Thriving Campus features, testimonials, contributions and personal experiences linked to health and wellbeing from UBC staff, faculty and students.
“Thriving, to me, is doing what makes me happy.”
This means a combination of incorporating what I already know and love into daily life (from big things like a job that inspires me, to little things like a favourite flavoured latte) as well as constantly trying new things.
How do you Thrive at work?
To keep energized through the day at work, I try to include as much physical activity as possible, eat regular healthy snacks, minimize the time I spend sitting and regularly try new things.
Physical activity doesn’t have to involve large time commitments and copious amounts of sweating. There are lots of small ways I’ve found to increase activity on a daily basis that are easy to incorporate and can really add up: Getting off the bus a few stops early or choosing a distant parking lot and power walking the rest of the way into the office; scheduling walking meetings with colleagues; walking down the hall to talk to colleagues rather than using the phone or just firing off another email; and always taking the stairs instead of using the elevator.
Our rainy climate can often be a barrier to people getting out to enjoy the physical beauty of the UBC campus and surrounding beaches and trails. Being a born and bred BC girl, I was brought up to believe that there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing! So I keep a folding umbrella in my bag, a change of shoes in my office, and invest in a good rain jacket.
For me, the key to healthy eating is to never let myself get so hungry that I’ll eat whatever’s in front of me! To stay well-fuelled, I keep my car, office and work bag well stocked with non-perishable healthy snacks and eat at regular intervals. My colleagues all know that I’m a die-hard chocoholic (and not ashamed to admit it) but I keep my daily fixes small(ish) – and thank all the recent scientific studies that make it sound like chocolate is fast becoming the new blueberry of superfoods!
For the inevitable hours I do spend in front of the computer, I use a standing desk and take regular breaks. On the days where lots of meetings lead to hours of sitting, I try to squeeze short bursts of activity into whatever time I do have between meetings: Sometimes it means just a quick walk up and down the hallway, or sometimes it means taking a longer route back to my building to get in a few extra minutes of power walking. I also aim to always stand when talking on the phone.
Trying new things can be a great way to infuse enthusiasm into the daily work routine. While I love to attend events or test out one of the many wonderful classes that are offered around campus, time doesn’t always permit this. So on a daily basis, my quest for change often involves something as small as walking a different route to the bus loop, sampling a new flavor of tea or eating a different thing for lunch every day.
How do you Thrive at home?
At home, I combine my daily goals of exercise and healthy eating with friends and family and outdoor time as much as possible. My two children, through the boundless enthusiasm and energy inherent in a 2- and 5-year-old, ensure that my fear of spending too much time sitting is completely eradicated! We try to leave our car at home and walk to the local stores, bike to the farmer’s market or take a bus to a friend’s house. I love to cook and am l passionate about gardening, which is a lucky combination! Hiking and walking tend to be my activities of choice, but I turned 40 this month so decided to step it up a notch and started running. I’m unlikely to be running marathons by the time I’m 50, but I am (somewhat to my surprise) looking forward to a 10km run in a couple of weeks’ time.
Maija Norman is the Administrative Manager in the Department of Asian Studies. After completing her BA in Modern Languages at Concordia University in Montreal, Maija worked and travelled around the world for a number of years before coming to Vancouver in 2002. Planning to stay only a few weeks to visit friends and family and earn some travel money, she accepted a four-week Staff Finders placement in Asian Studies. Thirteen years later, Maija continues to be inspired by the people she works with at Asian Studies and the opportunities that are available to staff at UBC, still enjoys travelling, lives happily with her husband and two kids in North Vancouver, and thanks UBC Staff Finders for the opportunity that set this all in motion!