By Melissa Lafrance on September 13, 2017
A new school year is here, and as staff and faculty, we may be experiencing a host of emotions. Some days, we might feel excited and joyful; other days we might be anxious and stressed. As we bid farewell to another summer and move into the autumn, check out the available resources you can access to better manage stress and build resilience.
UBC Employee & Family Assistance Program: support services for you and your eligible dependents
- Interactive online program to help you assess, understand and manage stress
- Effective stress management tools with progress, mood and stress level tracking; goal setting and action tools; helpful resources; thoughtful journaling; and life support anytime via online chat
Anxiety Support Group
- Private and secure online support group of 4-5 people led by a clinical counsellor
- Access to real-time interactions with a clinical counsellor and other group members (from outside UBC)
- Group work that includes in-session online activities, homework and self-guided learning modules
- Confidential, short-term and solution-focused one-on-one counselling
- Counselling services include but are not limited to issues related to personal/emotional (stress, anxiety, depression), couple/relationship (communication, separation/divorce), family (parenting, elder care), work (workplace violence/harassment and conflicts), and addiction
- Variety of delivery methods to best suit your needs, including over the phone, in person, email, secure video chat, and more
To access these services, contact Shepell:
- By calling the Care Access Centre at 1-800-387-4765
- By visiting Shepell website
Counselling Services Coverage through Extended Health Benefits
UBC’s Extended Health plan provides coverage for counselling services and testing. For more details regarding referrals, services and claims, refer to the Extended Health Benefits webpage.
Personal & Professional Development Opportunities for Stress Management and Resilience Building
- Stress Release Workshop Series (free for UBC staff & faculty, Point Grey Campus)
- Mindfulness Programs at UBC
- Professional Development Workshops at UBC
- Stress Strategies: A web-based decision-making tool to assess stressors and assist in developing an action plan for reducing and managing stress in all aspects of life
- Stress 101: Learn about stress response and how to cope with stress in your daily life
- Mindful Moments: Mindfulness and meditation practices, information and research
- Free financial support for UBC staff and faculty
- Workplace Stress Busting Tips
- Understanding Stress
By Guest Contributor on February 4, 2015
Guest contribution from Dr. Thara Vayali
Is it normal? Is it the weather? Or is there more to it? Many of us know sadness well, as it is a core emotion we all experience during our lives. Sadness is a natural and healthy emotion but there are situations when sadness doesn’t quite the fit the role. At times, an extended low mood lies on the spectrum of depression. Anxiety and depression diagnosis are the most prevalent of all psychiatric diagnoses, but exactly why it triggers in one person is still unknown. Depression can be influenced by genetics, hormones, neurotransmitters, stressors, medications, illness, lifestyle, and dietary habits, and this list is not exhaustive. The most effective management approach is multi-pronged, takes time and commitment and requires support from friends and family. It is crucial to long-term mental health to ask for and receive assistance in managing this situation. At any given time, almost three million Canadians have serious depression, yet only one-third will seek out help. Dropping the negative stigma of depression and its treatment is key to building a healthy society.
Outside of classic forms of depression, there are other ways that depression can manifest; one of which is SAD. SAD is a medical term for Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is the onset of depressive symptoms that follow a seasonal pattern; generally winter. The symptoms are specific to the change in daylight hours and circadian rhythm disruptions.
For the purposes of this article, I’d like to reuse that acronym for one specific factor influencing depression – SAD: Stressed And Depressed.
All other factors notwithstanding, our stress response has a major impact on our emotions and vice versa. If we can identify how our emotions and stress work together in our lives, we can gain a sense of strength over one factor of depression.
The emotions of depression that can underlie the stressors we feel:
- Social Defeat
Stress & Depression often end up looking like this:
The stress causes:
It shows up as:
|Exhaustion from insomnia or difficulty getting up in the morning||“I’ve got so much to do”, “I can’t stop thinking about it”, “I have nothing left to give”|
|Loss of libido & inability to experience pleasure||Fatigue, self-criticism and outward cynicism|
|Unmanaged pressure at home/work||Working longer/procrastinating to avoid triggers of emotional distress.|
|The chronic or under-acknowledged pain gets better when relaxed.||“My back/gut hurts and painkillers don’t help”|
|Declining self worth||Avoiding social engagements despite desire to connect.|
|Needing an outlet to blow off steam or to numb feelings.||Risk taking behaviour, alcohol & drug use|
|Fear/Grief/Shame||Under-eating or Overeating|
Catching these signs of unrelenting stress can give us a little leverage in breaking the negative cycle. When you notice yourself sliding into these statements or habits on a regular basis, you have a chance to change your situation, statement or behaviour consciously, before the groove of SAD wears too deeply on the system.
5 ways to beat SAD (Stressed And Depressed)
Make lists and use schedulers/calendars – Every evening, make one list with timed ‘To-Do’s’ for the next day and one larger ‘To Remember To Do Eventually’. Put ‘To Do’s’ with due dates into a calendar with alerts. Take the time to get your stressors out of your head and on to something you can look at later. By externalizing and crossing off your daily list, your self worth grows and your mind can let go.
Stock up on sleep skills: Once you can trust that you have downloaded your stressors elsewhere, initiate a timeout on digital technology (bright light, phones, television). All these decrease the sleep time and quality, regardless of when you get into bed. A key piece of managing stress and depression is restorative sleep, which is distinct from long hours of unrestful sleep. Make sure you are generally falling asleep at an hour that gives you eight hours until you wake. Establish calming bedtime routines for the 45 minutes before this. Make sure the room is dark. Invest in a wake-up lamp or timed dimmer switch (the light slowly increases over 30 minutes before your desired wake time). If pain is an issue for you, work with a professional on what is causing it and how to manage it. If sleep is a major issue, stop consuming caffeine after noon, and work on keeping day sleeping to a minimum. Sleep is your body’s natural stress reset.
Engage with people who supported you. It’s important to have a community that can accept and appreciate the many sides of your personality. This includes allowing space for the stressors and depression to exist. When we feel truly heard an ease develops so that discussion can develop about subjects beyond the stressor. If you socialize primarily through alcohol and/or drugs, you may be avoiding true sensations and inhibiting the shift out of SAD. Look to build relationships with people that can understand your stressors without enabling negative patterns.
Commit to eating regular healthy meals. Under stress, hunger signals are often off-base and can worsen the spiral of mood and stress response. Stop to slowly savour the beginning of one meal per day. Take in the colour, smell, texture, taste and sound of those first few bites. Mindful eating can sometimes be the first step in settling the system and developing a rhythm for the day.
Move your body: Whether that is doing hourly squats in your home/office or going for more a vigorous activity at lunch, get your blood circulating and endorphins flooding by accomplishing your activity. It doesn’t need to be big, but it needs to be challenging enough that you feel good about your ambition. Take comparison out of the picture. Pick an attainable goal and let it be fueled by your inner cheering squad.
Being mindful of how you eat, sleep, move, connect and process is part of the stress and depression cycle. These factors are interwoven and are often overlooked as tools for change. The first step is identifying if your actions are on the slippery slope of stress and depression. The next step is slowing down to see what’s making you SAD. The most empowering tool in this situation is proactive mindfulness. Stop. Feel. Listen. Change.
Dr. Thara Vayali is a Naturopathic Doctor & Yoga Teacher in Vancouver and is also a UBC alumnus. She is obsessed with intestinal and immune health, hormones, and pain-free bodies. She is the creator of Change Natural Medicine: Budget conscious, membership-based health consulting.
By Colin Hearne on October 1, 2014
We can all feel nervous, shy, or bashful at times. This type of social anxiety can be a helpful feeling when it motivates us to necessary action, or warn us of danger. However, when anxiety begins to impacts our lives, including how we think, feel and act, it is important to realise that help is available.
UBC ‘s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provider Homewood Health offers a unique, short-term and solution-focused counselling approach that focuses on enabling individuals, couples and families to work on their life problems, including anxieties. The information you share with UBC’s EFAP provider is confidential, and is not shared with UBC. The University is not told the identity of those using EFAP services, including online services.
To access UBC’s EFAP services through Homewood Health, visit www.homewoodhumansolutions.com or call 1-800-663-1142 (toll- free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week).
The Canadian Mental Health Association tells us that many people who experience an anxiety disorder think that they should just be able to ‘get over it on their own,’ whereas others may need time to recognize how deeply anxiety affects their life. Anxiety disorders are real illnesses that affect a person’s wellbeing. It’s important to talk to a doctor about your mental health concerns. Sometimes, physical health conditions can cause symptoms of anxiety. Your doctor will work with you to look at all possible causes of anxiety.
Want to know more?
For more information on UBC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP), visit our website. To book a presentation for your unit to review the free EFAP services available for UBC staff and faculty, contact Colin Hearne, Health and Wellbeing Associate, at 604-827-3047 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Colin Hearne on October 30, 2013
|Apply Now: Healthy Workplace Initiative Program Funding.This fund is available to UBC departments, units and operational committees to support healthy workplace initiatives. Application deadline is November 22nd at 4:30pm. Individualized coaching is available for departments/units interested in applying for funding. Find out more.|
|November 5th 2013: Breast Cancer PreventionJoin Bonnie McCoy from the UBC Breast Cancer Prevention & Risk Assessment Clinic in a Breast Cancer Prevention Education Session to learn how to prevent breast cancer. This interactive session will provide evidence-based information to help participants understand how to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer through lifestyle changes. For more information on the UBC Breast Cancer Prevention and Risk Assessment Clinic visit www.breastcancerprevention.med.ubc.ca.|
|November 6th 2013: Stress BustersWhen stressors overwhelm us, we need effective techniques to bring us back to equilibrium. This session explores all aspects of the stress response, focusing on practical tips and tools to bring us to optimal stress levels, helping us to maximize our energy and performance.|
|November 7th 2013: Simple Meditation-Coping with Anxieties and WorriesThis workshop introduces meditation techniques complementary to cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety and worries. Participants will be trained to take a step back from their own anxious reactions and will learn techniques to disengage from the sensations, thoughts and feelings associated anxiety, instead of trying to control or stop them. Meditation and creative visualization techniques are introduced to tame and disarm the sensations, thoughts and feelings of anxiety.|
|November 8th 2013: Fresh Air Farm Friday TourSituated within a 90-year old coastal hemlock forest, the UBC Farm comprises a mosaic of cultivated annual crop fields, perennial hedgerows and orchards, and successional forest stands. In the midst of a city, this landscape offers an important bridge between the rural and the urban. Walk the 60-acre site of fields, forests and hedgerows! Visit Beehives, hoop houses, and greenhouses. See where the Farm Markets happen, walk through our educational Children’s Garden, and learn about Aboriginal Hub. Bring your picnic lunch if you’d like to eat after the tour. Remember to dress for the weather, including boots for wet grasses.|
|November 8th, 2013: Zumba-Thrive Wrap-up CelebrationThis year, to celebrate Thrive, we will be hosting a large scale Zumba class with UBC Rec to wrap up the week of activities. Join us to have fun and get a bit of exercise while spending time with friends and colleagues. Participants will have the opportunity to experience elevated mood, clearer thinking and improved self-esteem. Physical activity is one of the largest preventive factors against chronic physical illness and, chronic conditions are a risk factor for poor mental health. Students, staff and faculty are invited to participate in this fun event. Please wear comfortable clothing. Wear yellow to support Thrive! Free healthy snacks will be provided.|
|November 12th, 2013: Achieving HappinessHappiness is a topic of interest to many, and everyone has an opinion about what factors can bring them greater happiness. On Tuesday November 12th, join Kostadin Kushlev, PhD student and Vanier Scholar at the Department of Psychology, and explore the latest empirical evidence indicating which of our intuitions are right and also examine the factors that are associated with greater psychological wellbeing.|
|November 14 and 15th, 2013: Mental Health First Aid TrainingThe goal of Mental Health First Aid training is to improve mental health literacy in the community. This workshop, in collaboration with the Canadian Mental Health Association, provides participants with the skills and knowledge to help people better manage potential or developing mental health problems in themselves, or in a family member, a friend or a colleague. By the end of the workshop, participants will recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health problems, are able to provide initial support to a person who may be developing a mental health problem or is experiencing a mental health crisis, and be prepared to guide a person towards appropriate professional help. This training is 12 hours in length, to be completed in two sessions over a two-day period. Note: If you are not able to attend both sessions, you will not be eligible for the course completion certificate.|
|November 19th, 2013: Beyond Stigma-Understanding Mental Health in the WorkplaceIn today’s society, there still remains a lack of awareness and even sometimes bias related to mental health problems. This wellness session will allow participants to enhance their understanding of the personal and environmental factors that can have an impact on mental health, as well as the most appropriate prevention and intervention strategies available. Click here to register.|
|November 28th, 2013: Mindfulness in the WorkplaceResearch shows that increases in mindfulness are associated with increased creativity and decreased in the workplace. Some of the health benefits include lower blood pressure, a reduction of insomnia and improved memory. Mindfulness Meditation not only reduces the harmful effects of stress but can increase your energy, productivity and enjoyment of everyday life. Join UBCs Health and Wellness Specialist Dr. Geoffrey Soloway for this intriguing workshop, and explore how you can adopt mindfulness in the workplace. Click here to register.|
|Every Monday and Friday: PowerwalkingJoin your campus colleagues for a lunch-hour walk on Mondays and Fridays. All abilities welcome. Mondays at 12:30pm and Fridays at 12:10pm outside the General Services Administration Building (GSAB). For more information email email@example.com or click here.|
|Every Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday: Meditation ClassesThe rest in meditation is deeper than the deepest sleep that you can ever have. When the mind becomes free from agitation, is calm and serene and at peace, meditation happens. Join the UBC Meditation Community, which holds weekly sessions from September until May. Click here for more information.|