7 Activities That Can Benefit Your Mental Health

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What exactly is mental health? Mental health refers to our cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well being. It is all about how we think, feel, and behave. It is important for everyone to be aware of mental health and strategies that are beneficial for your own mental health regardless of whether you have a mental health disorder or not. Since May is Mental Health Awareness month, I figured it would be fitting to talk about different activities you can utilize that benefit your own mental health!

  1. Tell yourself something positive11

Too often we are our own worst critics. Research shows us that how we think about ourselves can have a powerful effect on how we feel. When we perceive ourselves and our lives negatively, we end up viewing experiences in a way that confirms that belief. For example, instead of saying, “I don’t know anything and I won’t pass this class because I did terrible on this exam” try  “I did not do as well on that exam as I would have liked, but it doesn’t mean I’ll fail the class and I can work to improve for the next one”

2. Exercise

We all know there are physical benefits to exercising, but exercise is also one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health. People who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them an enormous sense of well-being. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. And it’s also powerful treatment for many common mental health challenges. Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood. And you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits. Research indicates that modest amounts of exercise can make a difference. No matter your age or fitness level, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to feel better.

3. Do things you enjoy3

Learning to take a break from everyday life and do things that you enjoy is so important for your mental health. Engage in your favorite activities for no other reason than that they make you feel good. Go see a movie, take a walk, listen to music, read a good book, or whatever else you like doing. Doing things that are fun is not an indulgence and is a necessity for mental health.

4. Learn how to manage stress4

Stress is not always a bad thing; sometimes it can motivate us to complete what we need to get done. However, too much stress that is negatively affecting your everyday life is not good for your mental or physical health. Whether you’re feeling anxious about an important exam or stressed out about a situation at work, learning how to cope with stress in positive ways can help manage those negative emotions. There are many different strategies for relieving stress. Many of the things we’ve already talked about such as exercising and doing things you enjoy can help relieve stress. Practicing deep breathing exercises daily can also relieve stress and tension. Doing meditation and learning to quiet your mind is also a good stress reliever and is beneficial for improving your mental health.

5. Get enough sleep, it’s more important than you think5

I can never stress enough about how important sleep is! There is so much research out there on sleep deprivation and how it has a negative effect on your mood, energy, productivity, memory, and just overall well-being. Try to go to bed at a regular time every day, and practice good sleep habits. Some of these habits include shutting down screens for at least an hour before bed, using your bed only for sleep or relaxing activities, and not drinking caffeinated beverages late in the day.

6. Talk to someone who is a good listener6

No matter how much time you devote to improving your mental and emotional health, you will still need the company of others to feel and function at your best. Humans are social creatures with emotional needs for relationships and positive connections to others. The key is to interact with someone who is a “good listener”—someone you can regularly talk to in person, who will listen to you without their own conceptions of how you should think or feel. A good listener will listen to the feelings behind your words, and won’t interrupt, judge, or criticize you. Knowing that you are valued by others is important for helping you think more positively. Plus, being more trusting can increase your emotional well-being because as you get better at finding the positive aspects in other people, you become better at recognizing your own.

7. Know when to reach out and ask for help7

If you feel the need to, consult with your doctor or a mental health professional. Mental health professionals have mental health wellness tips that can be individualized to your unique needs. Everyone has differing circumstances that need to be managed in order to maintain mental wellness. A mental health professional can help you create a plan to keep yourself well and promote mental health in your life. Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness and it won’t make you a burden to others. It is important to remember that treatment is effective, and people who get appropriate care can recover from mental illness and lead full, rewarding lives.

 

Resources:

UWEC Counseling Services located in Vicki Lord Larson Hall.  Website: https://www.uwec.edu/counseling-services/

Student Health Service located in Crest Wellness Center.  Website: www.uwec.edu/shs

Northwest Connections for crisis services dial 1-888-552-6642 24 hours, 4 days a week

National Suicide Prevention Hotline Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

CASA (Center for Awareness of Sexual Assault) located in Vicki Lord Larson Hall 2119.  Information on sexual assault, counseling, and support for victims & concerned others, and 24 hour crisis hotline 715-836-4357.

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LGBTQIA+ Health Awareness

LGBTQIA+ health is an important topic that is often overlooked. With LGBTQIA+ health there is a devastating cycle of both health disparities and discrimination. The intersectionality of factors such as ethnicity, socioeconomic status and being part of the LGBTQIA+ community further increases the need for component, accurate health

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education and advocacy.  Members of the LGBTQIA+ community are at increased risk for some health challenges due to the differences in sexual behavior, social stigma, and discrimination they face. LGBTQIA+ people encounter discrimination in the employment setting, in finding insurance, and in everyday life, making them much less likely to be able to afford health care they so desperately need. This can result in unfavorable outcomes due to the LGBTQIA+ community being of higher risk for contracting some STIs such as HIV/AIDS. Without the proper insurance and lack of health care, many people of this community go underdiagnosed and continue to unknowingly spread STIs.

 

Why members of the LGBTQIA+ don’t actively seek healthcare:

  • Inability to change their name and gender with their provider
  • Health care providers often assume heterosexuality and patients might not want to disclose their sexual orientation
  • Fear of being outed in waiting rooms
  • Fear that health care providers will treat them differently

 

Others seldom seek healthcare due to the lack of knowledge of where to go. Certain testing such as HIV testing, diagnosis, care and prevention are also not easily accessible or made known to members of this community. Due to the undereducation in the transgender community, some “transgender people who receive a diagnosis of HIV are considerably less likely than other populations to be linked to or retained in HIV medical care.” (CDC, 2016) “In addition, fear of potential interactions between HIV medications and the drugs needed for sex reassignment…may lead to a transgender person to avoid seeking HIV treatment” (CDC, 2016) While this is not true, education is not always readily provided to this community often due to the healthcare providers not being adequately trained on treating and providing competent education  for this population. This paired with previous negative experiences in the health care setting discourages people in the community from receiving prevention and the care services they need.

5 Things on My ‘Bucket List’ Before I Graduate

5 Things on My ‘Bucket List’ Before I Graduate  (no alcohol required!)

By: Senior SWATeam Member Brooke

IMG_2853With a month left to go in my college career at UWEC, the end is near. This approaching expiration date of my time living in Eau Claire has my roommates and I thinking about what experiences we want to do together before we graduate. We will be leaving this place that we have called home for the last four years. What haven’t we done yet? What have we seen other people do in Eau Claire that we always said, “We should do that sometime.” Well now is the time! My roommates and I sat and talked about all the things that we each wanted to do, we wrote each on a small piece of paper. We placed the pieces of folded paper in a basket. Our plan was to draw an activity out each weekend and do it together.

1. Go to the strip mall on Clairemont Ave and eat at Dickies BBQ – DONE!

We have all been driving past the little strip mall of business on Clairemont right where you turn to go to campus or the Water Street District. The businesses in the little area that peaked our interest were the Variety Store and Dickies BBQ. A BBQ place in a strip mall? Why? Why not? This adventure was the first one that we pulled from the basket. On a Sunday afternoon, my roommates and I got in my car and drove to what we have now deemed the Clairemont Strip Mall. It was around lunch time, so our first stop was to Dickies BBQ; we ordered, ate our various BBQ meals, had wonderful conversations.

Next, we walked next door to the Variety Store. I think that we were expecting a full-on hardware store, but we were never quite sure, so that was always the intrigue. When we walked in, we were in shock. They had everything! We walked up and down each aisle. Greeting cards, grills, pipe cleaners, yarn, fish, fish tanks, bird feeders, housewares and so much more. Together as we walked down every aisle pointing and reminiscing from our childhood or things our parents had. Some of us found useful things that we needed and were able to do some shopping on this adventure. The place that we had always wondered about really was a hidden gem!

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We have lived in Eau Claire for four years together, we have been to some places over and over again, but this was a new place. Experiencing it together and the feeling of fully committing to something that we said we would do was a surreal feeling.

2. Get ice cream at Ramone’s and take a picture in front of the new muralram

We have all already gotten Ramone’s ice cream before, but we haven’t taken a picture in front of the new colorful mural. We have seen everyone that we follow on various social medias take a picture there. Our group loves a great photo opportunity, and this one needs to happen!

3. Go to Trivia Night at the Plus

This is another thing that we have always heard about people doing in Eau Claire. From Friends, New Girl, Marvel, and so much more! Superfans from all around come on the night of the topic that they are an expert in. Personally, I am a huge fan of Gilmore Girls and my roommate and I quote the show all the time. We were sad to hear that the Gilmore Girls Trivia night was over spring break and we would both be out of town. We seriously would have crushed it! So, this bucket list item is on hold until we find another trivia night on a topic that we know well.

road4. Go to breakfast at Roadside Diner

As a senior, I was able to experience the former “Menominee Street Dairy Queen” which has now successfully been transformed to Roadside Diner. They have all sorts of food and treat options. Again, social media played a role in this bucket list item. We always see them posting about their delicious breakfast, and every time we say that we need to go there and try it! Roadside is our favorite ice cream spot, perhaps it will become our favorite breakfast spot too!

5. Attend a show at the Pablo Center

My roommates and I were able to be in Eau Claire the beginning and end of the construction of the Pablo Center. We went to the grand opening and explored the building. This is a new addition to the Eau Claire Community and something that we want to experience. Now we need to find a show that fits in our schedules! Time is running out!
Get your tickets: https://www.pablocenter.org/all-events/

My roommates and I are determined to conquer this list! There is so much to do and see in Eau Claire that doesn’t involve alcohol! Make the most of your time in this area, find a group of people who have the same values as you and make your own bucket list.

 

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Celebrating Earth Day at UWEC

Earth Day is celebrated every year on April 22nd and recognizes our need to take care of the planet we live on and reminds us on how our behavior can affect Earth. The very first Earth Day was started by Gaylord Nelson, U.S. senator from Wisconsin, after he witnessed the effects of a massive oil spill in California. Senator Nelson announced the idea of a national day for education on the environment. Due to the inspiration that Nelson found from college student walk-outs and protests at the time; he wanted the day to be something that they could participate in. So, April 22 was chosen as the day because it fell right between spring break and final exams. “On April 22, 1970 twenty million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies” (Earth Day Network, n.d.).

Now a global event, hundreds of countries and millions of people celebrate Earth Day and push for environmental improvements all around the world! Celebrating Earth Day serves as a conscious reminder to take care of the planet we live on. There are several events on or around campus that you can join in to do your part in taking care of the environment. The Student Office of Sustainability is putting on Earth Week again this year and hope to see a lot of student involvement! From the annual all recycled garments fashion show to handing out water bottles to guest speaker Kim Way discuss new green initiatives for the Confluence Project. You can read more about these events and others by going to the UWEC website and searching Earth Week or by going to the link below

https://www.uwec.edu/sos/get-involved/earth-week/

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Another way that Eau Claire is celebrating is by hosting the second annual Earth Claire event on Tuesday, April 23 from 11:00am to 2:00pm. This FREE and student-led event is celebrating both Earth Day (April 22) and Arbor Day (April 26) by promoting sustainability through activities, giveaways, and demonstrations including seeds for spring planting, free vegetarian pizza, and much more! At 1:00pm UW-Eau Claire will receive the Tree Campus USA certification and a tour of campus conifers will be conducted. To learn more about this event, the Tree Campus USA program, and UW-Eau Claire’s Campus Tree Plan please visit the links below.

Earth Claire: https://www.uwec.edu/news/news/earth-claire-event-at-uw-eau-claire-to-celebrate-earth-day-arbor-day-3583/

Tree Campus USA Program: https://www.arborday.org/programs/treecampususa/

Campus Tree Plan: https://www.uwec.edu/files/989/UWECCampusTreePlan.pdf

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More ways to get involved in Earth Day on a personal level is just by walking or biking. Now that it’s getting much nicer out, many students choose this option to get to class, but also consider this when going over to a friend’s house. Fewer cars on the road will help keep our air and atmosphere clean!

Another simple way to take care of Earth is by recycling. Here in Eau Claire and on campus, many things can be recycled or composted so be sure to look at what you’re throwing away and put it in the correct bin. In addition, at the residences halls there are white cardboard bins that are used for recycling plastic grocery bags that would otherwise be thrown away.

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So, this Earth Day, Monday April 22nd, get involved in some way and do your part in taking care of the place we all call home! Whether it’s making sure to recycle that plastic water bottle or investing in a reusable one; everyone can take small steps to be a part of a great movement. Or if you choose to take big strides in your commitment to cleaning Earth, like planting a tree or cleaning up one of Eau Claire’s many parks, find a couple friends to take with you!

 

Sources:

https://www.earthday.org/about/the-history-of-earth-day/

https://www.earthday.org/take-action/

https://www.uwec.edu/sos/get-involved/earth-week/

https://www.uwec.edu/news/news/earth-claire-event-at-uw-eau-claire-to-celebrate-earth-day-arbor-day-3583/

 

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Think Twice Before Jumping into a Juice Cleanse

 

Juice Cleanses seem to be all the rage lately for their believed “benefits” such as their detoxifying properties, nutritional value and aid in weight loss. The sales for the kitchen appliance called a “juicer” have increased by 71% since 2012. On the surface it seems great, drinking only fruits and vegetables for a few days to weeks, but turns out they can cause more harm to your body than good.

 

What is a Juice Cleanse?

A diet that can last anywhere from 24 hours to 10 days that only includes consuming the juices of fruits and vegetables.

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The Lowdown on its Value

The first important factor is that juicing is different than blending. When you blend whole fruits and vegetables you are still getting the nutrient rich pulp, whereas juicing you are only squeezing out the juice and leaving behind any solid matter which is usually where the nutrients are held. Juicing removes fiber and leaves behind the sugar, which can lead to high blood sugar levels, putting   you at risk for damage to your nerves and organs as well as a higher risk for ketoacidosis, a serious complication often resulting from diabetes.

 

Second, the fiber we find in our normal diet is crucial for promoting satiety (a feeling of fullness) in the brain, meaning it takes more servings of fruits and vegetables or juice to help you feel full than you would normally eat, which also leads to increased sugar intake.

The sugar or fructose found in fruits also increases the presence of triglycerides in the body, leading to a impaired liver function and buildup of plaque on the walls of the arteries. Higher fructose levels are also linked to obesity and because fructose is found in normal everyday fruit juice the FDA has always recommended intake in moderation, which should apply to any juice concoction you are whipping up at home.

 

Also, where is the protein in this juice??? Nutritional professionals don’t recommend going without protein for more than a few days. The results of skipping protein can decrease muscle mass and bone density which can lead to osteoporosis.

In terms of detoxing, according to Harvard Health Research, toxins do build up in your body and detox diets that are low in calories can jump start weight loss, but it is a myth that there is no natural way for your body to detoxify itself and the only answer is a fad detox diet. Your liver and kidneys are evolutionarily designed to perform this function for you on a daily basis and generally eliminate the need for other forms of detoxification.

Additionally, Harvard’s research and others so far have not confirmed that these diets are healthy or safe for your body over an extended period of time. Scientists at UCLA conclude that “the lack of fiber, protein, and increased sugar consumption during a juice cleanse may lead to sugar crashes and leave you feeling hungry and tired.” Let’s be honest, no one has time to be feeling that way!

 

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How Juicing CAN help you

Adding juiced fruits and vegetables to supplement your normal diet can be healthy and a convenient method for squeezing in an extra serving of fruits or vegetables but should not replace your intake of whole fresh fruits and vegetables. Not to mention, juicing is a good way to use up extra produce that may be inhabiting your fridge. And as always, fruits and vegetables in general provide antioxidants and vitamins that can be a component in fighting chronic disease, BUT only in moderation and when part of a balanced diet.

Overall, think carefully and weigh the facts before you do a juice cleanse to make the best decision for your body. It’s your body and you want to make sure you’re listening to it and providing it with the best care you can. If you have questions about nutrition or your diet, consult your doctor. The friendly staff at Student Health Service are there to see you! Call 715-836-5360 for an appointment.

Sources:

https://exploreim.ucla.edu/wellness/juicing-body-cleansing-or-nutrient-depleting/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthy-eating/juicing-fad-or-fab

 

 

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