As part of UFlourish, UCalgary’s annual wellness fair, we asked our community how they’re managing studying and working from home. From creating routines and to-do lists to exercising self-compassion, we found common threads to share from students, staff, faculty and postdoctoral scholars for making it through an already busy year in such a different environment.
Scheduling breaks throughout the day can prevent stress and burnout and lead to better productivity and a chance to get away from a screen. Breaks can look different for everyone, and community members had suggestions that ranged from getting active with a stretch and move break, practising an easy self-care activity, taking a nap, preparing a snack, brewing a coffee or tea, calling a friend, getting outside for fresh air, picking a favourite song and either dancing it out or getting a household chore done.
For those with busier days, breaks can take just a few seconds. A few deep breaths to rest the mind to serve as a transition to your next task can be enough.
Self-care is defined as any activity that helps us recharge and feel good and supports our mental, emotional, and physical health. It’s easy to let this slip with competing work or assignment deadlines, but by supporting and caring for ourselves, we’re better able to meet deadlines with the kind of head-clearing and mood-elevating good self-care is known to help with.
Self-care isn’t one-size-fits-all, but UCalgary community members had some tips of their own for how to keep it top of mind:
When work hours start to stretch into early mornings, or late evenings, when asynchronous class lectures and assignments start to pile up, a schedule can help progress happen and carve out time for work, home, free/break/self-care, sleep and even regular eating time.
Schedules or routines don’t need to stay rigid or inflexible, but students, staff, and faculty alike agree chunking tasks can help get things accomplished without scraping or delaying time for personal care.
Sticky notes and to-do lists on notepads not only help to keep us organized, but can give a sense of accomplishment when a task is done — rip up the post-it or cross off a task, keep on going, or take a break.
Sleep was one of several areas cited as being an important thing to be mindful of — most notably, how much sleep you’re getting.
For more tips on getting quality sleep, check out this article with a UCalgary sleep scientist and this podcast with a registered psychologist, on why sleep is so important, especially during times of stress.
We all have different spaces, whether living with roommates, alone, in residence, or with big families. Many don’t have options or resources and need to manage with what they have. Tips and tricks suggested for managing our various environments included:
It’s easy to slip into negative self-talk when feeling a lack of motivation and productivity, but UCalgary community members advocate for forgiveness and self-compassion. We simply can’t hold ourselves up to the same standards that we had before the pandemic. With the prolonged experience coupled with winter — when other stressors like fewer daylight hours, the cold, and likely less in-person physical gathering can happen. A few more from our community:
Faculty and staff
Support for those at risk of domestic or dating violence
Women’s Resource Centre: Peer support
Faith and Spirituality Centre
UFlourish is hosted by Student Wellness Services and Staff Wellness with the support of the Campus Mental Health Strategy. The University of Calgary’s Campus Mental Health Strategy is a bold commitment to the importance of mental health and well-being of our university family. Our vision is to be a community where we care for each other, learn and talk about mental health and well-being, receive support as needed, and individually and collectively realize our full potential. Find support and connect to the strategy here.
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