This month’s Thriving Faculty interview is with Dr. Mary Jung, Assistant Professor in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences at UBC’s Okanagan campus. Thriving Faculty is a regular column highlighting UBC Faculty who exemplify integration of health and wellbeing into their classrooms, research, departments and communities. Thriving Faculty support others in their health and wellbeing, in addition to making a commitment to their own self-care. This column highlights personal and professional stories of Thriving Faculty.
Read an interview with Mary Jung:
Please describe the role of your own mental health and wellbeing in your teaching, research and service to the community.
Within the School of Health and Exercise Sciences, I wouldn’t feel like much of a role model if I wasn’t practicing what I preach! So I exercise and eat a healthy diet for myself, but also to demonstrate to the students and the community that I certainly believe in what I promote. I also teach through personal examples – the barriers that I face are not unique to me, so having to go through them myself (and sharing these struggles with others) allows me to connect with students in my classes.
Are there any specific initiatives and/or research you are involved in that promote health, mental health and wellbeing?
My program of research is the study of self-regulation of health behaviours – in particular diet and physical activity, so all of my research aims to promote health! My lab develops and tests theory-based interventions that can feasibly increase adherence to health behaviours in individuals who are currently inactive, overweight/obese, or living with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.
Outside of my research interests, Dr. Sally Willis-Stewart and I co-founded and continue to run an education, awareness and support program for students who are challenged with disordered eating or excessive exercise behaviours (PUMPS; UBC Okanagan campus). We are committed to running weekly support groups because of the prevalence of such issues in the university student population, and our desire to help create a campus that promotes healthy lifestyles, positive body image, and self-esteem.
In your role as faculty, please describe your experience balancing work-life commitments? Is there a metaphor that depicts this relationship?
I make every minute count on both sides of the equation, because I never have enough minutes on either side! As a young scholar with a young child at home and a partner who is also faculty, there is never enough time in the day. I refuse to let my family life suffer as a result of my work load, and do not want to wake up one morning realizing I missed crucial moments with my child just so I could publish one more paper that given year. What works for me personally is being fully mindful when I’m at home and at work. That way, I make the most out of each minute. The time at home with my family allows me to take a needed break from the work day, so I can go back to the work at night (post-child bedtime) fully refreshed. I also choose to take the attitude of gratitude – I am so blessed for having the most wonderful work break in the world – spending quality time with my child each day! Admittedly, it is not an even 50:50 “balance”, but I’m not convinced that is what “balance” really means.
Dr. Mary Jung is an Assistant Professor in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences at UBC Okanagan and Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar. Her theory-based research program focuses on the self-regulation of health behaviours, including the promotion and adherence to physical activity and healthy diets, as well as self-regulation required to quit smoking. She is particularly interested in the concurrent management of these health behaviours amongst other valued life goals, such as work and family.