Inspired Guelph-Humber student organizes self-care teddy bear event

Apr 1, 2024 | Campus News, Culture, Life

Victoria Garcia-Rodriguez, a psychology student at the University of Guelph-Humber and a consent peer educator for the Lakeshore campus, was inspired to host a self-care event where students had the chance to stuff teddy bears with positive messages.

“I make stuffed animals at home, I crochet and it’s something really therapeutic for me and I thought it’d be really nice if there was a way to have a stuffed bear that would kind of make people feel better,” Garcia-Rodriguez said.

“I was looking for something where people can put self-affirmations inside and then open it up when they feel bad,” she said.

Students came together to stuff teddy bears on March 26 in room A170 of the Lakeshore campus’ A building.

Garcia-Rodriguez said the event took strips of paper, in which students wrote self-affirmations to stuff into the bear, along with bear stuffing and personalized t-shirts for the bears.

She said self-care is extremely important and aside from speaking to students as a peer educator about consent, a big part of that is speaking about self-care.

“Even just on a day-to-day basis, just living life, self-care is super important for mental health,” Garcia-Rodriguez said.

“I’m in psychology and I care a lot about how I’m doing mentally and so I do a lot of activities, crocheting, music and I think it’s really important for other people to have that kind of thing too,” she said.

Garcia-Rodriguez wants to give people that space to take care of themselves, especially during exam season.

Victoria Garcia-Rodriguez, organizer of the event.

Victoria Garcia-Rodriguez, a psychology student at the University of Guelph-Humber and a consent peer educator at the Lakeshore campus, is the organizer of the self-care bears event at the Lakeshore campus on March 26. Photo credit: Krishna Bhagnathsingh

“I’ll take moments where I try to almost multitask self-care with everyday life, but I’ll be doing something with a friend or being with my family while I’m writing my paper,” she said describing how she implements self-care into her life.

“If I do have the time, then I’ll play piano, and go on walks,” Garcia-Rodriguez said.

She said nothing is possible without taking care of your mind because it will shut down and that it is what drives you forward.

“So really trying to set the time for it [self-care] and really analyzing what matters to you and what makes you happy,” Garcia-Rodriguez said.

“Nothing that you do will be important unless you have an idea of what makes you happy,” she said.

Ana Downes, also a Guelph-Humber student in the psychology program, was at the event to stuff a teddy bear.

“I’ve honestly been really stressed recently and I think that this is a good event to take the time to focus on destressing a little bit and meeting some new people,” Downes said.

“That’s kind of what I was hoping to get out of this,” she said.

Downes said self-care is important and she thinks activities such as exercise, reading, listening to music, as well as other calming activities help her de-stress.

“I just like to focus on things that I like to do and things that bring me joy,” Downes said.

“I think that’s what self-care is all about, to just make things that make you happy and focusing on that,” she said.

Downes said she stuffed a “ton” of positive affirmations into her teddy bear, such as “You’re doing great,” “You’re beautiful,” “You got this,” “Trust yourself,” and “Trust the process.”

Ana Downes, a psychology student at the Univesity of Guelph-Humber.

Ana Downes, a psychology student at the Univesity of Guelph-Humber, holding a teddy bear. Downes said she felt stressed, which made her join the event on March 26. Photo credit: Krishna Bhagnathsingh

“You’ve got this, with exams, in particular, it’s a hard time right now, but summer is coming soon, things will get better,” Downes said, outlining her messages to those having a hard time.

“Trust yourself, work hard and trust that things will work out in the end,” she said.

Komal Sethi, a digital business management student at Humber, was also at the event and said she came to enjoy her last few weeks as a college student.

Sethi hadn’t yet put any messages in the teddy bear but planned to add a quote she goes by: “Be so happy that when others look at you they become happy too.”

“I just try to be happy all the time and enjoy what I have,” she said.

Sethi said it would take a while before she decides what to add.

“Try to think about your loved ones and the amount of things you have in your life, all the positives and keep the negativity away,” she said, as her message to those going through a hard time, both at school and personally.