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Red Deer College

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Counselling Services

Counselling services and supports are inclusive, confidential, and available to all RDC students free of charge.

Exercise & Mental Health

brain exercising Many 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 medicine for many common mental health challenges. Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, trauma, and other other mental health problems. Physical activity also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood. Research indicates that modest amounts of exercise can be a powerful tool to feel better (Help Guide, 2019).

Benefits of Exercise 

Reduced symptoms of stress. 

Exercising is an effective way to break the physical and emotional cycles of stress. It releases endorphins in the brain and helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better so will your mind.

Reduced symptoms of anxiety.

Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins. Anything that gets you moving can help, but you’ll get a bigger benefit if you pay attention instead of zoning out. Try to notice the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, for example, or the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of the wind on your skin. By adding this mindfulness element you may also be able to interrupt the flow of constant worries running through your head.

Reduced symptoms of depression.

Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication—but without the side-effects. Exercise promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirits and make you feel good. Finally, exercise can also serve as a distraction, allowing you to find some quiet time to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression.

Sharper memory and thinking.

The same endorphins that make you feel better also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp for tasks at hand. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related decline.

Higher self-esteem.

Regular activity is an investment in your mind, body, and soul. When it becomes habit, it can foster your sense of self-worth and make you feel strong and powerful. You’ll feel better about your appearance and, by meeting even small exercise goals, you’ll feel a sense of achievement.

Better sleep.

Even short bursts of exercise in the morning or afternoon can help regulate your sleep patterns. If you prefer to exercise at night, relaxing exercises such as yoga or gentle stretching can help promote sleep.

More energy.

Increasing your heart rate several times a week will give you more get-up and-go. Start off with just a few minutes of exercise per day, and increase your workout as you feel more energized.

Stronger resilience.

When faced with mental or emotional challenges in life, exercise can help you cope in a healthy way, instead of resorting to alcohol, drugs, or other negative behaviors that ultimately only make your symptoms worse. Regular exercise can also help boost your immune system and reduce the impact of stress (Help Guide, 2020).

Helpful Resources

 Physical Activity Diary

Keep track of your physical activity throughout the week.

 Tips to Get Active

Improve your health by being active as part of a healthy lifestyle.

 Workout Tracker

Keep track of your workout activities throughout the week.

Finances & Mental Health

undefinedFinances can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for people. Whether you are living pay cheque to pay cheque or are concerned about setting enough money aside for the future, this stress can add up and negatively impact your mental health. If this is your experience, you are not alone. 

Research shows:

  • 48% of Canadians say they’ve lost sleep because of financial worries 
  • 44% say it would be difficult to meet their financial obligations if their pay is late

There are many sources of financial stress, including:

  • Managing household expenses
  • Dealing with high levels of debt
  • Living pay cheque to pay cheque
  • Struggling to save money for short and long-term goals
  • Dealing with unexpected expenses

Remember, financial stress affects working Canadians of all income levels and age groups (Government of Canada, 2019).

Helpful Resources

 RDC Student Connect Centre

A variety of information if you'd like to apply for awards and scholarships or funding, and learn more about financial wellness.

Housing & Mental Health

undefinedHousing is a basic human right and requirement for good health. 

Housing a necessary element in our hierarchy of needs. To be able to focus on our mental health, we must make sure all of our basic needs are met. It is difficult to focus on healing ourselves when we do not a roof over our heads, in which to feel safe and secure. Housing is an essential need for all individuals in order to maintain a healthy and balanced physical and mental well-being.. 

Helpful Resources

 AHS Housing Program

Provides quality, secure, and affordable housing for people with mental illness and/or low income. 

 Students Association

Help for students to find alternate options within Red Deer and surrounding areas. 

Pimacihowin Housing Team 

Provides homelessness prevention for Indigenous individuals, couples or families at risk of losing their housing or who have been homeless for less than three months.

Red Deer Housing Authority

Provides community housing or rent supplements for low income individuals and families. 

Nutrition & Mental Health

It goes both ways: The brain can affect the gut and the gut can affect the brain. Nutrition and the foods you eat, can effect the way you feel physically and mentally. 

Our bodies essentially have two brains, the one attached to our central nervous system and our gastrointestinal system. This is often called the 'Gut-Brain Connection'. Many individuals who suffer from anxiety or high stress, tend to have gastrointestinal issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), stomach pains, or nausea, and vice versa. The way we eat and the way we take care of our mental health, could alleviate both physical and mental health symptoms.

Further more, researchers are starting to find connections between nutrition and mental health in three different areas:

  1. Nutritional patterns of eating that can impact mental health
  2. How specific nutrients on a biochemical level and specific foods can alter brain chemistry (boost energy, increase mood, improve focus, etc.)
  3. The link between gut and brain health

In a study published by Harvard Health Publishing (2018), researchers found that the risk of depression was 25-35% lower in individuals who ate a Mediterranean or Japanese diet--high amounts of vegetables, fruit, seafood and unprocessed grains with modest amounts of lean meats and dairy. They also consumed limited or low amounts of processed foods and refined foods/sugars. 

Food is also a necessary element in our hierarchy of needs. To be able to focus on our mental health, we must make sure all of our basic needs are met. It is difficult to focus on healing ourselves when our main focus becomes getting our essential needs met. Having a healthy, nutritional diet is not a cure, but a step in creating balance and healing within ourselves (CAHM 2018, Harvard Health Publishing 2020, & John Hopkins Medicine 2020).

Helpful Resources

 Canada Food Guide 2020

Provides information on food choices, eating habits, nutrition tips and different recipes.

Student's Association of RDC Food Banks Application

The Students’ Association of Red Deer College operates a Student Food Bank on campus, which provides support to students experiencing food insecurity. You can access this service by going to the Student Connect Center or clicking the application above. 

Red Deer Food Bank

Provides emergency food requirements for those in need. 

Alberta Health Services: Healthy Eating Starts Here

Provides information and resources on how to access a dietitian and nutritional services offered by Alberta Health Services

Sleep & Mental Health

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It’s no secret that sleep plays an important role in good physical and mental health. Research suggests that the relationship between sleep and mental health is complex. Sleep problems can lead to changes in mental health, but mental health conditions can also worsen problems with sleep. Sleep deprivation can leave individuals feeling irritable and exhausted in the short-term, but it can also have serious long-term health consequences as well. 

Poor sleep can make it much more difficult to cope with even relatively minor stress. Daily hassles can turn into major sources of frustration. You might find yourself feeling frazzled, short-tempered, and frustrated by everyday annoyances. Poor sleep itself can even turn into a source of stress.

Findings ways to improve sleep quality and quantity can be helpful in relieving the symptoms of stress. This does not mean that getting more sleep is a cure or quick-fix, but getting better sleep can be an important part of a comprehensive treatment plan (Very Well Mind, 2020).


Things to try to get a better sleep:

  • Limit napping. Too much sleep during the day can have an effect on your ability to fall or stay asleep at night. Naps of 20 to 30 minutes a day can help you feel more alert and rested without interrupting your nightly sleep.
  • Establish a nightly routine. Stick to a set of habits that help prepare you for rest each night. Take a bath, read a book, or practice a few minutes of meditation to calm your body. Repeat these routines each night to help set the mood for a solid night’s sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine or stimulants too close to bedtime. Consuming coffee, soda, or other caffeinated products in the late afternoon or evening can make it difficult to fall asleep.
  • Turn off your devices. Watching television or playing on your phone at bedtime can make it more difficult to relax and settle down for sleep. Try setting limits on when you quit using your devices before bed.

Helpful Resources

 Getting a Good Night's Sleep

Here are a list of things you can do to improve your sleep. 

 Sleep Diary

Keep track of your sleep habits and strategies used. 

 Sleep Hygiene 

Learn how to adopt good sleep habits and practice healthy sleep hygiene. 

 Ten Tips for a Good Night Sleep

A list of ten tips to help have a better sleep.