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By Miranda Massie on June 8, 2016
This May marked the 5th annual David Suzuki Foundation 30×30 challenge, which encourages Canadians to spend at least 30 minutes in nature every day for 30 days. Sounds easy, right? It turns out it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.
I regularly find myself outside (walking to the bus, heading to meetings, etc.) but rarely do I attempt to purposefully spend time in nature. I realize now that walking down a busy street is not the same as sitting under a tree in a park. Research shows us that exposure to nature is good for our wellbeing. It boosts our immune system, lowers blood pressure, increases creativity, builds empathy and fosters community.
Despite being aware of all of these benefits, consciously finding time in my day to get outside was tough. Truthfully, I ran out of ideas after going for a couple of walks and having my lunch on a bench on Main Mall.
That is where the 30×30 challenge daily tips came in handy! It provided a list of 30 different ways to inspire my ‘re-connect’ with nature. Here are some of my favourites:
Tips for taking a time-out in nature
- Read outside: Grab your coffee and a book and start your morning off with some fresh air
- Eat alfresco: Invite colleagues to take lunch outside or take your dinner to a local park
- Bring nature indoors: Enhance your home or workspace with plants, fresh flowers, shells, rocks or pine cones
- Get dirty: Exposure to soil bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae can act as a natural antidepressant, activating brain cells that improve mood, reduce anxiety and facilitate learning.
- Stargaze: Go outside on a clear evening and look at the sky. Stretch out on a blanket and relish the sense of perspective.
- Cloud watch: Look up! Cloud watching any time of the day clears the mind and calms the senses.
- Listen: Did you know birds have their own language? Instead of identifying species, pay attention to the behavior and communication of our feathered friends.
This month, I invite you to think about how to take advantage of the the warm summer weather and beautiful natural surroundings to re-introduce some nature into your life!
All my best,
Posted in Editorial, Miranda Massie | Tagged 30x30, David Suzuki Foundation, eating, editorial, gardening, health benefits, Miranda Massie, Nature, outdoors, plants, reading, summer, time out, weather, wellbeing | 1 Response
By Melissa Lafrance on June 8, 2016
Save Your Skin Foundation’s National Sun Awareness Week is June 6 – 12. It is designed to highlight the dangers of over-exposure to the sun and to promote safe behaviours. Summer is here and so are the beautiful sun-shining days! Take this time to learn about staying hydrated, sun safety tips, and vitamin D. Keep on shining!
Stay Hydrated – How much water should you be drinking?
To keep your body hydrated, aim for a daily fluid intake of about 2 – 3 litres (9 – 12 cups) per day, based on your body size and activity level.
When you are more active, and the weather is hotter, you will need to increase your intake. Learn about sports hydration here.
Water is one of the best fluid choices, but you can also drink other beverages such as milk, juice, broth/soups, coffee and tea.
Signs of Dehydration
- Dry lips and mouth
- Flushed skin
- Headache, dizziness, fainting
- Low blood pressure, increase in heart rate
- Dark, strong smelling urine
If you feel any of these dehydration symptoms, do the following:
- Stop your activity and rest
- Get out of direct sunlight and find a cooler spot if possible
- Prop up your feet and take off unnecessary clothing
- Drink a rehydration drink:
- Combine 1 cup of juice (preferably apple), 2 cups of water, pinch of salt
- Sports drink will also work
Maximizing Your Vitamin D from Safe Sun Exposure & Diet
We get vitamin D from three sources; synthesis by the skin following exposure to sunlight; eating foods that contain vitamin D; and taking vitamin D supplements. Ultraviolet B (UVB) is the portion of sunlight that stimulates human skin to produce vitamin D. However, UVB rays are also the major cause of sunburns and can increase the risk of developing skin cancer.
The good news is that you don’t need to tan to get benefits from the sun. The amount of sun exposure needed to produce enough vitamin D depends on age, diet, skin colour, where you live, and how strong the sun is. For most people, just a few minutes in the sun every day during summer months will be enough.
Six Steps to Protect your Skin
I’m sure most of us have experienced sunburn at some point and we know, it’s not nice. To avoid the discomfort and minimize your risk of skin cancer, practice these tips!
- Avoid sun burning, intentional tanning, and using tanning beds.
- Use sunscreen properly.
Sunscreens are rated by the strength of their SPF. The SPF tells you the product’s ability to screen or block out the sun’s UVB rays. Use SPF 30 or higher that is labelled broad-spectrum and use a lipbalm with SPF.
Don’t forget your ears, neck, tops of your feet and any bald spots!
- Wear sun-protective clothing, wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses.
One of the best ways to protect yourself from the sun is to cover up. Make sure you choose close-fitting sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection in a wraparound style.
- Check the UV Index and plan accordingly.
On days when the UV reaches 3 (moderate) or higher, you need to be diligent in protecting your skin, face, and eyes. In Canada between April and September, the UV Index can be 3 or more from 11am – 3pm, even when it’s cloudy.
- Seek shade.
If your shadow is shorter than you, it’s time to find some shade. Seek shade especially between 11am – 3pm.
- Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand. The rays reflect!
- Get vitamin D from your diet first and vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be stored in the body. We all need adequate vitamin D from our diet to help our bodies absorb and use calcium and phosphorous for strong bones and teeth as well as reduce the risk of osteoporosis and certain cancers. Learn more about vitamin D and rich food sources.
Want to know more?
- Summer is Coming – June 2015 Healthy UBC Newsletter article
- How to Pick the Right Suncreen – and Use it Properly – Tips from Sunil Kalia, UBC Assistant Professor of Dermatology and Skin Science
- Sun Safety Tips for Parents – tip sheet for parents
- Sun Sensitivity Test – quick survey tool
- Extreme Heat/Heat Waves – detailed safety tips
By Guest Contributor on June 8, 2016
Guest contribution by Wendy Quan
Do you have a busy mind? If you said yes, congratulations, you have a typical human mind!
The mindfulness concept of the ‘monkey mind’ is the name given to your busy mind. You know that one I’m talking about — you have so much going on in your life, that your mind jumps around like an agitated monkey. Most people generally are not too aware of it, and when you do notice it, it can increase your stress when you notice the monkey mind.
Perhaps you recognize your busy monkey mind and have tried to calm it down. Maybe you have tried meditation on your own by reading a book or trying to learn by listening to recordings. Did you find this successful? If not, it’s likely that you got frustrated because your monkey mind just won’t ‘shut down’ and stay calm.
Having thoughts is normal – it’s human. As you practice meditation, you will notice an increase in your focus and concentration. You will be increasingly more capable of focusing in the object of your meditation, such as your breath, a visualization, or a silent mantra. It is very common to expect a completely calm mind when meditating but the reality is that this should not be expected of meditation.
Here’s the key: Meditation is not about achieving a totally blank or calm mind throughout the entire meditation. Meditation is about focusing, and then when your mind does wander (and it will!), your job is to notice when it has wandered, then re-focus on the object of your meditation.
A great tip is to change how you regard your wandering mind – instead of getting frustrated and disappointed when this happens, congratulate yourself for noticing when your mind has strayed. Feel good that you’ve noticed! Feel good that you are self-aware! See your growing awareness as a positive, not a negative.
Every time you notice your mind has wandered, know that you are doing a good job in meditation!
Doesn’t that change your perspective on the wandering mind? When I teach this perspective in class, people feel relief and start to enjoy meditation so much more.
Wendy Quan will be teaching a three-week summer ‘Learn To Meditate’ class for beginners at UBC. Join her for a wonderful introduction to mindfulness and meditation, and leave feeling confident to start your personal practice. Program cost is $35 and sessions run July 11, 18, 25 from 12:00-1:00pm. Sign up here.
Wendy Quan is a certified organizational change manager who has created an innovative way to build personal and organizational change resiliency through meditation and mindfulness. Wendy has two published papers on this subject with the worldwide Association of Change Management Professionals, speaks at conferences, and has taught at UC Berkeley. Wendy is a leader in the change management community and founded the Vancouver Change Management Practitioner’s community of practice. Her career has also included management in human resources, organizational development, coaching and information technology.
By Miranda Massie on June 8, 2016
Thriving Campus features, testimonials, contributions and personal experiences linked to health and wellbeing from UBC staff.
First time UBC dads on how they Thrive
This month we are celebrating first time dads at UBC in a special Father’s Day feature. We asked new dads from across campus to share some tips on how they thrive while being parents to some pretty adorable kids!
Ali Mojdehi, Operations Manager in Campus Security
“When you become a parent, you become aware of feelings that you always knew you had but never fully felt them until that moment. Those feelings help me to thrive and develop as a father.”
Eli Puterman, Assistant Professor, School of Kinesiology
“Daily, my husband and I take a long walk with Zev in his stroller along the seawall. Not only are we taking care of our health (I am a health psychologist!), but we get the chance to be together, talk about our dreams, and show Zev every puppy, bird, and tree along the way.”
Jarrad Wiens, Admin and HR Manager, Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology
“Try out a few different baby carriers and find one that’s comfortable. Going out with your baby and having your hands free is very liberating. Our friends were shocked to see us out for a drink just a few days after coming home from the hospital, thanks to our trusty carrier.”
Matt Dolf, Director, Strategic Support, Wellbeing at UBC
“I remind myself to be completely present with our daughter when I spend time with her. No phones, no tv, no distracted thoughts… just really focus on her expressions and engage fully in whatever we are doing together.”
On June 19, be sure to say a big thank you in recognition of all of the dads, parents and father figures out there!
By Melissa Lafrance on June 8, 2016
Guest contribution from UBC Benefits Specialist Stephanie Mah
Summer vacation is right around the corner. Before you leave, there are several things you should know about your health and wellbeing travel benefits coverage through UBC, including:
- What documentation to take with you; and
- What to do in the event of a medical emergency.
It is important to plan ahead and understand the associated risks when travelling to other parts of the world, so that you can prepare for events that may occur.
You are invited to learn more at the Understanding Your Travel Benefits Info Session
June 21, 2016 @ 12-1pm – For more info and to register, click here.
Summer is here, and you may be preparing for vacations both at home and abroad. This information session will be useful for anyone wanting to know more about travel benefits and how to be prepared in a medical emergency. Join UBC Benefits Specialist, Stephanie Mah, in this one-hour session on understanding your travel benefits and ensure that your well-earned vacation is as stress free as possible.
For Coverage while travelling outside BC or Canada: Reimbursement depends on the expense.
Physician and hospital expenses covered by the Medical Services Plan of BC:
Medically necessary expenses that are typically covered by the Medical Services Plan of BC (MSP), are covered only in the event of an emergency only, if incurred outside of BC or Canada, such as:
- out-patient and physician’s services
- services and supplies while in hospital
- a hospital room (shared)
These services are not covered in non-emergency situations.
MSP is the first payor of these expenses and they will pay up to the BC rate. If you are covered under UBC’s Extended Health plan, Sun Life will pay the difference, up to 100% and up to your overall lifetime maximum of $1-million per person.
Medical expenses covered by UBC’s Extended Health Plan:
Also covered are expenses incurred outside BC or Canada that are typically covered by UBC’s Extended Health plan with Sun Life (e.g., ambulance, prescription drugs, medical equipment and supplies, paramedical services (only covered in North America) and vision care benefits), subject to the conditions outlined in your plan. These are covered in a medical emergency as well as non-emergency situations.
Payment for these expenses will be limited to the reasonable & customary charge within BC, and in Canadian funds.
How much is covered?
- Eligible expenses are covered at 100% less the deductible, up to your overall extended health lifetime maximum. Your overall extended health lifetime maximum at any point in time is $1-million, less any amount Sun Life has reimbursed since you were enrolled in the plan.
- To determine the extended health plan balance for you and/or each of your covered dependents, contact Sun Life at 1-800-361-6212 or 1-800-661-7334.
- You are covered for a period of 365 days of absence per trip. If you are hospitalized during this period as a result of a medical emergency, in-patient services are covered for up to 90 days.
Are there exclusions/limitations under the Plan?
Yes. For more information, please visit: http://www.hr.ubc.ca/benefits/travel/exclusions/.
What documentation should you take with you?
- Sun Life Coverage Card (downloadable from the Sun Life website)
- BC Care Card/BC Services Card
- Letter from UBC Human Resources confirming medical coverage while travelling (if required for tour company)
- Medi-Passport information
- Family doctor’s contact information
What should you do in a medical emergency?
Seek medical attention as necessary and contact Europ Assistance, Sun Life’s travel benefits provider as soon as possible. Europ Assistance will set up a file for you and monitor your progress. In some instances, Europ Assistance may remit payment directly to the hospital.
- In the USA and Canada, call: 1-800-511-4610
- In Mexico, call: 001-800-368-7878
- Elsewhere, call: * 202-296-7493 (call collect if available)
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Should I purchase additional insurance?
UBC is able to provide information about your coverage while travelling outside of BC; however, the decision to purchase additional medical or other insurance is yours to make. Prior to travel, we recommend that you visit the UBC Travel Benefits page (www.hr.ubc.ca/benefits/travel) to understand your coverage as well as the exclusions and limitations to the plan. If you are satisfied with the level of UBC coverage, you may not need to purchase additional insurance.
Want to know more?
By Melissa Lafrance on June 8, 2016
UBC’s Health, Wellbeing and Benefits team has a great line up of free activities and events coming your way this summer. Sign up today for programs including Breast Cancer Prevention, Understanding your Travel Benefits, CAMMPUS, Healthy Eating, Office Stretches & Workouts and plenty more!
Breast Cancer Prevention & Risk Management Workshop – June 14, 2016 @ 12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
This interactive educational session will provide participants with the latest research evidence regarding ways to reduce the risk of breast cancer through lifestyle modifications pertaining to alcohol intake, physical activity, nutrition, weight management, exposures, as well as myths and misconceptions in this area.
The facilitator of the session is Bonnie McCoy, a Clinic Evaluation Assistant and Lifestyle Counsellor for the Breast Cancer Prevention and Risk Assessment Clinic. All staff and faculty are welcome to attend.
Understanding Your Travel Benefits – June 21, 2016 @ 12-1pm (Location: Point Grey & UBC Okanagan)
The summer is here and you may be preparing for vacations both at home and abroad. This information session will be useful for anyone wanting to know more about UBC’s travel benefits and be prepared in a medical emergency. Join UBC Benefits Specialist, Stephanie Mah, in this one-hour session on understanding your travel benefits and ensure that your well-earned vacation is as stress free as possible.
Are You Heart Healthy? Say Yes with CAMMPUS, and Attend an Info Session: June 22, 2016 @ 12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
Join us to learn about participating in a unique project called CAMMPUS (Cardiovascular Assessment and Medication Management by Pharmacists at the UBC Site).
CAMMPUS offers UBC faculty and staff a free 30-minute assessment with a registered pharmacist (or student under pharmacist supervision) from the UBC Pharmacists Clinic. During the assessment, you will find out your current level of heart health and what steps you can take to keep your cardiovascular system healthy.
For more information and to register, click here.– Available until September 30, 2016
Healthy Eating: Strategies to Stay Motivated & Overcome Challenges – June 29, 2016 @ 12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
Join Dr. Zahra Ezzat-Zadeh, Registered Dietitian and UBC Postdoctoral Fellow, to learn practical tips for overcoming common challenges and motivational tips that will keep you on the wining track to achieve your healthy eating goals.
This session will help you gain insight and strategies to set healthy eating goals and behaviours as well as ways to build motivation to maintain these habits! For more information and to register, click here.
Office Stretches & Workouts – July 5, 2016 @12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
This interactive presentation will teach you a series of stretches and strengthening exercises that can be done at the office or while travelling and does not include any equipment. This makes them easy and convenient to do to increase activity and counter the specific problems that arise from excess sitting. For more information and to register, click here.
Celiac Disease & Gluten-free Diet: Myths vs. Facts – July 7, 2016 @ 12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
Are you thinking about going gluten-free? What do you think of the new gluten-free craze – is going gluten-free actually healthier for you? This workshop will focus on the myths and truths of what the gluten-free diet is and what celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity are.
The facilitators of the session are Val Vaartnou, President of the Canadian Celiac Association (Vancouver Chapter) & Nicole Fetterly, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Manager in UBC Student Housing and Hospitality Services. All staff and faculty are welcome to attend.
For more information and to register, click here.
Coming up later in July…
Learn to Meditate (three sessions) – July 11, 18, 25, 2016 (Point Grey)
Not Myself Today Information Session – July 12, 2016 (Point Grey)
Posted in Events, Healthy UBC Initiatives, Nutrition, Physical Health | Tagged breast cancer prevention, events, free, healthy eating, Heart health, learning, seminars, stretching, travel benefits, workshops
By Miranda Massie on June 8, 2016
UBC based events and activities:
Summer Joga Series @ BodyWorks: New Pilot Period June 14 – July 5
BodyWorks Fitness is now offering Joga (Yoga for Jocks) for $36 as a pilot during its first term from June 14 – July 5! Join Janelle, certified Joga Instructor & Ambassador, in a unique opportunity to achieve mobility and strength through yoga! Weekly Joga classes will run every Tuesday, 12:00 – 12:45pm at Bodyworks Fitness Centre. Call 604-822-0207 for rates.
This panel discussion will address the challenge of respecting fundamental principles of justice for the defendant while fostering a better space for survivors within the criminal justice system. Moderated by Margot Young of the Allard School of Law, panelists include legal experts in sexual assault trials, and experts on the impact on survivors, and the media’s response. This event is supported by Alumni UBC. Register here.
Discover ways in which the pharmacist-led patient care clinic can assist you and/or a loved one with medication management. Seminar facilitators include Jordan Ho, 4th year pharmacy student, and Barbara Gobis, Lecturer and Director of the UBC Pharmacists Clinic. Seminar will be June 16, 12:00-12:50pm at the Osborne Centre, unit 1, room 203. Please view/share this poster.
UBC Opera Presents-A Midsummer Night’s Dream: June 23-26
A spat between the king and queen of fairies spills into the human realm, creating a tangle of misdirected spells and misplaced love affairs. Nothing is what it seems in this enchanting collision of worlds, as fairies, country folk, and moonstruck young lovers spin through a single magical night. Buy tickets here.
Understanding Your Staff Pension Plan: June 27 or 28
Understanding Your Staff Pension Plan (UYSPP) is an informative workshop session designed for potential and current members of the UBC Staff Pension Plan. Register here.
Wednesday Farm Markets at the UBC Bookstore: June-October
The UBC Farm Wednesday Campus Market features an assortment of fresh UBC Farm produce and flowers. This mid-week market in front of the UBC Bookstore offers students, staff and faculty members a convenient opportunity to purchase UBC Farm produce. The Wednesday market only accepts cash, and customers are asked to bring their own bags.
UBC Recreation Outdoor Programming: Summer 2016
Looking to enjoy a low- or high-impact activity while still being able to enjoy the summertime time? UBC Recreation holds many of our popular classes outdoors during the warmer months including boot camps, yoga, and Tai Chi Chuan, as well as outdoor specific programs like golf, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, whale watching, and sailing. Learn more.
Summer Yoga Series (Blusson Spinal Cord Centre): until Aug 25
Do you work at or near VGH? Activate yourself this summer with lunchtime fitness classes. Taught by certified instructors and offered Tuesday and Thursday throughout the summer. Sign up for strength-based full body workouts, combo yoga-pilates classes or both! (Cost: $230/32 classes; $120/16 classes; $85/10 drop-in classes)
By Melissa Lafrance on June 8, 2016
Meals feed our bodies, but mealtimes feed our relationships.
Research shows that eating socially has many beneficial impacts, supporting both our nutritional health and mental wellbeing. The social aspect of eating together with family, friends and colleagues is very important to overall health and wellbeing.
Potlucks help foster a sense of community and are more than just sharing food. Check out the following nourishing potluck recipes and tips during the month of June! Become a UBC Health Contact to receive weekly reminders, tips and tricks.
If you’ve been tasked with organizing a potluck at work, or you offered to plan a get together, you may be wondering where to start. For great tips, check out How to Organize a Potluck Dinner.
This flavourful and colourful Crowd-pleasing Chickpea & Carrot Salad can be enjoyed any time of year, and it is perfect for a summer potluck!
For an easy and healthy dessert option, try making Fruit Kebas with Maple Cinnamon Yogurt Dip! You can easily substitute with whichever fruit you have on hand and adjust the recipe to have about one kebab per person.
Spinach Dip is always my go-to potluck dish. Try it out with pumpernickel bread and a variety of veggies!
For more potluck recipe ideas:
By Miranda Massie on June 8, 2016
Fitting in Fitness is a health series for staff and faculty that shares tips and suggestions on how to increase physical activity.
Missed Bike to Work Week but still want to get outside? Check out these great tips and workouts to help you ride off into the summer sunset.
Enjoy the natural beauty of the city while keeping fit with these three local bike tours!
All you need to know to prepare for a summer full of cycling. Includes information on buying a bike and helmet, maps and route planning, bike research and data, and more.
Can’t get outside? Try these training tips for a successful spin workout.
Up your game on your off-days with these exercises that you can do anywhere.