The best one-stop shop on campus for stress management is definitely Counselling Services. Whether it’s your deadlines weighing you down, a new term looming ahead, relationship trouble, work, or problems at home, they’re here for you. They serve students, staff, and faculty, and have offices all over campus, including in residence, as well as the Kitchener and Stratford campuses. Today I’m going to talk about some of the things they can do to help you, and when you should go.

Every term Counselling Services runs an array of workshops to help you manage. Their Mindfulness programs will help you get introspective and deal with stress when it starts, rather than when it manifests in terrifying panic attacks. It also goes over how to manage your diet (which is always the first thing to go for me). Not in terms of how to get in shape, but how to make sure the things you eat aren’t making you totally miserable. I hope they have a whole section on “Why you probably shouldn’t eat breakfast at midnight”. They also run not one, but two different workshops on procrastination, which apparently isn’t for sharpening your procrastination skills, but for managing your time so that exams and assignments don’t creep up on you. These programs can help you stay ahead of the curve on your work, and afford you the time to consider all the other elements of your life that can’t be solved with all nighters and coffee. I promise that those exist. 

Of course, you can always book an appointment to go and sit down with someone and talk things out. They’ll listen, ask questions, and recommend courses of action you might take, whether it’s seeking support in groups, joining one of the programs, sitting down for more sessions…There’s a lot of options. They’re professionals, and I’m not.

“But Jim,” I say in my best impression of you, “I don’t need to go to Counselling Services. I’m not crazy, Sure, I have five assignments due every day for the next ten months and just broke up with my significant other. I’ll take some time to sort things out, and then–” Go to fucking Counselling Services. Seriously. Counselling isn’t just for people who suffer from mental illness (and considering that that’s one in five Canadians, I wouldn’t be too quick to judge), it’s for anyone whose burden is wearing them down.

Let’s run through some worst case scenarios: you go to a counselling workshop, and you feel like you’ve wasted your time. You know all this stuff, and you’re doing it. None of the further workshops teach you anything either. You’re a time management wizard who just needs to take a step back from things. Think about how awesome that is for a second. You are on top of things, and just need to take a bit of time for yourself. Alternately, you go to a one on one session with a counsellor. Worst case? They tell you that you don’t need to be there. A professional who deals with people all the time thinks that you’re doing okay. That’s a pretty good reason to think you’re doing okay.

I’m straying from my point. I get a little worked up about this. Counselling services can help you manage a lot of your school and life stress, and the time to go and see them is when you feel that pressure mounting, rather than when you’re weeping picking up the jagged pieces of your term. If it makes you nervous, bring a friend. We’re all in this together.

Jim Tigwell must admit that he never visited Counselling Services while he was a student, but wishes he had. Things got pretty rough there for a while. 

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