All posts by ces

Start Making the Most of Your Time

The beginning of October often brings a wave of mid-terms for many students. If you have been coasting since September, you might now be feeling like it’s time to buckle-down and focus on your school work. A good time management strategy can help you to get a handle on things and feel more confident during test time.

Time management is a matter of balancing the wants and the needs in your life. Sometimes this can be a difficult task because it involves planning, compromise and self-discipline. Nonetheless, the academic and personal benefits are worth it.

The first time management task is often to assess where you are spending your time. Carefully monitor your activities for a few days and then analyze where your time is going. Are you playing videos games until the early morning hours? Are you spending too much time on Facebook? How long is your lunch break everyday? Based on what you find, make adjustments in order to free up more time for the most important things in your life. Remember, if you sleep 7 hours each night, you still have 119 waking hours to get your tasks done every week.

Here are 15 tips for making the most of those hours:

Make daily and weekly to-do lists. Prioritize your tasks. Be reasonable with your expectations.
Get motivated by setting specific, realistic and measurable goals for your studies.
Look at the big picture. Plan your entire semester by recording assignments and tests on a large calendar.
Make a weekly schedule detailing when and what you will study each day. If possible, treat school as a 9-5 job each day. Use the time around your classes to study.
Don’t forget to schedule in your exercise, sleep, appointments, errands and some FUN each week.
Check that your study environment is conducive to learning. Don’t study in front of the TV or in bed.
Identify your most alert time of the day and schedule study time for your most difficult subject then.
Avoid marathon studying. Study in 40-50 minute intervals and take 10 minute breaks in between. This way, the time you devote to studying will be much more productive.
Turn off the phone and your computer while studying. You can always return phone messages, texts and emails at another more convenient time.
Record the television shows you like each week. That way, you can not only watch commercial free and shorten your TV time, but you can also take more control of your evening schedule.
Make good use of waiting time and spare moments. If you take the bus to school each day, for instance, study your terminology cue-cards as you travel. This time adds up!
Set the alarm on your phone when you go for lunch or for a study break. When it goes off, it will remind you to get back to work.
Learn to say “no” to activities that you don’t need or want to do.
Reward yourself with fun activities or small treats, when you get big tasks done.
Avoid interruptions or distractions. Hang a “do not disturb” sign on your door, or buy earplugs, if necessary.
These are just a few suggestions for using your time more wisely. if you are interested in learning more detailed strategies for time management or about study skills in general, please call counselling services at 403-317-2845 or drop by TH218 to make an appointment with a counsellor.

New Year, New Accomplishments


“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisibile into the visible.” Anthony Robbins

At this time of year everyone seems to be setting new goals for themselves and people seem inspired to do things differently. Maybe this is your year for being healthier, to focus on your course work, or even to spend more time with friends. Whatever it is, the following ideas might help you to meet your expectations for the coming year.

1. Take time to reflect. Before you decide what new goals you want to set, take some time to celebrate your accomplishments from the past year. Consider what you’ve learned over the past year and reflect on the ways you’ve utilized your strengths to accomplish everything you’ve done.

2. Get Philosophical. Ask yourself the big questions. “How do I really want to live?” “What do I want for myself”. These might seem like massive questions at first so one way to focus is to make a list of statements each starting with “I want to…..”. Don’t censor yourself, just let it flow. Take a couple minutes to pick one or two of those points and consider how you can start turning them into a reality.

3. Get Specific. Take some time to think about how to turn your bigger hopes into a reality. If you hope to become more thoughtful, ask yourself what would be happening to show you were working towards this goal. Maybe you would remind yourself of other’s birthdays, or take the time to hang out with a friend who was going through a tough time. The important thing is to make your goals tangible. Set yourself a time lines for meeting the “mini-goals” that make up the big goal you’re working towards.

4. Stay motivated and focused. Some tips for staying motivated include:

  • Share your hopes with other people
  • Visualize what it is you’re working towards. Draw a picture of it, or make it really detailed in your mind. What will you be doing or feeling when you meet the goal? What will you hear? see? etc.
  • Be creative. Many roads lead to the same destination. If you can’t get to where you want to be one way, try another.
  • Remember and celebrate past successes! List your positives and think of the times you were active in making your dreams come true.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. If the people around you are motivated, you’re likely to pick up on that positive energy.
  • Control your fear! One of the biggest reasons people lose motivation is because they are afraid of change. Almost all change is accompanied by some discomfort, so when you find yourself anxious about something, remind yourself that you are capable and remind yourself of the benefits of the change.

No matter what you hope to work on this year, remember to have fun and enjoy the journey.

Love Your Lines!

If you want a lesson in loving your body you just need to watch young children for a while. They are fascinated with how their bodies work and what they can do. They move with joy and rarely do they seem self-conscience about what they look like. They even say things like “I am soooo beautiful just the way I am” and they seem to really mean it. Rarely do we see adults with the same sort of self assurance.

So what happens between when we’re 5 and now? As much as we’d like to deny it, our culture sends us incredibly strong these messages about how we’re supposed to be. The fact that most of us have experienced a “fat” day speaks volumes. By now, most of you know the media influences body image, but did you know that according to Sophie Bissonnette, the director of Sexy Inc., women feel worse about themselves after flipping through women’s magazines. Even the Spiderman dolls that boys play with have drastically bulked up. When 80% of Canadian girls in grade four have been on a diet, it’s safe to say there’s a problem. This is scary when we consider that diets are: 1) Unhealthy and may lead to disordered eating; and 2) Yo-yo dieting is more harmful than being overweight. How did we as a society let this happen? More importantly, how we can start to reconnect with that confident, sassy, body – lovin’ five year old in all of us.

To start, you need patience. There is no one simple way to start feeling good about your body and yourself. Rather, it’s a lot of small things done together over time that makes a true difference. One of these things is to start challenging the idea that everyone can be very thin and that thinness equates being healthy. This isn’t true. Most people have a genetic, pre-determined set weight range and body type they will function best at. This has nothing to do with the number on the scale or the size of your clothes. It just is. Once you become realistic about what your body is meant to look like, you are heading in the right direction. It can be hard to let go of the illusion you want to portray to people, but if you can move towards self-acceptance you will likely be much closer to being the healthy, happy person you are trying to present to the world.

Another important component of developing a healthier relationship with your body is to increase your self-awareness. Stress has an incredible impact on how you view yourself, and how you eat. When you’re stressed, you quite often start to focus on things you can control and that critical part of your brains tends to kick into over drive. Have you ever noticed how during exam week, you all of a sudden think you’re body sucks more than usual? You may notice that you start to eat to help manage some of your emotions, or not eat because you have a nervous stomach or you’ve forgotten to eat. It’s important in these times to really connect with what’s going on emotionally and to find other ways to manage those emotions outside of food.

Relationship wise, you may be surrounded by friends or family who are very focused on their bodies and their images. If the people around you support or practice unhealthy lifestyles, it will be more difficult for you to challenge some of the negative misconceptions you have yourself. People who comment on your weight or size, or that of others, probably aren’t going to be helpful if you’re struggling with your own perceptions of your body. Spending time with people who don’t diet, or who have a healthy relationship with their bodies can be much more valuable.

The following list includes more practical ideas about how to take care of and respect your amazing body has been adapted from

1. Emphasize your strengths. Remove all those “motivational” pictures of models on your fridge and replace them with beautiful pictures of yourself or with positive messages.

2. Challenge the current values of our society. All body sizes are good! Research tells us consistently that weight and looks have no influence on a person’s happiness. Remind yourself that your body is an instrument of your life, not an ornament.

3. Change your viewpoint. Instead of asking “how can I get thin? Ask “what can I do to be healthier and happier?

4. Get in touch with your body. Learn to recognize your internal signals of hunger and fullness. Then respect what you’re hearing. Simply asking yourself if you’re hungry throughout the day can help you to realize what it feels like.

5. Eat for the right reasons. Are you eating for emotional or environmental reasons? What other ways can you meet those needs? Maybe you could try to phone a friend or go for a walk if you recognize you’re eating to stuff emotion.

6. Visit a dietician to get information on what healthy eating looks like. Many of the books that promote a “healthy lifestyle” really promote unhealthy eating and diets. A dietician will give you the facts. Anything that promises a “quick fix” or encourages you to give up any food group is unlikely to be healthy or successful.

7. Get active. Forget the rules and “shoulds” of exercise and find activities that you do simply because you enjoy them.

8. If you catch yourself being self critical in front of the mirror or with friends, make an effort to stop. Remind yourself of your strengths.

9. Wear clothes that make you feel good about your body and reflect your personal style.

10. Enjoy eating mindfully. Let yourself enjoy the taste of food and remind yourself of the amazing things it provides for your body.

11. Walk with your head held high. Its sounds funny, but walking like your confident can help you feel more confident.

12. Thank your body for the things it does. Take time everyday to appreciate and cherish it. Do this by getting a massage, taking a bath, dancing, playing a sport or doing yoga.

If you find you’re becomming pre-occupied by your thoughts of food and looks, judge a day as good or bad based on how much you ate or exercised, or somtetimes wish you could stop dieting, binging or exercising but can’t, you might be at risk for disordered eating. Although people develop disordered eating for a number of reasons, many of the components of control and maintaining an illusion that things are going well, contribute to it worsening. If you notice that you are becoming pre-occupied by your body and food, we encourage you to contact Counselling Services or the Health Centre for further resources and/or counselling.

*modified feb 2011 from Rowland 2008

I’m Stressed, How Can I Handle It All?

Are you finding yourself feeling more irritable and impatient lately? Maybe you are having problems sleeping, frequent headaches, neck tension, stomach upset, or shortness of breath? Maybe you are just plain freaking out!! These are all signs of stress. Chronic stress can lead to serious mental and physical problems, such anxiety, depression and heart disease.

As a post-secondary student, stress is a normal part of the experience, with never-ending demands such as papers and exams. Stress is inevitable, but what is important is how you learn to deal with your stress. Maladaptive coping includes things like procrastination, or turning to drugs and alcohol to alleviate stress. These are short-term ways to cope with stress, that actually increase levels of stress in the long run.

The first thing to ask yourself is, “Is there something I can do to bring down my current level of stress?”. This is called stressor management. Perhaps there is a problem to be solved, or you can decrease the demands on yourself. For example, resolving an ongoing dispute with a roommate, learning to manage your time better, or quitting a volunteer position which no longer brings you joy.

If you have analyzed your stressors and cut out all that you need to, the next step is to look at ways to bring down your stress- called stress management. Ask yourself on a daily basis, “What can I do to relax and unwind?”. This includes things like, talking with friends and family, engaging in positive self-talk, practicing relaxation, and engaging in activities that bring you joy (e.g., reading, watching movies, hanging out with friends). It is important to have an arsenal of healthy stress relieving tools to use regularly in times of higher stress. You might even want to make a list of things that you can do and then pick at least one thing to do off the list each day.

It is also important to look at your self-care. This includes maintaining a balanced diet, getting adequate sleep, and exercising regularly. Self-care has a cumulative effect on one’s ability to cope. When you are taking care of yourself over a long period of time, you will find that you are better equipped to deal with daily hassles and stressors. It is all too common for students to let their self-care go at times of high stress, such as during midterms and final exams. Pulling all-nighters, drinking copious amounts of coffee, and skipping the gym are common responses of the overtaxed student. Unfortunately, this can increase stress, so maintaining balance is key.

Coffee is a big part of the university culture. Look at reducing your intake of coffee which is a stimulant that can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks. Don’t forget, cola beverages, teas, and chocolate also contain caffeine. A quick note on exercise…exercise has been found to be just as effective in treating anxiety as medication and counseling. Look at engaging in moderate exercise a minimum of 30 minutes, 3 times per week in order to manage anxiety.
These are tips to manage a very stressful time of life and are not meant to replace professional help. If you feel that you are having problems managing on your own, or your level of stress has become too great to implement these strategies, you should consider seeking additional support. Support on campus includes: Counselling Services and/or the Health Centre.

Need to make an appointment?
Call the Counselling team at 403.317.2845.
Or the Health Centre at 403.329.2484.



Bourne, E. (1995). The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.
Nauert PhD, R. (2010). Exercise ‘Therapy’ For Depression. Psych Central.

How’s the Transition to University Going So Far?

How’s the Transition to University Going So Far?
Okay, you are finally here! You have had some time to settle into your new life as a “post-secondary” student. Maybe it’s not all that you imagined, or maybe it’s more than you bargained for?

This is one of the BIGGEST times of transition that you will experience in a lifetime, so if you are having some problems managing, then you are definitely not alone! Think of everything that is new…academic changes (new type of learning, new expectations, new environment), social changes (new friends, exposure to new ideas/types of people), and personal changes (living on your own, a new city, financial stress). It’s no wonder that you may be feeling overwhelmed!!

How are you feeling so far? Maybe everything felt new and exciting for the first few weeks as you met tons of new people and experienced living on your own for the first time! Perhaps now that you have begun to settle into the semester, you are feeling more anxious as midterms approach, and homesick as you begin to miss your old friends and family back home. Perhaps you feel like you don’t really belong here and that everyone else is handling things better than you. These are very common feelings among first year students and usually they settle out as the semester progresses and you learn the skills to do well here. For some students, these feelings of anxiety can intensify to levels that are problematic to daily functioning and feelings of sadness can turn into depression. In these cases, it is very important to get help before things get worse.

Tips to manage it all:

1) Realize that you are not alone and what you are feeling is normal.

2) Access supports. Don’t try to do it all on your own. Supports include: family and friends, as well as supports on campus such as Counselling Services, Professors, Resident Advisors, Health Centre staff, Student Finance and Scholarships, Student Union Clubs, etc.

3) Be proactive! Things don’t have to be horrible for you to ask for help. It is better if you access supports early in the game.

4) Be patient with yourself and give yourself time to adjust. It takes a while to learn how to be a “post-secondary” student and to manage all the changes.

5) Make your self-care a priority. It is all too common for students to let their self-care go when time is tight. Our ability to cope and perform academically is impacted by basic self care such a getting adequate sleep (8-10 hours/night), maintaining a balanced diet, and exercising regularly.

6) Maintain balance. Making time for work, play and self-care can be a balancing act. Students who put all their time and energy into their studies can actually be at a disadvantage. It is important to refuel with rest, relaxation and fun! As a general rule of thumb, treat your education like a full time job. If you are a full time student, you want to look at putting approximately 40 hours/week into your studies. Spend the rest of your time taking care of yourself.

7) Make connections. Join a club on campus, form study groups with people in your classes, join an activity, pursue a hobby, volunteer; first and foremost, try smiling and making eye contact!

Ellis-Toddington 2011

The Power of Positive

Over the last 10 years, researchers in the field of positive psychology have used empirical methods to study the factors that help people create happiness and flourishing. Even more exciting, these researchers have translated their findings into concrete strategies that anyone can use to improve overall well-being – no winning lottery ticket, tropical vacation, fantasy romance, high powered job, or even therapy required!

In his most recent book, “Flourish”(2011), Martin Seligman argues that the concept of well-being is made up of 5 measurable elements:

· Positive emotion – pleasure, happiness, life satisfaction

· Engagement – opportunities to use your strengths to meet the challenges that come your way

· Positive Relationships

· Meaning – belonging to and serving something that you believe is bigger than yourself

· Accomplishment – success, achievement, mastery

In this way, well-being is a combination of both feeling good and “doing” good. Seligman contends that when individuals maximize all 5 elements they thrive emotionally, mentally and physically.

In fact, evidence has been pouring in on just how beneficial optimism and happiness actually is. Studies show people who are optimistic are less vulnerable to anxiety, depression, PTSD and other forms of mental illness. Others demonstrate that happy people are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease, colds, flus, and other illnesses. Those with high levels of life satisfaction cope better with stress and tend to sleep more fitfully. Positive people live longer. Other benefits of happiness include higher incomes, superior work outcome and greater social rewards. Sonya Lyubomirsky and her colleagues have further demonstrated that happy individuals are more creative, helpful, charitable, and self-confident, and have better self-control.

Positive Psychologists have also shown that life satisfaction is not elusive, genetic or largely dependent upon external events. Certain simple, intentional activities can lead to substantial positive changes in one’s life. Moreover, when we start bringing positivity into our lives it tends to become a self-perpetuating cycle. Happiness is within your reach!

Below you will find a sample of 5 different “happiness building” exercises that have been proven to help improve one’s well-being.

Practice Kindness – Find one wholly spontaneous, kind thing to do each day and just do it. Notice what happens to your mood. These activities don’t have to be momentous. Smiles, hugs, opening a door, bringing someone a coffee, offering a ride are examples of easy ways to show kindness to another.

The Gratitude Visit – Close your eyes and call up the face of someone still alive who, in the past, did something or said something that changed your life for the better. Someone who you never properly thanked, someone you could meet face to face next week. Your task is to write a letter of gratitude to that individual and deliver it in person.

What Went Well (WWW)? – Every night for a week, set aside 10 minutes and write down three things that went well that day and why they went well.

Choose a Positive Outlook –

· Be a cheerleader for yourself, rather than your own worst critic. Take more credit for your successes. Learn from your setbacks and then let them go. Avoid ruminating about your mistakes.

· Ask yourself: “Will this really matter a month from now, 6 months from now or a year from now?”

· Use your resources to solve problems where possible and practice acceptance when there is no solution.

· Choose helpful thoughts over harmful ones.

Improve Your Relationships – How you help your friends and loved ones celebrate is more predictive of a strong relationship than how you fight. Next time someone you care about tells you about something good that happened to her go out of your way to respond actively and constructively. That means asking her to relive the experience with you, and providing enthusiastic support.

Savoring – The ability to truly appreciate the positive experiences in your life is one of the most important ingredients for happiness.

· Reminisce with family and friends.

· Create albums of treasures from happy events.

· Replay happy moments and days in your head.

· Take the time to really celebrate special occasions and good news.

· Be open to experiencing beauty and excellence.

· Practice mindfulness.

If you are looking to increase your well-being and life satisfaction, take a moment to reflect upon the positive emotions, opportunities for engagement, relationships, meaning involvement and accomplishments in your life. How are you doing in each area? Where could improvements be made? What is going really well? Then, choose an appropriate “happiness builder” from the list above. Put the power of positive to work in your life by committing to completing that activity on a regular basis. Continue to try out some of the other exercises over the coming weeks. Given recent research findings, there’s a great chance you will find yourself much happier a month from now.

Resume Workshop

Watch our online Resume Workshops to help you create an effective document for your job search.

Part 1

What Makes a Resume Effective

Setting Up Your Document

Content and Sections

Writing Tips

Cover Letters

For more information, or to book a one-on-one appointment with a Career Advisor, please call 403.317.2845 or get email feedback on your resume &/or cover letter by emailing your documents to Find more online resume resources here.

Dreams & Disappointments

We’ve caught Olympic fever in Counselling and Career Services! Among all the inspiring stories coming out of the Games, cyclist Monique Sullivan’s letter to herself stands out. As much fun as it is to watch the triumphs of successful athletes, it’s also important to note how they deal with failure. And that’s why Ms. Sullivan’s story stands out – because she wasn’t one of the smiling athletes jumping onto the podium after a successful competition. She was instead dealing with a heartbreaking defeat, when she did not qualify for the final in the women’s keirin event. After taking time to process her disappointment, she reflected on the hard work that brought her to where she is. Her experience in Rio made her resolve not to let this disappointment stop her from pursuing her dreams or living in joy.

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Read the article HERE.