Welcome to the Unofficial Survival Guide to UC Davis! Started by UCD student Ambassadors in the Student Health & Wellness Center with the hope that members of the Davis and UCD community will continue to develop it, this guide endeavors to help connect UCD students with the general coping skills and resources useful for a fulfilling and successful experience at UCD. This guide complements the Freshman Guide, a great resource for getting started at UCD. This Unofficial Survival Guide focuses on broader skills and resources that can be helpful throughout the years as a UCD student. If you are in your first year or about to get started, please take a look at the Freshman Guide and then continue with a review of this Unofficial Survival Guide that addresses the broader student body.

Relaxation Spaces & Skills

Relaxation Spaces

  • CAPS Clinic’s Mind Spa: The Mind Spa includes a massage chair for relaxing tense muscles and a Biofeedback machine with guided assistance to help learn to relax through controlled breathing. The Mind Spa also includes relaxation videos and guided audio to help clear your mind and relax.
    • For more information, click here.
  • The House’s Mind-Body Gym: The Mind-Body Gym includes a massage chair along with a meditation room for you to collect your thoughts or just focus on having a clear mind and be in touch with what’s going on inside. The Mind-Body Gym also includes a Biofeedback machine, 30 guided imagery and audio to help you discover relaxation and wellness. Also if stressful situations are keeping you from relaxing you can talk to a peer counselor who will act as (stress management allies).
    • For more information, click here.
  • How do you relax anywhere?: By clicking here, you can download MP3’s and take relaxation and mindfulness guided exercises where you want to relax. Some like to relax at home, in bed, or at the Arboretum. You do not have to only imagine a peaceful place if you can visit there yourself. Maybe try and take guided audio exercises with you when you visit that peaceful place to enhance your relaxing experience. Or you can take the guided exercise to help you relax when you feel you need it most like on the bus before an exam on campus.

Relaxation Skills

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) Technique A technique of tensing up specific muscles and then relaxing them to help understand and detect when specific parts of your body are tense or relaxed.

Intro to the technique: “Begin with your feet, press your heels into the ground as you tighten all the muscles in both feet. Hold for as tightly as possible for one... two... three... four... five... six... seven... eight... nine... ten... and release...Try to feel the difference between being tight and being relaxed...just let your feet relax.... Tighten your feet again for one... two... three... four... five... six... seven... eight... nine... ten... and then release... Feel your muscles relax as the blood rushes back into the muscles. Tighten your feet again for one... two... three... four... five... six... seven... eight... nine... ten... and release... feeling completely relaxed.”

For more information, click here.

Mindful MeditationMindful Meditation is effective at reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. To be mindful is to be fully engaged in the current moment and not overanalyze or think too much. It allows one to not be preoccupied with the future or the past but be in the present and focus on what is happening now in the body and in life.

Additional Resources: "Mindfulness Meditation with Deepak Chopra" "Mindfulness Guided Meditation with Deepak Chopra" Audio

Visualization Mediation for Stress Relief This skill involves imagining peaceful scenery where you can feel the most at ease. Your setting can be anywhere you choose. When doing this meditation, you want to imagine what it looks like, how it feels, tastes, and smells. Try to invoke all your senses into that calm place.

Intro to the technique: “Close your eyes and let your worries drift away. Imagine your restful place. Picture it as vividly as you can—everything you can see, hear, smell, and feel. Visualization works best if you incorporate as many sensory details as possible, using at least three of your senses. When visualizing, choose imagery that appeals to you; don’t select images because someone else suggests them, or because you think they should be appealing. Let your own images come up and work for you.”

Additional Reading: "Relaxation Techniques for Stress Relief"

Diaphragmatic Breathing Learn to breathe correctly and deeply from your belly like you did when you were an infant. This method of breathing can expand your oxygen intake over time and allows for a more deep relaxing breath. It takes practice but in time diaphragmatic breathing will come naturally and help you relieve stress.

"Online Relaxation Exercises" Audio files

Quick Stress Relief Tips Recognize how you handle stress and take steps to relieve stress by focusing in on your senses. The website offers videos and new ways to think about your feelings. This resource helps you become aware and understand your emotions. Also this site helps with many other emotional and physical challenges that can cause stress.

For more information: "Quick Stress Relief" Stress Relief video

Yoga Life Skills through Yoga at UCDavis promotes mindfulness, body awareness and wellness. It is free and drop-in’s are welcome at the ARC. “Like” their page on Facebook to see the dates, times and topics of each session.

Free Audio Guided Meditation: The UCLA Semel Institute Mindful Awareness Research Center have an entire disk full of free meditation guided audio here.

Free Relaxation Skills Related Workshops Available On Campus These relaxation related workshops are available every quarter. Click here to see the schedule for this quarter and join a group! Consultation with a psychologist may be needed to join some groups first.

ARC for Fitness and Wellness The Arc has many classes every quarter. It is simple to sign up and they just might be what you need to relax. Classes to look forward are in the Instructional Mind Body Series where there is Mindful Yoga and more every quarter. Also the ARC in general is a perfect place to reduce stress by any form of exercise.

At Home Skills Relax and have a little bit of alone time to watch your favorite show, listen to your favorite song anything that will put a smile on your face or ease your mind. Other possibilities are exercising, free writing, and finding the little happy moments that occur in life.

Preventative Skills To avoid feeling stressed and overwhelmed buy a planner and organize what you need to do and what time is appropriate. Don’t take on too many things look at your planner before you say yes to events. Learn to take care of yourself by prioritizing your mental well being and physical health.

Coping with Midterms/Finals & Other Academic Success Tips

Be Aware to the Test Anxiety Signs

Identifying these physical signs will help you learn how to manage them.

  • Physical: increased heart rate, sweaty palms, rapid or shallow breathing
  • Emotional: fear, frustration, impulsiveness, irritability
  • Cognitive: negative thoughts, mind is racing, mental block

Mentally Prepare for the Test

  • Get Adequate Sleep: try to get 7 hours of sleep per night a week in advance (if not the night before)
  • Stay Healthy: try to keep healthy eating and exercise habits (don’t try extreme diets or exercise regimes before an upcoming test)
  • Perspective: respect brain fade and relieve some pressure by admitting to yourself “I will not know all the answers.”
  • Confidence Building: positive self-talk, focus on strengths, visualize future and past successes, fake it, learn from mistakes rather than dwell on them

The Day of the Test

  • Don't go to class too early (you’ll just get anxious waiting outside).
  • Don’t quiz each other just before the exam.
  • Allow yourself time to “warm-up.”
  • Pay attention to the test, not yourself or others.
  • If you notice you are not thinking well, relax yourself physically and take a couple of deep breaths.
  • Don't hesitate to ask for clarification on the test.

Managing Moments of Panic

First, breathe and honor your emotional state. Try to lessen the impact through anchoring emotions, thought-stopping, positive self-talk, and refocusing.

  • Visualization: Visualization or imagery can increase confidence, motivation, or comfort. Try to see your success or imagine that you’ve been there before. Maybe simply imagine how you want it to be. After a few minutes (or moments) of visualization, come back and feel refreshed and ready to start studying.
  • Manage Your Energy: Psych yourself up or chill out to mentally prepare yourself

for the test. Learn how to get yourself “in the zone” by either pumping yourself up (listening to music, physical movement or activity, positive self-talk, energizing words, remembering goals, energizing visualization) or trying to chill out (progressive muscle relaxation, controlled breathing, stretching, visualization, biofeedback, smiling and laughing)

How to Attack Procrastination

When the procrastination bug bites, what do you do?

  1. Attack the project step by step.

  2. Begin with the small simple tasks. It will build your confidence

  3. Take a mental break when needed.

  4. Avoid perfectionism. You can always revise your material later. Its much easier to revise then do it right the first time.

I know I'm procrastinating and I feel guilty but I just can't stop! Remember:

  1. Dont pressure yourself to be perfect

  2. If you break the ice even on a small part, you are still one step closer to finishing then you were perviously!

  3. Relax, take a new perspective. Don't think of each task as a threat trying to prove yourself but think of each task or assignment as a chance to show how much you already know.

  4. Fear you have no time? Set aside small amounts of time everyday or use little breaks to be productive and you will be surprised how much you have done in just a few short breaks.

Why is Procrastination bad?

  • Chronic avoidance erodes your self esteem
  • Avoiding things tells yourself you can not handle it. Confrontation allows you to learn and grow

Avoid Procrastination Before it Strikes First, break it down: Make a “To Do” list of different parts of the project or study guide and reward yourself each time you complete one of the tasks. Then, take quick bites. Set aside 10-15 minutes each day to devote to your project or studies. But make sure to do this at least a week in advance! Also, say “no” to people or things that may distract you. Say “no” to friends, tv, facebook, youtube, etc. It’ll still be there after you’re daily 15 minute devotion! When you think of it, do it; even if it’s a simple task such as responding to an email. Furthermore, if you find yourself wanting to put something off, do the exact opposite and attack it!

Top Ten Tips for Success at University

  1. Location, Location, Location: Serious about getting work done? Find a good location. Use the libraries, study rooms, or empty classrooms. And if you can, try to create a study routine to maximize familiarity and therefore, information absorption!

  2. Make It a Habit: Do Coursework Every Day

Cramming is not conducive to understanding and retaining large amounts of information. Time on your courses each day is the best way to learn. Study in short, frequent sessions and take guilt-free days of rest. Use the time between classes to stay on top of readings.

  1. Help Exists! Seek It Out and Improve Your Grades

Whether you're an 'A' student or a 'D' student, you can strengthen your skills. Avoid the frustration enemy, and check out UCD’s Student Academic Success Center. Get to know your professors and tutorial assistants. Use study guides and help centers.

  1. Write It Down: Use a day planner or wall calendar. Plan time for coursework. Plan ahead for assignments and exam periods. Try to make short “To Do” lists so you know how much work you have ahead of you.

  2. Get Energized - Eat, Exercise, Sleep: Fatigue and stress weaken memory and comprehension. Eat properly, exercise regularly, and get adequate sleep (try for at least 7 or more hours). Also, help boost brain power by taking naps during the day. Leonardo DaVinci, Thomas Edison, and John F. Kennedy were famous nappers!

  3. Perform Like a Pro: Get the Most Out of Class

Don't miss class, don’t get distracted, and arrive on time. Also try reading the syllabus before class so you know what the lecture will be about. While taking notes, listen for emphases and examples. Later during the day, try reviewing those highlights for maximum retention. Questions after the lecture? Go to your professor's or tutorial assistant's office hours. Learn as you go and you won't find yourself unprepared the night before an exam.

  1. Lectures and Textbooks: What’s the BIG Picture?

University learning requires understanding how pieces of information fit together to form a “big picture.” Use course outlines, tables of content, and headings and subheadings to organize information.

  1. Do Something to Remember Key Information: Be active! Generate examples, create mnemonics, make summary notes, identify key words, highlight textbooks, or add margin notes. Improve your memory by being creative and interested.

  2. Think You'll Remember Key Points? Prove It: No matter how well you understand something, without practice forgetting will occur. Before a test, recall information without looking at notes or textbooks and by doing practice questions.

  3. Be Test Smart: Don't lose marks because of test-writing errors. Use strategies to tackle different types of tests (e.g., multiple-choice). Read instructions, budget time to marks, and do less difficult questions first to build confidence.

Your Complete Guide to Exercise Resources in Davis

This physical activity map is designed to be an all-encompassing exercise resource. Just click on the type of exercise you’re interested in doing and all resources related to that domain in the city of Davis will show up, with a website, hours, and other specifics. http://healthcenter.ucdavis.edu/hep/well/physical-activity-map.html

Exercise For Stress Management Exercise controls stress in these ways:all of these taken from: http://www.acefitness.org/fitfacts/fitfacts_display.aspx?itemid=51#learn

Exercise can help you feel less anxious. Exercise is being prescribed in clinical settings to help treat nervous tension. Following a session of exercise, clinicians have measured a decrease in electrical activity of tensed muscles. People have been less jittery and hyperactive after an exercise session.

Exercise can relax you. One exercise session generates 90 to 120 minutes of relaxation response. Some people call this post-exercise euphoria or endorphin response. We now know that many neurotransmitters, not just endorphins, are involved. The important thing though is not what they're called, but what they do: They improve your mood and leave you relaxed.

Exercise can make you feel better about yourself. Think about those times when you've been physically active. Haven't you felt better about yourself? That feeling of self-worth contributes to stress relief.

Exercise can make you eat better. People who exercise regularly tend to eat more nutritious food. And it's no secret that good nutrition helps your body manage stress better.

Exercise is a great way to:

  • Control your weight
  • Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and some cancers
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles
  • Improve mental health and mood
  • Maintain your ability to perform all of your daily activities
  • Increase your chances of living longer


Easy Ways to Stay Active

  • Go for a walk with family, friends, your dog or just yourself. There are plenty of trails in the greenbelt for you to take advantage of.
  • Bump some of your favorite tunes and dance like crazy.
  • Walk/Ride your bike to campus instead of driving or taking the bus.
  • Take advantage of the ARC’s amenities. Your membership is included in your tuition.
  • Participate in IM sports. UC Davis offers a wide variety of games for anyone to be involved in.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Do some gardening
  • Wash and wax your car
  • Go bowling
  • Walk during your lunch break
  • Do jumping jacks
  • Do work around the house
  • Park further away and walk a few extra minutes to your destination

Building Social Support

Ringo Starr was onto something when he sang: “I get by with a little help from my friends.” Creating and maintaining a backbone of social support for yourself is a foolproof way to relieve stress and maintain physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

Types of social support

  1. Emotional support is provided through an individual or group whose goal is to inform you that you’re meaningful in their lives (like when a friend calls to ask you how you’re doing.)

  2. Instrumental support occurs when someone provides a service in order to help you out (for example, if a friend helps you out on a stressful day by driving you to school.)

  3. Informational support can be given by providing someone with knowledge in order to help them help themselves (like visiting a peer counselor.)

Not every person within your social support network will have all of these qualities – your tech-savvy friend who always helps you fix your computer may not be the first person you turn to in a time of personal crisis. Having all of these types of people in your life can be extremely beneficial to your happiness, mental health, and even physical health – studies show that having a healthy social support network can lower blood pressure and lessen tension. There’s a difference between social support & support groups. Social support is a network of friends, family, and other people who you spend time with and feel comfortable around. Support groups are designed for people with illnesses to come together and learn to cope with their situations by talking it out with similarly situated people. You don’t have to build social support from the ground up; rather, you can use these pointers to expand your circle & improve the relationships you’ve already cultivated.

Ways to meet new people

  • Get involved on campus. A simple way to meet new people is to join an organization that fits your interests. Many clubs catering to different career goals, ethnic groups, and various other causes exist on campus. The Center for Student Involvement offers multiple club fairs every school year to showcase their diverse collection of student organizations.
  • Try something new. With so many options available to students, there seems to be a club or class for just about any interest, including things that you’ve potentially never heard of. Doing something you’re unfamiliar with can reveal interests you never knew you had and allow you to meet different types of people.
  • Volunteer. Many community service opportunities are available in a group setting, which allows built-in interaction with new people. The act of giving back to the community can help you feel like you’re positively contributing to society, which is stress-relieving in itself. For volunteer opportunities, check out the Community Service Resource Center on campus.
  • Go to class. Something as simple as, “Is this seat taken?” can be the first step in making a new friend. Forming study groups with classmates can boost your grades and your social life.
  • Play a sport. Not only do sports have extremely positive effects on your physical well-being, they can also be a great place to forge lasting bonds with teammates. The endorphins released as a result of physical activity create a natural sense of happiness, and the adrenaline pumping through your veins will give you the confidence to introduce yourself to everyone! See UCD Intramural Sports & Sport Clubs:
  • Be active in your community. Dorms and apartment complexes are great places to meet new people and get involved. Some ways to accomplish this are joining your building’s intramural sports teams, your residence hall area’s Leadership Council, or attending socials for your neighborhood. For a list of student organizations & descriptions, see Center for Student Involvement.

Tips for successfully initiating conversations with people

  • Eye contact & smile! Giving off vibes that you’re approachable will do most of the work for you. People want to start conversations with other people who seem friendly. You wouldn’t walk up to someone with arms crossed and eyebrows furrowed, and you can’t expect others to do that to you. Chin up!
  • Psych yourself up. Remember that you are an interesting and valuable person. By exuding confidence, you will attract people and thus expand your social circle.
  • Ask questions – and listen to the answers. You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn from a person just by listening to them. This tactic not only indicates that you have genuine interest in a person, but also helps curb nervousness by taking the spotlight off of you.
  • Build on common ground. An easy way to create a relationship with a person is to bond over shared interests or activities. This is not to say that you should avoid people who are different from you – some very valuable lessons can be learned from befriending someone different than you.
  • Follow up! Next time you see someone you had a successful conversation with, acknowledge him or her and indicate your desire to continue your new friendship.

For more information on initiating conversations, click here.

An important on-campus resource available to students is the Building Social Confidence group at CAPS. Anyone who needs to brush up on their interpersonal skills or learn to feel more confident in social situations can benefit from this group that meets weekly. For more information, click here.

Ways to maintain relationships you already have

  • Make the first move. Being active in your friendships will ensure that you spend time with people that matter to you. Subscribing to the notion that “if they really wanted to talk to me, they’d call” will not do much in the way of facilitating a friendship and can be unhealthy to your self-esteem.
  • Know when to talk and when to listen. Practicing your listening skills when your friends have a problem is a great way to maintain relationships. Your friendships will be more meaningful if both parties feel as if they have an equal part in it.
  • Try to remember important dates. Wishing a friend good luck on her midterm or remembering their big sports game can assure people that they are being listened to.
  • Keep in touch with old friends back home. Your friends from before college can provide fresh perspectives and bring back memories. The familiarity of an old friend and their experiences from their current lives can provide a calming change of pace.
  • Call your parents. Maybe that 8th voicemail hearing your mom tell you how much she misses her baby will convince you to call her back. Maybe the knowledge that your parents have been through all of this before and can provide advice when you desperately need it will do the trick. No matter what, keeping your parents in the loop is beneficial for both parties.
  • Be open with your feelings. Tell your friends you appreciate them! Tell your parents you love them! It’ll feel make you feel good and it’ll make them feel great!

How to interact with your support group

  • Actively seek help. Don’t wait for people to ask you what’s wrong. If you know you need to talk about something, ask someone you trust.
  • Know when it’s okay to go outside of your circle. If there’s something you don’t feel comfortable talking with your friends and family about, there are many resources available to you. CAPS offers peer counseling, staff psychologists, and stress management resources for you to use in your time of need.
  • Embrace your differences. No two people are exactly alike. While focusing on similarities is a great method to begin getting to know a person, learning about and embracing things you don’t have in common can make your friendship even more meaningful by exposing each other to new perspectives.
  • Have some fun! It’s great to feel comfortable talking about important things in your life with your friends, but everyone deserves time to focus on fun and relaxation! Getting some downtime in can be beneficial for everyone.

For more general information on social support networks… American Institute of Stress "Combat stress with a strong social support network"

Healthy Relationships

Romantic relationships

Relationships can and should be exciting and fulfilling parts of your college experience. Though healthy relationships are generally rewarding, they are not effortless. This guide to navigating healthy relationships strives to provide information and tips on how to cultivate and maintain healthy behaviors within romantic relationships. This guide is intended to aid people of all genders, sexualities, sexual orientations, gender identities, and relationship types. While we recognize that each relationship is unique, the goal of this guide is to provide a resource that allows people in diverse situations to reap the benefits of healthy relationships.

What does a healthy relationship look like?

In a healthy romantic relationship, both partners display…

  • trust
  • respect for the other’s individuality, opinions, and boundaries
  • a perceived sense of equality in decision-making and importance
  • shared beliefs, interests, and values, but also respect for differences
  • comfort and joy
  • willingness to openly discuss problems and compromise for a solution that benefits both parties
  • genuine care and concern for the well-being of the other

How can I build a healthy relationship?

  • Be sure to have a healthy relationship with yourself first. In order to make sure that your needs are met in a relationship, you first need to understand what your needs are. Take some time to consider what your values, strengths, weaknesses, and desires are – self-awareness can lead to more fulfilling relationships.
  • Don’t enter relationships with the goal of changing your partner. While people continually grow and change, it can be unsatisfying and/or disappointing to be in a relationship with someone who does not actually embody what you want and need. Furthermore, everyone deserves to be in a relationship in which they’re valued for the person they are, not necessarily just the person they can become.
  • Have a life outside of your relationship. Maintaining individual interests and spending some time apart can help make the time you do spend together more valuable, as well as give you some things to talk about.
  • Keep it positive. While arguments are inevitable and totally acceptable in a romantic relationship, being in a constantly negative relationship is not beneficial to anyone. Remember to have fun with your partner & bring each other up by being supportive.
  • Strive for open communication with your partner. Since the best relationships are built on a foundation of trust & honesty, it’s beneficial to openly discuss any problems that may come up in your relationship. Some tips for more effective communication:
    • Communication is as much about listening as it is about talking. Try to view listening as an active occupation rather than a passive one; do not simply use it as a break from talking. Instead, use listening as a way to more fully understand the main points of what your partner is trying to express.
    • Use reflective listening strategies to convey concern and empathy. Reflective listening involves restating the speaker’s main points back to them in your own words. These statements start with phrases such as, “What I’m hearing from you is…” or “It sounds like you…” The speaker can then either elaborate or clarify.
    • Instead of starting sentences with “you,” (i.e. “You always act like a jerk!”) start your sentences with “I” (i.e. “I feel that sometimes you come off as insensitive.”)
    • Step outside of yourself and try to understand what your partner is trying to say. Though your opinions may not match your partner’s, you may gain a new perspective by allowing yourself to see past your own mindset and more fully acknowledge your partner’s.
    • When fighting, stay in the present and try not to use past incidents against them.
    • Remember that your goal when fighting is to end up with two winners, not a winner and a loser.

What does an unhealthy relationship look like?

Dr. John Gottman, a professor specializing in marital and romantic relationship analysis, identified four destructive communication behaviors, which he called the “Four Horsemen.” Noticing these tendencies in your behavior and your partner’s behavior can indicate an unhealthy relationship.

  • Stonewalling: withdrawing from an interaction (either by physically leaving or “tuning out” the other).
  • Contempt: statements that place oneself on a higher plane than his/her partner.
  • Criticism: targeting personal qualities and characteristics rather than behavior. Statements expressing criticism can start with, “You always...” or “You never...”
  • Defensiveness: trying to avoid a perceived attack by refusing to accept responsibility, diverting attention away from it, attacking the partner, and/or rationalizing behaviors.

If you suspect that you’re in an unhealthy relationship, you can further examine your relationship for some red flags. Do you and/or your partner…

  • express jealousy in an angry or excessive way?
  • constantly check up on the other?
  • encourage the other to distance his/herself from family and friends?
  • put the other down and/or minimize his/her achievements?
  • make the other feel guilty in order to get his/her own way?
  • pressure the other into behaviors and/or activities she/he doesn’t want to do?
  • threaten the other?
  • make the other feel uncomfortable, insecure, or anxious?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your relationship isn’t as healthy as it could be.

Sometimes it's difficult to differentiate healthy and unhealthy behaviors. Refer to this table for some help deciding whether what you're experiencing is normal or not normal.

What's 'normal'
What's 'not normal'
taking an interest in your partner’s activities
trying to control your partner’s activities
pursuing activities outside of your relationship
refusing to make time for your relationship
occasionally disagreeing with your partner
getting into physical fights with your partner
enjoying time spent with partner
depending on partner to have fun
having your partner’s best interests at heart
making decisions for your partner because you “know better”
maintaining your privacy
feeling uncomfortable opening up to your partner
accepting that your partner makes mistakes
allowing your partner to engage in hurtful behavior toward you
having fun & laughing a lot with your partner
one partner laughs at another partner’s expense
the relationship makes you feel happier
the relationship makes you anxious or gives you negative self-esteem

How can I deal with a break-up?

  • Allow yourself to grieve. Feeling sad, hurt, angry, and/or other negative emotions is a natural outcome of ending any relationship. Trying to act “tough” by suppressing your emotions is not the most effective in healing from a break-up.
  • Rely on a support system of friends and family who make you feel good and reinforce a positive self-image.
  • Let yourself be single for a while; jumping into a relationship while the wounds of your previous break-up are still fresh
  • Take the opportunity to self-reflect. Think about what you liked and didn’t like about your relationship so you can refer to those qualities in future relationships.

On-Campus Resources

Healthy Relationships with Advisors & Professors

As a college student, a majority of our time is spent on school-related tasks. An easy way to make school more enjoyable and fulfilling is to build relationships with your professors, TAs, and advisors.

Benefits of a healthy relationship with an advisor/professor

  • Many students seek out relationships with their instructors and advisors in order to secure letters of recommendation for grad school, internships, and other future endeavors. While professors expect students to ask for letters of rec, most aren’t too thrilled if students come in and ask for one before a relationship is built.
  • Some students find that faculty can help with professional advice. Talking with someone on the career path you’re considering can help to add perspective and wisdom.
  • Getting to know faculty members can lead to research opportunities. Many professors are also in charge of a lab that employs undergrad, graduate, and doctoral students, and they’re more likely to hire students they know than students they don’t know.
  • Knowing your professors can help you to engage in your classes.

How to initiate a healthy relationship with an advisor/professor

  • Attend office hours! Professors are required to set aside a few hours a week to meet with students, yet many students do not take advantage of this opportunity.
  • If a one-on-one chat in office hours seems a little intimidating, try talking after class with your professor. Sometimes huge lines form, so it’s tough to have an actual conversation, but it’s a good way to get your foot in the door before going to office hours.
  • A great way to make yourself known to a professor is by participating during lectures. While it’s great to contribute your opinions, it’s also important to try not to monopolize a discussion, a tendency which may make you known to a professor for the wrong reasons.
  • An easy way to gain recognition is to sit in the front of a class. Consistently sitting up front will probably lead your professor to know who you are by default.
  • TAs are important figures in your academic world and often are more approachable than faculty. Since TAs are typically grad students, they recently went through the undergrad experience and can easily relate to your experiences. TAs also have office hours, but usually you can get to know them by regularly attending and participating in discussion.

What do I say once I’m actually talking to them?

  • Since professors spend a ton of time researching, ask about their specific field of study. They’ve likely been studying the same area since graduate school, so they definitely have a lot to say about it.
  • An easy way to start conversation in office hours is by coming prepared with a specific question. Whether it’s about a passage in the reading or a concept from lecture, these questions can be jumping-off points for more conversation.
  • If you’re really interested in the material, ask for supplemental readings. If you use this route, make sure to follow up & visit office hours to discuss what you read.
  • If you’re finding yourself without specific topics but still want to talk about the class, still go into office hours and express your genuine interest in the material. Your professor will be happy to have an engaged student. If you really don’t care that much about the material, expressing false interest can come off as fake.

What about romantic relationships with my professors and TA’s?

According to the Faculty Code of Conduct, the University of California Board of Regents approved an amendment in July of 2003 that prohibits faculty from entering into consensual romantic or sexual relationships with any student for whom the faculty member has, or is likely to have, academic responsibility. This is to ensure fair grading and treatment among all university students.

Healthy Friendships

Benefits of a Positive Healthy Friendship:

Let’s Make Friends and Keep Them! It’s as easy as 1-2-3

Sometimes friends may take the backseat in life when other things pop up like finals or work. Just remember that to keep a friendship, it takes effort and you have to work at it.

1. Know what you are looking for!

First off there is no “healthy” amount of friends! So don’t try to fulfill some random sum of friends that you think everyone should have. You can have as few or as many friends as you want. Some people benefit from a small circle of close friends while others benefit from a large diverse network.

  • Always remember to Stay Positive and Be Open when trying to make new friends.

Types of Friends: Close Friends: The friends that you share your deep personal thoughts with. You confide in them with your feelings and secrets. You often spend time with them talking about what’s happening in your life and seek advice and comfort from them. Casual Friends: The friends you like to hang out with and talk to but do not share deep or personal information. You often see them casually at get togethers and are friendly with them but you are not quite close friends.

2. The 2-Step for Friend-Making

All friendships start by communicating with each other! So let’s get out there and talk to someone new! Even a best friend started off as a person you didn’t know.

3. Let’s keep them! By Building a Friendship

Start off slow. Friendship doesn’t happen in a day! Respect boundaries and try not to bombard a friend with text messaging, phone calls, and email. Don’t expect them to reply instantly either.

  • Get to know each other and show interest in your friend’s life. Remember things about them and follow up so they feel that you genuinely care and listened to them. If a friend has a test on Friday wish them luck or ask them how it went afterwards.
  • Share a positive outlook on life. Learn to find humor in the little things. Laughter is infectious and appealing.
  • Avoid complaining and judging. You will make the person feel emotionally drained, try to create positive emotions together.
  • Don’t be self-absorbed. A friendship needs balance it cannot be all about you or else there is no room for a lasting friend.
  • Listen!!! Always listen to a friend and provide advice only when asked for.
  • Don’t judge. Give friends space to change and grow. Encourage friends to be themselves with you and express emotions freely.
  • Respect Privacy. If a friend declines sharing something with you accept that it makes them feel comfortable. Also keep personal information shared confidential and this will help build trust.

Online “Friendships

Having thousands of friends on Facebook or any other social media website does not necessarily mean you are not lonely or that you have healthy friendships. As sociologist Erin Klienberg from NYU said, always quality over quantity when it comes to friendship.

How does online social media negatively affect me?

* Social media like Facebook, Twitter and other website distract us from the real world and our friends in the real world. If you are constantly updating and checking your online sites, you leave little attention and room for your real life friends and may unintentionally push them away. In essence, having online friends will cause you to grow lonelier in real life unless your online friends are also the people you know personally in your non-virtual life.

Social Media isn’t ALL bad * Social media site are what you make of them. A healthy use of online social media is to use it as a tool to bring you closer to your friends in real life. Host a gathering and inviting your real life friends by the masses is a great way to use Facebook and build healthy friendships.

5 Positive Tips To Use Social Media

  1. Facebook and other social websites were designed to be a tool to enhance a pre-existing friendship, not to create them.

  2. Next time on Facebook, try to use it to connect to your real friends! Invite others to join you at a gathering you are hosting! Invite friends to meet you in the library for a cram session!

  3. Avoid passively looking at the Facebook wall and gazing through what everyone else is doing as this action could contribute to depression and disconnectedness. If you want to connect to a friend via social media, write a personal message on their wall or a personal comment. Do not simply “like” everything and expect that to start a conversation, get personal and tell them what you like about it!

  4. The main problem with social media is the delay in communication between each other. In real life, you constantly get instantaneous communication signals from people by listening to them, their tone of voice, their body language, and their overall apparent emotion. All these signals are lost when communicating via internet. Constantly checking for a reply from someone is not healthy and can leave you feeling anxious and depressed. Try to avoid this behavior and try to be patient or talk to the person in person if you want a faster response.

  5. Remember that a friend you make online is not the same as the friend you make in real life.


Ways to Handle Other Difficult Situations

Ever had to deal with a particularly bad breakup? Or maybe a roommate conflict? Regardless of the situation, it can be stressful and exhausting to deal with the complex issues that arise in our lives. Here are some tips on how to keep yourself positive when you find yourself feeling frustrated with a situation:

Campus Resources

Arboretum: A great place to study, nap, take a walk, or just enjoy nature.

ARC: The ARC is also an excellent place to nap, study, or work out. Boasting a Starbucks, an Aggie store, and state of the art exercise machines, the Activities and Recreation Center is a great way to deal with stress. They also offer extracurricular group exercise passes for classes including rock climbing, yoga, cycling, and many more.

CAPS: If you need someone to talk to, the UC Davis Counseling and Psychological Services center is located on the second floor of North Hall, across from the quad. CAPS is open to students five days a week.

CAPS Stress and Wellness Clinic: The Mind Spa! For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Mind Spa, we have two massage chairs, a biofeedback machine, and guided relaxation programs – along with stress and wellness reading materials and groups that meet on a weekly basis. The Mind Spa is located on the second floor of the Student Health and Wellness Center.

  • Open Monday through Friday from 11am - 5pm (Please arrive before 4:15pm)

Experimental College: Here, you can take a variety of classes – martial arts, dancing, piano, how to talk to dogs, etc. While most classes charge a fee, there are some that are free. Check their site for more information.

Health Education and Promotion: Health Education and Promotion (HEP), located on the third floor of the Student Health & Wellness Center, features free stress, fatigue and sleep resources. Please stop by the front desk to request a free nap kit which includes eye shades, ear plugs and napping tip cards. You can also check out the Nap Map http://g.co/maps/eenuq with information about the best and safest places to take a nap on the UC Davis campus!

The House: Life at the University isn't always easy. There may be a time when you need someone with whom you can discuss the pressures of college life. The House can help. The House is a drop-in and phone counseling service, open weekdays 8am to 5pm. Students can talk to another student about personal and academic problems. House staff help students with concerns such as relationship, loneliness, depression, and personal growth and provide workshops and wellness programs. Located adjacent to the Housing Office, The House phone number is 752-2790.


  • Freshmen: Talk to your Resident Advisors. They are trained in conflict mediation and are there as a resource to you!
  • Take a 5 minute breather
  • Go outside – jog, run, walk, etc.
  • Listen to music that is relaxing, makes you happy, etc.
  • Talk to someone. Call your best friend, your mom, your dad, etc. – whomever you know you can vent to.
  • Take a step back and reexamine why this particular situation is so stressful: are you looking at the glass half full or half empty? Why?
  • Once you understand why you are stressed, frustrated, etc., return to the situation at hand and try a different approach
  • Listen to some relaxing meditation and guided mindfulness MP3s, courtesy of CAPS. They can be found here.
  • Step away from Facebook! (Especially if the difficult situation began there.)

How to better manage your money

If you are on a budget, spending too much time on campus or outside of your apartment (depending on your schedule and your studying habits) could become expensive because everybody does have to eat. However, packing a lunch and snacks for the day might be a good idea to save some money…

Wellness Events

Yoga for Social Justice Thurs. 2:00–3:00 pm 10/6–12/1 (no class on 11/10) Instructor: Moira Delgado course fee: free

Positive Attitudes

Having a positive attitude doesn’t mean always being happy, bubbly, and optimistic, it means being less negative. One way to be less negative is to reframe your mind. Positive reframing is finding something good about something bad that has just happened and accepting the outcome (a little humor doesn’t hurt either). Our default in any troubling situation is to see everything bad that just happened, but you can change that. Instead of focusing on everything that went wrong, try thinking about something you did right, or something you learned from the experience. It doesn’t have to be some grand epiphany, it's just helpful to balance out an overly negative perspective. The more you try to find something good, the easier it gets, and eventually you start to do it automatically. For example, you failed your midterm and you’re having a crappy week. Admittedly there are very few ways to make yourself feel better about about failing a midterm, especially one you spent a lot of time studying for, but try telling yourself it’s okay. Sometimes being positive means not beating yourself up when you fail, but accepting it and moving on. It is often helpful to use that opportunity to find ways to do better on the next exam, and improve your grades along the way. Balancing your introspection with both positive and negative aspects, can help you grow and improve. Feeling good about yourself doesn’t always have to mean being happy, sometimes it can be about being nice to yourself. So, the next time you’re feeling down on your luck, try to change the way you look at things, and you will find yourself feeling much better.

Positive Reframing

Although some situations are very difficult to see in any positive light, a positive attitude goes a long way in many situations. Your attitude shapes your outlook towards a situation and ultimately defines your reaction. We tend to see the world through a lense colored by our perceptions. The more we think things are bad, the worse they seem to get. On the other hand, the more we try to make the best of things, the more things seem to work out. The basis of a positive attitude is resilience, the ability to see the good side of adversity and hardship, not just the bad. Being positive allows us to pick ourselves up when we have fallen. Negativity generally stems from a sensation of not having control, but with a positive outlook you can regain control.

Some helpful questions to ask yourself in a situation can be:

  1. How important is it to me?

  • If it’s not a big deal, it should not be stressful.

  • What are the consequences of failure?

    • If the consequences are not terrible, then it should not be stressful.

  • What control do I have?

    • If you have control: Great! Use it!

    • If you don’t have control, don’t worry.

    In recent years a new branch of psychology has emerged that primarily focuses on the benefits of being positive. Positive Psychology, as it is known, was founded by University of Pennsylvania professor Dr. Martin Siegalman, and Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It has three central focuses: positive emotions, positive individual traits, and positive institutions. The science is dedicated to learning more about the relationship between someone’s attitude and their health. The goal is to create a science to help improve people’s lives by teaching the benefits of a positive lifestyle. More information and tests to measure your own positivity can be found on Dr. Martin Seligman’s website.


    Depression is very common among college students. With the pressure of academics, combined with very intense and new social interactions, university life can be extremely stressful. Fortunately, UC Davis had many resource for coping with depression. The UC Davis Counseling and Psychological Services is a great place to start. Students can get free counseling through their services. Additional information can be found on the Depression page. For mental health emergencies, see the Emergency Psychological Services page.

    Self Esteem

    Soon to come: Making changes and Resources for Low Self Esteem

    Internet Reading & Resources

    "Dealing with Difficult People" - Healthy Life Magazine The College Survival Handbook Psych Central’s College Survival Guide Video: Positive Attitude is Everything Video: Teaching Positive Attitudes Video: How to Deal with Difficult People Video: Healthy Conflict Resolution Video: Relaxation Music