By: Sierra Sanders

Emily Fillion, an Industrial Arts student at Red River College Polytechnic, said life as a student had her constantly moving every day on-campus and around the house. But the pandemic brought her busy lifestyle, and mental well-being, to an abrupt halt.

“All of a sudden it was just like you’re doing your 45 minutes to an hour workout and you’re done,” the 21-year-old said.

Fillion said she noticed the shift in her mental health when she became angry all the time.   

“I don’t want to say depressed, but I was genuinely mad all the time for no particular reason,” she said. “I was taking it out on my family members and I was taking it out on my friends which wasn’t very nice.”

The solution to pulling herself out of this funk? A walk. Every day.

She started by going around the block, progressing further outside of her neighbourhood each time, and eventually heading out for 45 minutes or more.

Emily Fillion enjoys her daily walk to help boost her mental health./SIERRA SANDERS

Fillion admitted the nice weather makes it easier to get out for a stroll, but with the next harsh Winnipeg winter looming, she doesn’t plan on slowing down.

Her weekly goal remains at six walks a week, but she knows there is no pressure when getting into a walking routine.

“I would say just start small, even just leaving your house […] even a 10- to 15-minute walk,” said Fillion.

 “At least you left the house. At least you got fresh air, that is an accomplishment in itself.”

Psychologist Angela Bartley, said walking can help individuals regulate emotions, allowing cooler minds to prevail.

“What we know about walking or what we know about mental health too, is that it’s quite connected with physical health and if we pay attention to our physical health, it can improve our mental health as well.”

Bartley said walking helps boost your overall mood and RRC Polytech students can use it as a study tool.

“It gives time for what students have been learning and studying to kind of consolidate into our memory,” said Bartley. 

“So actually, doing something like walking is more effective for retaining what you’ve learned and studied.”

RRC Polytech offers mental health programming through its Healthy Minds Healthy College initiative, including counsellors available to students year-round at the Notre Dame and Exchange District campuses.