I didn’t know there were Health and Wellness Workshops until a few weeks ago. Or maybe I did, and the concept passed through my head, probably with the thoughts of “I’m too busy for that.” It wasn’t until my counsellor recommended them that I actually considered them as an option to get help. Since then, I have attended two small-group workshops, Balanced Thinking and Healthy Behaviours, as part of their Coping Skills series. I wish I had attended long before.
The workshops are in a small, comfortable room where I am not forced to share any personal details or participate if I don’t want to. I felt at ease the moment I got there, knowing that I could simply sit back and listen. I was surprised by how many examples the psychologist listed that I related to around anxiety, depression, low mood or lack of motivation through everyday scenarios. They were catered to us, students. This week, I’ll outline what I learned in both workshops!
This workshop focused on understanding how we react to situations through our behaviours. We focused on how to change our negative mindsets, track our feelings, and work into feeling more comfortable in our surroundings. I realized how a lot of my behaviours, which I thought were beneficial, could hurt me in the long run.
For example, I avoid transit during certain times of day – I will not go on after there has been a major event downtown since they are noisy and crowded, causing my senses to overload and panic. I learned that this avoidance, over time, might make me more sensitive to different transit situations, such as a crowded subway or a weekend train with lots of families. So, a better way to approach this problem is to slowly expose myself to similar but less intense situations, where I still feel a sense of safety and control. This way, I can learn to adjust to my surroundings more easily and won’t have to waste time waiting for an empty train late at night.
Alongside this strategy and my counselling, I will also track my feelings daily and check in on myself to help identify my behaviours and reactions during different situations.
This workshop was focused on ensuring my thoughts are reasonable and truthful by avoiding exaggerations in outcomes and spiralling through many unlikely scenarios. Similar to my thinking traps strategy, this isn’t about “being positive,” but rather about being mindful of the automatic thoughts I may have, that can negatively affect how I behave.
A situation I am using this technique on is catastrophizing my academics. If I am worried that I won’t do well on a midterm, I automatically think I don’t have enough time to study, leading to me failing the midterm, then the class, and finally putting myself behind in my academics. For the most part, this is unreasonable.
Through this workshop, I was able to recognize that this way of thinking was mostly anxiety and stress and that I was jumping to conclusions. We worked on trying to counter these thoughts: I could highlight the amount of time I realistically have to study, gather proof that I have not failed in that class on previous assessments or have shown signs of growth, and create a balanced thought: “I will likely not fail because I have a plan for how to study”.
I have really enjoyed going to these workshops as they provide me with new techniques, which will help in my day-to-day life and anxiety management. I know, that like anything else, I need to put the work in to use these new tools. Have you gone to any of these workshops, what were your thoughts?