Students practice being mindful with daily mental health activities

By: Victor Selby

Red River College Polytechnic is encouraging students to participate in a 30-Day Mindfulness Challenge to help them manage their stress. 

The challenge takes students through a daily five-minute activity created by MindWell, an organization that develops techniques for young professionals to manage stress

The challenge has five and 30-day options, allowing students to choose their commitment time.

“We think that sticking to 30 days can be counterproductive because then someone might say, ‘Oh I missed a day so I should just throw in the towel.’ So that’s why we gave them two months,” said Breanna Sawatzky, mental health coordinator at RRC Polytech.

Students register for a MindWell account, sign up for “Take 5 Daily,” the technique taught in the challenge, and submit their certificate by Feb. 28. 

Prizes include two yoga packages from Half Moon Drive In, two meditation pillows, and two passes to FLOAT.Calm, a flotation therapy centre in Winnipeg. 

A student takes a minute to track their breathing on Feb. 1, 2023. This is part of “Take 5 Daily”, the technique used in the 30-Day Mindfulness Challenge. (Victor Selby)

Students have unlimited access to MindWell’s platform, which includes online mindfulness training, live guided mindfulness practices, monthly webinars with experts, and a resource library, according to their website. 

“Ever since I started at the college, I was honestly pretty surprised at the amount of mental health resources they have. It’s a good thing for sure,” said Anthony Helgason, an IT Operations student at RRC Polytech.

“I know two classmates who are doing it, mostly between classes, and they say it works. The prizes were part of it, but they think it’s really effective” Helgason said. 

Sawatzky said RRC Polytech’s increased focus on mental health started in 2014, and it began purchasing the MindWell license in 2016. 

“In 2014, a lot of post-secondary institutions were noticing more students going through mental health struggles and we partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority,” said Sawatzky. “It’s been a college-wide effort since then.” 

Sawatzky said that the initiatives won’t eliminate student stress, but believes they can give students the tools to handle it.

“School is always going to be stressful but with more tools to manage it, you can engage in your learning in a better, healthier way,” said Sawatzky. 

Sawatzky hopes students take the lessons of the challenge and “Take 5 Daily” and are able to use it in their own lives.