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woman looking at breathing exercise leader on laptopA breathing exercise helps to improve focus during an online class in nursing leadership.

Take a break to breathe during online classes, advises nursing prof

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges for everyone, says nursing professor Michelle Freeman. In response, she has introduced a new teaching intervention called “Breathing Breaks” in her online leadership class.

Developed and facilitated by Ottawa-based consultant Rachel Freeman, the practice is a fun and easy breathwork series designed to promote focus, stress-resilience, and engagement in the online learning environment.

“We need to acknowledge that we’re all vulnerable to high stress levels right now, where our body can easily become stuck in a continuous state of fight-or-flight response, the body’s normal response to danger,” says Michelle Freeman. “This abnormal state of chronic stress can result in high blood pressure, suppress our immune system, and contribute to insomnia, anxiety, and depression.”

She notes it can create challenges in focus and learning, and adds: “Students in our graduate programs are also working on the frontlines during this pandemic, making them especially vulnerable to high levels of stress and in need of extra support.”

The sessions included active guided breathwork practices and practical tips to improve mindfulness and mental well-being. Each was under 25 minutes long, providing a fast introduction to the benefits of breathwork and meditation for people who usually do not meditate.

After five weeks of the program, Dr. Freeman conducted a survey to evaluate the experience. She calls the student comments “inspiring,” with respondents sharing that the sessions increased their feelings of calm, relaxation, and even happiness.

“Completing breathing breaks at the beginning of the class allowed me to declutter my thoughts and focus on the tasks at hand in class discussions,” wrote student Jessica Francis. “Work and daily life, especially in the midst of COVID-19, has been incredibly stressful and I often found my brain too overwhelmed to be able to focus.”

Her classmate Jennifer Tebbens said she was initially reluctant to participate.

“But as the weeks went on, I started to look forward to the breathing exercises,” she said. “It was a way to ease into class, take a moment to be grateful for important things that matter.”

Freeman notes that half of the students said they are now using these breathing practices outside of the class.

“This is exactly what we wanted to achieve as a learning outcome,” she said. “Application outside the classroom should result in greater stress-resilience and improved focus.”

Students walking in snowWinter weather is part of being Canadian, but brings with it treacherous conditions.

Facility Services warns against winter weather risks

With winter weather looming, Facility Services warns of potential hazards:

  • Slips, trips, and falls;
  • Wet, freezing conditions for walking or driving;
  • Frostbite and hypothermia;
  • Falling objects such as ice; and
  • Poor visibility.

Director of operations John Regier offers the following tips to keep safe.

Protective clothing is needed for any outdoor activity at or below 4°C. When selecting a jacket, gloves, or a hat, be sure it suits the temperature, weather conditions, and the level and duration of your activity.

During the winter season, it is imperative that you choose a good pair of winter boots that will enable you to gain traction on slippery and wet surfaces. The outer material of your footwear should be water repellent or waterproof to keep your feet warm and dry.

When walking, be safe, smart, and seen. Allow yourself more time to arrive at your destination. Slips, trips, and fall accidents can be associated with inattention or being in a hurry. When using stairs, always use the handrails.

Visit the University of Windsor’s Health & Safety website for more information.

Mylene TuMylene Tu, founder of Lumaki Labs, is a EPIC VentureWomen participant.

Founder hoping to develop virtual internships

As a self-proclaimed introvert, Mylene Tu never expected to dive into the world of entrepreneurship. Now with the help the EPIC VentureWomen program, she is working on her second business.

“I accidentally fell into entrepreneurship in my first year of engineering,” says Tu, a third-year student of management engineering at the University of Waterloo. “From there I realized that I had a lot of misconceptions in my mind of being too young or too inexperienced to do something.”

Together with her business partner Fatimah Areola, she has launched Lumaki Labs, an EdTech startup on a mission to revolutionize the future of work through virtual internships.

“We saw the impacts of COVID-19 on experiential learning, and saw this as an opportunity to help normalize virtual internships as a way to strengthen future talent pipelines and open more doors for students even after the pandemic,” Tu says.

EPIC VentureWomen is a program of the Entrepreneurship Practice and Innovation Centre (EPICentre), and provides participants with mentorship, access to workshops, industry connections, tools, and resources.

Tu hopes it will help her launch Lumaki Labs, and adds “I am eager and excited to engage and grow with the other amazing women in this program.”

Read a full profile on the centre’s website.

This is the first in a series of articles introducing the current cohort of EPIC VentureWomen.

Screening to explore solidarity between Black and Indigenous communities

A film screening and panel discussion will explore the topics of kinship and relocation in the context of Black and Indigenous solidarity on Wednesday, Oct. 28.

The event is part of the “We are Not a Phase: Indigenous Screening Series” sponsored by the Turtle Island Aboriginal Education Centre, Indigenous Student Services St. Clair College, VUCAVU, and the Arts Council - Windsor and Region.

Kat Pasquach, UWindsor aboriginal outreach and retention co-ordinator, will facilitate the panel discussion at 7 p.m. over Zoom.

“The opportunity to bring together a strong group of panelists who can speak to solidarity and strength from our communities is an integral part of this screening,” she says. “We hope to bring forward tangible ideas and actions that the Windsor community can engage with and learn from.”

The panel will feature:

  • Erica Neeganagwedgin (Taino), an assistant professor in critical policy Equity and Leadership Studies at Western University with a specialization in Indigenous education;
  • Teajai Travis, artist and activist;
  • Jeremiah Bowers, special projects co-ordinator for Anti-Black Racism Initiatives at the University of Windsor;
  • Irene Moore Davis, educator, historian, author, and activist; president of the Essex County Black Historical Research Society;
  • April Roy, secondary English teacher, learner, and human rights activist.

Find more details, including a list of the films to be screened and registration instructions, on the event website.

man looking with concern at smartphoneIT Services provides a list of ways to protect your mobile devices.

Technology puts power of security in user hands

Mobile devices have become an increasingly important part of our daily personal and work lives. Eighty per cent of people access the Internet with mobile devices. With expanded use comes additional security threats.

“Smart cybersecurity practices extend beyond our laptops and desktops to include our phones and tablets too,” says Kevin Macnaughton, team leader security in Information Technology Services. “It boils down to: if you connect it, protect it.”

IT Services’ list of top four ways to protect your mobile devices includes:

  1. Enable a security PIN and inactivity auto-lock.
  1. Apply automatic updates for the operating system and apps.
  1. Use the App Store and iTunes or Google Play for apps, games, and media.
  1. Use the University’s GlobalProtect VPN, especially on public or free WiFi.

For more mobile device security best practices, see www.uwindsor.ca/itservices/931/power-your-hands.

Led by IT Services, Cybersecurity Awareness Month efforts highlight cybersecurity issues relevant to the UWindsor community. More information, along with how you can protect yourself, can be found at uwindsor.ca/cybersecurity.

Running shoes perched on chairA wellness tip suggests ways to cut down on sedentary behaviours.

To be your healthiest, don’t sit still, advises kinesiology professor

Sitting may be an unavoidable part of life for most of us, but sedentary behaviour can increase your risk of developing chronic illnesses, says a message shared by the Department of Human Resources with UWindsor faculty and staff Monday.

Sarah Woodruff Atkinson, head of the kinesiology department, provided tips to get you moving:

  • Start off easy. Slowly introduce more active time into your day.
  • Limit screen time. Set limits on watching TV and browsing social media.
  • Ditch the desk. When possible, stand instead of sitting at your desk.
  • Set reminders. Set your smartphone or watch to remind you to take regular breaks from sitting.

Read the entire message.