Wellness

noun | well·ness | \ˈwel-nəs\ | definition: the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort | synonyms: fitness, healthiness, heartiness, wholeness

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Take care of your mind, body, and spirit

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Live well, feel good, and achieve success

Mental health and wellness are an important part of your academic success and everything you do. When you take care of yourself, it's easier to get better grades and feel good in life. Some of the top wellness concerns that affect students' academic success include:

Stress & anxiety

What's the difference?

Stress

Stress is the body’s reaction to various stimuli, including physical, chemical, emotional, or environmental factors. Stress is a normal part of life and something that everyone experiences.

Acute stress is short-lived and involves the body releasing adrenaline and cortisol, which helps you respond quickly when needed (e.g., when you encounter something dangerous). Chronic stress, however, results in ongoing high levels of stress hormones that can compromise your immune system and cause severe health problems such as depression.

Stress, whether acute or chronic, is not diagnosed as a mental health disorder.

Anxiety

The experience of anxiety is more similar to fear. This may be fear of something specific or fear that doesn’t seem to have a cause. Many people experience anxiety in relation to common stressful events such as exams, and this anxiety can be short-lived. However, when anxiety continues and begins to interfere with ongoing daily functioning it is diagnosed as an anxiety disorder.

It helps to be proactive about stress and anxiety. When you start feeling stressed or anxious:

  • Acknowledge and accept that you are feeling stressed or anxious
  • Take a break
  • Talk to a friend
  • Allow yourself to cry
  • Go for a walk or run
  • Meditate
  • Breathe deeply and allow your natural relaxation response to kick in

Physical activity & recreation

Being physically active can reduce stress and help you feel more energized and alert, making it a lot easier to focus on studying, completing assignments, and preparing for exams.

Some of the benefits of physical activity include:

  • stronger muscles and bones
  • improved concentration and cognitive function
  • less risk of illness and chronic disease
  • improved ability to achieve or maintain your healthy weight
  • more energy
  • improved mood and self-esteem
  • lower stress levels1

1 Health Canada (2011), Physical activity 

Getting active doesn't require hours at the gym.

Fitting physical activity into your day

Fitting 150 minutes of physical activity into your week can seem like a challenge, but fortunately, it’s easier than you think.
 

  • Find 10-minute workout breaks

Getting active doesn’t require hours in the gym. Take a break between classes and walk to the coffee shop that’s furthest away, take the long way to your next class, or go for a quick evening run (always stick to well-lit and safe routes).

  • Try active transportation

Ride your bike to campus or get off the bus a stop or two ahead of where you need to be and walk the rest of the way.

  • Take advantage of UBC’s location

Try jogging the stairs to and from Wreck Beach, walking the perimeter of campus, snowboarding the local hills, or kayaking at Jericho Beach. Keep safety in mind – always exercise with a friend and/or in areas with other people around, and stick to well-lit routes.

  • Start your own walking or running group

It’s inexpensive to walk or run around campus, and if you do it as a group, chances are you’ll be motivated to keep it up.

  • Join a recreation-focused AMS Club

Get active with others. Join a recreation-focused club like the Badminton Club, the Dance Club, the Sailing Club, or the Ultimate Club, among many others.

Sleep

Sleep difficulties are among the top health issues impacting UBC students’ academic performance, so it makes sense that getting enough quality sleep is crucial for performing your best.

Lack of sleep has a significant impact on brain function, health, safety, and longevity. Sleep itself can actually improve mental function, and researchers are discovering that it is vital for learning and memory1.

Healthy Sleep, The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

  • Get seven-to-nine hours of sleep each night

Most people need at least seven-to-nine hours of sleep each night to function optimally the next day.

  • Get up at the same time each morning

This includes weekends, whenever possible. This practice will ensure your internal clock keeps you on schedule for sleep and wake times.

  • Avoid naps

It can feel great waking up from a nap, but naps can interfere with your sleep schedule. You’ll sleep better at night if you avoid napping during the day.

  • Stay away from caffeine, tobacco, marijuana, and alcohol before bed

These drugs actually alter your sleep so that it is not normal. Best practice is to avoid these substances at least three hours before going to sleep.

  • Go to sleep when you feel sleepy at night

If you can’t fall asleep within 20 minutes of hitting the pillow, get up and do something until you feel sleepy. Trying to force sleep can leave you feeling frustrated, making sleep even more difficult.

  • Keep your bedroom a sleep sanctuary

Put your computer, TV, and phone in another room if you can, and keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark. Do your studying, writing, and other work elsewhere if possible, or hide school books and papers when they’re not being used.

  • Stay active

Physical activity can make it easier to fall asleep. Try to fit in a good workout after school or work, but avoid exercising too close to bed time.

  • Unwind before bed

Take time in the evening to unwind before going to bed so you’re relaxed when trying to fall asleep. You might also try meditation to help you relax.

  • Write down your thoughts

Try writing down thoughts or to-do items if they’re keeping you awake. Keep a notepad and pen next to your bed.

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