DCU Healthy - Your Wellbeing 2021.2022

DCU Healthy aims to provide students and staff a space to support your own wellbeing, in a proactive way.

We know a return to campus is a big change for everyone, please remember to go easy on yourself as we transition back!

Please keep an eye our for health and wellbeing initiatives 2021.20222 below.

DCU Healthy

DCU Healthy aims to provide students and staff a space to support your own wellbeing, in a proactive way. We also try to enable change at a strategic level to better support you. 

We work with schools and units across the university to either highlight existing wellbeing initiatives or create new ones. 

Health is created in the places where we 'live, learn, work, play and love' - The Ottawa Charter 1986. 

Our Vision

'By 2022, DCU will be recognised as a university that champions and promotes the health and wellbeing of its shared community'

DCU Healthy Charter
DCU Healthy Framework

We are actively working with the HSE and Healthy Ireland as part of the Healthy Campus Framework. 

Image of yellow flowers in a meadow

Mindfulness at DCU

Our lunchtime guided meditation practice returns for Semester One 2021.2022!

You will need to register for each session below:

Open to all students & staff. 

 

Counselling and Personal Development's 4 Week Mindfulness Course takes place Oct 20th - Nov 10th, open to all students and staff. More information here

 

 

Man sitting in lotas position

We are really excited to share with DCU students and staff our four week 'Yoga at Home' series, starting April 7th. We know this time of year can be stressful for students and staff so we decided to make our yoga classes more accessible.

 

We have put together a series of morning and evening yoga sessions, 10, 15 and 20 minutes long. Every week we will add one morning and one evening session for you to practice. 

This series is exclusive to DCU students and staff and you must have a valid dcu email address to register.

To sign up for our yoga videos click this link

DCU Little Things

The DCU Little Things is a mental health and wellbeing campaign based on the little things DCU students do every day to support your wellbeing.

We conducted focus groups with students and used  information from the national HSE Little Things campaign to come up with our 10 themes. 

The aim is that these little things will encourage, support and remind you that doing simple things every day can really support you mentally and physically.

'Go for walk' with three footprints

#1 DCU Little Things

Walking and exercise is a proven way to boost your mood. A 10 min walk will help you feel alert, re-energized and in good humour. 

  • Aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day
  • Move from your desk every 30 - 60 minutes
  • Walk in nature 
  • Give yourself a goal or challenge
  • Walk in nature
'Healthy Food' with icon of an apple

#2 DCU Little Things

Staying at home more may change your eating habits. Aim to eat a balanced, nutritious diet with food you enjoy!

  • Eat at similar times every day
  • Reflect on the amount of food you are eating, how active are you?
  • Add fruits & vegetables to every meal
  • Aim for 3-4 servings of quality protein foods a day. Include protein at breakfast
  • Cut back on processed & takeaway foods
  • Reflect on how much alcohol you drink
  • Choose high fibre & high probiotic foods
  • Learn to cook new meals
  • Avoid fad diets
  • Drink more water
  • Make meals enjoyable, add friends or music!
'Tea' with cup icon

#3 DCU Little Things

Taking time out for a cup of tea can really support your wellbeing. It can be an important act of self-care and can help us slow down.

  • Use the time to take a break from study
  • Why not use the time to boil the kettle to stretch
  • Try herbal and decaf teas
  • Use it as a chance to connect with a friend or family member
  • Drink your tea mindfully
'Sleep' with a thought bubble and 'zzzz'

#4 DCU Little Things

When we don’t get enough sleep we become tired, irritable, and it can have a big impact on our mood. 

  • Try getting to sleep before midnight. This allows for longer non-REM sleep, important for cognitive function
  • Exposure to sunlight is important. Get outside as early in the day as possible, this can help your sleep-wake cycle
  • Try reduce your screen time throughout the day
  • Avoid using your phone first or last thing at night
  • Remember alcohol, caffeine & stress can disrupt your sleeping patterns
  • Try a meditation for sleep
  • Aim to get up and go to bed at the same time

 

'Book or music' in text with an icon of two stacked books

#5 DCU Little Things

    Reading a book or listening to music can be great ways to look after yourself and take time out. 

    Reading strengthens the muscles in your brain and can help you wind down after a long, stressful day. Listening to music can boost your mood and help improve your memory

    • Make a playlist with all of your favourite songs
    • Read books recommended by friends or others you admire
    • Join a virtual book club or set one up with friends
    • Download an ebook from DCU Library
    'Journaling' captioned with icon of a pen

    #6 DCU Little Things

    Journaling is a great way to enhance self-awareness. It allows you to express yourself, release stress, build a buffer between negative thoughts, and identify and accept emotions. 

    When journaling try be radically honest with and about yourself when. No one else will see it, so there’s no need to try to “look good” on the page.

    • Try to write regularly
    • Make it easy, use a notepad or your phone
    • Write whatever feels right. Your journal doesn’t need to follow any certain structure
    • Integrate gratitude and or positive affirmations into your writing. Start with 3 things you are grateful for each time you write or include positives about yourself e.g. I am kind
    'Filter social media' in text with an icon of a like and love emoji

    #7 DCU Little Things

    Who we follow and the content that appears on our screens can impact our mental health & wellbeing, including our self-esteem and body image. It also promotes a lot of mixed messages when it comes to our health. 

    • Follow accounts that give you content you enjoy & makes you feel good
    • Follow reputable people for health information e.g. a registered dietitian for nutrition advice
    • Unfollow accounts that make you feel bad about yourself
    • Unfollow accounts that you compare yourself to
    • If you don’t want to unfollow someone directly, use the mute function
    'Healthy relationships' captioned with an icon of two hands holding

    #8 DCU Little Things

    Having a happy, positive relationship is good for your wellbeing. Relationships can include family, friends, colleagues or your boyfriend or girlfriend.

    In a healthy relationship you should feel:

    • positive and comfortable about yourself
    • confident and equal
    • loved, respected, supported, safe, trusted, and useful
    • that your views and opinions are respected, even if you disagree on something
    • Chat with a trusted friend if you are worried about your relationship

     

    'Drink less alcohol' caption with icon of a glass of fizzy drink

    #9 DCU Little Things

    Alcohol is a depressant drug and can numb difficult feelings, so if you notice when you're stressed or upset you might have the urge to drink. The truth is alcohol will often leave us feeling worse. 

    • If you’re feeling stressed or another uncomfortable emotion, try out one of our other tips to help you self soothe 
    • Choose a non alcoholic alternative
    • Mix up your routine around alcohol
    • Avoid the temptation to buy alcohol when you’re shopping
    • Take the HSE Self Assessment Tool
    'Check in with friends' in text with icon of a phone and a speech bubble

    #10 DCU Little Things

    We’re in an unusual time in our lives, and now more than ever we need to check in with each other. Listening can really help support a friend and remember you don’t have to fix anything. Being there for friends can also support your wellbeing by increasing things like your self-confidence.

    • Spend quality time with friends
    • Reach out, message or call a friend you haven't talked to in a while
    • Be open, ask simple questions
    • If someone is talking about a problem try not to give advice
    • If you’re concerned about your friend chat to someone, another friend or family member

    Home STI Test Kits of Dublin, Cork and Kerry 

    The HSE and SH:24 are partnering to offer free chlamydia, gonorrhoea, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, syphilis and HIV home test kits as part of a new pilot project, which aims to find out how online services can help support people’s sexual health.

    Home STI tests will be available to order online for residents of County Dublin, Cork and Kerry until 9th May 2021. After this the project will then be evaluated.

    A minimum of 200 home tests will be available every day (7 days a week). 

    Order a test kit here.

    If you are outside these counties or have any other sexual wellbeing related questions please contact your local STI clinic

    Find out more about SH:24 

    Who can access postal STI testing as part of this pilot? 

    People aged 17+ in County Dublin, Cork or Kerry can access a postal STI test while the pilot is live, from January 2021 until Spring / Summer 2021. An STI test kit can be ordered on the SH:24.ie website and sent to a person's home. Instructions are provided on how to complete the test kit, with support available from SH:24’s clinical team by phone or text message. A stamped addressed envelope is provided to post the completed test kit back to the lab. People will receive their results within 72 hours of their samples arriving at the lab.

    Anyone who has a positive result will be supported by SH:24’s clinical team to access one of the participating clinics in this pilot:

    Dublin:

    • GUIDE Clinic, St. James’s Hospital
    • Mater Misericordiae University Hospital (MMUH)
    • St. Vincent's University Hospital (SVUH)

    Cork and Kerry:

    • South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital (SIVUH)
    Why is the pilot project only available in Dublin, Cork &Kerry? 

    The pilot project is designed to look at the feasibility and impact of online sexual health services, which will give us information on whether a national online service might be the type of service we provide in the future.

    The pilot sites were selected to ensure a mix of urban and rural settings so that data could inform decisions about what a service available across Ireland may look like.

    Image of a person holding a cup of coffee

    Wellbeing at Home - a webinar series with DCU Healthy

    DCU Healthy hosted a series of 30 minute lunchtime webinars, every Tuesday and Thursday, throughout semester one.

    We have so many valued experts across the University that we wanted to share some useful information and tips that you can use to support your own wellbeing. 

    We hope these sessions provide you with valuable information, motivation or at least an enjoyable 30 mins!

    Enjoyed our sessions? Please take 2 minutes to support the work we do 'Wellbeing at Home - Survey'

    Topic Area

                        Title

    Facilitator

    Physical Activity

    The Psychology of Getting and Staying Physically Active 

    Dr Cameron Peers

    Physical Activity

    Building Movement into your Day

    Ciara McCormack

    Physical Activity

    Why Muscle is Important for Health - at home training tips

    David Nolan

    Physical Activity

    Running for Beginners- staying injury free and more

    Sarah Dillon

    Healthy Eating

    Eating Well During Lockdown

    Dr Brendan Egan

    Mental Health & Wellbeing; Sexual Wellbeing

    Social Distancing in the Singledom Pandemic: How do I Date in Lockdown?

    Dr Ray O'Neill

    Mental Health & Wellbeing; Sexual Wellbeing

    Relationships: Love in a Time of Covid: What do we want to emerge from our cocooned relationships?

    Dr Ray O'Neill

    Mental Health & Wellbeing

    Balance and Routine while Working from Home

    Susan Madigan

    Mental Health & Wellbeing

    Maintaining social connectedness while we socially distance

    Dr Sinead Smyth

    Mental Health & Wellbeing

    Wellbeing and Well Becoming: Self-Care Practices for Wellbeing

    Dr Paul King & Dr Maeve O'Brien

    Mental Health & Wellbeing

    Healthy Self Resourcing - When & Why

    Helena Ahern

    Mental Health & Wellbeing

    Practical techniques to ease stress and reconnect with the body

    Barrie McEntee

    Mental Health & Wellbeing

    Emotional Regulation during uncertain times

    Dr Liam 

    MacGabhann

    Alcohol

    Rethinking drinking: how can we live with and without alcohol?

    Dr Mark Philbin

    Tobacco

    Smoking Habits & Quit Smoking: a focus on nicotine replacement therapy

    Dr Stella Vlachou & Dr Keith Rochfort

    Sleep

    Improve Sleep from A to Zzzzz

    Dr Anna Donnla O'Hagan & Mark Germaine

    Top 5 Tips for University from Home

    Now more than ever we all be spending more time studying and working from home.

    Check out these 5 top tips from our Occupational Therapist Susan Madigan, it's really helpful on guiding you through your day!

    A routine is a balanced mix of activities, which for students usually means classes, group work, library, work, sports and socialising. Lots of people are missing their normal routine, and it’s really important that you create your own. 

    Expect that your productivity may fluctuate, but don’t let the perfect be the enemy of progress. It’s easy to fall into the trap of “I got nothing done today, the whole week is ruined, I’m going to fail” instead, try and get things finished, rather than make things perfect. Here are some tips:

    • Identify what you absolutely need to get done. Also what you’d like to get done. You may not know everything yet, but stick down what you do know on a big list. 

    • Use your best time of day to study. You don’t have to work around the clock, if afternoons are good for you, work then, and maybe get a good walk in the morning. You should also consider your online lectures schedule and work around that. 

    • Use a whiteboard/diary/planner or google calendar to begin to plan your time. Start with what you’ll do today, and then tomorrow, and work out from there. 

    • The more specific the better. If you’re not specific, you’re more likely to procrastinate. Don’t just say “I’ll do french”, plan what module, assignment, or question you’ll work on. 

    • Build in breaks and movement. Try out these 10 minute stretching videos we have developed 

    • Plan breaks

    All this planning can help with motivation - when you plan your day, you can see that you have the time and opportunity to get things done.

    Staying active is more important than ever. With gyms closed and most of us at home, you might find your day more sedentary. Stretching and exercising will be a valuable tool looking after your physical and mental wellbeing. It is also a great time to look at your relationship to exercise and try out new things. You can use this time to explore your motivations for exercise, what works for you and new ways of motivating yourself. Habits you create now will benefit you now but also when we return to our normal routines. 

    Add it to your plan and do something you enjoy!
     

    Here are some tips to staying active:

    • Think about what time of day suits you best, then add it in your schedule or to do list
    • Mix up your days, maybe walk every second day
    • Do yoga, it will really support your emotional wellbeing
    • Go for a walks near your home
    • Video call a friend and time your walk together
    • Follow reputable personal trainers
    • Join live workouts on Instagram
    • Challenge yourself, download a couch to 5km or 10,000 steps challenge
    • Set up WhatsApp Workout group with friends for motivation and ideas
    • Have fun, listen to your favourite tunes

    Some recommendations: 

    During this time of uncertainty it’s important to focus on the here and now which will help you manage feelings of worry. It will also help you focus, clear your mind and lower your heart rate. 

    Breathing

    A great place to start is with the breath. Try this one minute breathing exercise https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9Q8D6n-3qw

    Managing worry or anxiety:

    If you are worrying a lot at the moment, firstly, that is normal, we are in a very unusual situation. But that doesn’t mean that worry should take over. If your worry is getting in the way of you doing things, it's time to take action. Try one of the following out - Try to reframe this time to look at the benefits: more time, and the opportunity to create healthy habits and develop personal skills

    • Mindfulness - discussed in more detail below. If you’re having trouble getting started, just breathe along with this video for 1 minute, twice a day video
    • Sensory Activities are key to managing worry. They can help bring us from a dysregulated state to a regulated state (from being too agitated to just right)
      • Visit a virtual museum to feed your visual sense
      • listen to relaxing music to help bring the heart rate down
      • Have a bath or shower - the pressure of the water is scientifically calming
      • light a scented candle, appreciate the smell, and watch the flame for 1 minute of mindfulness
    • Proprioception is one of our seven senses, it means our awareness of the position and movement of our body, and how our muscles work. When we use our muscles, messages are sent to our brain that we are grounded, making it especially calming. Doing any proprioceptive work (heavy muscle work), is very calming. Examples include swimming, running, weights, yoga and pilates. Most of which we can do anywhere! Another good example is deep breathing. Deep breathing engages several muscle groups around the ribcage and stomach, and breathing out through pursed lips, likewise engages all the small muscles of the bottom part of the face. That is why deep breathing is calming.  
    • Talk to someone. Discuss your worries with someone that is calm, and won’t exacerbate your feelings. Don’t forget about the phone, stay in touch with friends and family. Remember DCU Student Support & Development is open throughout the current situation, just get in touch by phone or email, or check out the individual websites. 

    It’s a really important time to connect and stay in touch with friends, virtually.

    Use your DCU Zoom to organise a lunch date with friends, whatsapp and where possible meet friends for walks, check current public health guidelines and use these to guide how to connect.

    However it may also be important to establish boundaries around the time you spend on social media. Try putting your phone away for half hour blocks and restrict the amount of times you check the news or put your phone on flight mode while you study.

    Remember there are lots of support services available to you through Student Support & Development, even though we are not physically together on campus you can still access these virtually, email or phone. Services include:

    Check out SS&D for more information. 

    DCU Sports and Wellbeing through DCU Athletics and DCU Healthy have set up a virtual walking/ running/ cycling community on Strava.

    We aim to motivate staff and students to move more both on campus or at home. This is a community for everyone, no matter your level, everyone is welcome! 

    Click here to join

    Icon for strava app

    Studying and working from home more means we are sitting more. We've collaborated with DCU Sport to get you moving. 

    Have you moved from your desk? try out these 10 minute stretching videos

    Your mental health and wellbeing is something DCU takes seriously. Student Support and Development have lots of supports available to you including a Counselling and Personal Development Service

     

    COVID 19 has brought new life challenges and these changes can disrupt our normal routines.

    Remember how resilient you are, you have power and strength far beyond your awareness. 

    Is the matter an emergency?
    Call Samaritans 116 123 - 24 hours; 7 days a week; free

    We all have mental health, something we can forget. If you broke your arm you would automatically know to rest, be kind to yourself and talk to friends and family. The same should go for your mental health.

    Just like our physical health there are things we can do every day to support us, little things. 

    Tips to coping with COVID 19 including taking breaks from the news, taking time to unwind, moving your body, setting goals and priorities, focus on the facts, connect with others

    Technology is an amazing thing, it's brought so much to enhance our lives. During this pandemic it has been an important source of connection as well as a means for us to study or work remotely.

    However we must remember there is a downside. It is important that we balance our use of technology and social media in a way that bests supports us.

    DCU Healthy Tips:

    • Consider all the applications you have, do you need them all?
    • Remove notifications, including daily COVID cases
    • Delete social media applications but not your account
    • Unfollow or mute people or pages that do not make you feel good
    • Try reading a book or listening to music last thing at night

     

    Avoid Aclohol #HealthyAtHome

    Avoid Alcohol #HealthyAtHome

    Eat a Variety of Food

    Eat a Variety of Food #HealthyAtHome

    Cut Back on Salt

    Cut back on Salt #HealthyAtHome

    Fats

    Eat Moderate amount of Fats #HealthyAtHome

    Reduce Sugar Consumption

    Reduce Sugar Consumption #HealthyAtHome

    Stay Hydrated

    Stay Hydrated #HealthyAtHome

    DCU Marchathon 2021

    DCU Healthy, DCU Sustainability and DCU Sports & Wellbeing
    This year’s Marchathon ran from 1st - 28th of March, a fun step challenge aimed at getting you moving this Spring. 
    Overall, DCU had the most ever participants for an NTA walking challenge and we would like to thank all of you for taking part and making this a great Marchathon!

    DCU Winners

    A huge congratulations to Insight-DCU-S.W.A.T.T who are our overall DCU winners and who have won this year's top prize -  Smart Watches

    A further congrats to Declan Hynes who won the Week 4 Challenge: 70,000 steps.

    The Best Photo for Daffodil Day prize goes to Eabhnat Ní Fhloinn. A DCU Marchathon Pack is on it’s way to you. We raised over 40e for Daffodil Day so a huge thank you to everyone who posted pictures of their daffadoils. 

     

    Suggestions Form:

    The Suggestions Form is still open so please send us any and all feedback.

    Prizes

    Week 1 Challenge Winners - Best Team Name

    Le Cirque du Sore Legs'  - congrats to Eugenio, Alessia, Christian and Nickolas - we will contact you directly about your prize packs sponsored by DCU Healthy, DCU Sports and Wellbeing and DCU Sustainability.

     

    Follow Marchathon on Social Media:

     

     

    Our Top Tips for Walking

    • Wear comfy shoes
    • Listen to music or a podcast
    • Make a playlist to share with your team
    • Spread your steps out over the day (morning and evening walks)
    • Create a ‘virtual travel’ goal with your team (i.e walk from Dublin to Cork/New York!)

    For information on the benefits of physical activity go to DCU Sports and Wellbeing/Move Healthy

    Walking Podcasts

    Here are some suggestions for things to listen to while walking

    • Reboot Republic “The Hope-cast for progress from Rory Hearne & Tony Groves. This Republic of Opportunity needs a Reboot. Change is in the air.”
    • The Guilty Feminist “Join comedian Deborah Frances-White and her special guests as they discuss topics “all 21st century feminists agree on” while confessing their insecurities, hypocrisies and fears that underlie their lofty principles.”
    • DCU Careers Podcast “DCU Careers Service brings you Career Conversations, a podcast series that unpacks and explains how to advance your career. Episodes focus on how to get hired, with panel discussions on developing your career, as well as interviews with employers and entrepreneurs.”
    • Shaping New Mountains From author of Whittled Away: Ireland’s Vanishing Nature, Pádraic Fogarty has a new podcast on Irish Wildlife, the biodiversity crisis and nature recovery
    • The Guardian Science Weekly A collection of the latest science stories, great for 30 minute walks.
    • Popcorn Culture - Brothers Ben and J Carlin discuss movies and other things in this easy listening podcast.

     

    Have a journal article to read but want to get some steps in?

    The library offers Sensus Access. This is an auto document converter that allows users to convert slides/images of text/pdf/journal articles into a more accessible format. There is a range of formats that can be accessed including MP3.

    Have your say:

    We have created a survey where you can add in your suggestions for podcasts or things to listen to while walking.

    It includes a few quick questions on how we are doing - Do you like our tips of the week, podcast suggestions…? 

    Your suggestions here.