Mental Health Support in AAPI Communities

In May we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, a time where we raise awareness of the toll mental health can have and the many stigmas associated with mental health among many other mental health-related aspects. Through social media campaigns, events and even screenings, organisations across the United States participate in providing key resources for something that affects us all. In that same breath, just as many organisations come together during May to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The contributions and influence that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made in the U.S. are highlighted and acknowledged. That is why it is only fitting that the intersection between these two is recognised.

While the U.S. categorises many into the term AAPI, we understand and recognise that encompassed within are a wide range of unique and diverse identities, countries, nationalities, and ethnicities. Many who have not only experienced great joy and achievement but unfortunately have also experienced a variety of different challenges, struggles, and trauma. Through the perpetuated model minority myth, various microaggressions, and physical violence, AAPI communities have been and continue to be unjustly treated.

Before we can dive deep into ways to support and resources, understanding barriers to support is the first step as we seek to overcome them. While there are a few, there is still very limited knowledge about AAPI mental health as a result of limited studies which have included individuals from AAPI Communities. “According to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, serious mental illness (SMI) rose from 2.9 per cent (47,000) to 5.6 per cent (136,000) in AAPI people ages 18-25 between 2008 and 2018.” (

Many young Asian Americans do not seek professional help for their mental concern but rather they turn to their networks. Another thing we see is the lack of awareness for resources along with the still existing stigma around mental health within AAPI communities. This could be considered one of the biggest deterrents for seeking professional help. Other factors include cultural identity, faith, language barriers, and access to insurance and healthcare.

Firstly, as an ally allowing members of the AAPI communities to take charge in spaces and conversations relating to issues they are facing is a major facet of support. Lettings their voices to be the ones heard and amplifying them are good ways to start. Being mindful of language and phrases used when speaking about or addressing members of AAPI communities is also important. Ensuring that stigmatising or stereotypical words are not used and accepting correction can go a long way; again listen to what members of the communities are saying. Additionally don’t be afraid to reach out and show solidarity and support. Check-in and provide resources when you come across them. This goes back to the conversation about de-stigmatisation of mental health issues, show you care with a listening ear (if you have the bandwidth to do so!). Lastly, simply asking, “how can I support you” allow whoever it is to be in charge of the way they receive support. Do they need you to just be that listening ear? Do they just want a space to talk through things and need resources to do so? The answer only comes when you respect their dignity and ask.

For those seeking resources whether for themselves or others, here are some both on and off-campus.

Some resources at DePaul include the APIDA Cultural Center within the Office of Multicultural Student Success, the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness, and University Counselling services.

Off-campus, the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum is focused is improving health among Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. The National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association has a wealth of resources including a directory of mental health service providers for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders as does which is a directory of South Asian therapists of various heritages. The University of Connecticut’s Asian and Asian American Studies Institute partnered with the #IAMNOTAVIRUS campaign and the Asian American Literary Review to provide a Mental Health Workbook that includes literature, journals, and lots more resources to support Asian American mental health.

Wellness Wednesday: Healthy Study Habits

With finals approaching, many of us (me included!) are trying our best to get a head and start studying. However, it may be difficult with remaining assignments and classes. Soon we find ourselves not studying as effectively as we can or stressing out over finals. School is difficult and finding a way to study can be even more difficult especially if you’ve never nailed down a way to study that works for you.


While I won’t be telling you how to study, as everyone studies differently, I will be sharing some effective study habits that may help you find something that works for you! So the next time you decide you are able to dedicate some study time, try these 10 effective study hacks;


Choose specific times to study
A routine helps mental preparation for studying. Whether that’s in the morning, mid-day, the afternoon, or even at night. Figure out what works for you.

Set goals for each study period
This helps you stay focused and accomplish what you need to. For example, covering a specific topic or chapter in one sitting, or a time goal like studying uninterrupted for 25 minutes.

Stick to the plan
Procrastination only leads to more stress and can cause you to not do how you would like to. Try to stay focused on the plan you set forward to complete your work on time. Things like setting a timer and sticking to that and then taking a break may be helpful, but also recognizing when you might need to just step away for a bit especially if you are hungry, tired, etc. (paying attention to your needs) is important.

Tackle difficult assignments first
When mental energies are the highest do the most tasking assignments first then move on to the more medium in difficulty and end with the easiest assignments.

Review class notes
Be sure you understand the material, find ways to help you understand better, whether it’s highlighting, rewriting, or talking out loud!

Ask for help
When necessary, go to an SI session, or TA office hours, email your professor, or ask a question in class or lab. No question is a bad question. Often times if you have that question so do others in your class.

Take short breaks
Walk away for a moment to refresh your energy, have a snack, move, do whatever helps you re energize.

Plan on reviewing
It’s important to set time to review even if there isn’t an exam coming. Reviewing even just a little can be beneficial in the long run.

Study how you learn best
Everyone learns differently so do what works for you – draw charts, read the textbook, write notes etc.

Maintain a positive attitude
A positive mindset can make a difficult subject easier to learn. Perhaps doing brief meditation or deep breathing before tackling a subject might be of help, or saying a few positive affirmations such as “I am doing my best at this subject” or “I am actively working towards doing my best.” Even if it may not be something you’re excited about try to find ways to relate it to what you do enjoy.


Lastly, perhaps the most beneficial healthy study habit is to practice self-care. It can get pretty stressful sometimes but creating a self-care plan and being intentional with your self-care is important. Doing things like going outside, avoiding media overload, setting boundaries, and making time for your hobbies can help you get through finals without getting burnt out.


Wellness Wednesday: What Does Consent Look Like on Zoom?

Consent is essential. It always has been and always will be. In the digital age, consent is arguably more important than it ever has been. Digital consent and digital privacy go hand in hand. Sharing media is even easier now than it was pre-smartphones and the internet. With the click of a button, our data is essentially immortalized on the internet forever. Internet privacy is a cause that many are passionate about, and understandably so. The law is always evolving and digital privacy is a new frontier. Everyone has their own level of understanding of how the internet works, and also possess their own reasonable expectation of privacy on the internet, so it’s important to be mindful and respectful of that wherever and whenever possible. With so many things going digital these days we are seeing that the only option for collaboration may be to host an online event, meeting, appointment, etc, instead of an in-person get-together. The stakes are raised even higher when encounters like confidential appointments are held over digital conferencing platforms such as Skype or Zoom. So how do we respect another person’s privacy? Well, there are many ways and consent is a big part of that process!

It’s always best, and ensures that all attendees are on the same page, to ask for consent before recording a meeting or an online encounter. In the event that the encounter must be recorded then you should send out an initial disclaimer to the attendees before the event making them aware of your plans to record just as you would do if you were in-person. For example, let’s understand that some people may be okay with a photographer or videographer documenting an in-person gathering with various faces showing while others may not. Luckily, in-person there is an ability to speak up and also the ability to leave if you are feeling uncomfortable. For the most part, this is true in the digital space as well. In an online encounter, starting with an initial disclaimer that the event will be recorded reduces the chance of any confusion later on. Better yet, ask for consent before recording, especially if the meeting or event is one that does not necessarily need to be recorded in the first place. By sending out an initial disclaimer this gives the option for prospective attendees to skip the live event entirely and possibly have the opportunity to access the recorded event later on! By asking for consent to record at the beginning of the event you are also bringing it to the attention of the attendees one more time and giving them the opportunity to share any apprehensions, hide their video, mute their microphone, or opt-out altogether and leave the event. 

Once the digital event is underway there are still other ways to stay mindful and be respectful of others’ expectations of privacy. If one would prefer to leave their webcam off, we need to realize that they may be in an environment that they do not feel comfortable sharing with others. It could be as simple as a dirty bedroom, or maybe they’re on a busy bus or train. Just because they choose not to show their face does not mean they aren’t paying attention. The same applies to a microphone – it’s possible that there are loud machines nearby or noise that would detract from the event or meeting if heard by the rest of the attendees, so they chose to mute it. By not having an in-person event, and making it digital, you are giving individuals the opportunity to attend that otherwise may not have had the ability to attend.  

As with anything, there will be those that abuse their privilege of privacy and autonomy. There may also be situations where attendees will be required to keep their microphones and webcams on, for instance when taking a standardized test. In most cases, the average online event is not a confidential one and the thoughts and recommendations mentioned above apply to the average low-to-medium-stakes digital encounter and these rules are not absolute. On the flip side, facilitators appreciate and enjoy seeing the faces and hearing the voices of the attendees too. It makes it easier to engage with the audience and it makes it feel less like talking to a wall or an empty room. So keep that in mind as well! When in doubt, aim to treat everyone with the respect they deserve and be mindful that the current situation is not a typical one and many of us are learning as we go. Remember to take care of yourself, take care of others, and take care, DePaul! 

Wellness Wednesday – Mental Health

Mental Health. Why is it important? Why are you hearing so much about mental health these days? It’s relevant right now because this month, May, is Mental Health Awareness Month. So let’s talk about it!

What is mental health? Mental health refers to our cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being. It is all about how people think, feel, and behave. People sometimes use the term “mental health” to mean the absence of a mental disorder. Mental health can affect daily living, relationships, and physical health. Mental wellbeing describes your mental state – how you are feeling and how well you can cope with day-to-day life. Our mental wellbeing is dynamic. If you have good mental wellbeing you are able to feel relatively confident in yourself and have positive self-esteem. Additionally, you can feel and express a range of emotions.

It’s also our ability to handle the many things that come our way. Our mental health is something that is not commonly talked about, and therefore seems to have a lot of grey area around the subject. This makes it even more important to be talked about. The stigma surrounding mental health has built a wall around the topic. Conversations on mental health would end before they even began. The code of silence was (and still sometimes is) real. Let’s work here to break down that wall. 

It’s important we start the conversation because maybe someone might never know that their mental health is connected to their physical health. That’s right; the correlation between an upset stomach and racing thoughts is valid! For many, it’s a relief to know that what they’re feeling is normal. For most, the only way to come to this realization is by talking about it and listening to others talk about it. 

Stressors in our lives will have a substantial impact on our mental health. As college students, we’re well accustomed to stress. I, for one, excel in the fine art of procrastination. I call it an art because the amount of finesse it takes to turn-in an assignment thirty seconds before the submission deadline is one that is is gained only through rigorous practice. I can confidently say this negatively affects my mental health. In our presentation, we talked about the stress curve. I’m sure I won’t be the first to admit that I often find myself in the “zone of delusion”. I may think that I’m doing my best work when in reality I’m not. This kind of stress may only be short-term, but that still is impacting my mental health, as mentioned.

We know that both short-term and long term stress will impact our mental health. If you’re familiar with Hope For The Day (a non-profit supporting proactive mental health awareness and suicide prevention), you might know a little about their soda bottle example. If none of this rings a bell for you, allow me to explain. Think of your mind like a bottle of soda. Stressors of the day, or the month, or the year, etc. all build pressure in our “soda bottle” mind. Without any relief, the pressure would build and we would explode. Think of that stage as a crisis stage requiring immediate intervention. We all have different thresholds. To alleviate some of this pressure we need to make use of “valves” – things that help us decompress and as the word suggests, valve! Personally, I find that making art or working out has become valuable ways to let off pressure in my soda bottle mind but it’s important to understand the actual act of self-care versus coping. They are close, though not identical. Coping strategies help us in the short-term. Long-term success is made easier when we develop healthy self-care strategies. Self-care and coping strategies work together to further improve our mental health and wellbeing. 

Self-care can do wonders in the short term but not every human struggle can be relieved with a simple act of self-care. Medically diagnosable disorders are more complex than just the average stressful day at the office. Biology plays a major role in mental health. A simple prescription can help balance the body’s natural chemicals when something may be off. There’s a common idea that taking medicine is weak. I’m here to tell you that’s the furthest thing from the truth. You’re not weak for taking an aspirin when you have a headache and you’re not weak for taking an anti-depressant when there’s a chemical imbalance in the brain. If we saw someone walking around with a broken ankle we wouldn’t tell them to shake it off; we’d get them professional medical care. We should be doing the same for mental health. I’m going to borrow a well-known phrase here, (another HFTD plug, sorry.) “It’s ok not to be ok.”

As always, all of us at Health Promotion & Wellness are here to support you and if you ever need anything, please, reach out. Our contact information is found on our website where you can set up an appointment or just give us a call and say “hey!”. Outside of DePaul Resources, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255, but if you or someone you know is experiencing an emergency and in need of immediate help, dial 911. 

By breaking the silence we tear down the stigma surrounding mental health. Be proactive. Be productive. Start the conversation. 

You can view the corresponding Wellness Wednesday workshop video here!

Wellness Wednesday – Healthy Relationships

Hello everybody! Welcome back to yet another Wellness Wednesday blog post from yours truly, the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness (and our guest speakers at Mission and Ministry!). If you’d like to view the video version of this Wellness Wednesday click here, otherwise read on!






This Wellness Wednesday we were lucky enough to have Mission and Ministry join us for a conversation around healthy relationships during COVID-19. Keep reading for a look into Vinny and Louise’s relationship and how it relates to the times (Mission and Ministry) as well as some of HPW’s tips for maintaining healthy relationships during quarantine!

A message from Mission and Ministry: “You’ve hopefully learned some stories about Vincent and Louise during your time at DePaul. We don’t always talk about the collaborative relationship they had – this dynamic duo that we celebrate today shaped each other to be the leaders that we remember them to be. Vincent would not be Vincent if it were not for Louise’s leadership, and Louise would not have discovered her true purpose and calling if she had not first been sent forth by Vincent. This dynamic duo has much to teach us about healthy relationships.”

“So, learning from Vincent and Louise, what are some things we can do to ensure we are practicing holistic care and being in right relationships with one another?”

  • “We are not meant to balance everything at the same time! Sometimes we need to take off one of our hats and focus on another one.”
  • Boundary setting is something that Vincent and Louise helped each other to do well: “Before addressing any business, Louise and Vincent would take the time to check in with each other. Their letters show that they were not only professional collaborators, but personable friends as well. They would do check-ins asking each other how they were and how their health was doing. Vincentians recognize that healthy relationships are essential for carrying out a shared vision. We can’t do it alone!”
  • Authentic collaboration takes work – it takes listening, building relationships, understanding where someone is coming from, putting ourselves in others’ shoes, letting go of our agenda, failing, picking ourselves back up and trying again, apologizing and asking for forgiveness. It means being vulnerable and courageous and speaking your truth with love.”
  • Read on to hear more about boundary setting and healthy relationships from HPW!

When we discuss healthy relationships during COVID-19, it might be helpful to break this into two categories: 1) How to maintain healthy relationships and boundaries while living in close quarters with others at home, and 2) How to stay connected with friends and family who are miles away from home. The first section of HPW’s advice below will cover this first point, and the second half will cover the latter point. Read on, reader!


What does a healthy relationship at home look like during COVID-19?

First and foremost, it is important to acknowledge that everyone’s living situation looks different right now. Some of us are staying with family, some are staying with roommates, some are staying with a partner, and some even have kids at home to deal with! Some of us may be staying alone in isolation – away from family and friends. And some may be dealing with a toxic home environment. Understanding that we are all coming from different places is important as it can allow us to have more empathy towards each other’s situations and realize that everyone is struggling in a different way (and can use support in a different way).


Second of all, it is important to take care of yourself first! It can be tough to give yourself to others/be in relationships with others when you haven’t had a chance to show yourself some love first. That’s why right now, especially, it is important to show yourself some love and care. What does this look like? Here are some tips: make sure you are getting a good night’s rest (see our previous blog for tips on refreshing your sleep), get outside, take a shower and do some skincare, eat healthy foods – you get the idea. Humans are sort of like plants, we need sunshine, water, and nutrients too! Remembering these three simple tenets makes for a healthy day. If possible, try to do at least one thing per day that is just plain fun, like doing yoga, savoring your morning coffee, playing a board game, or reading a chapter of a good book.







Another important tenet to relationships right now (and always) is boundary setting. Now especially it is important to create your boundaries and stick to them. Living in such close quarters with loved ones can be very enjoyable, but it can also be very tricky. Without any boundaries, we tend to get worn down over time, and don’t always show up as the best versions of ourselves. Remember, boundaries look different for everyone. Perhaps your sister is better at spending constant time socializing with your family, but maybe you need a little more alone time – don’t let anybody make you feel bad for this – we are all different, and as long as we use respect when setting boundaries, it’s no harm no foul! One way of upholding boundaries can simply be creating a physical space to spend time by yourself every once and a while. Find space in your house for your own personal time. If you have a big family and/or no privacy, take morning walks by yourself or with a pet. Take time to collect yourself and spend time with your own thoughts. Sometimes when we constantly spend time around others, we lose track of what it is that is going on in our own minds – it is important to revive this by spending some time alone, no matter how extraverted you are.

If quarantine is proving to be a really tough time for you and you are struggling to maintain a healthy living situation during all of this, seek support. Although they do look different now, resources are still available to you. The Office of Health Promotion and Wellness is still taking virtual appointments via Zoom. Feel free to call us at 773-325-7129 or complete the online intake form on our website ( to schedule your one on one with one of our professional staff members. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is still up and running as well at 1-800-799-7233. If you are unable to speak on the phone without being overheard, you can also text LOVEIS to 22522. If you would simply like to chat with HPW about more resources at your disposal during this tough time, we are available for that as well via appointment at the contact information mentioned above.


What does it look like to maintain healthy relationships while social distancing?

Having a tough time staying connected with loved ones who are farther away or not in your house during COVID-19? You’ve come to the right place. The following are some tips for finding community and connection during this virtual reality we are currently living in.

  • Missing loved ones who live farther away? Set up a recurring zoom call with friends or family. Having a set time each week to talk can provide you with something to look forward to! It doesn’t need to be long if you’re not up for it – even just seeing loved one’s faces briefly can help light up a day or week!
  • If it’s possible in the state that you are living in currently, you can do outdoor activities with others who live nearby, but at a distance, such as going on walks at a 6 feet distance from each other, or putting out lawn chairs to sit and chat outside – just keep your distance here as well.
  • If you miss being able to sit with a loved one and watch a movie or show together, you can use Netflix Party to watch shows at the exact same time while having access to a chat bar as well. You could even Zoom during a show or a movie so that you can have live reactions to it as well! Simply share your screen, mute yourselves when the show/movie is going, and pause to have conversation in between.
  • If you’re someone who misses having in person intellectual conversations with others, you could have a virtual book club with a friend or family member. Simply read the same book at the same time and have periodic Zoom calls with discussion questions to chat about after each chapter or so!
  • If you’re done with so much screen time, but still looking for a meaningful way to stay in touch with loved ones, send notes in the mail. This can be such a nice surprise, especially during these tough times. If you have a printer at home, you could even print out pictures of yourself with the person you’re sending a note to and include those as well!
  • Another kind gesture to a family member or friend who lives nearby could be leaving a baked good, a note, a small art project, or a small gift on a friend’s doorstep for them to find later on.
  • Does one of your loved ones have a birthday during these tough times? If they live nearby you, have a drive by parade for them with signs on each car! If they live farther away, throw a virtual party for them. Reach out to their loved ones and schedule a Zoom call for a specific time – have everyone show up with drinks (of any kind) to ‘cheers’ the person on their special day! You can even incorporate some kind words by having everyone prepare a small speech about that person ahead of time, if you would like.
  • If you are tired of living in our current reality, make some future plans with pals. Obviously, some details will need to be left out for now, as booking travel and hotels is a no go currently, but you can plan generally for where you might want to go and what you might want to do when all of this is over!
  • Simply looking to have some fun and take a break from it all? Kick back with a virtual game night complete with snacks, drinks… the whole 9 yards. Trivia games are easy ones to play via Zoom, but get creative and come up with some other game ideas as well!

Again, it is important to remember that boundaries are still important, even when it comes to online relationships (check out our blog on establishing healthy boundaries for tips on this!).

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for joining us! Hopefully at least one of these tips regarding healthy relationships during COVID-19 has resonated with you. Again, if you are struggling to cope right now and are seeking some support, our office is always here as a resource. Feel free to call us at 773-325-7129 or complete the online intake form on our website ( to schedule your one on one with one of our professional staff members. Hang in there everybody! We will get through this – together!  

Bringing The Outdoors Indoors

For those of us who call ourselves “adventurers”, “wanderers” or what have you, it’s easy to feel lost during this time; no pun intended. Understandably so, things just aren’t the same. The socially responsible voice playing in our head or on our Instagram feed (@whereslightfoot, anyone?) is telling us to stay home. Granted, I’ve been guilty of sneaking some much needed time on trails and paths but so has everyone else! I’m not using that to justify my time out, rather, the opposite. If we’re all out on the same trails or at the same parks then it’s easy to see how risky it can be. By all means, go for that walk or that bike ride – but do so responsibly! I can promise you that the day the green flag waves will be unimaginably wonderful. Until then, let’s try something new – something different. I bet you didn’t know that Google Earth offers virtual tours of 31 National Park sites. Maybe you didn’t realize the vast amount of nature films and documentaries on the most popular streaming services. You’d be amazed at all the interesting and fun ways to bring the outdoors indoors! Here are just a few. 

I mentioned Google Earth but I didn’t tell you what a vast resource it actually can be. You’re able to take all sorts of adventures from the comfort of your couch or under the covers of your bed. As your local guide today, my first suggestion would be exploring some of our nation’s most treasured places; the National Parks. The best part? No admission fees! Give yourself an hour and you can mosey around Arches National Park in Utah for a few minutes and then find yourself in Maine, at Arcadia National Park, for the rest of the time. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy then shoot on over to the Florida Everglades – all before lunch. I encourage you to check out the “voyager” tab inside Google Earth for a few more surprises too!

If you’re a nonfiction fanatic like me then I’m sure you can appreciate the long list of outdoor adventure films and documentaries that streaming services like Disney Plus, Netflix, and many more, have listed. I’ll follow with some of my favorites here with a link to their homepage if they have one – but be sure to check if they’re still streaming:

Into The Wild (2007) 

Nature (38 Seasons and still going!) – PBS

National Parks Adventure (2016) – Netflix

The Dawn Wall (2017) – Netflix

Mountain (2017) – Netflix 

Night On Earth (2020) – Netflix Original Series

Jumbo Wild (2015) – Amazon Prime Video

Antarctica: A Year On Ice (2017) – Amazon Prime Video

Something a little different: At The Drive-In (2019) – Amazon Prime Video

If all this screen time lately has you overwhelmed then I’d urge you to find something else to break up the monotony that we’re coming to know. If you’re feeling something more stimulating try things like potting plants! These can be for either indoor or outdoor beauty. It’s hard to argue with the benefits of indoor plants. If you find yourself as one of those people who can’t seem to keep a plant alive for more than a few weeks (like me, oops.) there are always alternatives. Pressing flowers can be a great way to preserve some gems that you’d like to hold on to – just remember to respect wildlife and keep in mind the Leave No Trace Principles if you’re looking outside. REI has a great blog that includes a number of outdoorsy activities that are worth checking out while we’re hunkered down at home. 

We’re having to live life a little differently right now, and frankly, that’s the perfect time to experience something new! As I hope you’ve seen, experiencing something new doesn’t necessarily mean leaving the house. Let’s make the most of this time and find adventure in places where we’d least expect it. Go watch a movie or read a blog. Pot a plant or just admire their beauty from afar. I hope you found some solace in this piece and remember to take good care of yourself. Let’s rekindle our love for the great outdoors and find wanderlust in new responsible ways so we’re ready when the green flag waves. 


Wellness Wednesday- Mindfulness & Gratitude

What are you grateful for today?

Hey pals, welcome back for another edition of HPW’s Wellness Wednesday series. Today’s theme is mindfulness and gratitude.

Photo provided by

Mindfulness consists of gaining self-awareness and acceptance towards one’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions without judgment. Below are some mindfulness activities that we encourage you to try!

  1. Meditation

Meditation embraces the present moments by training your body and mind to be relaxed. Find a comfortable place to sit, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Check out The Division of Mission and Ministry’s latest guided Midday Meditation.

  1. Starting the Day with Intentionality

This practice is at best after you wake up in the morning, before starting your work and/or school day and before you check your phone. The first step is to sit up in your bed or sit on a chair with your back straight and close your eyes. Take three long, deep breaths. Then ask yourself “What is my intention for today?” or use these prompts to guide you:

How might I show up today to have the best impact?

What quality of mind do I want to strengthen and develop?

What do I need to take better care of myself?

During difficult moments, how might I be more compassionate to others and myself?

How might I feel more connected and fulfilled?

The next step is to set your intention for the day, make it plan, and write it down.

“Today, I will focus on being kind to and myself”

“Today, I will focus on completing as much as I can until 5:00 PM”

Then throughout your day, check-in with yourself by re0visitng your intention statement.

  1. Five Senses Activity The goal of this exercise is to keep yourself grounded in the present moment by noticing your surroundings.

What are 5 things that you can see?

What are 4 things that you can feel?

What are 3 things you can hear?

What are 2 things you can smell?

What is 1 thing that you can taste?

  1. Mindful Breathing for One Minute.

For one minute, focus on your breathing. Breathe in through your nostrils and out through your mouth. Place your hand on your stomach and notice how your hand gently rises and falls with your breath.

  1. STOP

S: Stand up.  Stand up, close your eyes, and breathe slowly and deeply.

T: Tune in to your body. Notice your bodily sensations, feelings, thoughts, and emotions. Breathe in positivity and breathe out negativity.

O: Observe. Open your eyes, observe your surroundings. Lift your eyes and take in your surroundings. Be grateful for your surroundings and embrace the beauty of it.
P: Possibility. Ask yourself what is possible? What is new? What is your next forward step?

For more mindfulness activities, click here.

The Science of Mindfulness

Research studies show that mindfulness decreases anxiety, reduction in perceived stress, decrease depressive symptoms, and improves on emotional and mental well-being. There is an online program that is called  Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). It is an eight-week evidence-based program that offers mindfulness training to help individuals with their stress, anxiety, depression, and pain.

When engaging in this mindfulness training, MBSR studies show that the left frontal activity of the brain is enhanced which means that the brain is developing resilience. Studies also show that there also an improvement in our immune system when we engage in mindfulness activities. So, our bodies’ ability to fight infection starts to improve when we engage in mindfulness. MBSR studies also show that having mindfulness activities as a part of a treatment plan for individuals who have mental health illnesses, such as drug addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, borderline personality disorder helps prevent relapse from depression. 


Expressing gratitude is another mindfulness activity. Expressing gratitude is showing thankfulness and appreciation to someone, including yourself.


Here are some ways to practice gratitude:

  1. Praising the Small Victories.

There is success in the small victories too so let us celebrate them. Remember that progress matters, not perfection. You are still winning, even if it is a small win. Claim your victory.

  1. Keep a Gratitude Journal

Photo provided by

Daily, write down the things that you are thankful/grateful for. Start writing down “I am thankful for…”. Once you start, it is hard to stop. After you start writing a list then you will recognize the many blessings that you have received.

  1. Writing an Appreciation or a Love Letter to You and/or a Loved One

Sometimes we emotionally and mentally beat ourselves up to more than we show appreciation to ourselves. Today, we encourage you to give yourself some grace by writing an appreciation or a love letter to yourself. We also sometimes forget to show appreciation and love to our family and friends, so we encourage you to take some time to write a love/appreciation letter to them.

  1. Verbally Telling your Loved One What You Appreciate Them For

Tell your friend and/or family friend how much you appreciate them and remind them that you appreciate them.

For more gratitude activities, click here.

The Science of Gratitude

Research studies show that expressing gratitude increases one’s happiness, energy, self-esteem, and strengthens resiliency. Studies also show it decreases chronic pain levels and reduces blood pressure levels. Showing gratitude starts the production of dopamine and serotonin which are our “feel-good neurotransmitters”. Gratitude also stimulates the hypothalamus and the ventral tegmental area. The hypothalamus’ role is to keep the body in homeostasis, which means to make sure everything is balanced. So, this part of the brain regulates stress and the ventral tegmental area is involved in developing and expressing feelings and emotions such as feelings of pleasure.

Also, the more you practice gratitude, the more you train your prefrontal cortex to retain positive thoughts, emotions, and experiences and kick out the negativity.

Remember, mindfulness & gratitude are not about invalidating difficult emotions—it’s about acceptance. 

Click here for the recorded Wellness Wednesday Zoom session.

Wellness Wednesday- Refresh Sleep

One of the most important activities in our day is sleep. It is as important as food, water, and air and very much an active period in our day. Scientists are still looking into how and why our bodies are programmed for sleep, but what we do understand is sleep’s critical function and why we need it for optimal health and well-being. In today’s Wellness Wednesday we talked about sleep, but more so how to refresh our sleep. Watch a recording of of it right here.

For university students, good sleep may sometimes be difficult to achieve. You may find yourself pulling all-nighters, feeling groggy during the day, or even find yourself constantly waking up during the night. While studying and ensuring assignments are turned in on time are important for university students, so is sleep!

There are two basic types of sleep; non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM). Sleep begins with NREM  which occurs within minutes or even seconds of falling asleep. NREM is marked by stages 1 to 4, with stage 2 being repeated before finally entering REM sleep. REM is usually achieved about 90 minutes after the onset of sleep. REM usually lasts only a short time at first but lengthens with each cycle and can last up to an hour.

Stages of Sleep – The Dream Merchant's Shop

So why should you care or even invest in sleep resources? Sleep helps to improve our memory, and decreases stress and anxiety. It is vital for both physical neurological reasons. Sleep helps to repair tissues throughout the body and helps to strengthen our immune system. It’s important to remember that quality sleep improves the brain’s ability to consolidate and process factual information. With good sleep, the brain can better collect and store memories, which is helpful not just in our academic lives, but in all aspects. What would happen if we didn’t get enough sleep? Well, lack of sleep has often been linked to decreased memory, poor immune function, cardiovascular disease, impaired judgement and depression among other health issues.

Now you’ve had the what, asked the why, so here’s the how. As we continue to social distance and stay at home, it is important to keep healthy sleep habits. Things such as alcohol, caffeine, and even technology can interfere in our quality of sleep.  Here are three easy measures you can take right now to refresh your sleep.

  1. Utilize technology

Sleep apps, circadian alarm clocks, or even white noise devices can help you get a more restful sleep. They can help with logging sleep, doing meditation before bed, and even mimic natural sunlight to wake you up more naturally.


  1. Keep a sleep journal or routine

A sleep routine is a series of actions you can perform each night before going to bed. These actions can help prepare your mind and body for rest. A sleep routine can help you fall asleep more easily and stay asleep during the night. Your routine is unique to you! Make it yours! Some examples of things you can include are creating a cozy environment, making sure your room is at the right temperature, quiet and dark, reading a chapter from a book or using a diffuser.


  1. Try Mindfulness meditation

Studies show that mindfulness meditation is helpful for sleep because it evokes a relaxation response by breaking your train of thought. This technique involves focusing on your breathing and bringing your mind to the present, focusing on the now rather than the past or future. Mindfulness can be practiced at any time of the day and doesn’t have to be done for a long period of time. Even a minute or two can help in practicing mindfulness.


So what are you doing to refresh your sleep?

If you’d like more information on how to refresh your sleep make sure to sign up for our Refresh Sleep email-based program by midnight on April 22, 2020. Sign up with this link: