Spring Into September
By Suzanne Jolly, Health Promotions Coordinator
For anyone who works on a university campus, particularly one as vibrant and dynamic as UBC, September is not actually autumn - it is more like springtime. Similar to green leaves on the trees and blooming flowers, the campus comes alive with the faces of new students, staff and faculty. New school clothes, great goals for the upcoming year, colleagues returned from vacation: all of this brings a refreshing, busy hum of excitement on campus.
September can also be a difficult time, particularly for our newest colleagues. The stress related to starting a new job can be overwhelming at times. The stress can also manifest itself physically: considering that more than half of all the injury claims to WorkSafe BC are from employees in the first six months of their job, we definitely need to support our new colleagues! Here are few ideas to help your new colleagues with the learning curve:
The other day, I realized that since kindergarten, I have spent only three Septembers notat a school (as a student, staff or faculty). I have to admit that, after quite a few Septembers in the back-to-school mindset, I find myself trying to ignore the refreshing springtime feeling. I know the familiar drill and I fall into my steady rhythm. I honestly let out a sigh when I think about the line-ups that will soon be at my favourite lunch spot on campus, and the difficulty I will soon have trying to find a parking space outside my work building. Soon, I will settle into lunchtime traditions, spending the hour with my colleagues (or to be more truthful, I will settle into working through my lunch more frequently than I would like).
When I began to reframe my thinking about September as our university’s version of springtime, however, I realized that September also brings opportunities to make new habits and contribute to a changing culture on campus. This month, everyone (newcomers and those of us with more experience at UBC) have the opportunity to start the year fresh with new healthy habits and goals.
For everyone who has “been there, done that,” I hope you will join me in relishing the opportunities that September brings us. September can allow us to recommit to creating a culture of health at UBC: “…a working environment where employee health and safety is valued, supported and promoted through workplace health programs, policies, benefits, and environmental supports….” (reference:http://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/glossary/index.html#C3).
Culture is consistently in flux, and individuals within that culture are able to influence its direction. We can see September, in particular, as “fresh start” on campus, giving us an opportunity to negotiate and influence our university culture throughout the year. In committing to health, we make a better community for our new colleagues and ourselves.
Here’s to health!
All my best,
Register for the 12 Weeks to Wellness Challenge
Join the 12 Weeks to Wellness program!
Interested in developing new skills to build your physical, nutritional, intellectual and social well-being? Register in the free 12 Weeks to Wellness Program offered through UBC’s Faculty & StaffEmployee Family Assistance Program (EFAP) by Sept. 23. By registering, you are also entered in a draw to win a $20 UBC Food Services gift card (one winner each week for 12 weeks).
The 12 Weeks to Wellness Program offers support and services such as a personal weight-loss and behavior change consultant, an online health/wellness assessment, a workbook, nutritional counseling, and weekly check-ins. Dedicate your Fall semester to wellness! Contact Miranda Massie at Miranda.firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
Building Positive Mental Health For All
By Suzanne Jolly
How can you help UBC staff and faculty thrive at UBC? Help build positive mental health into everything you do!
Here are some ideas:
- Host healthy potlucks or walking/running groups. Food choices and physical activity can positively affect one’s brain function.
- Create a gratitude wall. Expressing gratitude can positively impacts one’s mood.
- Become a QPR Gatekeeper. By taking UBC’s suicide prevention training workshop, you can develop an understanding of warning signs and how to help students, friends, family members and colleagues can allow for early intervention and lead to earlier diagnosis of mental illness.
- Host educational workshops on health topics. Your mental health is impacted by your physical health, and vice versa.
Check out more event ideas on the UBC Thrive website: one of many resources we offer to help build positive mental health for faculty, staff and students.
We are looking for volunteers to join UBC Thrive in helping to build a healthier community. Thrive 2011 is a week-long series of free events running Oct. 17-21, taking place at UBC’s Vancouver and Okanagan campuses , for students, staff and faculty.
Join UBC Thrive or learn more about upcoming events by visiting www.thrive.ubc.ca. For more information, contact Suzanne Jolly, Health Promotion Coordinator, email@example.com or (604) 822-8792.
By Abigail Overduin, Ergonomics Coordinator
Laptops are convenient and portable; they allow us to take our computers with us to work almost anywhere. Unfortunately, the ergonomics of laptop work is not ideal, particularly so when one uses a laptop as their primary computer. Although I was aware that many people use their laptops for sustained periods of time, over the last few months I have been surprised to see a number of people working on their laptops full-time here at UBC.
What are the risks?
The most obvious ergonomic risk of using a laptop comes from having the keyboard and monitor attached. This forces you to choose between adopting either a poor neck posture, or a poor forearm/hand posture. These postures can not only cause discomfort; they can also increase the risk of developing a musculoskeletal injury (MSI).
Poor neck posture versus poor forearm/hand posture
Laptop screens are generally smaller than standard computer monitors, which can cause more eye and neck strain as people tend to lean forward to read what is on their screen.
Many users tend to rest their wrists on the ledge of the laptop and extend their wrists while typing. Wrist extension and contact pressure are known risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Resting wrists on the edge of the laptop
Additionally, the keyboard on a laptop is generally more condensed than a standard keyboard, which for many users, particularly those with larger hands, results in increased ulnar deviation (another risk factor for carpal tunnel syndrome).
A visual representation of ulnar deviation
What Can You Do?
Ideally, if you are using your laptop as your primary computer, you should obtain an external monitor, keyboard and mouse. If it is not feasible to obtain an external monitor, you should at least obtain an external keyboard and mouse and use a laptop stand or book to raise your laptop screen. The height of your monitor should be adjusted so that the top line of the text is at eye level, and your keyboard and mouse should be just below elbow level. If you do not have access to a keyboard tray, this may require you to raise your chair to the maximum height and use a footrest or books to support your feet. For help with setting up your computer workstation, please check out our online computer workstation guide or request assistance from your office ergo rep or myself (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you are interested in learning more about office ergonomics, I will be hosting a free Office Ergo Rep training program on Oct. 25, 2011, 1:00 to 4:00. Participants will learn basic ergonomic principles, how to conduct office ergo assessments and how to solve minor ergonomic problems for their colleagues. Additional training material will be provided to enable participants to pass on their learning and training to colleagues.