Emotional Wellness with SOU Campus Recreation

Emotional Wellness

Part of Campus Recreation’s mission is to create a culture of wellness in the Student Recreation Center and our campus community. Over the next few months, we’ll be examining eight different wellness dimensions and giving you some tips on how to incorporate holistic wellness into your daily life. Our third dimension of focus is emotional wellness.

What is emotional wellness?
Emotional wellness (maybe more commonly known as mental health) is the ability to understand and cope with life’s stresses. Like other dimensions of wellbeing, good emotional wellness takes constant work and self-reflection – it’s a practice rather than a destination. Recognizing your stressors and developing the tools to combat difficult situations will help you stay in control over your emotions.

Become mindful of your emotions
Mindfulness is a great way to work on your emotional wellness. You might have heard of mindfulness by itself, or you might have heard it attached to another activity, like mindful eating, mindful walking, or mindful meditation. Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in whatever you are doing at that moment. It looks like connecting with your body, your senses, the space and environment around you, and your emotions. Think of a mindfulness practice as a way to “take a break” from your thoughts and feelings.

If you don’t already have a mindfulness routine, college can be a great time to start one. It can help you feel more focused, less anxious, and better equipped to identify and handle intense emotional situations. Check out this article from Best Colleges for more of the science behind meditation and some tips for starting a meditation practice while in college.

Tips for Emotional Wellness

Tips for working on your emotional wellness:
In addition to mindfulness, here are a few more activities you can do to make sure you’re maintaining your emotional wellness.

  • Get plenty of sleep each night. Feeling tired can make it much harder to regulate the balance in your emotions.
  • Have a well-balanced diet and drink enough water. Similar to not getting enough sleep, feeling hungry or dehydrated can start to affect your emotions negatively.
  • Develop outlets for your stress. These outlets are specific to every person but can range anywhere from playing a sport, practicing a hobby, or even speaking to friends.
  • Talk to someone. This person could be a counselor, a family member, close friend, or partner.
  • Transition your negative thoughts into more positive, optimistic ones. Everyone will have a different way to do this that works for them, but an excellent place to start can be journaling or meditating.
  • Learn when to set your boundaries. If you feel emotionally drained, it might be because too many people or situations are demanding your attention. It’s ok to step back from commitments that you know will take a toll on your mental wellbeing.

How can SOU help you improve your emotional wellness?

Learn about occupational wellness at SOU

Occupational Wellness

Part of Campus Recreation’s mission is to create a culture of wellness in the Student Recreation Center and our campus community. Over the next few months, we’ll be examining eight different wellness dimensions and giving you some tips on how to incorporate holistic wellness into your daily life. Our second dimension of focus is occupational wellness.

What is occupational wellness?
Occupational wellness is about focusing on your ability to balance work and play. To do this, you have to address the stress you experience at your workplace and your relationships with your coworkers. The average person spends most of their week at the workplace, and it is vital that while you are there, you are in the best mental state possible. If you achieve good occupational wellness, you will enrich your life with close relationships and self-satisfaction.

Tips for working on your occupational wellness:

  • Find a career that fits your skillset, goals, and interests. This is easier said than done, but if you are patient and seek out a job that will fit the criteria you are searching for, the results will be worth it. Even if you have to get a mediocre job just to pay the bills, continue looking for a different position. If you look forward to working and find joy in your career, it will make your everyday life go much smoother.
  • Create healthy relationships with your coworkers. Put yourself out there and reach out to others in your workplace, even if it is just a simple “hello.” If you feel nervous around or judged by a coworker, you need to address this situation and reach out to those who can help.
  • Find ways to reduce stress at work. This can entail many things and will look different for every person. It can mean finding cubicle de-stressors: quiet little gadgets at your desk that help calm you down. Some people may take short moments out of their day to pray, meditate, or take some time to walk outside.
  • Make it a priority to find times for friends and family outside of work. You need to work AND play to maintain your mental wellbeing. Spending time with friends and family outside of work will help relieve the stress during your workday.
  • Enjoy your job! Again, this is easier said than done, but we cannot stress this enough. Enjoying your job will help boost every area of your life. If you aren’t in the best job right now, try to find little things that make you joyful while you have to be there. Instead of putting energy into dreading work, try and focus on evaluating your strengths, and look ahead to a new position.

Occupational wellness and working from home

Working (and learning) from home
In 2020, most of us have had to adjust to a new way of working and learning remotely. Here are some ways to make sure you’re staying productive at home.

  • Stick to a schedule. Remote learning and working are often much more unstructured than the traditional model, and the distractions and relaxed nature of your home environment can be challenging to overcome. Try sticking to a similar schedule you followed while going to campus. Even something small, like changing into fresh clothes in the morning or breaking for lunch at your usual time, can help your brain switch on and stay in “work mode.”
  • Set up a dedicated workspace. If possible, avoid working or studying from your bed. Keep your space stocked with all your work essentials – water, pens, notepads, chargers, headphones, and anything else you would typically have in your backpack or the office.
  • Make sure to take breaks. Think about your typical day of class or work – you’re probably taking more breaks than you might think. Those small breaks that come with walking to class, chatting with coworkers or classmates, and waiting in line to grab food can be lost when you work from home. If you have trouble scheduling breaks for yourself, try using the Pomodoro method.
  • Pay attention to ergonomics. Your adjustable office chair and your dining table chair are likely not created equal. If you can’t afford some new, ergonomically-correct furniture, you can still undo bad posture. Make sure you stand, stretch, and take a little walk during your breaks. Try and attend Zoom meetings or lectures while standing. Ensure you’re exercising regularly – do some yoga, cardio, or lift weights at the Student Recreation Center.

How can SOU help you improve your occupational wellness?

  • SOU uses Handshake as our central job advertisement platform. Handshake is an online network that helps college students find jobs and internships. As an SOU student, you have an account through Handshake. On Handshake, you can find on-campus job and internship opportunities, and you can also find other jobs in the area. Plus, look out for jobs from Campus Recreation – we are one of the biggest employers on campus!
  • The office of Career Connections has staff that will help you identify and achieve your career goals! Whether you need them to help you find a job now or after you graduate, they will work with you in any way possible.
Environmental Wellness with SOU Campus Recreation

Environmental Wellness

Part of Campus Recreation’s mission is to create a culture of wellness in the Student Recreation Center and our campus community. Over the next few months, we’ll be examining eight different wellness dimensions and giving you some tips on how to incorporate holistic wellness into your daily life. First up – environmental wellness. 

What is environmental wellness?
Environmental wellness looks like living in harmony with nature and the world around you. It also involves understanding your impact on the world around you and taking actions to protect the Earth. Wellbeing of the environment might seem disconnected from your personal wellbeing. However, nature and the environment provide space for physical recreation, socializing, and mental decompression from work and school.

Tips for working on your environmental wellness

  • Spend time outdoors – this may seem obvious, but spending some intentional time in nature (away from phones and screens, if possible) will help with your environmental and overall wellness. This time can be anything from a multi-day camping trip to a 10-minute walk through campus.
  • Reduce your waste – Use reusable water bottles, containers, and bags. Also, recycle as much as possible.
  • Reduce your impact – carpool, walk, bike, or take public transportation. Consider your water and electricity usage and see where you can cut down.
  • Evaluate your spending habits – Recycling is great, but purchasing products made with recycled/sustainable materials is even better!
  • Get involved – research the effects of capitalism and politics on the environment. Show support for environmental justice organizations and advocate for sustainability.

Learn about Environmental Wellness at SOU

Environmental facts about SOU
Sustainability is one of the core values of Southern Oregon University. Campus Recreation and SOU are always working to implement sustainable practices and planning into our operations. Here are some ways we contribute to environmental wellness.

Resources for environmental wellness

Summer Recreation tips from Campus Rec

Summer Recreation Tips

The days are longer, the sun is hotter, and the lake is calling. Welcome to the beginning of summer in Southern Oregon! As the weather gets increasingly warmer, outdoor recreation becomes more and more appealing. While outdoor activities offer many new and exciting ways to have fun, we at Campus Rec want to share some tips on how to stay safe and healthy so you can make the most of your summer.

Use Sunscreen
This one’s probably obvious, but significant amounts of sun exposure can lead to sunburns which can cause both immediate discomfort and an increased chance of skin cancer. Make sure to frequently reapply sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) and cover sensitive skin by wearing lightweight, protective clothing as much as possible. Wearing sunglasses with UV protection and a hat can also help minimize sunburns and exposure. The reflection of the sun in bodies of water is a common way to get burned without realizing it due to the reduction of body temperature that swimming induces, so be extra careful when swimming. Get all your “burning” questions about sunscreen answered at the American Academy of Dermatology’s website.

Bring the Bug Spray
Summertime is when many insects come out of hiding, and they can be particularly bothersome when enjoying the outdoors. Mosquito bites, in particular, can be unpleasant and produce itchy bumps on the skin. In order to avoid insect bites, use bug spray as a repellant. There are a few options when it comes to insect repellants, including natural sprays such as lemon eucalyptus oil, as well as synthetic repellants like DEET. While DEET is very effective, it is best to avoid over-application and to wash treated skin after returning indoors. DEET is generally unnecessary when protecting against mosquitos who do not carry diseases such as malaria which can be found in parts of Asia, South America, and Africa. However, more natural repellants usually need to be applied more frequently to remain effective, so don’t forget to bring them with you when heading out.

Stay Hydrated
Don’t forget to take regular water breaks and seek out shade to rest in while spending time outside in the summer. The U.S. National Research Council recommends drinking 64-80 oz of water per day on average, and you might need more depending on your level of activity. Although you may not feel thirsty, spending hours in the sun can lead to muscle cramps, lightheadedness, and fatigue which are some early signs of dehydration or heat stroke, so make sure to check in on yourself frequently.

Stay Hydrated Summer recreation tips

Communication is Key
It’s always a good idea to have another person with you when adventuring outdoors. Also, make sure to let someone else know where you are planning to be. Send a quick text to your parent, roommate, or friend letting them know where you’re going, and when you’re planning to be back. Additionally, plan ahead and know the conditions – cell service and GPS access aren’t always available (especially in Southern Oregon), so we recommend screenshotting or printing off any directions you need.

Avoid Poison Oak
Poison oak is EVERYWHERE in Southern Oregon. Most outdoor recreation areas near Ashland have a lot of poison oak, and brushing up against the leaves can cause an itchy, blistering rash. Keep an eye out for short plants with oak-shaped leaves in a triangle pattern (“leaves of three, let them be”). A good way to prevent touching poison oak is to just stay on marked paths and trails. If you do happen to break out in a rash from poison oak, calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream can help calm the effects and reduce the itch.

Check for Ticks
Along with poison oak, ticks are common in Southern Oregon. Ticks can carry Lyme disease (plus, they’re just gross), so it’s important to check for them after you’ve been outdoors. Inspect your clothes and your entire body, especially your ankles, between joints, behind your ears, the back of your neck/hairline. Taking a shower and throwing your clothes in the laundry can also help get rid of ticks. Remember to check your furry friends if you take them out, as well. Check out this article from American Forests for more info on preventing and getting rid of ticks.

Read About Wellness and Self Care During Finals

Wellness and Self-Care During Finals

It’s that time of year again: finals. The end of the term can be super stressful for students and the words “self-care” tend to get thrown around a lot. But what is self-care? While it might be associated with long baths, face masks, and staying in bed for Netflix marathons (all of which can be hard to justify with looming deadlines), self-care just means taking time to make sure that your overall wellness isn’t being sacrificed to cram for tests and write essays. Read on for some tips for staying well during the busiest time of the year.

Keep Drinking Water
While it might be tempting to drink nothing but coffee and energy drinks during quiet week and finals, not getting enough actual water can be detrimental to your focus and productivity. Your brain needs water to keep cognitive performance high; without it, you can start to feel cranky, tired, and foggy. If you don’t already have one, invest in a reusable water bottle (you can find one at the bookstore, the Landing, or pretty much any grocery store in Ashland), and carry it with you in your bag. If you don’t think you can completely stop your caffeine intake, make sure to at least drink some water before and after each round of caffeine.

Work Intentionally
The amount of work and studying that happens during the end of the term is overwhelming for a lot of students. Tackling big projects can be daunting, especially if you feel like you need to complete them all at once. However, figuring out ways to break the work down into smaller, more manageable tasks can help. Instead of putting “write paper” in your planner, try breaking it down into “write intro,” write argument 1,” write conclusion,” etc. Focusing on smaller pieces at a time can keep you from getting overwhelmed and panicked. Also, if you’re having trouble concentrating (i.e. picking up your phone and scrolling through Instagram every 30 seconds), try setting a timer. Commit to working for 15, 20, 25 minutes at a time, then take a five-minute break. Every couple of hours, take a longer break to grab food, exercise or relax. You can download an interval timer to your phone, or use a website like TomatoTimer to help stay on schedule.

Get Your Heart Rate Up
Exercise can be a great way to increase your energy, and clear your mind during stressful times like finals. Spending some time on a treadmill, playing some pickup basketball with your buddies, or crushing a challenging climbing route is the perfect way to take a break and re-direct your focus to something other than homework. Plus, the end of the term is the perfect time to visit the Student Recreation Center since it tends to be much less busy during the last two weeks of classes. Don’t have time for a long workout? Try walking across campus instead of re-parking your car, or doing some simple yoga in your dorm room.

Get Organized
It’s hard to be productive when your space feels messy. Take five minutes before sitting down at your desk or in your bed to tidy up – clear away dirty plates and cups, throw away any trash, and make sure you have all your materials within arm’s reach. In addition to your physical space, try to organize your mental space as well. Write down deadlines in a planner, use your Google calendar or your phone to set reminders for tests, and make a checklist of everything you need to get done. Knowing what your schedule is and how your deadlines fit together will help you plan and avoid forgetting important things during a busy week.

Each time you laugh, endorphins (the chemicals that make you feel good) flood into your brain, and your levels of stress hormones drop. This makes laughter an excellent way to help manage stress and boost your mood during busy times. Laughter is easy to incorporate into a study routine – watch a funny YouTube video during your study breaks, find a relatable meme to send in your group chat, or schedule time to hang out with your friends or roommates.

Make Time for Mindfulness
Like “self-care,” mindfulness is a concept that might be familiar, but not completely understood to some people. Practicing mindfulness is simple – it’s checking in with yourself, and being aware of your thoughts and feelings. Intentionally practicing mindfulness through meditation, breathing routines, and exercise like yoga can reduce anxiety and help calm and re-focus your mind. Try downloading a mindfulness app like Calm or Headspace to learn techniques and practice guided meditations, or search “breathing exercise” to find a quick visual guide to focus your breath. Plus, if you need a quiet, relaxing space on campus to check in with yourself, try visiting the Oasis in the Student Recreation Center.

Remember, self-care looks different for everyone. Not everything on this list might work for you, and that’s ok! The most important thing is to figure out the best way for YOU to manage your stress and to make time for yourself to work on your wellness, especially when you feel overwhelmed. Now get out there and crush those finals!