Take a Break! Hey, Take 10

This blog post was originally published on July 7, 2015.

Tar Heels, if you’re still hanging around the general vicinity of North Carolina this summer, you don’t need me to tell you it’s hot, but…OMG it’s sooooo hot! If you’re anything like me, a long string of hot days might make you complain a lot and think less clearly than you might otherwise.

Also, while the pictures on my Facebook feed tell me that this is vacation time for a lot of people…it might not feel like vacation time for all of us. Yes, NECESSITY, as well as our culture that socializes us to ideals of BUSY! and ACHIEVEMENTS!, can chase us down even into these summer months.

So, please allow me to be your Captain Obvious right now and give you a loving reminder:

Here is a comfy pink chair in the forest a person might sit in if they were taking a break.
Here is a comfy pink chair in the forest a person might sit in if they were taking a break.

Take a break.

Take a break! There are many ways to take a break today, this week, this month, this summer, even if you’re jamming out in Summer Session II and can’t afford a beach condo for the next decade. Here are some ideas to get your creative break-making juices flowing:

  1. Finish reading this blog post and then turn off whatever screen you’re looking at for at least 5 minutes. Feeling brave? Do it in silence. Feeling tense? Think about relaxing each part of your body, starting with the toes and working your way up. It’s just 5 minutes. You can do it. Too easy? Make a summer resolution to do this every day and see what happens.
  2. Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a long time and catch up.
  3. Commit to listening to an entire album you haven’t heard ever or haven’t heard in a long time. Do it in one sitting. Invite some buddies over for a listening party.
  4. Find a path you’ve never walked and walk it. (If you’re in Chapel Hill, consider these!) Find some flowers and sniff them.
  5. Take a social media hiatus. Y’all. I haven’t been on Facebook for 3 days and I feel like a new person right now.
  6. Drink some water. It’s hot.
  7. Do something you haven’t done since you were a kid. Is there a swing set at your apartment complex? Can you get your hands on a pool noodle? Are there old board games for sale at PTA Thrift Shop? Where are those crayons your roommate was waving around? Can you YouTube your favorite old cartoon?
  8. Plan a day trip to a swimming hole or a waterfall.
  9. Cook something for dinner tonight that you’ve never cooked before. Never cooked at all? Then this assignment has NO LIMITS!
  10. Read a book…for fun. When was the last time you read a book for fun??

Other ideas? Do share in the comments!

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: A Healthy Romance

You can probably describe your ideal partner. You might have a more difficult time describing what a healthy relationship means to you.  Your ideas about healthy relationships can help you make choices and communicate  expectations.  Here are just a few characteristics of healthy relationships:



The list could go on.

We know that this list should never include violence or abuse. In all relationships, behaviors and words should be non-threatening.  Ask these questions if you think you may be in an unhealthy relationship. If you believe you might be in an unhealthy relationship, consider your options. You are always welcome to come to Counseling and Psychological Services without an appointment Monday – Friday 9-12 and 1-4 or you can call 919-966-2281 as a 24-hr crisis line.

Let us know what being in a healthy relationship means to you. Leave a comment below, tweet at us (@UNCHealthyHeels), or post a message on our facebook page!

This post was edited on 10/2/2015 with updated contact information, social media links. Also edited for clarity. 

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: 8 Dimensions of Wellness Portrayed by Animals!

UNC Student Wellness believes that student and community health choices involve the integration of eight dimensions of wellness. To illustrate these dimensions, the staff at Student Wellness looked to our pets to bring you examples of how they embody each dimension of wellness.

 

  1. Cultural wellness. Pictured: Mary’s cats Buffy and Giles helping to create a safe, inclusive space for LGBTQ beings of all species.
    Cultural Wellness
  2. Emotional wellness. Pictured: Diana’s dog Bea liking (and licking) what she sees in the mirror, demonstrating her fabulous body image and self-acceptance.
    Emotional Wellness
  3. Physical wellness. Pictured: Kate’s dog CJ getting her jump/fly/swim on at Uwharrie National Forest. Pictured: two litters of puppies napping together for their physical wellness.
    Physical Wellness Physical Wellness 2
  4. Environmental wellness. Pictured: Diana’s dog Bea out for a fun day of sailing on Jordan Lake. Here, she’s taking in the splendor of the lake and thinking very thoughtfully about air quality. Pictured: Kelli’s former foster dog Kori rolling around in the grass to scratch her back.
    animals5 animals6
  5. Intellectual wellness. Pictured: Kate’s dog CJ demonstrating an important part of intellectual wellness: sometimes you need a study break! Pictured: Mary’s cat Giles learning how to play a new game and demonstrating that intellectual wellness can be fun and social!  Pictured: Kate’s dog CJ catching up on this week’s biggest news stories.
    animals7 animals8 animals9
  6. Financial wellness. Pictured: Diana’s dog Bea managing her personal finances; setting finance goals for the upcoming year.
    animals10
  7. Social wellness. Pictured: Part of social wellness is also knowing when not to be social by finding time for yourself. Here is Brittany’s cat Noble in a box, finding some time and space to be alone. Or nap. Both are important for maintaining social wellness. Pictured: Mary’s cats Buffy and Giles spending time together and bonding over looking at some birds outside. Pictured: Natalie’s adopted kittens demonstrating some solid peer support — an essential component of social wellness.
    animals12 animals11 animals13 Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 5.35.36 PM
  8. Spiritual wellness. Pictured: This is Brittany’s cat Barnes. He like to take time for self reflection every day.  Usually while using his tail as a pillow.  Pictured: Pedro, a recently adopted dog with Triangle Beagle Rescue, looks up at the heavens and smiles.
    animals15 animals16

This blog was originally posted on November 18, 2014, and was written by the Student Wellness staff! 

 

Take a Break! Hey, Take 10

Tar Heels, if you’re still hanging around the general vicinity of North Carolina this summer, you don’t need me to tell you it’s hot, but…OMG it’s sooooo hot! If you’re anything like me, a long string of hot days might make you complain a lot and think less clearly than you might otherwise.

Also, while the pictures on my Facebook feed tell me that this is vacation time for a lot of people…it might not feel like vacation time for all of us. Yes, NECESSITY, as well as our culture that socializes us to ideals of BUSY! and ACHIEVEMENTS!, can chase us down even into these summer months.

So, please allow me to be your Captain Obvious right now and give you a loving reminder:

Here is a comfy pink chair in the forest a person might sit in if they were taking a break.
Here is a comfy pink chair in the forest a person might sit in if they were taking a break.

Take a break.

Take a break! There are many ways to take a break today, this week, this month, this summer, even if you’re jamming out in Summer Session II and can’t afford a beach condo for the next decade. Here are some ideas to get your creative break-making juices flowing:

  1. Finish reading this blog post and then turn off whatever screen you’re looking at for at least 5 minutes. Feeling brave? Do it in silence. Feeling tense? Think about relaxing each part of your body, starting with the toes and working your way up. It’s just 5 minutes. You can do it. Too easy? Make a summer resolution to do this every day and see what happens.
  2. Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a long time and catch up.
  3. Commit to listening to an entire album you haven’t heard ever or haven’t heard in a long time. Do it in one sitting. Invite some buddies over for a listening party.
  4. Find a path you’ve never walked and walk it. (If you’re in Chapel Hill, consider these!) Find some flowers and sniff them.
  5. Take a social media hiatus. Y’all. I haven’t been on Facebook for 3 days and I feel like a new person right now.
  6. Drink some water. It’s hot.
  7. Do something you haven’t done since you were a kid. Is there a swing set at your apartment complex? Can you get your hands on a pool noodle? Are there old board games for sale at PTA Thrift Shop? Where are those crayons your roommate was waving around? Can you YouTube your favorite old cartoon?
  8. Plan a day trip to a swimming hole or a waterfall.
  9. Cook something for dinner tonight that you’ve never cooked before. Never cooked at all? Then this assignment has NO LIMITS!
  10. Read a book…for fun. When was the last time you read a book for fun??

Other ideas? Do share in the comments!

Practical Lessons from Theatre: Creative Ways to Deal with Stress

Folks in theatre know a thing or two about stress and stress relief–it’s our primary excuse for playing all of those silly games. Since there is a lot of tension inherent in meeting multiple deadlines, collaborating with a team, and performing in front of people, a lot of theatre training involves cultivating awareness and practicing relaxation. Academic atmospheres hold similar tensions—especially at this time of year. What are your strategies for moderating the physical and emotional effects of stress?

Colorful CrayonsIn Interactive Theatre Carolina’s scene on stress management (Coloring for the Chronically Stressed by student ensemble member, Noel Thompson), an overburdened protagonist meets a fellow student in Davis Library late one night and flips out when he realizes his new friend is coloring.

Victor: NO! This is an important point! Why are you coloring?

Sunny: (Sighs) Ok, if you really want to know. You know how when some people need to unwind, they run? Or some people do drugs, some people play music, some people get as far away from the library as possible? I don’t adhere to that structure. As some form of cosmic middle finger to the universe, I come to Davis, the place where I do all my work, and I do the least productive thing I can think of.

Victor: So you come here, and you…color?

Okay, but really: have you tried this lately? Coloring is way better than you probably remember. Furthermore, there have been numerous studies showing the benefits of music, expressive writing, and art for mental and physical health. Engaging in these activities has been shown to lower heart rate and boost the immune system. Also…they’re fun.

Maybe you don’t consider yourself an artistic person. It doesn’t matter. When you’ve been toiling in a performance-driven academic environment, part of the beauty of taking on a creative endeavor is that it can be valid and helpful no matter the “quality” of the product.

If you’re someone who already engages in a creative pursuit, consider switching mediums. It can be liberating to get back to a beginner’s mind where the stakes are low and your identity isn’t tied up in the work.

So sometime in the coming weeks, take a break, find some crayons, and color. Or sing, and sing off-key. Finger paint. Invent a game. Keep a gratitude journal. Make a collage. Try to draw a portrait of your cat or a representation of your brain. Pull out that old Casio keyboard and make up a tune.

Here are some links that might help get you started: http://journalingprompts.com/ http://www.happyhealthyher.com/mind-spirit/art-therapy/

Allowing your brain some variety and opportunity for expressive outlet shouldn’t be considered a waste of time—it’s an important, healthy release. If you need a little more convincing, check out this study: http://apt.rcpsych.org/content/11/5/338.full

Of course, we recognize that crayons aren’t a cure-all.  If your stress or anxiety levels escalate, you can always find support at Counseling and Psychological Services

This blog post was originally published on April 16, 2013 and was written by Sarah Donnell. It has been updated and reposted for clarity.

WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: A Beautiful Body is a Masterpiece. Your Masterpiece.

The following fantastic article was written by Jordan Lee for the UNC 2015 Body Beautiful Project. Jordan is a Fitness Graduate Assistant for Campus Recreation and is a second year master’s student in the Exercise Physiology program.

A beautiful body is a masterpiece. Your masterpiece.
A beautiful body is individual and unique in that it literally can’t be like anything else. It is original and independent. It has no loyalty to the preordained, finds joy in the potential for change, but exists as a delicacy.
A beautiful body always juggles its strengths and weaknesses. It admires room for improvement but doesn’t injure itself with intentional pain. A beautiful body is a canvas for development, decorated with the impact of both disasters and dreams.
A beautiful body seeks and explores its limits, but is conscious of absurdity. It is both nourished and occasionally indulgent, but lacks intention to seek drought as balance. By the grace of self-perseverance, a beautiful body salutes dangerous frontiers.
A beautiful body collaborates with both the extravagant and the mundane. It is creative and curious, learning the lessons of mistakes and the glory of discoveries. It does not gloat in the spotlight nor undermine it’s own success. It is able to step up or step aside, but never surrender.
A beautiful body grits its teeth and lies perfectly still. It is dedicated to challenge itself as a precious machine, yet it finds peace and repair in the silence of nothing.
A beautiful body is attentive to the vivacity of laughter and the depths of tears. It is thankful for the repair reflected in scars, but does not dismiss or forget their birth. A beautiful body is dynamic and malleable, experiencing the pull of a strong-will and the tremors of fear. It brims with self-purpose, even when mute.
A beautiful body is bold but patient. It seeks novelty and endures struggle, but never abandons its intrinsic flame. It venerates opportunity and obligation, even in the face of mystery. Without excuses as a crutch, it takes a conscious oath to respect, nurture, grow and protect the fragile life beneath the skin.
A beautiful body is inextinguishable, thriving, and is an entity of its own. It is everlasting. Granted with the most precious privilege there is, a beautiful body holds itself accountable. For its own sake and not for you or me.
Because responsibility is the cornerstone of beauty.

Wake Up To Music

Alarm Clock 3
Photo: “Alarm Clock 3.” Alan Cleaver. Flickr Creative Commons.

Today I woke up to the sound of music. I’m not talking about Julie Andrews in Austria. I’m talking about my alarm. It wasn’t a terrible beeping, though. I hate those types of alarms. They scare me out of bed and put me into a panic. I would always be waking up thinking I was late. My morning monologue was something like “holy crap”, “this sucks”, “why me?”. I would feel resentful and annoyed. It wasn’t until I started waking up to more peaceful kinds of music that I noticed how that was really affecting me. Those blaring alarms were actually affecting the way I experienced my entire day. I would see class as a chore and a burden. I would feel rushed to the point where I would either physically speed around to get myself ready, out the door, and to wherever I needed to be, or I would become insufferably slow, as though I was at a silent protest against the morning.

So I changed my routine. What a relief! It’s way better, trust me. Music soothes me awake, just as it used to soothe me to sleep. Though, I guess it depends on the kind of music you choose to wake up to. Hold on, people, we’re about to take a step into the world of science (and by science, I mean YouTube). Click here (don’t listen to the whole thing)—>>>>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ym8JjY4fy-M .

Welcome back. So, that was kind of nice, huh? That’s the kind of soothing I’m talking about. That can get me through the day. It sets the pace for me. Okay, let’s imagine how music is used in film. Without music, some of the most terrible, scary movies would be only mildly frightening and even humorous in some cases. The music in suspense/horror flicks is intended to affect my breathing, heart rate and ultimately my emotional response. It causes me to react with fear.

Where am I going with this? Good question… What I’m getting at is this: how can we become more aware of our emotions? Better yet, will becoming more aware of our emotions allow us to practice a certain level of control over them? For example, I like being happy, content and excited over being angry, afraid or sad. Knowing that, what is one way I can set myself up to experience more of the emotions that I prefer to experience?

If I want to feel happiness, I can listen to some Sara Bareilles or Jason Mraz. If I want to feel calm and motivated, I listen to some classical guitar music. That’s just me. But seriously, there are physical and emotional responses to musical stimuli. If you’re interested in exploring the topic in greater depth, do some research into music psychology and mood regulation. Check out some books from the library, listen to music, make music, share music and study music. And visit my favorite source of science… YouTube! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grsyT0erx6E

Start your day off right. Get your heart beating to the rhythm of your choice. Your emotional wellbeing is important and it could affect others as well, and may ultimately have an impact on the Carolina community. So, be conscious, deliberate, and systematic in your music choices.

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” -Billy Joel

Jazz Band
Photo: “Jazz Band.” Kevin Dooley.

Smiles or Tears? How to Beat Summertime Sadness With Optimism

optimism

Welcome to a new week! I hope you jumped out of bed with a purpose in mind, ready to live exactly how you want. If not, that’s ok too – maybe it’s more sleep you need! I hope that the summer has given you time to focus on your overall wellness. Maybe you’ve been working hard to eat more healthfully, be more active, or quit smoking.  Along the way, you may have hit some unavoidable roadblocks stopping you from reaching your goal. When bad things happen – do you recognize them as a passing storm cloud, or do you believe that the universe is wholly aligned against you? The answer matters – a lot! We’re going to begin this morning with a look into optimism, and why it’s an essential aspect of a well-balanced life.

First, let’s take a closer look at what it means to have an optimistic world view. Let’s be clear- there are several things that optimism is not. Optimism is not happiness, as happiness is an indefinable and subjective emotion. Optimism is not forcing a smile, mentally chanting “cheer up buttercup,” or prancing through a field of daisies. These behaviors could be a natural byproduct of experiencing optimism in your life, but they likely will not bring you a sense of inner peace in of themselves. Optimism is hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something. By extension, optimism allows you to believe that your life is worth living.

Sounds great, huh? Here are a few behaviors you can use in your life to achieve a greater sense of optimism:

  1. Create and purse your own goals: This is the foundation of a meaningful life. People who get things done and laugh along the way don’t have access to some secret elixir – rather, they know what they want from their life and they work hard to make it happen. Do you want to lose weight and feel better about your body? The drive must come from within – not a nagging parent or a concerned counselor. You’re much more likely to cultivate personal inspiration if you are invested in the achievement of your goal. Start small – drinking more water, being active 30 minutes a day, and adding more vegetables to your plate. This is a simple example of a goal that an optimist might create! Optimists are also persistent; they don’t let setbacks define them or their life.
  2. Solve problems proactively: It’s easy to run on autopilot in life and react to challenges with indecision and disengagement. Optimists, however, do things differently. When a storm strikes and a problem arises – take action immediately. Grab a pen and paper and write the problem at the top, followed by a list of possible solutions with pros and cons for each. Then, weight the options and take action. It’s easier to lay in bed and watch House of Cards all day, but taking small steps to fix a problem will actually make you feel a lot better. Take the optimistic route!
  1. Think of the worst possible outcome: That’s right, a healthy dose of realism could actually make you more optimistic. Anticipating failure, THEN making changes to ensure that these outcomes don’t happen will help set you up for success! You may have heard the trite phrase – “stop worrying, everything will be ok.” Instead of forcibly blocking thoughts, brainstorming practical solutions to possible problems will help pessimists achieve a more optimistic mindset.

How optimistic are you? If you’re still unsure after reading through these behaviors, take the optimism quiz to find out once and for all.