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Tips for managing stress from UM’s Student Counselling Centre

November 8, 2021 — 

As the UMFA strike and negotiations between UM and UMFA continue, we understand that it’s a challenging time for most students. The disruption to your studies and the uncertainty around the situation impacts students to varying degrees and with that comes different ways that individuals respond to this situation.

Students may worry about their ability to complete the term or graduate on time, feel great stress about crossing a picket line, or feel anxious about how this will impact the future. Regardless of your situation, all responses are normal, and it is the situation that is unusual or abnormal. Be kind to yourself if you’re struggling and understand that there’s nothing wrong with you or how you feel.

Reach out for support

The Student Counselling Centre (SCC) has recommended multiple ways to help students manage as they navigate this time. Know that supports remain available to you. Despite reduced capacities with some counsellors on strike, the SCC continues to operate. Students can still book intake appointments, participate in workshops and groups, and receive individual counselling as it becomes available. Call 204-474-8532 to book an intake appointment.

You are not alone. Reach out for help when you need it. Talking to someone you trust about how you feel goes a long way; keeping those feelings inside likely won’t help. Choose who you trust: a friend, family member, partner, counsellor, mentor, role model, Elder, religious or spiritual leader. Answer honestly when someone asks, “how are you?”

Make peace with uncertainty

Remind yourself that you have managed and carried on through uncertainty before. For example, you’ve made it through every time you weren’t certain of the content being tested on an exam. We tend to remember uncertainty when it didn’t work out well; try to remember when uncertainty did work out well for you.

Additionally, not everything around you is uncertain – look for aspects that you can control and focus your energy on them.

Focus on taking care of yourself

You’ve gotten through every hardship in your life before, and you’ll get through this one as well. Instead of focusing on the behaviour of UMFA members or UM administrators, try to focus your attention on yourself and what you need to do to take care of yourself.

  • Consider sticking to a routine, especially the same one you had prior to the strike. This can be helpful and positive for most students. For example, if your classes are cancelled, you could spend that time working on course content from those classes, but know that unless your class is on the continuing courses list, you are not required to complete any coursework including exams, mid-terms, assignments etc. from that course.
  • Our emotions reside in our bodies, so take good care of yours. Whether you achieve this by maintaining a regular sleep schedule, eating balanced meal, or limiting caffeine or alcohol intake, taking care of your body does wonders for wellness.
  • When we’re stressed, our body wants us to move. Get your heart rate up and burn off the energy building up in your body. Going for a walk, a quick workout, or dancing to music for three to five minutes will suffice.
  • Try using distraction techniques if you find yourself thinking a lot about the strike. This may include making a list of things that make you happy, listening to soothing music, working on a hobby, cleaning your space, reading a good book under a warm blanket, and other ways that create a feeling of comfort.
  • If you can’t get your mind off the strike or another concern, think of any colour and try to find ten items around you that are that colour. Name items as you see them. When finished, see if you can focus on the task you were trying to do.
  • Do something kind for someone else.
  • Spend time with your pets if you have any.
  • Practice gratitude. Even during a stressful time, there are things to be grateful for. Once a day try to identify one thing you’re grateful for and why.

Limit your information intake

Be careful of information overload. Limit the time you spend taking in UMFA strike news. Too many updates about the strike and negotiations can become overwhelming. Consider checking in only once or twice a day to learn about developments. Even for those who like to follow the news, it can all become too much.

Similarly, be careful of misinformation. Rumours abound about what happened or what didn’t, what’s open and what’s not. Verify rumours by seeking reputable sources or checking directly yourself. Many supports remain available, including resources that remain committed to helping you with academic success.

Student support at Bannatyne campus

Student Services at Bannatyne campus (SS@Bc) connects students and residents in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences with the supports and referrals needed for personal and academic success. SS@Bc remains open during the strike, but is operating at a reduced capacity due to strike participation by UMFA staff members. Intake and triage support are still being offered and the Student Mental Health Service is operating at regular capacity. Academic accommodations, advocacy, career services, international advising, and spiritual care are all operating without disruption. 

To access any of these services, email bcstudentservices [at] umanitoba [dot] ca or call the office at 204-272-3190.

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