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Awareness goes beyond using our senses - it’s knowing how and when to use our strengths, respect our limitations, practice mindfulness, and opt for gratitude.

Having a sense of awareness of ourselves, and our community, is an important part of well-being. It allows us to have deeper connections as well as enhanced perspectives and experiences. Awareness goes beyond using our senses - it’s knowing how and when to use our strengths, respect our limitations, practice mindfulness, and opt for gratitude. Below are some ways to cultivate more awareness.

Take time to reflect on your morals, values, and beliefs and how you can grow or learn more about yours and others’. Some tips:
  • Practice journaling or other reflection activities to explore and learn your personal morals, values, and beliefs – including where they might come from and why (for example, try the Power Flower activity), or find some helpful prompts online. Also, be open to understanding how your values and beliefs can impact others and find ways to make space as appropriate.
  • Participate in activities that connect your mind and body, like mindfulness, meditation, or prayer. On campus, you can try Creative Collective activitives, drop in to a Mindfulness Mediation class, connect to the Multifaith Centre, or book with a counsellor to guide you more on this.
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Mindfulness is an awareness that arises from paying attention to the present moment and your physical and mental experience in that moment, without judgement. Practicing mindfulness can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and improve relationships, memory, and concentration. Some tips:
  • Look for opportunities to practice mindfulness throughout the day – like when you’re eating or walking so your mind can fully experience what you’re doing in the moment. Find an app or recording to guide you if needed.
  • Take 5 deep breaths in and out, and try to keep your mind focused on the feeling of your breath as it moves in and out. Repeat as much as you’d like throughout the day.
  • Take a few minutes to imagine or remember a place where you feel happy, calm, and at peace. When you find yourself feeling stressed, take time to imagine yourself there. Draw or write out what it looks like using this template.
  • Make time for creativity and explore one of the activities offered by Creative Collective or use this guide to blend creativity with productivity using a bullet journal.
Strengths are positive traits that are shown through one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Use your strengths to help you function at your best, and notice strengths in your community to find value and support:
  • Go online and complete a strengths survey, such as the VIA Character Strengths tool, to learn more about your attributes and how to maximize them.
  • Take a moment to think about one of your personal strengths—for instance, creativity, perseverance, or kindness, and consider how you could use this strength in a new way or to help others.
  • Each night for a week, reflect on how you used your strengths throughout the day. How did it make you feel? How did it make others feel?
  • Be conscious of using your strengths respectfully (i.e. too much curiosity may result in nosiness, too much humility may result in self-deprecation).
  • Reflect on the people close to you, and notice their strengths. Practice recognizing and valuing the strengths you see in others, and notice how their strengths add to your life.
Gratitude has one of the strongest links to positive mental health and satisfaction with life of any personality trait. When appropriate, you can practice gratitude by noticing, appreciating, and being thankful for the things and people of value in your life:
  • Write down a few things you can see, smell, taste, touch and hear using a Bliss List.
  • Before you go to sleep, write down three things you’re grateful for from your day (these don’t need to be big things; they can be as simple as being grateful for a warm cup of coffee).
  • Try starting a “Thankful Thursdays” - a weekly gratitude practice with friends or colleagues that encourage you each to share what you are thankful for on a regular basis.
  • Create a gratitude jar. Write one thing you are grateful for on a piece of paper everyday and place it in the jar. You can look back at it whenever you need to, or share one with a friend or roommate to keep motivated.
  • Feel connected to your community: list places, practices, and people you’re grateful for that keep you grounded, connected, and full.
  • At the end of the day ask yourself: how did I help someone today? Find gratitude in the ability to show up for others.

Reminder: Sometimes it can be hard to find space for awareness, especially as you witness or experience challenging situations. Cultivating a sense of awareness is helpful but it is not a solution to complex issues or situations. It’s okay to feel this way and it may signify you could benefit from support in other ways like through connecting with Health & Counselling, My SSP, or other relevant support options.

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Dec 6, 2023

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