to build
a solid foundation of physical literacy in what exercises she was
performing. She explained that every training session also acted as a therapy session, thanks to the social aspect and trust established with her trainer. Other benefits she experienced included increased strength, improved confidence in her body and the ability to better manage stress.


Sheehan describes her trainer’s approach as a holistic one, as she not only focuses on working out your body, but encourages clients to have fun while doing it. Over the past five years, Sheehan has continued to work on herself with support from her trainer, losing 60 pounds in the process. “It's a whole body and mind commitment” explains Sheehan, “as it takes physical discipline to eat right and exercise, but also a commitment to manage stress and get enough sleep.”

Today, she is loving life as the Cougar Athletics Event Coordinator, is a regular at Rec and continues to meet with Schmitz once a week. She attributes re-learning how to be healthy and her fi tness routine to her trainer as this motivated her to work hard and complete exercises that she would have never done on her own. With a smile on her face, Sheehan explains, “my personal trainer saw my potential and pushed me to achieve my goals.”

Sheehan has some advice for those considering hiring a personal trainer. She says the key to success is being specific in what you want to achieve, as well as having patience in finding the right personal trainer that fits your needs.

Feature_Article_Bolu 

By: Laura Winter
Marketing & Communications Coordinator
MRU Recreation

Loud, motivated, eager. Those are the words that come to mind when Bolutife Opeodu (Bolu for short) is asked to describe himself. These characteristics, however, are not ones he considers inherent, rather traits developed over time through his involvement with Rec.

Bolu, a fourth-year Criminal Justice student, is a familiar face around Rec, having been involved in various capacities since his first year at MRU. Like many, he was apprehensive about trying Recreation. He describes his rather humorous first experience when a friend encouraged him to come check out the fitness centre.

"My plan was to walk with him to the front gate and then bail" Bolu says with a chuckle, "I was intimidated and on top of that, didn't have the cash to spare." That's when a Recreation customer service associate overheard Bolu awkwardly trying to make his escape and informed him cheerfully that as a student, he automatically had access to Rec through a fee paid in his tuition.

"That was a defining moment for me," he explains, describing how that friendly interaction was the beginning of a very important relationship he would build with Rec over the next four years.

Since then, Bolu has realized the countless benefits Rec has to offer. In addition to working out in the fitness centre and playing intramural sports, he has developed skills he considers invaluable through different student jobs with Rec.

He has worked in intramurals as a referee, supervisor and sports coordinator. He was also recently appointed as Rec's first student engagement coordinator, spearheading a peer-to-peer program focused on engaging students on campus.

"I really noticed a difference in the quality of my student life when I frequented Rec versus when I didn't. Being in Rec on a regular basis has so many benefits. I talk to at least one new person every time I walk through the facilities. I start to recognize people and they recognize me. I don't always know their names but I know them – the types of relationships that can only happen in this environment."

Bolu also advocates the important role Rec plays in the holistic wellbeing of MRU students. "Students get so caught up in Academic life that physical, mental and social wellbeing gets put on the backburner," he explains. "Being active at Rec is a great way of meeting those physical, mental and social needs."

Bolu hasn't always considered himself as someone who is engaged. "Looking back at high school I was involved, but not to the level I'm involved here," he says. "It takes getting put into a bigger pond to realize you need to take the initiative to go out and meet people because if you don't, you won't have as much fun and enjoy your experience as much."

Working at Rec has also allowed Bolu to develop essential, transferable skills he believes will have a very positive impact on his future endeavours. 

"After my first semester working as sports coordinator for the flag football league, I came back the next semester with a lot of things I wanted to change. I faced a lot of backlash from teams and players, including some unpleasant emails and it was hard to push through that," he says.

He describes his intentions of making the league more fun and engaging for participants, but also the discouragement he experienced from the feedback received. Ultimately, Bolu stuck to his guns and implemented his desired changes. 

"At the end of the season, a girl from one of the teams, that had been particularly resistant to my ideas came up to me and thanked my for an amazing season," he says with a smile, "she acknowledged that she knew what I was trying to do and that it seemed to have the desired effect. That was awesome. All of the effort and all of the time I had put in was worth it."

When asked what piece of advice he would give to a first year student who has never tried Rec, there's a distinct excitement in his tone, "You gotta try it at least once," he says with enthusiasm, "you'll be intimidated in so many areas of your life. Giving in to the intimidation is like giving up. If you don't go out on a limb and try something, you'll have regrets and you won't even realize how much you are missing out on until it's too late."

Feature_Article_ErinOlivia

By: Danielle Alfaro
Assistant Marketing & Communications Coordinator
MRU Recreation

Erin Davidson and Olivia Raposo became friends while lifeguarding at Recreation (Rec) and pursuing their education at Mount Royal University (MRU). Although their academic interests and experiences differ, they share a common bond found through physical activity.

Both girls where involved in sports in high school and enjoyed everything from volleyball to soccer. When starting university, it was important for them to find ways to get involved and stay active.

Beginning a new chapter in life can be hard and for Erin and Olivia, university life was no exception. Some challenges the girls experienced were having to make adult decisions, an increased sense of autonomy and more responsibility in all aspects of their lives.

Despite being a bit intimidated at first; the girls grabbed the bull by the horns and sought out opportunities to stay active.

While Olivia was impressed with the wide range of sports clubs offered by Rec, Erin was first drawn to the fitness classes. Both girls used the facility differently and found benefits that helped them navigate through the transition from high school to university. Erin lived in Residence and found it easy and fun to workout at Rec with her roommates. Olivia was used to playing team sports in high school, so she loved that Rec offered intramural sports and she could continue playing what she loved.

Student life can be hectic, so making time to be active and staying motivated can be tough. To combat this, Erin signed up for group fitness classes which helped her stay accountable. Putting it in her weekly schedule as social active time helped remind her to stay on track.

Olivia's involvement in team sports helped her to stay accountable to both herself and the team, she explained, "knowing you have people who are counting on you made me want to stick to my commitments because letting my team down was not an option."

Staying active positively impacted both of their academic careers. They explain that it was a huge stress reliever, helped them find balance and increase concentration on their studies. "Often times working out at Rec helped keep me awake and I would use it as a study break to re-focus and gain energy," said Olivia.

When asked what advice they would give to new students about Rec, the girls said "Just do it, one of the easiest ways to ease into Rec is to try a fitness class." Fitness classes are one of the girls favorite activities at Rec and they continue to take classes today.

"Bringing a friend helps to reduce the intimidation factor and the regular gym goers are supportive and encouraging because they were once new to Rec too," said Erin.

Overall, Olivia and Erin's involvement in Rec mad a positive impact during their time at MRU and beyond. They've made solid friendships, learned how to deal with stress in a positive way and increased their fitness level. Erin likes how going to a workout can change your mood and now knows the meaning behind the line "the only bad workout is one that didn't happen." Olivia adds "I think to myself, do I ever regret going for a workout? NO. So go for that workout and feel better." 

Erin and Olivia also took advantage of Rec's student employment opportunities and work as lifeguards in the Aquatic Centre.

Feature_Article_SAMRU 

By: Beth Billingham
Communications & Marketing Coordinator
Students Association of Mount Royal University

“Volunteer work was a great time for me to get to know people. It helped me grow by making sure I was communicating well with others and not being shy.”

One of the best ways to make the most of your student experience is to get involved. That’s because success doesn’t just come from doing well in class. Success also means taking on challenges, building your confidence, learning different skills, and meeting new people; university is a social experience, after all.

But it’s easy to just talk about it and a lot tougher to decide how to make the most of your time here.

That’s where we come in. As your Students’ Association, our purpose is to serve students, to help you succeed, and to make sure your voice is heard. SAMRU owns and operates the Wyckham House student centre, and that means students own Wyckham House. That makes it your space. That’s why we have services and programs that promote community, wellbeing, and inclusivity – and there are lots of ways for you to get involved.

Start by just using SAMRU services: drop in for free breakfast to grab your daily dose of fresh fruit, cereal, and coffee. Then head to the Nap Room and squeeze a snooze into your busy schedule. And if you have time later, swing by a Crafternoon session to get your craft on, or drop into one of our leadership development workshops.

You could also join a club. It’s a great way to get creative about making time for your emotional, physical and social wellness. Clubs are a chance to find like-minded people, whether you’re looking for a board game buddy, someone to bounce your business ideas off, or a snowboarding partner.

Or you could volunteer. It’s a simple, powerful way to leave your mark and to get involved with the behind-the-scenes work that shapes your campus community. We have so many opportunities – from peer support counseling to event setup to lobbying MRU and the government – that we’re confident we can find a place for you.

Last year, SAMRU members put in nearly 4,000 volunteer hours and raised over $18,000 for various charities. We also gave out 93 emergency student loans, 181 food and hygiene hampers, and about 10,500 free breakfasts, among many other things. That’s a pretty amazing impact.

If you don’t believe us, just check out what these SAMRU volunteers have to say about their experiences last year:

  • “It really helped me grow and get me out of my shell. It really shaped my university experience for the better.”
  • “Volunteering made me feel like I was appreciated and valued as part of the event, which gave me a feeling of belonging."
  • “Volunteer work was a great time for me to get to know people. It helped me grow by making sure I was communicating well with others and not being shy.”
Stop by our reception desk on the second floor of Wyckham House (room Z222), visit our website at samru.ca, or chat with us on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll help get you started.
Steven_OurStoriesgraphic
By: Erinn Powell
Marketing Event Coordinator
MRU Recreation

A born and raised Manitoban, Steven Trottier entered Mount Royal University’s halls just like any other first year student: full of excitement, anticipation and a little bit of unease. With his sights set on the Bachelor of Communications degree in Public Relations, he was eager to immerse himself in the University experience.

Steven jumped right in by becoming involved on campus as a student-elected Governor for the Students’ Association of MRU, joining various clubs, volunteering for New Student Orientation and much more. As a way to unwind from all of his activities, Steven joined the intramural dodgeball league at Rec.

“I really enjoy playing dodgeball” he says with a smile, “When I’m playing it’s a great way for me to destress and meet new people from around campus.”

Like many students though, Steven’s four years didn’t go quite as he had planned. Upon entering his fourth year in the Public Relations program he bravely decided to make the switch to the Bachelor of Business Administration and it was at this time that he started working at Rec as the Assistant Event Coordinator.

As an active and involved student, Steven brings his drive and enthusiasm to everything that he does. His experience working at Rec is no different, with his stand-out moment being able to help lead the planning and execution of the 4th Annual MRU Colour-U-Blue in 2015. The event was a huge success with over 500 students running and walking the 4.5 km route around campus while getting sprayed with blue paint. Standing on stage with a live DJ pumping up hundreds of students coloured head-to-toe in blue paint is a memory that Steven won’t forget.

“I had a great manager and lots of support from the full-time staff at Rec who helped push me everyday to keep learning more” he
explains. “Not only did this role help me transition between my degrees it also allowed me to take on more senior student roles in Rec and prepare for graduation.”

Since then, Steven has taken on additional roles at Rec such as a Student Program Coordinator and a Get Rec’d Ambassador.
“I think that the best way to stay on top of your game is to stay busy and fully engage yourself in as many activities as possible” he says about balancing school, work and personal life. “If you immerse yourself completely in your goals, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.”

In October of 2015, Steven went through an extremely difficult time. His father passed away unexpectedly, leaving him and his mother stunned. He and his father were very close and explains that it would have been easy for him to derail his education and slip away from himself. In the midst of the most difficult time of his life, he was amazed and comforted by the support that he received from Rec.

“That was the moment which showed me how much Rec values not only their employees, but everyone who walks through their front gate and how they are willing to do anything to help people through a challenging time” he says wholeheartedly. “The last two years of my degree have definitely been the most challenging, but Rec was there for me every step of the way.”

Today, Steven is thrilled to be accepted into the University of New York in Prague’s Master of International Management program which he will start in September. Until then, he continues to use dodgeball and longboarding as a way to unwind and destress and is soaking up as much of the MRU experience as possible.

When asked about what he would say to students who are new to trying out Rec, Steven advises, “Whatever it is that you think you might enjoy, try it! No one cares whether you can bench press 300 pounds, make 10 three-point shots in a row or take out the entire team you’re playing against in dodgeball singlehandedly, it’s just about getting active.”

Steven got involved by using of Rec's student employment opportunities, learn more about how you can work at Rec here.

GetFitFiona_OurStoriesgraphic

By: Danielle Alfaro
Assistant Marketing & Communications Coordinator
MRU Recreation

Heather, a.k.a Get Fit Fiona, wasn’t always mindful of her health, but
rather it has become a learned lifestyle and something she has grown into by finding her fit through trial and error.

Upon completing university in her early twenties, Heather worked for a few different organizations before she decided to follow her passion for health and wellness and change careers. She quickly realized this was going to require going back to school to diversify her skill set to give her the tools she needed to succeed. She chose MRU because of its positive reputation and small class sizes. It was also important to her to be able to earn her education in a short period of time, so when she found the Personal Fitness Trainer Diploma through Continuing Education, she was elated. Proud of herself for making the move to go back to school later on in life and be educated in something that inspired her, Heather didn’t anticipate the impact student life would have on her.

Heather had to learn how to prioritize more effectively; being a student is not always easy and it can be demanding. Often times in efforts to keep up, she found herself skipping workouts and grabbing not-so-healthy fast food choices. It wasn’t until both her parents fell ill that she really became aware of her health and how important it is both physically and mentally. She knew she had to start making changes if she wanted to be successful and achieve her goals, so she set out on a journey to become a better version of herself.

Heather began putting her health and wellness at the forefront of her priority list by learning how to meal prep and plan out her food. This helped her make healthier choices instead of grabbing unhealthy options while at school. She also needed to make sleep a bigger priority and is mindful of how much sleep she needs to be productive the next day. Soon after beginning her program, Heather discovered Rec and was hooked shortly after trying out her first fitness class. Her favourite thing about Rec is that there is a wide variety of classes and activities to choose from, so she never gets bored. Some of her favourites include ViPR fitness classes and Sunday morning yoga.

When thinking about her first impressions of Rec, Heather explained “at first the weight room was intimidating, but I became more comfortable with it after taking a strength training class and got used to the space and its elements.”

Working out also motivates her to eat healthier. Heather finds spending so much time and effort at the gym helps her recognize the importance of fueling the body with what it needs. Enjoying life and being social are important to Heather; occasionally heading out to enjoy a treat is one way she sustains balance. She explains, “it’s what you do most of the time and consistently that counts.”

After settling into the healthy lifestyle change, Heather decided to start a blog in 2012. She wanted to share her personal experience and journey to a healthier, active way of living in a creative way with others. She creates blog posts by simply writing about her experiences. She gains inspiration from books and other online content that interests her such as new healthy recipes or different ways to get active.

Heather believes that the mental aspect of staying healthy is just as important as the physical and working out helps her increases her productivity at school. It also helps increase her energy and mental clarity.

“Working out allows me to shut off my brain and just focus on my physical health and wellbeing in the moment.” These are topics she writes about in her blog and feels sharing her personal trials and tribulations are a way for her to express her creativity as well as help others.

Heather is inspired to stay healthy in order to live a long and fulfilling life. She knows it takes hard work to be able to reach her goals and looks up to other strong women for motivation. She admires the Canadian Women’s Soccer Team because they are students, employees and moms on top of being elite athletes and respects their dedication and strong will.

A nature lover, Heather also enjoys getting out and walking around her community to take in the sights and sounds of the outdoors while connecting with community members. Mixing it up in order to avoid getting bored is important to her and she’s always looking for something new to try. When asked what advice she would give in order to inspire others thinking about making a lifestyle change she explains, “find something you really enjoy doing, I’ve tried so many different things, but it
is the ones I Iove doing that have become a permanent part of my routine and helped me become my best self.”

Facebook: GetFitFiona          Twitter: @Fiona4343

If you’d like to learn more about Heather and follow her journey to health, visit her blog getfitfiona.com and see what she’s been up to this semester.

 

Cougars_OurStoriesgraphic 

By: Christine Thompson
Social & Digital Media Coordinator
MRU Recreation

Meet Colin Cooper. Some may know him as #31, the goalie for the MRU Cougars Men’s Hockey Team, while others recognize his friendly face from business class or the time he spends at MRU Recreation (Rec). Between balancing hockey and school, this self-described funny, happy and competitive hockey player is one busy guy. I sat down with the second year business student to talk about how he likes to stay active, and of course, hockey.

Why is staying active important to you?
Staying active is important because it introduces a healthy lifestyle. If you’re not staying active and you’re just sitting around, it’s sometimes not good. Like for me, I find that staying active is a great stress reliever. If hockey is stressful, or if school is stressful, I like going to the gym for a workout, or even just running on the track; it really helps.

Besides hockey, what’s your favourite way to get active?
I like running quite a bit. Like over the summer, I’d go out with my sister and she’d ride her bike and I’d jog beside her. Again it’s a good stress reliever and something fun that I like to do.

So you use Rec quite frequently. What do you like to do when you come to Rec?
When I go to Recreation, I’ll keep my workout pretty light, just because hockey can be intense. I’ll usually run a bit, stretch and then go down to the weight room and do a bit of light lifting. Some of my teammates and I will swim quite a bit during the summer as well and we also like to go the gym and pretend that we’re basketball players. When regular season takes a break in December, some of my teammates and I will pop in on a Saturday or Sunday and play squash. It gets pretty intense.

How do you think Rec has impacted your time at Mount Royal?
It’s made it more fun for sure, just having that opportunity to go if you’re in between classes. It’s nice to know you can go workout, or go for a swim, or whatever. It helps take away from the school portion and allows you to have fun too.

What advice would you give someone thinking about trying Rec?
Getting out to the gym for the first time is the hardest part, but there are tons of other activities in Rec too. I wish I had more time to join some of the activities, like the intramural sports. They look like a lot of fun. If I wasn’t so busy with hockey, I’d probably do intramural basketball. But I guess my advice would be to not worry about what other people think and to just go for it. Everyone at Rec is super nice and if you have any questions, there is always someone there to answer.

How do you balance being a student and being a student-athlete?
It’s tough. The first year I found that I was getting behind quite a bit, because I was focusing a lot on hockey. I’d tell myself, “Okay, you have a game tonight, don’t worry about anything else.” But eventually you learn that just because you have a hockey game, school doesn’t pause. I’ve learned that time management is huge. I learned that you really need to get ahead of school work, instead of trying to catch up. I’ll try to do a bunch of work on Sundays so I can get ahead a week or two, so I’m not stressing too much.

How do you get pumped for a hockey game?
Usually before a game, the team will play sewer ball, which is where everyone stands in a circle with a soccer ball and the goal is to keep it up in the air. Then after that I like to keep it pretty quiet on my own and just do some stretching. I don’t try to get too pumped music wise or anything. I find as a goalie that if you get too fired up with adrenaline, you get kind of jumpy for the game, so I try to keep my warm-up calmer and focused.

What is your favourite Crowchild Classic memory?
Last year I stayed on the bench for it, but it was kind of cool to not be so engaged in the game and kind of just enjoy the experience of it. It’s always cool. The guys were playing unreal out there and the crowd was just going. It was cool to see the atmosphere of it, because you realize how crazy the fan base is and how alive the atmosphere is. It’s really cool to play in the Saddledome. You grow up going to Hitmen and
Flames games and it’s your dream as a child to play where the Flames play. It was pretty mesmerizing and fun.

Why should MRU students come to the Crowchild Classic?
I think it’s an experience that not many university students in Canada get to have. I mean you look at some of the universities out East, like McGill, who play a game in the Centre Bell arena where the Montreal Canadiens play and there are not many people who show up to it. The passion behind the rivalry, combined with how hockey oriented Calgary is makes it an experience that you won’t forget. Being a part of it in the stands is no different than playing the game on the ice; the fans get to feel the same atmosphere and experience it with everyone else.

MRU Cougars VS UofC Dinos
February 2, 2017

Visit mrucougars.com to learn more or pick up your free tickets at the door.

 

 

 

WellnessCentre_OurStoriesgraphic

 

With Mirjan Knapik Ph.D.
Registered Psychologist
MRU Wellness Services

I don’t think any of us, when the fuel gauge in our car shows empty in October, expect it to run fine until we can gas-up in December. But it seems we expect ourselves to run on empty. Self-care is about refueling and without doing so, our physical, mental and emotional functioning will become impaired. We develop sleep difficulties, have trouble focusing, find it difficult to prioritize and end up feeling overwhelmed, emotionally reactive and irritable. We don’t feel like ourselves and those around us can’t benefit from all that is wonderful in our hearts and minds. Self-care is necessary for us to be well with ourselves and others.

If you’ve thought that self-care is either too selfish or too time consuming, here is an invitation to shift your perspective. What if self-care was something we did because it was simultaneously good for ourselves and others? What if self-care could help us identify the stressors in our lives so that we create healthier conditions? What if self-care could lead to social change?

Most of us know the usual list of proposed self-care activities: warm baths, cups of tea, leisurely walks with a pet, or any of the things you find in this Play Book that gets you moving, centred or connected with others. However, not all strategies are equally accessible or effective for everyone. So I invite you to begin your self-care with stopping, rather than doing more, and checking in with yourself using a different kind of attention. Be silent and still and ask yourself, “How am I ? How is my energy? What is important to me at this time in my life? To what am I giving my energy and attention? Is this in line with my priorities?”

This kind of stopping and noticing allows us to see what is going well and feel grateful. There is compelling evidence about the health benefits of expressing gratitude and extending loving kindness toward self, others and the world. Reflecting in this way also allows us see where change is needed so we can respond with a plan rather than react in a state of stress. We may recognize how the context contributes to our stress or identify the barriers for self-care. This awareness can be a first step to exploring with others what meaningful social change might look like. Self-care can reflect a concern for others and the world. We can also view self-care as something we weave into our lives moment to moment.

We practice self-care when we communicate in ways that de-escalate destructive conflict, use strategies to calm our distress, live more mindfully, or take steps to overcome the fears that keep us from connecting with others. We can improve our ability to do these things and build resilience. Self-care is about treating ourselves with the same consideration we give to those people we care about.

How will you be a good friend to yourself today?

Student counselling services offers many workshops that support self-care and resilience building. Connect with us:
MRU Wellness Services (U126)
403.440.6362
@MRULiveWell

 

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