By Miranda Massie on August 5, 2015
As a child, I had no shortage of grown-ups in my life who encouraged me to “go play outside”. I’m sure that on occasion this response was prompted by a whiny “I’m bored” from me or my friends, constantly seeking new forms of entertainment, particularly in the summer months.
At the time, part of me assumed this was an adult’s way of avoiding being asked to watch my sister and I lip sync the chart toppers for the umpteenth time, or reenactments of our favourite Disney movies. While these were perhaps valid reasons to suggest a quick distraction or change of scenery, it turns out that there is evidence supporting some very real health benefits that come from spending time outside.
Biophilia translates literally to “love of life or living systems”. It has become a term in evolutionary psychology that is used to describe an innate human attraction to all which is vital and living. This theory has been applied more recently when examining the health and wellbeing benefits of nature and our natural environment.
Five health benefits of playing outside:
- Reduced stress levels (*bonus: improves mental health as well as cardiovascular health)
- Elevated mood and a more positive attitude
- Improved attention and mental capacity
- Increased longevity
- Increased levels of self-reported ‘good health’
There are a number of accompanying theories as to what characteristics within nature are specifically responsible for the resulting health benefits. Some of these include:
- Nature provides the opportunity for increased physical activity, which can support better heart, bone and joint health.
- Activities performed outdoors often encourage or involve socializing, which builds social support networks.
- The physical characteristics of elements found in nature (air quality, pleasant smells, colour and light) are both visually appealing and physically beneficial, improving the overall experience of any activity performed outdoors vs indoors.
Five ways to reap the benefits of nature (without sport or formalized activity).
- Get in the garden. Offer to garden for a neighbor or friend if you do not have the space.
- Explore BC’s trails and natural wilderness. Bonus is, it is free!
- Eat lunch outside. I recommend a bench along Main Mall.
- Bring your book to the nearest neighbourhood park.
- Invite nature in by placing plants or flowers around your home and office.
Nothing like finding scientific evidence to back up the fact that your parents were right all along, is there?
This month, I invite you to try and interact with your natural environment is some way every day. It might be as simple as stopping to smell a fragrant plant or flower on your way into the office. Perhaps you walk barefoot through the grass in a park or your backyard. Maybe invite some colleagues out to play bocce at lunch.
However you choose to experience nature this summer, take advantage of the beautiful weather and give your wellbeing a little boost at the same time.
All my best,
Clowney, D. (2013). Biophilia as an environmental virtue. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 26(5), 999-1014.
Grinde, B., & Patil, G. G. (2009). Biophilia: Does Visual Contact with Nature Impact on Health and Well-Being? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 6(9), 2332–2343.
Gullone, E. (2000). The biophilia hypothesis and life in the 21st century: Increasing mental health or increasing pathology? Journal of Happiness Studies, 1(3), 293-322.
Huelat, B. (2008). The Wisdom of Biophilia-Nature in Healing Environments. Journal of Green Building, 3(3), 23-35.
By Miranda Massie on August 5, 2015
We held our second annual 4 week Learn to Meditate Program with Wendy Quan; we began our very first 3 week Healthy UBC Summer Career Series with Pooja Khandelwal; we welcomed over 80 attendees at our Know Before you Go: Travel Benefits at UBC presentation with Stephanie Mah!
By far, however our biggest achievement was something we have been working towards for quite some time – a Healthy UBC Community of Practice for UBCs Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) and Diamond Health Care Centre (DHCC) sites.
With a large portion of UBC staff and faculty working out of these satellite locations, and a historical gap in ongoing localized programming, we held a town hall type ‘Health Discussion’ on June 17 from 11.30-1pm to listen and to offer a forum for thoughts, ideas and suggestions for how we can work to ensure that our programs reach our off-site colleagues. It was fantastic!
The engagement, support and proactive atmosphere was eye opening, and the flow of ideas was exciting. This initial meeting has led to the development of an online forum through Basecamp, a leading web-based project management and collaboration tool, called DHCC & VGH Staff and Faculty Health Happenings. As it stands we currently have 36 members engaging on a daily basis – and we have scheduled the following workshops as a result:
- Launch into Lynda – Aug 19 2015
- Learn to Meditate – Orientation & Registration – Sept 17 2015
- HealthyUBC Career Navigation Series Part 1 – Sept 23 2015
- Healthy UBC Career Navigation Series Part 2 – Nov 5 2015
- Healthy UBC Career Navigation Series Part 3 – Dec 3 2015
Let’s keep the Momentum Going!
Are you located in the Diamond Health Care Centre, VGH or the surrounding areas? Want to get involved in DHCC & VGH Staff and Faculty Health Happenings? Email email@example.com for more information.
By Colin Hearne on August 5, 2015
This month’s Thriving Faculty member is Zach Walsh, Associate Professor in the department of Psychology at UBC Okanagan.
Thriving Faculty is a monthly column that highlights UBC faculty members who exemplify the integration of health and wellbeing into their classrooms, research, departments and communities.
Based on your experiences, please describe the relationship between student mental health & wellbeing and learning
I believe that students perform at their best when they feel safe and appreciated. Establishing a comfortable and accepting environment in our lab helps students take the kind of chances that allow for personal and scientific discoveries. It can be a challenge at a high-stakes, competitive institution such as UBC for students to feel that they belong and are valued. I let students know that their wellbeing is important for its own sake and for the health of the lab.
Are they any specific initiatives and/or research you are involved in that promote health, mental health and wellbeing?
Improving mental health is one of the most common motives reported by those who use cannabis for therapeutic purposes. People looking to address mental health problems face considerable barriers, including stigma, and those who use cannabis to treat mental health face a double stigma. As cannabis is being reintroduced as a medicine, research that examines how cannabis compares to other treatments is essential to allow Canadians to make informed decisions about their health. Our hope is that talking and learning more about the use of cannabis for mental health will help to refine treatments and reduce stigma. The freedom to make personal choices in an environment free of superstition and shame promotes mental health and wellbeing.
What strategies do you use in your own life, that help you thrive as faculty?
I try to find projects that allow me to work off-campus with community groups that aren’t directly related to academia. I like the variety and it helps get me out of the office. I try to have something really good for lunch whenever I can. I also try to focus on process rather than outcomes. I avoid the news and choose my music. I’m learning to ask for – and accept – help, support and advice.
Zach Walsh, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Psychology at UBC, Director of the Therapeutic, Recreational, and Problematic Substance Use lab, and a registered clinical psychologist. Ongoing projects include several studies of the therapeutic use of cannabis, including a recently initiated clinical trial of cannabis for the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Zach has presented his research to diverse audiences, including the Uruguayan Department of Health and the Canadian House of Commons. Zach’s research on substance use, mental health, and personality has been supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Health Canada, and others.
By Colin Hearne on August 5, 2015
Most experts agree that spending quality time with your partner is an essential ingredient for a lasting relationship.
But with work, family and a billion other things on your plate, finding time to spend together is easier said than done. Here are a few easy ways to squeeze in more time for each other from UBCs EFAP provider Shepell:
Plan ahead. It may not be “romantic” or “spontaneous” but there’s something to be said for direct scheduling.
Debrief daily. Take 15 minutes at the end of each day to sit down with your partner and share each other’s experiences, successes and frustrations.
Turn chore time into together time. Why not crank up the music, tackle those tasks together instead, and make that “to do” list much more enjoyable?
Plug in. Use technology and your downtime opportunities to stay connected. Share a quick phone update during a coffee break or commute.
To read more, including tips for dealing with routine relationship disagreements, click here to open the full article.
By Colin Hearne on August 5, 2015
UBC’s Health, Wellbeing and Benefits team has a great line up of FREE activities and events for August and September. Sign up today for topics including Learn to Meditate Orientation, Are You Heart Healthy, Getting to Know Lynda.com and plenty more!
Are you interested in learning Photoshop, how to edit a video with iMovie, or in creating professional presentations? UBC faculty and staff employees have FREE access to lynda.com, a leading online learning resource that helps anyone learn software, technology; and creative and workplace business skills to achieve personal and professional goals. Join Stephanie Thorpe and Cathy Faulconer from Human Resources in this workshop to discover how lynda.com’s features and online tutorials can support your ongoing learning goals. For more information and to register, click here.
Join UBC’s Career Navigation & Transition Consultant Pooja Khandelwal in the final session of this three-part series to help UBC employees navigate possible career opportunities and create a personalized career development plan. At this last workshop in the series, we debrief the experience of making the connections, lessons learned, and how to recalibrate for success moving forward. For more information and to register, click here.
Starting in August 2015, UBC Health, Wellbeing and Benefits in the Department of Human Resources, in collaboration with the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, invite UBC faculty and staff from UBCs Point Grey campus, Robson Square and Hospital Locations to participate in a unique project called CAMMPUS (Cardiovascular Assessment and Medication Management by Pharmacists at the UBC Site). CAMMPUS features confidential, expertly guided services provided by the UBC Pharmacists Clinic (located at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Vancouver campus) to help you find out your current level of heart health (and cardiovascular disease risk) and take steps to keep this risk as low as possible. Click here for more information
This orientation session is a free opportunity to learn more about the Learn to Meditate Four-Week program offered to UBC employees, and have an opportunity to register for the sessions beginning in late 2015. Come to hear the benefits, differences and similarities of meditation and mindfulness, and how it can help you build your resiliency and reduces stress. The facilitator will share her story in developing her own meditation practice, and in bringing this meditation facilitation to others. Click here for more information and to register.
Join UBC’s Career Navigation & Transition Consultant Pooja Khandelwal in the first session of this three-part series to help UBC employees navigate possible career opportunities and create a personalized career development plan. This lunch-n-learn workshop will talk about the Career Navigation @ UBC approach to enhancing your professional success. We will discuss an approach to help you discover your career strengths and enhance your career wellbeing and professional success. Click here for more information and to register.
Coming This Fall: Healthy UBC’s Three-Part Fall Digestive Health series with Dr. Thara Vayali
Part 1 of Healthy UBC’s Fall Digestive Health Series with Dr. Thara Vayali. In this session, attendees will learn to define proper digestion, understand why digestion has so much to do with your whole body health; and learn about the anatomy of the digestive system and how to discern your body’s weakest link. Attendees will also be able to take home four physical movements and lifestyle ideas to practice, that will assist the digestive system’s natural functions. Click here for more information and to register.
Part 2 of Healthy UBC’s Fall Digestive Health Series with Dr. Thara Vayali. In this session, attendees will learn the real deal behind bacterial balance, what probiotics can do (and can’t do) and whether probiotics are appropriate for you. Leave with four easy food ideas that promote bacterial health to incorporate into your diet over the next four weeks. Click here for more information and to register.
Part 3 of Healthy UBC’s Fall Digestive Health Series with Dr. Thara Vayali. Learn the reasons behind how mood, food and digestion can affect each other, and how different types of fibre can assist with full-body health, with four simple diet & lifestyle ideas to achieve a blissful belly. Click here for more information and to register.
Posted in Colin Hearne, Events, Healthy UBC Initiatives, Mental Health, Nutrition, Physical Health, Spot Light | Tagged career, events, healthy UBC Initiatives, Heart health, Lynda.com, meditate, orientation, registration, series | Leave a response
By Miranda Massie on August 5, 2015
UBC Movement co. call for captains, public lecture on youth eMental health, volunteer at the indigenous health garden, Alive @ Work magazine, PNE family discounts, outdoor movie nights and more. Find out what is happening on and off campus this month!
UBC-based events (Vancouver campus)
Call for Movement Co. Captains! (Point Grey Campus only)
Do you want to help others become healthier and more active? Do you aspire to be healthier and more active yourself? Join our Movement Co. team to help us influence behaviors and make a healthier UBC community! Movement Co. Captains will be the guiding leaders of a new program designed to create a supportive environment and lower the barriers to individuals accessing physical activity.
Volunteer opportunity: UBC Indigenous Health Garden at the UBC Farm– Aug 6-25
Much of the work done at the UBC Farm is made possible with the help of an amazing team of volunteers. They have lots of upcoming opportunities, including in the Indigenous Health Garden
Join the UBC Mood Disorders clinic for a session on youth eMental Health. The lecture is free to the public, but registration is recommended.
Aboriginal History Month exhibit-ends Aug 25
As part of the celebrations of Aboriginal History Month at UBC Library, a satellite exhibit was developed at the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre featuring belongings, replicas, images, maps and video looking at Musqueam ways of knowing, especially connections to their, and ancient belongings.
Part of what makes UBC such a great place to work is our sense of community. New faculty and staff at UBC are invited to settle into your new job and explore the UBC community in a positive way through participating in this important and informative event.
Are you looking for a quiet place to relax and take a moment for yourself? Interested in a new meditation spot on campus? Check out Roots on the Roof, the new rooftop garden at the new UBC Nest.
Regular physical activity and overall fitness is part of a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle, but it can be challenging to fit this in to our busy schedules. UBC Recreation has a variety of programs designed around you. With classes offered throughout the day and across campus, they can help fit activity into your day.
Off campus events
Alive @ work-August 2015
Now mobile responsive! This month, discover how to become a morning person; eat better in seven easy steps and detox your relationships.
Enjoy an entertainment-filled day in Deer Lake Park at the 16th Annual Blues and Roots music festival.
Visit the Steveston Dragon Boat Festival for a fabulous day of fun. Enjoy entertainment on the World Beat Stage, kid’s arts and crafts, great vendors, food, and of course exciting dragon boat races. Cheer your favourite team on to victory!
Head Talks: Conversation for Change-Aug 25 (By donation)
This public event is designed to unravel the intricate topic of mental health by exploring it through first person perspectives, practicing clinicians and support systems. All proceeds will go to the Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation. Keynote speakers: Christine Yu, M.A., Registered Clinical Counsellor and Ali Eberhardt, Registered Dietitian
PNE Summer Family discount-Back for 2015
Enjoy summer fun at the PNE without breaking the bank! The Pacific National Exhibition is one of UBC’s staff and faculty corporate discount partners offering discounts on online purchases for individual and groups.
Surrey Summer movies:
Saturday Nights-Holland Park
Bring your family and friends, blankets and lawn chairs out each week in August to enjoy a free movie outdoors. Live entertainment and family games starting at 7:30pm. Sponsored by the City of Surrey.
Posted in Community Health News, Events, Mental Health, Miranda Massie, Physical Health, Spot Light | Tagged Alive@Work, community, events, exhibit, faculty, health, Movies, news, staff, UBC, volunteer | Leave a response
By Colin Hearne on August 5, 2015
This month features, Nicola Johnston Beaudoin, Communications and Public Relations Manager at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies.
Thriving Campus features, testimonials, contributions and personal experiences linked to health and wellbeing from UBC staff, faculty and students.
How do you thrive at work?
I thrive at work by finding balance. I am a big advocate of striking a healthy work/life balance. Working hard and producing results I can be proud of is important to my job satisfaction. But to work hard, I also need to focus and have a little bit of fun too; that means trying to get my sweat in for the day either before work with a home workout, on my bike ride to work, or during a daytime run or yoga session.
I also really enjoy the ability to learn about all the amazing ways UBC researchers from all faculties are making a difference in the world, and getting to tell those stories.
My colleagues also help me thrive at work. Creating relationships with my immediate colleagues and those across campus at UBC has become really important to me.
Continuing my education in my field, whether through workshops offered at UBC, or classes offered by other universities, has really helped me grow. I have, and will probably always be, an eternal student.
How do you thrive at home?
I am a little addicted to exercise and my favourite days are multi-activity days with my little family. My husband teases me for always being overly ambitious with my plans, but those days are the best days; mountain biking in Whistler, stopping to walk the dog at Nexen beach in Squamish, then finishing the day by going for a paddle in Deep Cove and catching a crab in our trap, to boot! I don’t really think there is anything better.
I also love food, and am dabbling in urban farming. I have a small veggie garden at home, and a couple of laying hens who each produce one egg a day. It really is an amazing thing. Too bad we don’t have room for a cow and a goat!
When I am not at UBC, I like to share my passion for outdoor fitness and wellness with others. I teach Stand Up Paddling, yoga and other classes via seatoskyfit.com.
Nicola Johnston Beaudoin currently works as Communications and Public Relations Manager at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies in UBC‘s Vancouver campus. She holds a MA in Public Policy and Administration from Carleton University, a BA in Anthropology from St Francis Xavier University, and is completing her Diploma in Public Relations from the University of Victoria. Nicola believes in the importance of communicating research, knowledge, information and policy so it can have an impact in the real world. In her spare time, she is passionate about helping to create community and connecting with nature. She is also the founder of Sea to Sky SUP, Yoga & Fitness, an organization that helps support individuals in the pursuit of an active, outdoor lifestyle.
By Colin Hearne on August 5, 2015
For more of Stephanie’s tasty treats visit our Healthy UBC Recipe Series web page – Bon Appétit!
- Sautéed Cinnamon Apples and Bananas– click here to view
- Tofu Bento Bowl – click here to view
- Healthy Breakfast Parfait – click here to view
- Brussel Sprout Apple and Turkey Bacon Hash – click here to view
Stephanie Dang is a fourth-year dietetics student at the University of British Columbia. When she is not busy studying, Stephanie volunteers at the eating disorder clinic at Children’s Hospital, works at a local bar, and plays soccer. Stephanie believes that living “healthy” means enjoying everything in moderation, and maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Staying physically active and satisfying your body’s nutritional needs shouldn’t be considered a burden, and if it is, seeing a dietitian is a great way to get advice on how to enjoy healthy living!
By Miranda Massie on August 5, 2015
Fitting in Fitness is a series for staff and faculty that shares tips and hints on how to increase physical activity levels. This series is brought to us by Courtney Chan, a third-year student in UBC’s School of Kinesiology.
Here are Courtney’s tips for August!
Courtney Chan is a third-year kinesiology student at the University of British Columbia. When not studying or working at UBC’s Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. Courtney enjoys running and curling, and has a secret passion for line dancing. To her, the most important part of fitness is feeling good about yourself and having fun!
By Miranda Massie on July 6, 2015
Welcome to July, folks! May I just say how excited I am that summer is officially upon us? Aside from the obvious perks that accompany this time of year, such as the weather and increasing opportunities to barbeque, it also signals the end of the K-12 school year!
My partner is a teacher, you see, and the month of June can be a tense one in our house. July arrives with a tremendous sigh of relief and relaxation that lasts for precisely 5.5 weeks, until preparations for September begin again.
On the last day of classes this year, my partner came home exhausted. It was grad prank day at school. This year, it involved furniture redecoration, lipstick portraits on the walls, fire alarms, water balloons, eggs, and exasperation! Needless to say my partner was tired and frustrated. In doing my best to play the role of empathetic supporter/cheerleader, I shared some recent thoughts I had been having about our understanding of control, and how a perceived lack of control can lead to some pretty complicated emotions.
Control is a funny thing. I say funny because it seems that in order to gain control, we must first learn to let it go.
It has been a process for me over the years to learn how unproductive it is to expend time and energy being angry and upset by situations I never had a hope of controlling in the first place.
So, what can we control? The short answer is: Ourselves. We have absolute control over our own behaviour, reactions, attitude and mindset. I love the diagram below because I feel it represents these ideas in such a clear way. There are things in life that matter. There are things in life that we have actual control over. Where these two circles overlap, is where we need to focus our energies.
Easier said than done.
How do we make this happen?
|Example: An increasing workload due to the vacation schedules of colleagues.|
|Emotions: Frustration, stress, anxiety, anger, resentment, hopelessness, excitement|
|Things that matter to me:
|Things I cannot control:
||Things I can control:
By focusing on the things that really matter to us and the things that can control, we train our brains to approach situations differently. We take ownership of a challenge and jump back in the driver’s seat with full control.
This month, if you find yourself becoming angry or frustrated with someone or something, I invite you to stop and take a pause. Are you expending your energy on something that is outside of your realm of control? If so, identify one or two things you can control, and start there. You might just find yourself with a brand new outlook and a fresh start to the day.
Enjoy the sunshine!
All my best,
By Miranda Massie on June 3, 2015
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”– George Bernard Shaw
Summer is on the horizon and this time of year is always a nostalgic one for me. I am flooded with memories of summers spent in the backyard, running through sprinklers, drinking Slurpees in the park and hanging out at the community pool. In my mind, summer is intrinsically linked with opportunities for fun.
Unfortunately, somewhere between the carefree summers of our childhood and our current states of adulthood, we have forgotten how to play. Where in the grown-up handbook does it say that we have to take ourselves seriously all of the time? Or that kids should be the ones to have all the fun?
We have a tendency as adults to self-edit our behaviour. We hold back as if seeking some unspoken permission before engaging in anything that might be considered childish or childlike. If the recent Staff and Faculty Sports Day on campus demonstrated anything to me, it is that we are all looking, if not craving, opportunities to infuse a bit more fun into our lives.
Aside from the very obvious benefit of play (it is fun!), there is a growing body of research linking play in adults to increased creativity, stress relief, more positive relationships, cooperation and improved social skills.
Benefits of Play
- Increased insight and creativity: Playfulness and a happy mood have been found to broaden our thoughts patterns allowing for new ways of thinking to emerge.
- Improved social connections: Play requires communication, collaboration and trust. The same skills that children are encouraged to build continue to grow and improve in adulthood.
- A thicker wallet: Laughter is free, as are many opportunities for fun and play. Make use of free or low-cost outdoor spaces, positive people in your life or community activities.
- A mental health boost: Endorphins released during exercise through play can increase feelings of well-being. Games and puzzles can also help improve brain function and protect against memory loss.
Opportunities for Play
- Start a games drawer in the office: Start collecting old games, puzzles and sports equipment to play during lunch or on a break.
- Host regular friendly competitions: Invite colleagues to compete in a hoola hoop competition or a Trivial Pursuit tournament.
- Play with children: Take the time to learn from the masters. Visit the trampoline gym, play make believe or watch a favourite childhood movie.
- Get outside: Play with a pet at the beach or invite friends to the park for bocce or Frisbee. Buy a popsicle and half it with a friend, or a stranger!
- Get creative: Pick up an adult colouring book (yes this is a thing) or have a craft night with friends.
I love finding an empty swing set and swinging as high as possible. I enjoy seeing my surroundings from a new perspective, feeling the wind blow through my hair and being carefree-if only for a few minutes. Once I come down and plant my feet on the ground again, something in me has changed. I feel a little bit lighter and a little bit brighter. Often the best feeling is knowing I was able to break with convention without worrying what the other adults around me might think.
This month I invite you to give yourself permission to have fun. Give yourself permission to be a little silly, to laugh until you cry, to run barefoot on the grass, to take a risk and to re-connect with the elements of your childhood that filled you with unabashed joy.
Throw caution to the wind and when a chance to play presents itself, take it!
All my best,
Check out this fun TED Talk about Creativity and Play!