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Wellness Flowchart

Mental and physical wellbeing are almost always very interconnected and often can impact each other greatly. Would you be ok with starting with a checklist to take care of any possible physical reasons why you might be feeling not your best/down/off/like shit?

Yes please! I’d like to run some basic self care and maintenance. (Go to Physical)

No thank you, I am certain I have taken care of all my physical and environmental needs and would like to skip ahead. (Go to Mental)
  • 1. Have you eaten in the last four hours?

    Yes! Next question. (Go to #2)



    I could use a snack…

    When you need a snack, just pop some easy food in your mouth. If there’s a specific food you want, it’s okay to eat it! You don’t have to eat perfectly healthy all the time– no one does! Just also use your brain a little, and notice the quantity you’re eating, and how healthy it is for you. You’re probably just fine at trusting your gut and knowing what your body needs.

    I’ve finished my snack and I’m ready for the next step (Go to #2)



    No, I need a meal.

    You haven’t eaten in a little while, and your body needs fuel. It’s time for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. If there’s a specific food you want, it’s okay to eat it! You don’t have to eat perfectly healthy all the time– no one does! Just also use your brain a little, and notice the quantity you’re eating, and how healthy it is for you. You’re probably just fine at trusting your gut and knowing what your body needs.

    I’ve finished my meal and I’m ready for the next step (Go to #2)



    I need some help!

    Making a meal is hard for you right now, and that’s okay! Everybody struggles with cooking sometimes

    You have some options:

    • You can cook a meal for yourself.
    • You might have ready-made meals in the fridge.
    • You might have a meal plan with the university
    • You can get take-out or delivery.
    • You can go to a restaurant.

    Take-out, delivery, and restaurants are a little more expensive than cooking on your own, but how you spend your money is your decision. It’s okay to treat yourself! If you’re looking for cheaper local restaurants near campus, you can find a list of suggested places here.


    If you’re going to cook on your own, you have to decide what to make. A friend, partner, or family member can help with this. Here are some ideas for easy foods you can eat right now:

    • Pasta with butter, sauce, cheese, vegetables, and/or meat
    • Ramen noodles
    • Sandwiches
    • Rice
    • Grilled cheese (This can have meat on it, if you want!)
    • A smoothie or milkshake
    • Baked or fried potatoes
    • Eggs, pancakes, and/or bacon
    • Macaroni and cheese
    • Canned soup
    • Salad
    • Boxed mashed potatoes


    Okay, I have some food in my stomach. Time for the next question! (Go to #2.)

  • 2. Have you taken any medication you need to take?

    Yes, I’m all caught up on any medication I need to take. (Go to #3)


    I don’t take any medication. → (Go to #3)



    No, I need to take my meds.

    Medication needs to be taken on schedule, or your body might react negatively.

    Take some time now to take any pills, do any tests or injections, or apply any ointments prescribed by your doctor. If this is a persistent problem for you, you may want to set an alarm (on something you keep on your person, i.e. phone, laptop, watch) so you remember to take it at the same time every day.

    Okay, I took my medication. Next question!

  • 3. Drink a glass of whatever non-alcoholic liquid you like best.

    Water is ideal, but don’t beat yourself up if you’d rather have tea, soda, juice, or milk. Soda will actually make you feel thirstier, but if it’s easier for you, then that’s okay! If you’re having coffee, try to have a weaker cup with less caffeine to avoid dehydrating yourself.

    Okay, I did it. (Go to #4)

  • 4. How much sleep have you gotten?

    Everyone is an individual with different sleep schedules, but most people need 8 hours of relatively uninterrupted sleep. If you had less than that, and/or woke up frequently, and/or had nightmares, it might help you to take a nap.

    I am well-rested. Next question! (Go to #5)


    I need a nap.

    Take a nap. You can finish this self-care guide when you wake up.

    Ideally, let yourself sleep naturally, and sleep until you wake up. Obviously, this isn’t always possible. Otherwise, set an alarm for yourself, with plenty of time to wake up and get yourself together between your nap and your responsibilities.

    Okay, I’m well-rested now. (Go to #5)

  • 5. Are you in physical pain?

    No, my body feels fine. (Go to #6)


    Yes, something hurts.

    If there is something your doctor has prescribed you for pain, you should take it or do it. There is no guilt or shame in asking for medical assistance with your pain, and reducing or eliminating bodily pain will help your ability to deal with other issues.

    For aches and pains, take an aspirin, ibuprofen (advil) or acetaminophen (tylenol). You may also want to apply a heating pad or a cold pack on whatever hurts. If you have a stomach ache, there are medications for that, like Pepto Bismol, and hot tea may also help.

    Be nice to your body, and try to do “replace” the unpleasant pain with some pleasant alternative sensations, like good smells and pleasurable textures.

    I am as well taken care of as I can manage right now. (Go to #6)

  • 6. Is your environment uncomfortable?

    Next we’re going to deal with other types of physical discomfort you may be in. Is something about your environment distressing or uncomfortable?

    No, it seems fine here to me. (Go to #7)


    Yes, my surroundings are less than ideal.

    Are your surroundings the right temperature?

    • I’m just right. (Go to #7)

    • I’m too cold. If you’re too cold, you can try putting on some warm clothes, using a space heater, turning up the heat in your home, putting on a blanket, and/or snuggling with a pet or another person.

    • I’m too hot. If you’re too hot, you can try putting on cooler clothes, turning on a fan, or turning up the AC in your house. If you are still too warm, try to spritz some cool water or place a moist towel on your face and the inside of any joints (elbows, knees, neck, etc)

    Okay, I fixed it. (Go to #7)

  • 7. Are your surroundings dirty or smelly?

    No, it’s fine. (Go to #8)


    Yes, it’s gross.

    It’s hard to feel okay in an environment that is unfriendly for whatever reason. If your surroundings aren’t clean, set a timer for five minutes and take care of the biggest problems, like leftover food, pet messes, or dirty clothes.

    Chores can be scary and exhausting, but that’s not what we’re doing here. We’re just taking a little five-minute clean up to make ourselves and our homes happier!

    Okay, I cleaned up a little! (Go to #8)

  • 8. Do you feel unsafe because of the people, or lack of people, in your surroundings?

    No, I’m good. (Go to #9)


    Yes, there are too many people here, or people I don’t feel comfortable with.

    If you can, try to remove yourself from situations that are overwhelming or feel unsafe. If you can’t relocate entirely, take frequent breaks, or tune out with headphones.

    I did my best. On to the next step. (Go to #9)


    I am alone and I don’t like it.

    Being alone can feel really scary and unsafe. In reality, if you take basic precautions, you’re almost certainly fine! However, getting a friend, making a phone or Skype call, playing with a pet, and/or turning on the TV or music can help.

    I reached out to someone and I’m feeling better. I’m ready for the next step. (Go to #9)

  • 9. Does your body feel uncomfortable, sweaty, or dirty?

    No, I feel fine. (Go to #10)


    Yes, I feel icky, gross, or unclean.

    Do you have the energy and ability to take a shower?

    Yes, I’ll take a shower. (Go to #10)

    No, I need another solution.

    If you are unable to take a shower, here are some things to do instead:

    • Wash your face
    • Put on lotion
    • Change your clothes
    • Use dry shampoo
    • Whatever physical self-care activity you like best!

    I’m clean and I’m ready for the next step. (Go to #10)

  • 10. Final Step

    Okay! That was a quick overview of your physical wellbeing.

    We’ve looked at the physical reasons that you’re not feeling well. Now we’re going to deal with the emotional ones.

    (Go to Mental Wellness)

  • 1. Is there a reason you are not feeling well emotionally?

    Remember, any answer is okay!

    Yes, there’s something on my mind.

    That’s fair! We’re going to do our best to take care of it.

    Set a timer for 15 minutes, and work on a solution. If it’s something you can change, then great! If not, do your best to reach out to someone and talk about it. If you need help figuring out what resources are available to you as a U of T MSE student, go to the Wellness Resources section on our useful links page!

    Remember, 15 minutes and only 15! You can go back to whatever it is after we’re done working through this together. We’re just taking baby steps in the right direction.

    Okay, I did my best. What’s next? (Go to #2)


    No, I don’t know the reason.

    Sometimes, we don’t know the source of our bad feelings, and that’s okay. We’re gonna work through this together! Okay! (Go to #2)

  • 2. Do you feel anxious, nervous, or on edge?

    Yes, I feel anxious about something specific.

    You’re feeling anxious about something specific. That’s okay! Set a timer for 15 minutes and do something to take care of that worry. Maybe chip away at a task that seems insurmountable. You can do it!

    • I’d like to try some grounding exercises too. (Go to #3)
    • I feel better. Next question! (Go to #4)

    Yes, but I don’t know why.

    You feel generally anxious, but you don’t know why. That’s okay! Let’s run through some grounding exercises together, ok?

    • Ok, let’s go to the grounding exercises. (Go to #3)
    • No, I don’t feel very anxious. (Go to #4)

    I was feeling anxious, but I did my best to take care of myself. I’m ready for the next question. (Go to #4)

  • 3. Let’s try some grounding activities.

    Here’s some suggestions:

    • Take deep, calm breaths. Try to pay attention to the rhythm of breathing in… and out.

    • Notice your surroundings. Is there anything interesting? See if you can list 5 things you see, 4 things you hear, 3 things you can feel/touch, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste (saliva is an acceptable answer for the last one).

    • Expose yourself to strong, pleasant sensations, like a pleasing smell or a favorite blanket.

    • Say out loud your name, your age, the date, and your location. List some things you’ve done today (i.e. getting out of bed, talking to a friend, doing homework, etc. Nothing is too “small” of a task!)

    • Splash water on your face or run your hands under the faucet.

    • Do a body scan meditation, or pay close attention to each of your body parts one by one. See if you can tense up each body part/limb for a few seconds before completely relaxing it or wiggling said limb around a bit!

    • Make tea or hot cocoa or any other calming warm drink. Feel the warmth of it in your hands, and the taste as you sip it slowly.

    • Listen to music! Can you pick out any specific parts you like the best?

    • Play a categories game; alternatively, name some types of dogs, or clothing items, or gemstones, or countries, or anything else you can think of. See how many you can name before you run out!

    • Write in your journal.
    • Take a mindful walk, either inside or outside. Pay close attention to your body and your surroundings. Can I suggest paying a quick visit to Queen’s park?

    • Squiggle. Wiggle around. Dance. Stretch. Be silly and active for a few minutes. Don’t worry about others right now, the people in Eng have definitely seen much weirder.

    • Any other favorite grounding technique you’ve heard of or can think of. There’s nothing wrong with experimenting!

    Okay! I did one or more of these things, and I’m ready to move on. (Go to #4)

  • 4. Nightmares, flashbacks or upsetting images

    Do you feel triggered? Are you having flashbacks? Is something traumatic or upsetting from the past weighing on your mind? Did you have a vivid nightmare?

    No, I’m not feeling triggered. (Go to #5)


    Yes, I feel triggered.

    If you’re feeling triggered, see if there’s a practical action you can take to lessen your distress. It doesn’t have to solve or “fix” everything, but something small like blocking an unsafe person from your social media, might help you feel more secure.

    If not, reach out and tell someone safe how you’re feeling. Just express yourself! Human contact works wonders when you’re not feeling well emotionally.

    If you can’t think of anyone to talk to, try the first floor of Student Services’s Health and Wellness (between Bahen and the Bookstore). They often have someone free who is willing to listen without judgement and offer possible solutions.

    Alternatively, if you prefer a more digital approach, you can always text CONNECT to 686868, without data and completely free of charge (in Canada) or call Good2Talk 24/7 at 1-866-925-5454 to talk to a trained responder who’s here to listen.

    Remember that you’re here in the present, and nothing from your past can hurt you. If you like, you may want to try some grounding exercises to reinforce that idea.

    • I’d like to try some grounding exercises. (Go to #3)
    • Okay, I’m ready for the next question. (Go to #5)

    I was feeling triggered, but I did my best to take care of myself. I’m ready for the next question. (Go to #5)

  • 5. Are you feeling dissociated, depersonalized, or derealized?

    Are you feeling dissociated, depersonalized, or derealized? Do you feel far away, foggy, or unreal? Are you not sure who you are?

    No, I don’t feel like that. (Go to #6)


    Yes, I’m dissociated, and I’m going to do some grounding exercises (Go to #3)

    I was feeling dissociated, but I did my best to take care of myself. I’m ready for the next question. (Go to #6)

  • 6. Are you feeling depressed, sad, or upset?

    No, I’m not very depressed. (Go to #7)


    Yes, I’m feeling depressed.

    Feeling depressed isn’t fun, but it doesn’t last forever! Try your best to not be mad or disappointed with yourself for feeling depressed, it’s not your fault that your brain is mean to you.

    Take 15 minutes and try to accomplish something small. It can be loading the dishwasher, getting a glass of water, or making some cookies.

    You are not a failure, and your situation is not hopeless. You are fighting one of the hardest fights out there, and the fact that you’re here, looking for help and pushing through, is a testament to your will and strength. You deserve to feel better, about the world and yourself, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.

    Okay, I’ve done my best to take care of myself and I’m ready for the next question. (Go to #7)

  • 7. Are you feeling lonely or in need of attention?

    No, I’m not very lonely. Next question! (Go to #8)


    Yes, I’m feeling lonely.

    Everybody feels lonely sometimes. If you’re feeling lonely, there’s ways to reach out to people!

    See if you can talk to someone in your house/residence, or call someone on the phone. You can also use texting or social media to speak to someone. You may want to talk about how you’re feeling, or you may not, and that’s ok! If you can’t think of anyone in particular, try one of the discipline common rooms, as most have a space to chill and socialize. You can also head to Hart House and see if any of their clubs interest you.

    If you’re still feeling lonely and can’t think of anyone to talk to, try the first floor of Student Services’s Health and Wellness (between Bahen and the Bookstore). They often have someone free who is willing to listen without judgement and offer possible solutions.

    Alternatively, if you prefer a more digital approach, you can always text CONNECT to 686868 (without data and completely free of charge in Canada) or call Good2Talk 24/7 at 1-866-925-5454 to talk to a trained responder who’s here to listen.

    Okay, I did my best to take care of myself and I’m ready for the next question. (Go to #8)

  • 8. Do you have the energy and ability to go for a walk/ride?

    If you are feeling foggy, you might need some exercise.

    Yes, a walk/ride sounds great.

    Walks/rides are really good for both our bodies and our minds. Take a walk/ride of whatever length you choose! You’re not trying to burn calories or get to a particular destination; you’re just taking a pleasant jaunt. Enjoy it!

    Okay, I am back from my walk/ride and I’m ready for the next question. (Go to #9)


    No, a walk/ride would be too much for me.

    If you can’t take a walk, that’s okay! Here are some alternatives that can get your heart pumping a bit faster:

    • Jumping jacks
    • Bouncing on the bed
    • Dancing
    • Push ups or sit ups, if you like doing them
    • Walking up and down the stairs
    • Yoga
    • Wiggling, squirming, jiggling around; being silly and active and having fun!

    If none of those are or seem possible, just sit outside for some fresh air!

    Okay, I did some exercise to the best of my ability. I’m ready for the next question. (Go to #9)

  • 9. That's all for now!

    It’s time to reassess. Maybe now that you’ve done all this self care, you feel better – great! Maybe you don’t, and that’s okay too.

    But hopefully you’ve cleared things up and you know what to do next to take care of yourself. You deserve self care, so even if it’s hard, do your best!

    Good luck!