International Pronouns Day

The third Wednesday of October marks International Pronouns Day.

International Pronouns Day seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace. Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects trans and gender-nonconforming people. Everyone has the right to be addressed by the name and pronouns that correspond to their gender identity, including the use of non-binary/neutral pronouns (e.g., they/them). Recent research finds that referring to people in the ways they wish to be referred to can have positive health outcomes for trans people.

Using your own pronouns when introducing yourself or in your email signature tells everyone that you are not going to assume their gender. It also helps take the burden off of trans and non-binary students to continuously explain their identity. Using pronouns is a key element of being a 2SLGBTQIA+ ally and is something that is effortless to do, but means the world to others. These actions are part of the larger work of creating and sustaining inclusive and supportive communities for everyone.

To learn more about gender orientation and being an ally, visit this page or check out www.mypronouns.org

 

 

International Pronouns Day

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Tis the season for everything pumpkin spice, but not everything has to be unhealthy. Granola sometimes gets a bad wrap, but making it yourself can be the solution to limit the sugar. Homemade granola makes a great breakfast or snack and provides protein, fibre and healthy fats. 

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

  • pumpkin spice granola ingredients2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/4 cups raw pecans
  • 1/3 cup raw pepitas
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (No pumpkin pie spice? No problem, make your own with this recipe)

Wet Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 340 degrees F (171 C).
  • Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  • In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the coconut oil, maple syrup, and pumpkin puree and whisk. Pour over the dry ingredients and quickly mix with a wooden spoon.
  • Spread the mixture evenly onto two baking sheets and bake for 23-30 minutes, stirring a bit near the halfway point. If you prefer chunkier granola, don’t stir as it breaks up the clusters. Instead, just rotate the pans at the halfway point to ensure even cooking.
  • Once the granola is golden brown, remove from oven and let cool completely. It will crisp up as it cools.
  • Transfer to an airtight container. Should keep for a couple of weeks. Enjoy with milk, yogurt, or on top of oats!

Notes

Recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker's Pumpkin Maple Pecan Granola- check out her website for other granola flavours and combos

Pumpkin spice granola

Experiencing COVID FOMO?

Social media has always reinforced the fear of missing out on fun and exciting experiences but before, what you did with FOMO was your own choice. Now, you might not even have the option to partake in the activities others are involved in because precautionary measures are still in place (and for good reason, to keep people safe). Worse even, is that you might be doing your best to follow guidelines while seeing others break them on TikTok, why should you be excluded when you are doing the right thing? The disparity between what you want to do, what you are allowed to do, what you should do and what others are doing can cause anxiety and frustration. 

A difficult part of all this is that you're probably relying, to some degree, on social media to feel connected to your "people" and to your larger community. So you're simultaneously getting the benefits of connection (that may be really hard to get elsewhere at the moment) while also feeling the burn of FOMO. If you are having a hard time finding the balance in your own social media use, here are some tips:

  • Take a brief vacation from social media and connect with people in a more meaningful way than liking their posts- schedule a facetime with a friend, host a virtual game night or happy hour.

  • Text a friend and plan an outdoor get together, or go by yourself. Having adventures of your own will help ease those restless and lonely feelings, making you feel proactive about your life.

  • You might not have control over the outside world or what other people do in it- but you have control over your own actions and mindset. Start a list of things that you enjoy and use it as a to-do list for when you start to feel like you are missing out or are just feeling down. These activities don’t have to be limited to solo or indoor activities- look for events in your community that adhere to health guidelines (If you are in Thunder Bay, the Walleye is a great way to find out things going on in the area!) 

Remember that social media is often a highlight reel: You post the day you go for a hike with the fall foliage, not the day you spent on the couch rewatching The Office for the third time since March. But if we all started posting more of our reality- the loneliness you might feel right now, how you feel overwhelmed by online school, or the take out boxes because you can’t get motivated to cook for one-  we could foster understanding and actual connectedness because whether you post it or not, we are all experiencing it. 



Experiencing COVID FOMO?

Counsellor FAQ's

Thunder Bay campus Student Health and Wellness counsellors, Pat Hrabok, Trudy Kergon, and Irene Pugliese, took some time last week to answer some of the more commonly asked questions they receive from students. If you have questions for a counsellor feel free to book an appointment by emailing health@lakeheadu.ca or calling 807-343-8361 in Thunder Bay, or calling 705-330-4008 ext. 2116 or 2115 in Orillia. 

Talking to a Professor

What is normal when grieving

Looking for course accommodations

Dealing with loneliness during COVID-19

Supports during the pandemic

Flu FAQ's

Flu season is upon us and we are answering some of the commonly asked questions about the flu shot.

Who should get a flu shot?

Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every season with rare exceptions. Flu vaccination has important benefits: It can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths. Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.

Where can I get the flu shot?

In Thunder Bay, students, staff and faculty can get a flu shot at Student Health and Wellness. Call 807-343-8361 to book an appointment. 

In Orillia, anyone can get the flu shot at the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit at the Common Roof located at 169 Front St S. Appointments are necessary. Call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 to book. 

In Ontario, people with provincial health cards are able to get the vaccines from pharmacies, family doctors and public health clinics. 

International students or people without health cards 

  • In Thunder Bay

    • Flu shots will be available from Thunder Bay District Health Unit, Superior EMS or Shoppers Drug Marts. 

  • In Orillia

    • The Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit will be offering clinics. These are set to begin in November. Appointments are necessary. Call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 to book. 

    • The Bell Farm Road clinic will provide vaccinations but will be by appointment only. CALL TELE-CLINIC 705-722-1199.

I’ve never gotten a flu shot before, why should I get it this year?

The flu can take its toll on our health-care system in any given year, but with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there is a risk that hospitals and health-care facilities could become overwhelmed if they need to treat both flu and COVID-19 patients. Getting a flu shot could also help reduce "unnecessary testing" for COVID-19 because several symptoms of both illnesses are similar. So it's vital that people do what they can to reduce their chances of getting it.

The last time I got a flu shot, I got sick. 

Flu vaccines cannot cause flu illness. Flu shots are made with either inactivated (killed) viruses, or with only a single protein from the flu virus. There are several reasons why someone might get flu symptoms, even after they have been vaccinated against the flu.

  • Some people can become ill from other respiratory viruses besides flu such as rhinoviruses, which are associated with the common cold, cause symptoms similar to flu, and also spread and cause illness during the flu season. The flu vaccine only protects against the flu, not other illnesses.

  • While you do start to develop antibodies right away, it takes the body two weeks after the flu shot to develop full immune protection. It is possible that a person might have been exposed to a flu virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during that two week period and that this exposure might have resulted in developing the flu before protection takes effect. That’s why it is important to get your flu shot early on. 

  • Some people may experience flu symptoms despite getting vaccinated is that they may have been exposed to a flu virus that is very different from the viruses the vaccine is designed to protect against. The ability of a flu vaccine to protect a person depends largely on the similarity or “match” between the viruses selected to make the vaccine and those spreading and causing illness. There are many different flu viruses that spread and cause illness among people

  • The final explanation for experiencing flu symptoms after vaccination is that flu vaccines vary in how well they work and some people who get vaccinated still get sick. When that happens though, vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce the severity of illness in those people who get vaccinated but still get sick.

How else can I prevent the spread of the flu?

In addition to getting the flu shot, people can adopt some simple practices (that might sound very familiar) to keep yourself and others healthy:

  • Covering coughs and sneezes

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth

  • Wash your hands often

  • Stay home if you are feeling unwell

  • Practice other healthy habits

    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

    • Get plenty of sleep.

    • Eat well, with lots of vegetables and fruits.

    • Drink lots of fluids.

    • Exercise regularly.

    • Manage your stress.

Sources

 https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/misconceptions.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/vaccinations.htm

https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/flu-vaccine-covid-19-twindemic-what-you-need-to-know-1.5709559

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/actions-prevent-flu.htm

 

Having Sex and Starting Relationships during a Pandemic

Sex is an important part of many people's lives and it's not something that's just going to stop when there's a pandemic, nor should it as long as you are able to engage in sexual activity in low-risk ways. Here are some tips on how to enjoy safer sex while reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19. 

Know how COVID-19 spreads. The virus spreads through particles in the saliva, mucus or breath of people with COVID-19, even from people who do not have symptoms. We still have a lot to learn about COVID-19 and sex. The virus has been found in the semen and feces of people who have tested positive for COVID-19. It is not entirely clear if COVID-19 can be spread through vaginal or anal sex but there is evidence that other coronaviruses do not easily spread through sex. 

That being said- if you are having sex with someone, it is likely that you will be within six feet of each other and you will probably be kissing at the same time, and the virus is passed through saliva. Essentially, any possibility of transfer of coronavirus - from your mouth to your hands, to genitals, to someone else's nose or mouth - increases the risk of passing on coronavirus 

You are your safest sex partner! Take advantage of the chance to get (re)acquainted with your body and have some fun. Remember to wash your hands & any toys with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 

The next safest partner is a consenting partner in your bubble. In Ontario, you can establish a social bubble of no more than 10 people who can interact with one another without physical distancing. Keep in mind that you can’t have multiple bubbles, so if you add someone outside your household, you have to include anyone in their household as well. 

If you are meeting someone new- there are a lot of ways to start and develop a relationship with technology. Try watching the same movie or cooking the same meal and eating together over facetime. Send voice notes instead of texts so you can hear each other. You can also take the next steps in your relationship virtually by sexting, or phone or online sex. If you do decide to meet up IRL, any first dates should be two metres apart. Whether it takes place indoors or outdoors will be up to the people on the date and their comfort levels.

Do your own screening to protect yourself by asking potential partners about symptoms of infection or potential exposures. Approach this conversation the same way you would talk about sexually transmitted diseases before being intimate with someone for the first time: It's a matter-of-fact conversation about your health and that of your potential partners. Before getting physical with a partner, ask them:

  • If they have, or have recently had, symptoms of COVID-19 infection or are at high risk of being exposed to the virus or being a carrier. 

  • Do they have any cold or flu symptoms (cough, fever, shortness of breath)? Have they travelled anywhere in the past 14 days?

  • Have they been exposed or in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 or had symptoms?

  • Do they work in a profession that exposes them to individuals who may have COVID-19 (eg: healthcare workers)?

This isn’t a one-time conversation, it is important to continue to ask these questions each time you plan on getting up close and physical with someone else.

Skip sex if you or your partner are not feeling well, or have been in contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19. If you feel unwell, or even start to feel unwell, avoid kissing, sex or any close contact with others. Follow public health recommendations for isolation & quarantine and contact the appropriate health care provider for the next steps. 

Here are some other ways to lower the chances of being exposed to COVID-19 during sex with others:

  • Consider keeping contact information for your partner(s) so that you can reach them if one of you develops symptoms.

  • Limit alcohol use and other substances so safer decisions can be made.

  • Before and after sex:

    • Wash your body with soap and water.

    • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

    • Wash sex toys thoroughly per the manufacturer’s instructions. Most, but not all, can be cleaned with mild unscented soap and water. Do not share them with multiple partners.

  • Wear a face covering or mask. Heavy breathing during sex can create more droplets that may transmit COVID-19.

  • Avoid or limit kissing and saliva exchange.

  • Be creative with sexual positions and physical barriers, like walls, that allow sexual contact while preventing close face to face contact. 

  • Using condoms, lubricants, and dental dams may help to further reduce the chances by minimizing contact with saliva, semen, feces, blood and/or internal genitalia/vaginal fluids during sex.

Don’t forget COVID-19 is not the only infectious agent to think about, continue to use condoms to prevent transmission of sexually-transmitted infections and an effective method of birth control to prevent an unplanned pregnancy

Although relationships and sex do present a risk during a pandemic, emotional and physical connections can be essential to your overall wellbeing. Assess the risks of dating or having sex the same way you have assessed the risks of going to the grocery store. We should not downplay the importance of human connection because relationships are what help us stay mentally sane through these strange and challenging times.

 

Lindsey Wachter, R.Kin

Health and Wellness Promoter

 

Getting Connected

An individual’s wellbeing and sense of belonging are closely related. Without this feeling of belonging, individuals can feel isolated or lonely, which affects overall wellbeing. Making a connection with others can be especially hard when you are learning remotely.

Make use of your student union.

LUSU's centres provide a supportive and engaging community for students from all kinds of backgrounds. Find like-minded folks who share your experiences and work together to make the world a better place.

  • Aboriginal Awareness Centre

  • Gender Equity Centre

  • Sustainability Initiative

  • Food Bank

  • Pride Central

  • Multicultural Centre

Joining a student club is another opportunity to find others who have similar interests and pursuits as you. You’d be surprised how many clubs LUSU offers and if you don’t find one that piques your interests- you can create your own! 

Learn more about LUSU centres and clubs at LUSU Fest 2020 running this week!

Virtual Study Groups

  • Study groups were always a great way to practice and apply concepts you’re learning in class and to build communication and collaboration skills that are important in the workplace and they might even be more helpful when learning remotely. They create structure and routine for studying, keep you connected with other people, and provide opportunities to get questions answered—and help other students answer questions—outside of office hours.

  • First, you’ll need to find people. There are a number of ways to identify people interested in joining a study group:  

    • Ask your instructor if they’d be willing to post an announcement or start a discussion board thread to collect the names of students interested in joining a study group.  

    • Use discussion board, zoom chat, or other collaborative tools available in your course to find other students interested in forming a study group. 

  • There are many ways to meet with your study group. The best approach is likely to choose a format that all group members are familiar with (Zoom and Google Meet are easily accessed using your Lakehead email account). 

  • Check out this article for more tips on organized a virtual study group. 

Campus Rec at home

  • Campus Rec might not be able to provide their traditional intramurals but you can still compete against fellow Thunderwolves via their online intramurals. You can also join their live and on-demand fitness classes, and Strava activity groups to keep active and motivated.

Explore your new community

Not every connection you make needs to be with someone at Lakehead, getting more comfortable in your city also bolsters your social well-being. Use Facebook or Reddit to find groups with similar interests in your area. If you are living on or near campus, check out the WellU Maps to find out more about what available in the area. 

 

-Lindsey Wachter, R. Kin

Health and Wellness Promoter

laptop with zoom open

Discussing COVID Boundaries

Socializing during the pandemic is complicated- everyone has their own comfort levels with what they are willing to do. It can be difficult if you are not on the same page as friends and family (more so if you live together). The more you can communicate what you expect and what you are comfortable with, the more you will actually get what you want.

When discussing comfort levels with friends and housemates, it can be hard to know what to ask. Below are some questions you can bring up during those conversations.

For Housemates:

  • How are you feeling today?
  • Is it okay if my friend comes over?
  • How many people are you comfortable having over?
  • What should our cleaning routine look like?
  • What is your class schedule?

Going to a Friend's House

  • Should I bring a mask?
  • How many people will be there?
  • Should I bring my own food/drinks?
  • Will we be sitting outside or inside?
  • Who do you live with?

When you invite someone over

  • Do you mind if we stay outside?
  • Can you bring your own _______ (food, drinks, mask)?
  • _________ is going to be here too. Are you comfortable being around other people and wearing a mask?
  • Please wash your hands once you come in. 

Ultimately you cannot control others’ behaviour and you might not be able to agree, you can respect each other's boundaries and be creative with how you can socialize. 

How to Have COVID Conversations

The Balancing Act of Being a Student and a Parent in a Pandemic

Balancing school and parenting is challenging at the best of times, but back to school season during a pandemic is a whole other level of stress. It’s normal to be anxious or feel stressed about how this year will go and while there may not be a perfect solution to excel as a student-parent in the current climate, here are some tips to help:

Set a schedule. Establishing some routines will help you and your children feel more settled. This could include early morning writing time, working during nap times, or studying after children have gone to bed. If your children are older, maybe everyone can have a regular quiet time for studying, reading, listening to music, watching a movie, etc. Consider taking some time on the weekend to plan activities or crafts for small kids that will keep them busy for 30 minutes at a time during the week.

Connect with other students with families. It can be hard for classmates without children to understand the struggles you are having. Reach out to others in your courses or program who are juggling similar priorities right now. They might be able to share the challenges and successes they have had.

Make a study space for yourself where you can leave all your work or school materials. Pinterest has many suggestions on how to create a home office in unconventional spaces. Studying and attending remote lectures will be easier if you don’t have to pack and unpack your computer and books every time.

If you are parenting with a partner, plan how you will share responsibilities so that you have time to dedicate to your schoolwork. If your children are older, discuss how they can help around the house too. Kids may be more committed to a plan that they help make. The plan will look different for every family, but having those conversations sooner than later can be helpful.

If parenting alone, communication is still important. If your kids are old enough, talk to them about how they can help you by giving you some quiet time when you need it. Reassure them that you will spend time with them after you complete your work. For younger kids, squeeze in your own school work during naps or find age-appropriate activities that allow you to work for short periods of time. Be patient- you might not find the right tactic right away and it might take a while to figure out what works best for you and your kids.

Do your best to create and assert healthy boundaries. While this may not always be possible with children who are younger or have complex needs, do what you can to create boundaries where you can. Explore creative solutions to help carve out time for yourself- not just for school work but also to exercise, get outside or to do something you enjoy, remember that self-care isn’t selfish.

Don’t forget this is stressful for your children too. Going back to school is a big change for them as well but there are a lot of resources available to help them deal with the transition:

Give Yourself a Break. Even if you follow all these tips, there will probably be some days where you feel burnt out and overwhelmed. While you may try your best to not take your frustrations out on your children, there may be times where you lose your temper or raise your voice. Although you may be using the weekend to study or get work done, don’t forget to also plan some family time to enjoy each other’s company. At the end of the day, remember: you love each other and you’re all on the same team.

Know that you are not alone. There are many students, staff and faculty who are experiencing the same challenges. If you are feeling distressed or overwhelmed, remember that you have support available to you.

 

-Lindsey Wacher, R.Kin, MSc, Health and Wellness Promoter

Thunderwolves Power Smoothie

smoothie recipe

 

 

person holding smoothie

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