5 Self Care Tips I Wish I Practiced During School

By: Monica Kwong

We all know how stressful school can be, especially with exam season approaching. School is a good time to explore different self-care techniques and see which ones suit you and your schedule best. The five tips I have listed are ones I wish I had either practiced during school or practiced more frequently. I try to aim for self-care tips that engage your mind, body and senses so that the sense of fulfillment you feel is greater after the activity

Yoga

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When I was young (and foolish), I wondered why and how people enjoy yoga… It all seemed too slow and boring for me. However, after growing up a bit, I now see just how much yoga can positively impact one’s lifestyle as it did mine, especially after experiencing intense back pains last year.

Some benefits you can reap from doing yoga include:

  • Improving sleep (also important for self-care!)
  • Improving cognition and focus
  • Boosting mood
  • Increasing energy levels
  • Lowering stress and anxiety levels

If you’re on a crunch for time, your yoga practice can be as short as 10 minutes! Some of my favourite yoga YouTubers include:

Meditation

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When I was younger, I didn’t really understand this practice much either. However, after graduation, I’ve been trying to meditate more regularly. Since then, there’s never been a time when I’ve regretted doing meditation. If you’re a beginner (like me!), even practising for 3-5 minutes is a good place to start.

Some benefits you can reap from meditation include:

  • Lowering stress levels
  • Helping manage anxiety
  • Promoting self-awareness
  • Increasing attention span
  • Improving sleep

For beginners, I would recommend starting off with:

  • Searching on YouTube for guided meditation
  • Using an app called Insight Timer: I like using the self-timer feature to choose the background sound, keep track of my frequency, and access a library of free guided meditations. I also like how it shows how many people are meditating in real-time on the app (it helps show that you are not alone on your meditation journey!)

Journaling

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I’ve honestly been journaling since I was about ten years old, but it has been an on-and-off routine for me during my younger years. I’d write about my crushes, my school day and how I hated doing homework. Fun times…

You can journal on your phone or write in a notebook. I personally like to journal via writing because I feel more in touch with my thoughts. I find that journaling helps me brain dump everything on my mind. 

I also find that it helps make my problems feel smaller than they appear in my head. When you write your problems down, it’s as if you’re looking at them as a bystander. Journaling also allows you to vent to someone if you happen to not have a friend or family member around immediately. 

Some benefits you can reap from journaling include:

  • Helping manage anxiety
  • Helping manage depression
  • Lowering stress levels

There is no wrong way of keeping a journal. Almost all of my notebooks were bought from the dollar store, so no need to purchase anything luxurious (unless you would like to, of course). However, if you don’t feel like writing, you can also use a mood tracking app, such as Daylio, and press buttons that allow you to record your mood, activities, and thoughts for each day. You can also trend the information you enter and review them as reports!

Your journal entries don’t need to be long! As long as you are satisfied with what you’ve written down and it’s helped you, you’ve achieved your goal.

Practicing a hobby

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When I was in school, I neglected some of my hobbies and used the excuse that I didn’t have time. However, I’m sure if I had spent less, mindless time on my screen and allocated those hours for high-density fun instead, then I definitely would’ve had more time to indulge in my hobbies.

Some benefits you can reap from practising your hobby include:

  • Relaxing your mind and body
  • Providing a sense of mastery and control
  • Increasing self-esteem
  • Expanding your social circle

It’s a good thing to practice a hobby from time to time so that your school life doesn’t become mundane and you have something to look forward to. Whether it’s reading or drawing, dancing or woodwork, spending one to two hours a week on your hobby will enrich your life.

Registered Massage Therapy

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I used to think massages were very expensive and that only wealthy people could afford them. However, ever since I had intense back pains last year, I would swear by massage therapy as a way to relieve my muscle tension and relax my mind.

Some benefits you can reap from receiving massage therapy include:

  • Relieving stress
  • Relaxing your mind and body
  • Reducing muscle soreness and tension (even areas where you may not know are tight!)
  • Promoting circulation, energy, and alertness

Out of the other options, this one may not be the most easily accessible, as this is the only option you can’t do at home (depending on your hobby). However, there are two avenues you can try:

  • Attend at the RAC: Did you know that if you are a degree program student, you are eligible for a $15 discount for each session? I wish I knew that ahead of time… In addition, if you are a full-time student and are covered by the RSU Health Plan, you are eligible to have $25 covered per treatment up to 20 treatments per school year. 
  • Utilize the health plan that your parents/caregivers have from their employer and visit a clinic. Depending on your coverage, your massage sessions can be free up to a capped amount allotted in the plan. Definitely utilize it if you can, or you’re missing out!

At the RAC, with the student discount, your sessions can cost $50-$85 for a session that ranges from 30 – 60 minutes. I find that if you don’t require significant medical treatment, one session a month is sufficient. Of course, everyone is different, so the desired duration may vary, but give it a try! I’m 90% sure you won’t regret it. After all, we all spend money on food, leisure and entertainment. Why not allocate some of that money for self-care?

8 Incredible Women in Engineering

Hi, my name is Tanzina Nowshin and I’m a recent Mechanical Engineering graduate from Ryerson University, and I’m here to tell you about 8 amazing women in engineering across three levels.

Let’s start on an international scale with…

Dahun Mamora: She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and a master’s degree in Engineering Management. She is currently a Technical Project Manager on the Power Electronics Team at TESLA. Dahun also launched a platform called Beyond Our Limitations to help provide mentorship and financial support to international students in the US. Her goal is to use the platform to share her story, and also build a community of international students and remind them that they can achieve great things in life if they look beyond their limitations! 

Audrey Tang: Audrey wrote her first computer game at just 8 years old to help her brother learn fractions. She began learning Perl at age 12, dropped out of high school, left Taiwan and by age 19 she was hailed as an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. In 2016, Audrey also became Taiwan’s youngest government minister as well as Taiwan’s first transgender Cabinet member. 

Anushree Sonic: She is an alumna of Ryerson University and International Space University where she got her Bachelor’s in Aerospace Engineering and Master’s in Space Science respectively. Anushree began her career at the NASA Ames Research Center where she supported on-orbit operations of various payloads on the International Space Station. She left NASA Ames in 2020 to pursue a career working for Waymo, formerly known as Google’s self-driving car project. There she is currently managing and leading a team working on the development of the self-driving system.

Next, let’s move on to a national scale starting with…

Natasha Walji – Natasha is a Director at Google Canada leading the Tech, Telecom & Public sector business. She has been at Google for 10 years and was previously a McKinsey consultant and a software developer. She has been serving the community for around 20 years in the areas of disaster relief, poverty alleviation, public health and also founded an organization for children with disabilities. Natasha has also been named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by WXN

Professor Noreen Komal – She has a Bachelor of Science and a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering as well as a Ph.D. in human-computer interaction. She collaborated on a COVID-19 project with the Nova Scotia Health Authority that applies engineering techniques to healthcare modelling. When I was reading her article, I really liked one of her quotes where she said: “As an interdisciplinary researcher, I am always promoting engineers within healthcare… I hope that we can see more engineers working within the health system working alongside epidemiologists, physicians, and administrators to develop solutions to create one of the best top-performing health systems that is agile enough to respond to situations such as this pandemic.”

Deanna Burgart – Deanna is Cree/Dene from Fond du Lac First Nation. She is an engineer and a Senior Instructor in the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary. Deanna also serves as the President of IndigeSTEAM, whose mission is the provision of Indigenous-led and culturally relevant programming to support better futures for Indigenous youth in STEM.

When I was reading more about what IndigeSTEAM does, I really liked how they defined the term STEAM. So, as we all know STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. But, when we talk about the connections to social enterprise, humanities, arts, innovation, entrepreneurship and more, we put an ‘A’ into STEM to get STEAM. The A can represent Arts, Architecture and Agriculture – all areas that Indigenous peoples have been innovators in for thousands of years.

Now on a local level, we have…

Minakshi Suri – Minakshi has a civil engineering degree and she is currently working in the higher education industry as an Engineering Outreach Coordinator for our very own, Ryerson University. Her work involves delivering several outreach programs designed to inform, educate and excite students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 about engineering as a field of study or profession. I personally think the kind of work that Minakshi is doing is critical for our future since it is essentially shaping and inspiring young minds to pursue a career in STEM, motivating the next generation of changemakers.

Now last but definitely not least, 

Vanessa Raponi – Vanessa is a Product Development Engineer-in-Training at Spin Master, a Canadian-founded international toy company. She designs and creates toys and balances her technical expertise with her leadership and project management skills and leads the Sustainable Materials committee. Vanessa is also the founder of EngiQueers Canada, a national non-profit that advocates for intersectional queer inclusion in the engineering profession.

And that is all I have for you today! These women were only a few of the hundreds out there in the workforce who are not only challenging barriers but making revolutionary waves within their respective industries. For all the women out there currently pursuing their degree, I encourage you to look into mentorship programs, extracurriculars or events such as WIE (women in engineering), or even follow inspiring female leaders on platforms such as LinkedIn.

For all those that do not identify as a woman, I encourage you to look into what it means to be an ally and how to support fellow female peers.

Thank you for listening!

References

8 Influential LGBTQ+ People in STEM to Celebrate This Pride Month

Natasha Walji recognized as one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women in WXN’s Top 100 to Celebrate and Inspire Female Leaders

INWED 2020: Noreen Kamal, PhD, P.Eng.

IndigeSTEAM

Climate change – are architects the problem, or the solution?

By Devanshi Jagota

Devanshi Jagota is a 4th-year Architectural Science student at Ryerson University.

In 2020, my home of Newfoundland experienced a snowstorm and was hit hard by an avalanche which followed, leaving the entire province shut down within 2 days. People were left buried under 93 cm of snow in a state of emergency, with no food or electricity for 8 days. Environment and Climate Change Canada reported that the increasing frequency of stormy weather is not a traditional aspect of Newfoundland’s climate and the province is not yet prepared to experience the possibility of such storms becoming more frequent with the rising seas and sinking coastlines caused by global warming. 

It is this event which motivated me as a student of Architectural Science to learn more deeply into the phenomenon of climate change. Whilst Newfoundland was suffering a record breaking winter, in other corners of the world fires in the Amazon and the Australian bush were simultaneously creating havoc as resources, ecosystems, economic systems and animal habitats were damaged beyond repair. Scientists confirmed in the New York Times article that a 30% increase in wildfires can be directly attributed to human activity related climate change. There is a dire need for serious change in this world and everyone has a part to play. Naturally as an aspiring architect, I am looking towards possible architectural mitigations to this end.

How can sustainable design impact humans on a larger scale?

As cities become more dense, we continue to face issues such as affordability, health, living and food crises. With increasing global temperatures, the availability of natural resources like water, trees and animals decrease, resulting in an increased cost of water, electricity, food and living. 

Sustainable futures call for sustainable lifestyles. We must each of us commit to ways of living our day to day lives without further contributing to climate change. The prospect of a sustainable lifestyle is an important habit to get into. But where architecture is concerned, why not let our buildings do the work for a better future? 

MITIGATING CLIMATE CHANGE CRISIS THROUGH A CIRCULAR ECONOMY

The architecture and construction industries are the largest producers of greenhouse gas emissions today. Like many other industries, these are based on a linear economy model where natural raw materials used for the built environment end up in landfills after use, making the process inefficient, costly and unsustainable. It’s time to change this! 

The “Cradle to Cradle” certification system started by architect William Mcdonough and biologist Michael Braungart, which represents a circular economy, aims to lower the amount of waste produced by buildings. Based on “3Rs” – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, a concept we have all heard of, this system promotes materials to be used again after their end of life and provides long-term economic capital by reducing CO2, energy. and costs of construction. With high construction needs in growing cities, the consumption of natural resources is faster than its production. As such, if materials from one building are reused by another, this can reduce the annual CO2 production and the cost of building materials and housing.

SOLUTION TO THE HOUSING CRISIS

In addition to reusing building materials for cost efficiency, architecture school has taught me other ways to mitigate the increasing rent and housing costs. Passive house and Net-Zero design strategies can be the solution to creating equal access to shelter.

Passive house is an integration of high quality passive (no energy) systems and low quality power systems. Heating and cooling a building requires intense energy and resources, resulting in high electricity bills. However, by maximizing air tightness to prevent any leakage of heating or cooling in a building and designing well performing windows to naturally cool in the summer or heat in the winter through solar energy, the cost required to maintain a comfortable environment can be reduced. 

But what about other costs such as hydro or electricity? To reduce water costs, design elements such as rainwater management systems and greenroofs that filter and reuse rainwater into the building as drinking or shower water, heating, and providing fresh cool air can reduce water consumption and the cost of the building. The cost and consumption of electricity can also be reduced by implementing renewable energy on site. By orienting the building for maximum sun exposure, solar panels can produce enough energy to significantly reduce the cost of energy consumption. These passive strategies are not only efficient, but also provide solutions to adapt to extreme weather conditions such as flooding through rain water management, extreme heat, or loss of electricity. 

Lastly, sourcing sustainable materials that require minimal chemical treatment or maintenance over time can reduce the amount of energy, cost, and time used in constructing and manufacturing, resulting in lower levels of CO2. The Living, Nerri Oxman and 3XN/GXN architectural firms have taken a biological approach to architecture by using mushrooms and algae to create building elements to reduce waste, toxins and to increase affordability. Ryerson’s Architectural Science professor Cheryl Atkinson has based her research and design on net-zero housing as a response to affordable housing in Toronto. 

The Living re-designs bricks using mushroom mycelium. 100% compostable for community gardens. 

Ryerson professor Cheryl Atkinson’s Net-Zero passive house as a response to affordable housing. Sequesters 25 tonne of CO2.

REDUCING FOOD INSECURITY 

When at a grocery store, have you ever noticed how much of your food is imported? With an increase in population the demand for food has increased. But, the fluctuations in weather events such as extreme snow storms, frost, rain or droughts can make it difficult to produce fresh food at a fast rate. As a result, food is being imported and large amounts of forests are being cleared in certain areas for food production, increasing the cost and CO2 emissions. 

As architects and planners, we have the power to solve this problem by designing resilient cities which respond and adapt to climate impacts. Rather than destroying more of our forests, we can turn to rooftop gardens, urban farms, and balcony gardening, allowing people to have equal access to fresh and affordable food. Urban food production also can help prevent flooding by absorbing extensive rain water, balancing the ecosystem and providing habitats for animals on the verge of extinction such as bees and birds in cities. 

Examples of urban farms in Toronto include the parkdale community garden and Ryerson’s rooftop urban farm which feeds many low-income community members in Toronto who might not have access to fresh produce and healthy life.  

Ryerson’s Urban Farm – a quarter acre farm which produces 10,000 pounds of produce annually. 

HEALTH BENEFITS

Let’s talk about how buildings make us feel! After all, we spend most of our time indoors, whether it’s working, studying, relaxing or shopping. It is only fair to recognize that these buildings expose us to many toxic materials like plastics, sprays, glues, textiles and trapped dust. This often results in health issues related to our respiratory system, circadian rhythm, cognitive performance, and psychological health. While the physical problems associated with our built environment can be often ignored. However, biophilic properties like visual and non-visual connections to nature through rooftop gardens, natural light, fresh air and natural building materials aim to improve the quality of life of occupants. Access to areas for gardening provides an opportunity for physical activity, fresh air, and fresh food that are free of chemicals and toxins from artificial fertilizers, resulting in improved health.

Having a healthy environment with natural light throughout the day, operable windows for fresh air, and views or sounds of nature can improve our cognitive performance, sleep quality, mood, and mental health. Minimum exposure to artificial blue light also balances our body’s circadian rhythm (body’s clock), allowing for better sleep.

Dusty and toxic indoor environments can cause uncomfortable breathing, therefore switching to naturally and sustainably derived building elements like wood and household products improve respiratory systems and decrease allergic reactions. 

Soul Garden House incorporates biophilia to bring outside – in as a healing property. 

We are all in this together!

So what can we do?

Climate change does not end at large scale projects, but is the responsibility of every individual on a smaller scale as well. Small deeds can go a long way. Here are some simple ways I try to implement the idea of circular sustainability in my everyday life through:

  • Reading the small print or label – does a particular brand practice sustainably?
  • Re-use carrier bags, glass jars and plastic containers to reduce waste
  • Purchasing naturally derived, plant based products that can be composted
  • New isn’t always better – only “spend on things which will bring value to your life”. Thrift stores are good places for rehoming desirable items. 
  • Get creative – for example, I have been growing my own herbs and creating DIY self-watering plant pots using plastic water bottles.
  • Turn off lights. Turn down the heating. Time your showers. It saves you money and helps the environment!
  • Have a movie day! Educate by watching documentaries on Netflix. Chasing Corals provides powerful insight on the effects of climate change
  • Spread the word!

Final Intake

It is not the responsibility of one industry to bring about change. While the built environment can have a significant impact, sustainability is a holistic approach to living a better and healthier life. Our current situation regarding climate change is akin to the “frog in the saucepan” analogy. We may not perceive the danger of our current habits now, but if we are not careful, we will find ourselves at the point of no return. But we do have the opportunity to stop this by making small changes in our lives and our surroundings. As architects it is our responsibility to design with the community and the environment for its greater good. As humans, it is our responsibility to take care of the world around us that continues to provide us with resources and beautiful experiences.

Sources: 

Snow Storm NL: https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/we-re-not-really-prepared-scientists-say-n-l-blizzard-a-sign-of-what-s-to-come-1.4793962 

Climate Change increasing wildfires: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/04/climate/australia-wildfires-climate-change.html

Velux – Toxic Indoor environment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygHU0mQGuJU

14 Patterns of Biophilia for health: https://www.terrapinbrightgreen.com/reports/14-patterns/?utm_medium=website&utm_source=archdaily.com

Circular Sustainability: http://www.buildingacircularfuture.com/book.

Cradle to Cradle: https://mcdonough.com/cradle-to-cradle/

Growing Cities:https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/news/population/2018-revision-of-world-urbanization-prospects.html

Soul Garden House: https://www.archdaily.com/921998/soul-garden-house-spacefiction-studio

Biophilia: https://www.archdaily.com/935258/biophilia-bringing-nature-into-interior-design

Net Zero house by Cheryl Atkinson: https://www.sustainable.to/blog/2019/5/15/net-zero-house-tackles-affordability-and-sustainability-cheryl-atkinson 

The Living, mushroom bricks: http://www.thelivingnewyork.com/ 

Ryerson Urban Farm https://www.ryerson.ca/foodsecurity/projects/activity_ryerson_urban_farm/

Benefits of Job Shadowing & Why You Should Try It

What is job shadowing? Why is it important?

By Sheik Abid Rahman and Samantha Cesario

Job shadowing is an activity where a student or job seeker follows and observes a professional expert as they work for anywhere between a few hours to several weeks (Tallo, 2020). It is done to get a better understanding of what a professional of a particular career does at work on a daily basis. Through job shadowing, one can learn about a company’s culture, the typical day to day tasks and priorities, core skill sets required to excel in a given position, and ask questions about a professional’s first-hand experiences. It is a helpful way to learn more about the job you are interested in pursuing. Job shadowing may be planned informally or as part of a formal program organized by a university. 

We spoke to Ashton Jila, Partnership Specialist for the Co-operative Internship Program at FEAS, to get his input on job shadowing.

  1. Why should students consider job shadowing?

Ashton mentioned that job shadowing allows a student to get first hand information on the industry insights, the details of the specific role they are shadowing including day to day experience, technical and soft skills required for the job as well as any other relevant skills the student would need to work in that field. He mentioned that you would also be able to make a professional network connection which is crucial to advancing your career.

  1. How can a student engage in a job shadow? 

According to Ashton it all starts with identifying a host employer. A host employer is someone who is willing to put the time and effort into going over the details of the role you are shadowing. Moreover, they should be willing to share more about the company culture as well. However, Ashton mentioned that you must ensure that the host employer has been notified of your expectations and be able to communicate that effectively with them.

  1. During their job shadowing experience, how can a student identify core components of a job they are shadowing, including skills required, day to day functions, long-term and short-term outcomes, and success metrics?

Ashton suggests that you should do the research on the company and the job descriptions available. You should go over all the core competencies needed for the role and ask about how one can be successful in that role. This will show the employer that you are proactive and interested in learning more about their industry.

What steps can you take?

By Julian Faita

As someone with no job shadowing experience, I tried to dive into the topic further to see if it might be useful in helping out with my future career. Through my research, these are the steps that I found to complete when looking for a job shadowing opportunity:

  1. First and foremost, find someone to interview! Ryerson offers great career resources and reaching out to someone from the career centre might help point you in the right direction. 
  2. Once you have decided on someone to shadow, don’t hesitate to reach out to them! Introduce yourself and make sure to clarify that you are NOT looking for a job, that you just wish to explore your career opportunities, and want to learn more about what they do by tagging along with them for the day. If they agree, make sure to lock in on a time and place to meet for the day! 
  3. Don’t forget to create a list of questions to ask and practice asking them beforehand. 
  4. Dress professionally and arrive early as well. When you’re there try your best to get a sense of the work environment: if the environment is fast-paced, relaxed, based on individual work, or based on teamwork. 
  5. After the day is complete, make sure to thank the individual that you were shadowing and take some time to reflect on your experience. Ask yourself some questions: Did you feel comfortable in that work environment? How could you be successful in that career? Are you interested in this line of work? 
  6. Once you have done this, be sure to contact the individual that you shadowed, outlining your experience and potentially asking for a referral to a job that you could see yourself in. 

All-in-all, doing this multiple times will help you build your professional network and your knowledge of the workforce in your industry. This will help determine if you want to stick to your career path or if maybe it’s not quite for you which is okay too! 

Concluding thoughts

By Iyvan Chandran

Job shadowing is recommended to all students as it allows you to align your industry focus. You will not only be able to narrow down your desired field of work, but also the technical and soft skills needed. Job shadowing also gives you the opportunity to show your skills and network to a potential employer and get your foot in the door as a new graduate placement opportunity. You will be able to get firsthand experience, tips and growth hacks from your mentor, leading to a refined version of yourself.

If you are interested in learning more about what it’s like to work in different professions, then make sure to connect with the staff at the Ryerson Career & Co-op Centre for advice and guidance. 

Public Speaking Tips & Tricks!

Hey everyone! My name is Samantha Cesario and I am a Peer Connector for the Peer Network Program (PNP). I am also a third-year civil engineering student. The PNP team and I would like to share our first vlog with you! We wanted to share our thoughts on the importance of public speaking and five tips to help you master the ability to capture your audience. I would like to thank both Leah Roth and Sadberk Agma for partaking in this initiative and showing us how they prepare themselves for public speaking. Also, I would like to thank Ely J R Torrenueva for the amazing video editing! I hope you learn something from this video and that it encourages you to take on the task of public speaking. Make sure to attend our Masterclass on Public Speaking & Presentation Skills on Thursday, March 25 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. to learn more tips and tricks!