What's your #bewellcal game plan?

University Health Services encourages UC Berkeley students to have a plan for taking care of themselves in all aspects of their lives and throughout the academic year.

The goal is to support students in living balanced and fulfilled lives. Taking care of yourself translates to being more successful 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. We encourage you to take charge of your 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 these resources in a way that works for you and fits with your experience.

Managing Stress

UC Berkeley students face high amounts of stress. Whether we like it or not, stress will always be a part of our lives. So it’s not about avoiding stress but knowing yourself (your limits and your strengths) and being proactive. 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.

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Building Resilience

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 is how we choose to deal with them.  

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.

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Practicing Gratitude

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 tips for practicing gratitude: 

  • Write down one thing each day that you were grateful.   
  • 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. 

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Becoming Self-Compassionate

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 (UC Berkeley Alumna) at the 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!

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Making Social Connections

Your relationships with others are key to staying well. 

You may not know it but there really is a place here for you. One of the best things about UC Berkeley 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 residence hall, check out Cesar Chavez Resource Center and consider joining a student group. For graduate students, consider extending your contacts beyond the department to build 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.

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Getting Enough Sleep

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, and are more resilient, and more creative. Memory and performance on a 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 and stress, depression, and worsening 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. 

Here at UC Berkeley, we have our own sleep labs (Golden Bear Sleep & Mood Research Clinic) that specialize in researching sleep problems!

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Creating Nutrition Plans

Between hectic schedules, limited resources, and lack of cooking know-how, eating a nutritious meal can be difficult. While there is no "right" way to eat, regular meals with a variety of foods (from all food groups) and adequate hydration are key.

Eating well is important but if your thoughts about food become obsessive or distressing, you may be developing disordered eating. Medical, counseling, and nutritional support are available at UHS. Consider taking a self-assessment or talking to a professional if you are unsure if your eating is a problem.

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Moving Your Body

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 physical activity are an important part of life! Burning off 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 (Heschong 1999 & Dartmouth U 2012). Take the time to give yourself some playtime. The benefits far exceed the time spent.

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Developing Time Management Skills

Time flies by, without our permission. How you manage your time can have a big impact on your academic success at UC Berkeley and can be an important factor in your level of stress.

These days, the use of technology can play a large role in procrastination. Texting, email, social media, 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. 

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Planning Your Career

When you feel good about your career goals you tend to enjoy yourself more. You will be more engaged in your classes and education and more likely to talk to your professors.

Career decision-making can 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 questioning their choices. Taking time to explore yourself and your options can be an important part of being focused and healthy. 

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