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Wellbeing 101

Jun 7, 2018 | 8 min read
Hello world! I'm Niesh's Head of Student Engagement and I run our ON Event Series. My expertise ranges from food all the way to sharing knowledge on how to make the most of your student experience.

IN RESPONSE TO THE EVER-LOOMING CHAOTIC EXAM SEASON, HERE ARE MY TOP PICKS OF WELLBEING FOCUSED INITIATIVES AROUND NZ UNIVERSITIES.

Every year leading up to exam time it feels like there’s a little bubble inside me starting to grow bigger and bigger, to the point where it feels like it’s going to burst.

That little bubble? It’s called stress.

Whether that’s stress from worrying about not getting the grades I want, worrying that I don’t have enough time to study, worrying about not being able to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Hell, even worrying about worrying too much. Stress is stress regardless.

And too much stress = no bueno.

So in response to the chaotic times surrounding end-of-semester tests and exams, I’ll be outlining a couple of wellbeing focused initiatives around some NZ universities that students can utilise throughout the year!


Wellbeing Events

University of Auckland

If you’ve ever seen bouncy castles near OGGB and wondered why, it’s part of UoA’s annual Stress Less Week, designed to allow students “time to connect with friends, get a little active or drop everything for five minutes and switch off”. Events that have taken place in previous years include:

  • ‘Chill Out Zone’ (Old Barracks Lawn/The Quad) – as the name suggests, an area to chill with friends which also includes games and bean bags. 
  • ‘Dogs on Campus’ (The Quad) – a pet and play session with some of the cutest furry friends around to help take the stress away from everyday life.

AUT

AUTSA regularly holds a range of wellness events that you can follow on their Facebook page. For example, last year marked the first time that they held the Wellbeing Week at AUT. Activities that took place across all campuses included origami, badminton and clay shops.

Mental Health Awareness Week was also a success, with pop-up events such as:

  • Campus kai (make your own sandwich/salad)
  • Sustainability – Garden tours and planting activity (North & South)
  • Cut Above – Free hair cuts (City)
  • AUT Gym – Gym open days

Victoria University of Wellington

According to a recent report from WHO, engaging with the arts is beneficial for both mental and physical health, and other studies show dancing elevates mood and increases self-esteem and wellbeing.

That’s why the annual Glow Zumba event exists! For a small fee ($5 for group exercise members, everyone else $10), you can dress up in neon or white to glow, get creative with the neon paint station, and enjoy a Latin-inspired, high energy, cardio-dance workout.

Dates will be released soon; in the meantime, check out more events here.

University of Otago

You may or may not know this, but OUSA runs a Cuddle Fix programme! What exactly is this, you ask? Well, it’s a series of sessions held in association with Cat Rescue Dunedin and the SPCA which give you some time to cuddle up with the cutest kitties and goodest boys™ around, and help take your mind off of everything.

No bookings are required, and sessions are free to attend (but charity donations are much appreciated!) There are even different sessions for feline lovers and canine lovers. For exact details on the times and venues, check it out here

Wellbeing Groups

University of Auckland

UoA offers a range of wellbeing groups which aim to support students throughout the semester, for example, the Queer men’s group (1 & 29 April, 6 & 13 May):

How often do guys have the opportunity to discuss their thoughts and experiences? Each week a topic of discussion is raised including friendships, sexuality, gender, relationships, coming out, culture, and family. 

For a full list of groups that you can register to join, check it out here

AUT

Bright Side is a space for AUT students designed to “explore how we can develop better self-knowledge, a greater sense of purpose and meaning, and achieve the life we dream of.” Basically, they hold a lot of regular group programmes and 30-minute express classes of which many are wellbeing-focused:

  • De-Stress 30-minute classes – quick tips on how to notice stress in your body, identify reasons behind your struggle(s) and learn some concrete exercises to help.
  • Practice presence – learn how to be present in the moment, reduce stress levels, and gain practical tips to maintain calm in your life.

Check out Bright Side’s upcoming group programmes here.

Victoria University of Wellington

A range of workshops and groups are run throughout the year to help students develop skills to improve their overall health and wellbeing while studying at uni, and these are all led by experienced facilitators. For example, Sleep Tips and Tricks (2 April, 15 May, 23 July, 15 September):

This 90-minute workshop is ideal if you experience sleep difficulties that interfere with study, or if you want to understand more about sleeping well. Learn how to engage helpful behaviours that establish a good sleep routine (and how to nap judiciously!)

For a full list of workshops and groups, check it out here.

University of Otago

There’s no doubt that joining groups help to build strong social support networksand provide both mental and physical benefits. OUSA has many groups available to join, and if you’re looking for something that will give you the tools to manage stress and tap into your own confidence, why not try The Meditation Club (weeknights, OUSA Rec Centre):

An introductory course for students by trained teachers. This is a combined class which includes yoga, relaxation techniques, tuition and practice on meditation. Classes are free for students, and are 1-1.5 hours long. All necessary gear is supplied!

Counselling and Support Services

University of Auckland

UoA counselling services are completely free for domestic students and for international students with the right insurance plan. There are three types of services:

  1. General Support – if you have any issues that are impacting your studies, complete this questionnaire. Usually these counselling sessions will run for 2-3 sessions in order to help get you back on track.
  2. Academic Support – if you need help applying for compassionate consideration for tests or exams, late deletions or withdrawals. Counselling offers a 30-minute appointment to help you with the process. All you need to do is call reception on 09 923 7681.
  3. Urgent Support – on-the-day appointments are available to those at high risk and need to see a counsellor immediately, just call the number above.

AUT

If you’re concerned about your mental health, AUT offers free counselling services to all students. Sessions are confidential and delivered by professional counsellors, and you can also bring a support person with you to your appointment.​ A Mental Health Advisor can also offer practical advice and if you need other services, they can liaise with them to support your needs.

There are two ways to make an appointment:

  • ​Phone ​09 921 9292 or
  • Go to the reception in WB Level 2, City Campus

Victoria University of Wellington

Student Counselling provides confidential short-term counselling for students at Vic. And for most students, it’s completely free! To make an appointment, visit the Mauri Ora reception at Kelburn or Pipitea or call 04 463 5308.

For academic support duty counsellors are also available for on-the-day appointments from 1–4 pm Monday to Friday, and 8.30 am–4.30 pm Monday to Friday through the exam period. Pro tip: arriving before 1 pm during busy times can help secure a duty appointment!

University of Otago

The Student Health service at Otago provides short-term mental health support and counselling to students who need it. To book an appointment with a mental health clinician, call reception on 0800 479 821.

Even if you just need a friendly face to talk to, OUSA Student Support is a great way to seek help with any concerns or questions about uni life – from flatting issues to personal safety. Simply drop in and see the team at OUSA Student Support Centre. Best of all, their services are completely free and confidential.


Additional resources for any student in NZ:

  • TheLowdown – Free 24/7 helpline. Call, text, email or chat. Whatever’s going on you’ll find ideas and people who can help you get unstuck.
  • 1737 – New Zealand’s new national mental health and addictions helpline number.
  • Headspace – Meditation made simple.
  • Smiling Mind – Free mindfulness app.
  • All Right? – Wellbeing tools, tips, shop, and resources for Cantabrians.

At Niesh, we heavily value taking care of your mind, body and soul. Above are some great resources that students can utilise. If you know a friend that is struggling, we strongly encourage you to share this knowledge with them.