Be Well at Cal is a Tang Center effort to encourage students to take care of themselves in all aspects of their lives. The goal of Tang is not just to address illness but to support students in living balanced and fulfilled lives.
Taking care of yourself translates to doing better in school. Merely working harder does not ensure doing better. In fact, we know that academic success is related to ability, work, academic skills and wellness. The focus of this website is on helping students take charge of their wellness.
UC Berkeley is a diverse campus with students from different backgrounds. We understand that one size does not fit all. We encourage you to use this website in a way that works for you and fits with your experience.
Wellness Toolkit – Top 10
1. Mastering Stress
UC Berkeley Students work hard and face high stress. Stress is here to stay: even though we wish it weren’t so, it will always be a part of our lives. It’s not about avoiding stress but knowing yourself (your limits and your strengths) and being proactive.
There are times when demands we face tax us to the point that we feel we cannot cope. We begin to feel overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, helpless and/or angry. Some of us have physical symptoms such as sleep and/or appetite disturbance, physical tension, or depleted energy. Others might experience intellectual roadblocks from stress such as test anxiety, procrastination, or lack of motivation. Stress can impact us socially as well, by causing us to withdraw, feel isolated, or even become aggressive.
Believe it or not, sometimes a little stress can be helpful, motivating us to prepare and perform. Finding the right balance and attitude towards stress helps. Take time to learn more about stress and how to manage it.
- Information on Stress management
- Finding Balance: Four Tips for Graduate Students
- Happy New Year: How do you want to spend it
- Facing Public Speaking and other things that make you anxious
- Tang Resources for Stress Management
Stuff happens- Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of significant sources of stress. Even if we aren’t in control of stressors, what we are in control of how we choose to deal with it.
Factors associated with resilience include: making realistic plans and following through, having a positive view of yourself, communication and problem solving skills and management of strong feelings and emotions.
- Resilience quiz
- Authentic happiness (University of Pennsylvania site which includes multiple self-assessments)
3. Gratitude helps
People often notice the things in life that are going wrong but take less time to savor the components of life that are going right. Considering aspects of your life for which you are thankful can help you to develop a positive perspective. Practicing gratitude in your day to day life.can be a useful skill.
Some things to do:
- Try writing one thing down each day that you were grateful for that day,
- Try to identify the learning opportunity that challenges present
- Express gratitude to someone else in small and larger ways When someone helps you, let them know. Try writing a letter to a person who has touched your life in a positive way, explaining the way they have affected you.
- Greater Good Science Center
- CPS article: It's a New year - How Do You Want to spend it?
- Positive thinking (PDF)
4. Self Compassion
What a concept !? We are so used to driving and pushing ourselves that the idea of kindness just doesn’t seem to fit. But when you think about it, bullying ourselves doesn’t necessarily bring out the best in us.
Research is pouring in about the benefits of self compassion. Dr. Kristin Neff (a Cal Alumna) at University of Texas, Austin as well as other global researchers are demonstrating the multiple benefits of self compassion including reduced anxiety, increased resilience and overall better mental health. Don’t believe us… Try it!
- Self compassion (PDF) from the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion
- Compassion training
5. Social Connection
Your relationships with others are key in your staying well.
You may not know it but there really is a place here for you. One of the best things about Cal is our diversity. There are so many different people and places here that opportunity abounds for you to be connected and to shine. If you are a new undergraduate student, reach out to others in your res hall, check out Cesar Chavez Resource Center and consider joining a student group. For graduate students, consider extending your contacts beyond the department and don’t let “imposter syndrome” get in the way of building a community.
While focusing on academics is important it is also important to stay connected to your family and friends. Sometimes when we are stressed or depressed, we isolate ourselves from others, thinking we aren’t in the mood for socializing, feel ashamed, or don’t want to burden others. You are not alone--reach out. stay connected.
- Social support: Tap this tool to reduce stress, MayoClinic.com
- Relationship Stress: Marriage, Relationship Skills & Social Support, About.Com: Stress Management, The New York Times Company
There may not be enough hours in a day to get everything done, but all things being equal, students who get 8 hours of sleep generally outperform those who get 6-7 hours. With the right amount of sleep, people learn and process new information better, are more resilient and are more creative. Memory and performance on mentally challenging task, such as taking exams, benefit from a good night’s sleep
Earning a badge of heroism doesn’t come with sleep deprivation either. Instead lack of sleep contributes to decreased focus and attention, faulty decision making, irritability, anxiety & stress, depression and worsening of Bipolar mood swings. Substances such as nicotine, alcohol, decongestants and pain relievers negatively affect sleep Catching up on sleep or “Sleep Debt” -generally doesn’t work well either.
Our own sleep labs here at Cal (Golden Bear Sleep & Mood Research Clinic) specialize in researching sleep problems! Check them out.
- CPS article: Getting a Good night’s sleep
- Sleep Soundly (Tang webpage on sleep hygiene)
- Napping (PDF)
- Nap Map: Nap spaces at UC Berkeley
- What is the role of sleep in stress?, WebMD video about sleep and stress
7. Healthy Eating
Between hectic class and work schedules, limited resources, lack of cooking know-how, and temptations of late night snacking, eating a balanced nutritious diet can be difficult at UC Berkeley. A good diet keeps your body healthy, promotes good mood, clear thinking and academic performance. While there is no single”right” way to eat, regular meals with a variety of foods(from all of the food groups) and adequate hydration (water is best) is key.
Eating well is important but if your thoughts of food or weight are becoming obessive or distressing, you may be developing disordered eating. Medical, counseling and nutritional support is available at the Tang Center (link to Eating Disorder Clinic). Consider taking a self-assessment or talking to a professional if you are unsure if your eating is a problem.
What's Eating You campaign - for those struggling with eating too much, not eating enough, eating on a budget, food insecurity, body image issues, or just a desire to have better eating habits.
- Find evidence-based information about nutrition and other health topics at the Berkeley Wellness from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health.
- For an online screening and self-guided healthy body image and eating program, check out the Health Body Image program: www.thriveon.com/hbi/berkeley
- Nutrition Services at the Tang Center
- Eating Disorder Clinic - The clinic is an efficient way of providing medical treatment, with providers from different disciplines (the doctor, dietitian, and nurse) all present at one visit. Call (510) 643-7110 to schedule.
- What’s Going on with me? Evaluating Eating and Exercise Habits (PDF)
- 10 Steps to a Positive Body Image(PDF)
- 7 Mindful Eating tips (PDF)
- Know Dieting: Risks and Reasons to Stop (PDF)
- What can you do to Help Prevent Eating disorder (PDF)
- Enhancing Male Body Image (PDF)
- The Body Positive (UC Berkeley Center for Weight and Health)
- Good Nutrition: How to Combat Stress with Good Nutrition, About.Com: Stress Management, The New York Times Company
Do you remember how to play? When you were a kid, you probably enjoyed some type of activity whether it was sports, swimming, dancing, or just a fun bike ride. Play and exercise is important part of life- but you know that! Burning off some energy and getting in tune with your body helps keeps you well balanced physically, emotionally and mentally. Getting out into daylight has also been shown to improve learning and retention of information - seriously (Heschong 1999 & Dartmouth U 2012). Take the time to give yourself some play time. The benefits far exceed the time spent.
- Exercise fuels the brain's stress buffers, American Psychological Association
- Compulsive Exercise: What’s going on (PDF)
- Excercise Reduces Stress, Greater Good Science Center
9. Time Management
Time flies by, without our permission. How you manage your time can have a big impact on your academic sucess at Cal and can be an important factor in your level of stress.
These days, use of technology can play a large role in procrastination. Texting, email, facebook, and computer games, while serving as distractions from academic work, can become time-consuming and addictive. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize when it has become a problem and what to do to control use. Consider keeping a log of your non-work related internet use, set goals, and replace some of your internet time with healthy activities such as spending time with a friend or taking a walk.
- Time Management Guide - time management skill and techniques
- Stop Sabotaging your Time Management - handout by Univeristy of Minnesota, Glenn Hirsch
- Procrastination links:
10. Career Planning
When you feel good about your career goals you tend to enjoy yourself more. You will be more engaged in your classes, more likely to talk to your professors and more engaged in your education.
Career decision-making can sometimes be a source of stress for both undergraduate and graduate students at UC Berkeley. Many students struggle to choose a major and find themselves caught between their own interests and the expectations of others. Even students who were once certain of their goals can suddenly find themselves confused , overwhelmed or questionning their choices. Taking time to explore yourself and your options can be an important part of being focused and well.