By Melissa Lafrance on March 7, 2018
This month we feature Steve Bohnen, UBC Campus Security Crime Prevention & Community Relations Officer as our Thriving Campus feature.
How do you thrive at work?
I love our UBC environment and believe most people who work here strongly desire to establish a ‘higher and better social contract’ within this community. My role at Campus Security allows me to contribute to that mission, and I’m superbly grateful for it. The endless flow and variety of our challenges exercise my talents, skills and training daily. I enjoy a great balance of responding to real-time calls for assistance and assessing/analyzing occurrence patterns to promote better outcomes for both the University and the greater community. It’s a wonderful balance of challenges and creative opportunities.
I couldn’t do this work without respectful, highly supportive and like-minded colleagues who realize that we bring our total selves to the workplace every day, and understand that we must engage fully with one another to be most effective as a workgroup. We share our challenges, use check-ins regularly and maintain ongoing training and certification to stay at the top of our game.
How do you thrive at home?
Music has been a lifelong passion for me (yes, guitar players are actually considered musicians) and playing, whether alone or with others, has provided amazing rewards in relaxation, problem solving, left/right brain balance and just plain joy.
I’ve been playing since 1965, and am regularly privileged to sit in sessions with four or five people who bring 200+ years’ worth of talent and experience to the room. These moments transcend language and are a gift I wish everyone could experience. I encourage everyone to find their creative passion or instrument and get into the flow with it regularly. I play daily and wouldn’t be without it. This is Your Brain on Music is highly recommended reading.
I’ve been blessed with a superb partner in my wife Mary, a social services professional who brings a balance of compassion and deep expertise in her field to our family and our marriage. She’s an absolute champion and my best friend.
In three words or less, what does Wellbeing mean to you?
Fully, peacefully energized.
Steve Bohnen has worked at UBC Campus Security for 23 years. He is a certified BCSSA Security Consultant and Advanced Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) practitioner. Steve studied Arts at UBC from 1966 to 1968, left the Lower Mainland for work on the BC North Coast and later returned to UBC in 1986 after widely varied work and life experiences in several parts of the province, including Vancouver Island and the Okanagan. He has been married for 38 years and has four children, one of whom graduated with a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering from UBC. His passions are his family, his work, music and the outdoors.
Photo Credit: Don Erhardt
By Melissa Lafrance on January 11, 2018
Creating Balance in Your Life | January 16 | 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. (Location: Robson Square)
In today’s environment of competing demands, relentless commitments and a consistent feeling there’s a shortage of time, balance does not often seem to come easily or naturally. Join us for a session that aims to help you explore how your current choices impact work-life satisfaction and develop strategies to achieve a greater balance in life by identifying your priorities and the things you may not be able to control. Find out more and register now.
Sit-Stand Desks & Platforms | January 18 | 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. (Location: Point Grey)
This workshop will provide important information about different types of sit-stand desks and platforms available on the market. Understanding the pros and cons of each will assist departments, staff and faculty in deciding which option is most suitable. Product samples will be available for participants to try out in order to get an idea of how the different models impact positioning and workflow. Find out more and register now.
Ergo Your Office Tutorial | January 24 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Location: Point Grey)
Optimize your computer work environment to improve comfort and reduce the risk of injury. This one-hour tutorial combines a presentation and a practical session, giving you hands-on experience adjusting typical office equipment. By the end of the tutorial, you will know how to set up your chair, keyboard/mouse and monitor to promote neutral working postures. Find out more and register now.
Parenting Tips: How to Talk to Your Kids about Sexual Health | January 25 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Location: Point Grey)
The prospect of talking to your children about sex and sexual health can be a difficult one,but these conversations do not need to be feared or avoided. Why not arm yourself with knowledge, age-appropriate information and fantastic resources? Learn how to speak to your children about comprehensive body science and sexual health information. You will also take away a helpful formula for answering questions and discover some fantastic resources for both parents and children of any age. Help provide your children with the tools to keep themselves safe and to make healthy and informed decisions. Find out more and register now.
UBC Suicide Awareness Day | January 31 (Location: all UBC campuses)
Wednesday, January 31 marks UBC’s 8th annual Suicide Awareness Day. Suicide Awareness Day is held to raise awareness of suicide prevention by educating UBC students, staff and faculty on the resources available. Reaching out early and preventing suicide requires everyone’s help. Show your support on the day and every day. Visit the UBC Suicide Awareness Day website for more info, including how to request free Suicide Awareness Day stickers for your group, department or faculty.
Coming in February 2018:
QPR Suicide Prevention Training | February 6 | 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. (Location: Point Grey)
QPR Training is an internationally recognized suicide prevention program designed to help you question, persuade and refer. QPR acts as an emergency mental health intervention designed to save lives, much like CPR or other methods of emergency medical intervention. Learn to recognize suicide warning signs, how to approach someone who may be at risk, persuade the person to seek appropriate health services, and connect the person to resources that will help resolve crises. Suicide is preventable. Find out more and register now.
Travelling Health Fair | February 13 – 23 (Location: Point Grey)
The much-anticipated Travelling Health Fair is coming up February 13-23! The fair is open to all UBC staff and faculty. This year, we are focusing on heart health, so sign up to get assessed and learn how to maintain heart health and prevent heart disease.
Registration is now open. Visit the Travelling Health Fair page to reserve your appointment, check out the available dates and times, and find more information.
30-Day Online Mindfulness Challenge | Starting February 19 (Location: Online)
Learn the core skills of mindfulness through evidence-based online training. The 30-Day Challenge teaches mindfulness-in-action for everyday life, takes less than 10 minutes a day, and is now free for UBC staff and faculty at both Vancouver and Okanagan campuses. Learn more and register now.
Photo credit: UBC Communications and Marketing via UBC Thrive
Posted in Events | Tagged balance, courses, Ergonomics, events, Heart health, Mindfulness, personal development, professional development, suicide awareness, Suicide prevention, workshops | Leave a response
By Melissa Lafrance on December 7, 2017
This month’s Healthy Path is all about self-reflection and exploring our spiritual wellbeing, which is a fitting topic with the holiday season right around the corner.
Spiritual wellbeing is unique to each individual and involves values and beliefs that help provide a purpose in our lives. In general, spirituality is the search for meaning and purpose in human existence and can involve working to balance our inner needs with the rest of the outside world .
Spiritual wellbeing may not be something that you often think about, yet its impact and influence on your life is unavoidable. Spirituality also involves being tolerant of others’ beliefs and to live and act authentically in a way that is consistent with our values and beliefs. For some, spirituality may be equated with traditional religions such as Christianity, Hinduism or Buddhism, while for others, it may mean growing personal relationships with others or through a connection with nature.
You can live your life with purpose if you are purposely self-aware. If purposeful self-awareness is an unfamiliar concept, there are activities you can practice that can eventually instill self-awareness.
Nurturing our personal needs and allowing ourselves to truly relax, regenerate and recharge in meaningful ways is important for our own self-care. Keep in mind the big picture, think about what is meaningful to you, and be mindful of your surroundings to truly savour the moments and experiences you encounter this holiday season – whether it’s with your family, friends, strangers, other beings or with yourself.
Here are some articles for you by Shepell, UBC’s EFAP provider that can help you prepare yourself emotionally for the holiday season get-togethers with a guide to holiday peacekeeping. Learn how you can improve your relationships with others and improve your relationship with yourself.
Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization to access Shepell articles.
Assess Your Spiritual Wellbeing
Take a moment to reflect and evaluate your own spiritual wellbeing with this brief quiz:
- Do I make time for relaxation in my day?
- Do I make time for meditation or prayer?
- Do my values guide my decisions and actions?
- Am I accepting and open to the views of others?
- Do I feel a sense of hope and have a positive outlook on life?
If you answered ‘no’ to any of the questions, that may be an area to work on exploring and improving. These feelings may also be related to other causes and there are some resources available to help you understand them.
Ways You Can Improve Spiritual Wellbeing
1. Be still, be quiet. Take time for yourself, even if it is for five minutes as you wait for the bus or when you go to bed. Try to disconnect from electronic devices and just be in the moment.
2. Practice being non-judgmental and having an open mind. Take five deep breaths to gather your thoughts before responding or reacting to a situation or person.
3. Be mindful and/or meditate and/or do yoga.
4. Be kind to others and yourself.
5. Be grateful. Discover ways you can practice gratitude. (Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization to access this article.)
6. Forgive. If it does not serve a purpose in your life and only causes you anguish, forgive and let it go.
7. Give back to others.
8. Become part of a community and maintain enriching relationships. Learn five ways to detox your relationships.
9. Remain receptive to pain or sorrow. These feelings can help us discover how spirituality can help us cope.
10. Do something outside of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to be challenged or to be (or act) silly. After all, the best memories are created when we come across unexpected moments, people or situations. They are often the ones we learn lessons from the most. These lessons allow us to discover nuances within ourselves and build our knowledge and values, thereby creating stronger meanings in our lives.
Resources for Staff and Faculty
- UBC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program: Counselling services for you and your dependents. Call the Shepell Care Access Centre at 1-800-387-4765 for immediate support or visit Shepell’s website to view their available services.
- Meditation and Mindfulness Programs at UBC
- Benefits to support staff and faculty mental health
- Yoga at UBC Recreation or UBC Yoga Club
- Campus Chaplaincy
- Consider these volunteering opportunities
Photo credit: Melissa Lafrance
By Melissa Lafrance on December 7, 2017
UBC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provides confidential counselling and work-life consultations to eligible UBC faculty, staff and their dependents. EFAP can be accessed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, including over the holidays.
As the busy holiday season begins to ramp up with to-do lists and social commitments at work and at home, it can all feel a little overwhelming. Many challenges and complex feelings can come up, such as loneliness for people who live far away or are estranged from their families, anxiety from too many social interactions and to-do items, worry from financial stress, or frustration and anger caused by family arguments. Whatever your challenging situation or feelings about it, EFAP is here to help. Their counselling services include, but are not limited to, issues related to stress, anxiety depression, relationships, parenting, family dynamics, elder care, workplace conflicts, and substance use/addiction. Consultations are also available to help with debt and finances, career transitions and healthy food choices during the holidays.
To review their services, visit the Shepell website, UBC’s EFAP service provider. (Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization to access the site.)
If you need immediate support, call Shepell’s Care Access Centre at 1-800-387-4765.
Prepare for Any Vacation with Shepell’s My EAP Mobile App
You can also prepare for the holidays and get vacation-ready with Shepell’s My EAP mobile device app. Download the My EAP app to gain immediate, confidential and secure access on the go.
Explore Holiday Helper Articles
Here are some holiday-themed articles for you by Shepell that can help you maintain your wellbeing during the holiday season. (Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization to access these articles.)
- Rediscover the joy of the holidays with make it meaningful: reconnecting to the spirit of the holiday season
- Become a smart shopper and creative gift-giver with tips for savvy holiday-season spending
- Time out: making the most of the holidays
- Learn how to have a stress free holiday season
It’s important to remember that the holiday season can also bring up feelings of loneliness, sadness and pressure. It’s not uncommon to feel a range of emotions during this time of year.
- Read more about loneliness and the holiday season
- Spot the holiday “blues” and explore helpful tips
- Find out steps to maintain good relationships during the holidays
For more information, including requesting brochures, booking an EFAP orientation presentation, or sharing compliments or concerns about your counselling experience with Shepell, please contact:
Health & Wellbeing Associate
Extended Health Benefit Plan
Don’t forget to get the most of your UBC benefits by reviewing your Extended Health Benefit Plan.
The plan is designed to help promote the continued health and wellbeing of UBC staff and faculty. Benefits include coverage for a wide range of services that are beyond the scope of BC Medical Services Plan coverage.
Want to learn more?
- Learn things you should know about your travel benefits coverage before you go on vacation.
- If you have questions about your UBC Extended Health benefits, contact UBC Benefits.
Posted in Benefits Spotlight, EFAP | Tagged balance, coaching, counselling, EFAP, Employee and Family Assistance program, family, Holidays, resilience, resources, Shepell, stress management, Support | Leave a response
By Miranda Massie on August 3, 2017
Summer is in full swing. The beautiful weather at this time of year always reminds me to appreciate the stunning natural environment in which we live, work and play. At UBC, we are unique in that we are just a short walk away from beaches, forests, gardens and natural wonders that draw tourists from around the globe. With this realization though, my internal motivation to stay inside and work can sometimes take a hit.
On the plus side, research tells us that we do not have to be outside to reap the benefits of our natural surroundings. The new Wellbeing Design Lab in the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) at UBC Vancouver is a great example of how to enhance your physical space in order to optimize wellbeing.
Click on the video below for a virtual tour of the space.
When designing the lab, the wellbeing of its occupants was top of mind. Some of the features in the space include height adjustable desks, a Pacific Spirit Park wall mural, different plant varieties, flexible and varied spaces, and natural light.
Read on to find out how you can boost your health while indoors.
Furniture that can be adapted or customized to suit a variety of needs helps to increase productivity and accessibility while also boosting social connectivity and inclusivity.
Try: Re-arranging your desk layout, adding a keyboard tray or attending a free Sit-Stand Desk Workshop.
Grab some green
Did you know that simply looking at images of nature provides a host of positive health benefits, including decreased stress and improved mood? Also, high-oxygen-producing plants like peace lilies can help to increase productivity and comfort, while reducing stress and sickness in workplaces.
Try: Changing your desktop image and screen saver to a favourite image of nature, or caring for a small plant at your desk or with a group of colleagues.
Find the balance: “Me Space vs. We Space”
Collaboration can help boost connection and creativity, but the healthiest forums for collaboration are the ones where you can identify and use a range of spaces to suit your working needs in the moment. Some examples include collaborative workspaces, quiet office spaces, flex spaces, hot desks/drop-in stations and comfortable lounge spaces.
Try: Identifying and labeling the different areas in your workplace to help ensure everyone knows what type of work fits best in that space, and where they can go to get the level of interaction they require. You could even give the spaces fun names or colour zones.
Let the sun shine
Appropriate levels of natural light and sunshine can improve mood and alertness, minimize disruption to circadian rhythm, enhance productivity, support good sleep quality and provide appropriate visual acuity.
Try: Taking your next break close to a window, or booking a room with natural light for meetings or an hour of quiet work time. No windows? There are lots of great buildings at UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan that provide a wealth of natural light, including the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS), AMS Student Nest, Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre, Forest Sciences Centre (bonus, it has plants!) and Okanagan Administration Building (with Sunshine Café!). It’s worth paying them a visit.
This month, as you look wistfully out your window at the beautiful scenery, I encourage you to find new ways to bring that splendor indoors and to see if it improves your health. I also invite you to stop by the Wellbeing Design Lab, Monday to Friday from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. to explore the space.
For more information, including UBC research on the connection between natural environments, physical spaces and health, check out the following:
- Environmentally Smart Design: Designing for Social Wellbeing Across the City and in the Workplace (UBC CWL required)
- Health and Community Design: The Impact of the Built Environment on Physical Activity
- Healthy People with Nature in Mind (UBC CWL Required)
- Natural Environments, Health, and Well-Being
- Rationale to Address Well-being through Physical Spaces in Post-Secondary Settings
Grinde, B., & Patil, G. G. (2009). Biophilia: Does Visual Contact with Nature Impact on Health and Well-Being? Int. J. of Environmental Research and Public Health, 6(9), 2332–2343.
Huet, V. Literature review of art therapy-based interventions for work-related stress. Int. J. Art Therapy. 20,66–76 (2015).
Huss, E. & Sarid, O. Visually transforming artwork and guided imagery as a way to reduce work related stress: A quantitative pilot study. Arts Psychother. 41, 409–412 (2014).
Photo credit: UBC Communications and Marketing
“Sometimes I force myself not to work at night or on weekends, but it’s worth it to maintain my health and productivity.”
By Melissa Lafrance on May 4, 2017
Thriving Faculty is a monthly column that highlights UBC faculty who exemplify the integration of health and wellbeing into their classrooms, research, departments and communities.
This month we feature Kyle Danielson, a lecturer in the Department of Psychology.
What does thriving mean to you?
For me, thriving is orienting one’s body and mind to live constantly in the present moment. Paradoxically, living in the present moment requires a lot of planning in advance. I think that we’re most successful at being present when we stick to our physical and mental routines: for me, that means eating well and consistently, exercising intensely and often, devoting weekly time to spend with my small group of friends and daily time to spend with my family, and spending as much time as possible outdoors in my natural habitat. By prioritizing these things over everything else, including our careers or our educational endeavours, I believe that we become better caretakers of our own bodies and minds, in turn making us better workers and better students.
What are some of the central challenges you face in your role as a faculty member?
One of the biggest challenges of a faculty job is how the work doesn’t have a natural beginning or end. When I was an undergraduate and graduate student, I worked at a coffee shop, which came with its unique set of challenges (some of which were, in their own way, more stressful than being a faculty member at UBC!). But at the coffee shop, my work ended when my shift ended. I wasn’t lying awake at night (most of the time) thinking about how to make the best cappuccino foam.
As a faculty member, however, there is always work to be done. At the very least, there are always emails to be answered or article submissions to be revised. Moreover, academia promotes a culture of working all the time. People send emails in the middle of the night that require responses, and – from many faculty members’ perspectives – a 40-hour work week is an unthinkable luxury. However, I devote a lot of energy to crafting my schedule so that I work when people in other industries work (from approximately 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays) and so that I focus on my physical, mental and familial health during the other times. Sometimes I have to force myself not to work at night or on the weekends, but it’s worth it to maintain my health and my productivity.
Based on your experiences, please describe the relationship between student mental health & wellbeing and learning?
Student mental health is one of my primary concerns as an instructor (and perhaps particularly as an instructor of psychology). I find that many UBC students are unaware of how many people around them suffer from mental health problems, with the result that these students feel alone when they themselves are suffering. Moreover, I have learned that students here may be at particular risk for mental health problems because they are often so high achieving and put so much pressure on themselves. All of this pressure negatively affects students’ learning and performance, which in turn stresses them out even more! It’s a bit of a vicious cycle. The most important thing that I can teach my students is that they are not alone: more than half of the UBC students that I have met experience anxiety or depression at some point during their education. UBC has so many resources available for students who are facing these issues, and often these resources are more accessible (and cheaper!) than they ever will be once a student has left UBC. We can’t learn well or work well if we aren’t prioritizing our mental and physical health above everything else, and it’s essential that we support each other in this endeavour.
What strategies do you use in your own life that help you thrive as a faculty member?
As someone who has suffered from clinically significant anxiety and depression, I have had to develop a lot of strategies to keep myself working and moving. The most effective things that I can do are to exercise frequently and to be outside where I get plenty of light and fresh air. We are so fortunate to live in a natural paradise here in BC – one that provides for us so many opportunities to thrive outside (even when it’s raining!). It’s also important for me to compartmentalize my life, devoting myself to work when I’m at UBC and to my family and myself when I’m at home. In the end, though, the best strategy I’ve come up with is to constantly revert to thinking about the present. Whenever I catch myself in an anxious loop thinking about the past or the future, I try to centre myself back in the physical, current moment, even if what I’m doing is unpleasant or uncomfortable. It makes life feel so much more manageable!
Kyle Danielson, PhD, is a lecturer in the Department of Psychology, where his primary responsibility is the instruction of undergraduates in developmental and basic psychology courses. Currently he teaches PSYC 302 (Infancy) and the Psychology Department’s two introductory courses (PSYC 101 and 102). His research examines the ways in which infants learn language using their visual, auditory and tactile systems, and how learning two languages at once affects them cognitively and socially. In addition to teaching and research, Kyle is the faculty adviser for Psi Chi, the Psychology Honour Society, and for graduate teaching assistant training in the Department. Prior to starting his career in psychology here at UBC, Kyle was a Spanish teacher in the United States, where he’s from. He tries to spend as much time as possible on the beach or in the mountains when he’s in Vancouver, and exploring off-the-beaten-path and remote destinations when he’s not.
Posted in Guest Contributor, Mental Health, Physical Health, Thriving Faculty | Tagged balance, Exercise, Kyle Danielson, learning, mental health, Nature, Psychology, relationships, Stress, thriving at ubc, Thriving faculty, work | Leave a response
By Melissa Lafrance on April 5, 2017
Debunking the Diet Series with Dr. Thara Vayali (Location: Point Grey)
Part 3: Nutrition vs. Nourishment – Apr. 5, 12:00–1:00 p.m.
Superfoods are everywhere. Eat this, for that. How much? How long? For what end? Find out the components of nourishment, and learn the merits of 10 superfoods. Join us to learn about three tools that will help you shift from counting calories and nutrients to feeling nourished and making the most of your food choices. Find out more and register now.
Mindfulness@Work Program – Apr. 10 – May 15 (Location: Point Grey)
Mindfulness@Work is a six-week, in-person, evidence-based training program that focuses on integrating the practice of mindfulness in the workplace to promote effectiveness, teamwork and communication. This training has been shown to reduce stress and improve physical and mental health and overall wellbeing.
You can expect:
- Expert-led and evidence-based programming and classes
- A half-day weekend retreat and homework including a 10-minute daily meditation
- A supportive small group setting
- Practical learnings and interactive practices
- A $100 registration fee (eligible for PD funding)
Debt Freedom & Finances – Apr. 12, 12:00–1:00 p.m. (Location: Point Grey)
Creating a plan to manage your money is a sound way to achieve the goals you want in life, whether it be a house, travel, education or retirement. Sometimes, this comes as a cost and results in financial debt. Join Money Coach, Melanie Buffel, to gain power over your money. You will learn how to pay down your consumer debt quicker than you thought possible, manage and control finances and build good habits. Find out more and register now.
Office Ergo Rep Training – Apr. 18, 1:00–4:00 p.m. (Location: Point Grey)
If your department is looking for more efficient response and support with regards to ergonomic issues for staff, consider taking the three-hour Ergo Rep Training. Learn basic ergonomic risk factors and assessments, proper computer workstation setup, and about resources to take back to your unit. Find out more and register now.
Sit-Stand Desks & Platforms – Apr. 20, 10:00–11:00 a.m. (Location: Point Grey)
Learn about the different types of sit-stand desks and platforms available on the market. Understanding the pros and cons of each option will help departments, staff and faculty decide which option is most suitable. Find out more and register now.
Ergo Your Office Tutorial – Apr. 26, 12:00–1:00 p.m. (Location: Point Grey)
Optimize your computer work environment to improve comfort and reduce the risk of injury. This one-hour tutorial combines a presentation and a practical session, giving you hands-on experience adjusting typical office equipment. By the end of the tutorial you will know how to set up your chair, keyboard/mouse and monitor to promote neutral working postures. Find out more and register now.
Coming up in May…
Mental Health First Aid Training (for Faculty) – May 2 & 3, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (Location: Point Grey)
Mental Health First Aid, a two-day in-person workshop, aims to improve mental health literacy by providing participants with the skills and knowledge to help people better manage potential or developing mental health problems in themselves, a family member, a friend or a colleague. Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health problems, be able to provide initial support to a person who may be developing a mental health problem or is experiencing a crisis, and be prepared to guide a person towards professional help. Find out more and register now.
Creating Balance in Your Life – May 3, 12:00–1:00 p.m. (Location: Point Grey)
In today’s environment of competing demands, relentless commitments and a consistent feeling of a shortage of time, balance often does not come easily or naturally. Join us for a session to help you explore how your current choices impact work-life satisfaction and develop strategies to achieve a greater balance in life by identifying your priorities and the things you may not be able to control. Find out more and register now.
QPR Suicide Prevention Training (for Faculty) – May 4, 3:00–5:00 p.m. (Location: Point Grey)
QPR Training is an internationally recognized suicide prevention program designed to help you question, persuade and refer. QPR acts as an emergency mental health intervention that is designed to save lives – much like CPR or other methods of emergency medical intervention. Learn to recognize suicide warning signs, approach someone who may be at risk, persuade the person to seek appropriate health services and connect the person to resources that will help resolve crises. Suicide is preventable. Find out more and register now.
Pick Your Peak Stair Challenge – May 15 – June 9 (Location: Point Grey)
The Pick Your Peak Stair Challenge is a fun and inclusive way to encourage staff and faculty to take the stairs. Stair climbing is a great way to boost cardiovascular health, build muscle and strengthen the core. All abilities are welcome to participate. Click here to find out more, registration opens April 13.
Parenting Tips: How to Talk to Your Kids about Sexual Health – May 17, 12:00–1:00 p.m. (Location: Point Grey)
Parents of children pre-school age and up will learn how to speak with your children about body science and sexual health, and get answers to many of the questions that children can ask about this sometimes awkward subject.
Join UBC HR’s very own Health Promotion Coordinator Miranda Massie, a Certified Sexual Health Educator, and arm yourself with knowledge, age-appropriate information and fantastic resources! Find out more and register now.
Posted in Ergonomics, Events, Healthy UBC Initiatives, Mental Health, Nutrition, Physical Health | Tagged balance, courses, Ergonomics, events, free, mental health, Mindfulness, QPR Gatekeeper Training, workshops | 3 Responses
By Melissa Lafrance on March 2, 2017
Debunking the Diet Series with Dr. Thara Vayali (Location: Point Grey)
Part 1: The Toxin Myth – Mar. 7, 12:00pm – 1:00pm
The terms “toxin” and “detox” are commonly used in natural health and wellbeing lingo. Find out what the terminology really means, and understand your body’s actual detoxification mechanisms. Learn what to look for in a safe “detox” plan and leave with three valid and useful diet and lifestyle changes that help you step into a cleaner, clearer new year.
Part 2: Salt, Sugar, Fat – Mar. 22, 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Part 3: Nutrition vs. Nourishment – Apr. 5, 12:00pm – 1:00pm
For more information, and to register, click on the links for the session or sessions you’re interested in attending.
Living Well with Stress – Mar. 8, 12:00pm – 1:00pm (Location: Point Grey)
Workplace stress can be triggered by many sources: heavy workloads with tight timelines, layoffs or restructurings, or difficult co-workers. When combined with our pressures and responsibilities outside of work, it is no wonder that many of us experience high levels of stress in daily routines. Left unaddressed, stress can lead to absenteeism and has the potential to turn into a major mental or physical health concern. This session will teach you how to effectively manage stress for optimal health, wellbeing and workplace productivity. For more information and to register, click here.
Mental Health First Aid Training – Mar. 9 & 23, 9:00 am – 4:30 pm (Location: Point Grey)
Mental Health First Aid, a two-day in-person workshop, aims to improve mental health literacy by providing participants with the skills and knowledge to help people better manage potential or developing mental health problems in themselves, a family member, a friend or a colleague. Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health problems, be able to provide initial support to a person who may be developing a mental health problem or is experiencing a crisis, and be prepared to guide a person towards professional help. For more information and to register, click here.
Understanding Your Travel Benefits – Mar. 15, 12:00pm – 1:00pm (Location: Point Grey & Okanagan)
Planning a vacation in Canada or abroad? This information session will be useful for anyone wanting to know more about UBC’s travel benefits and how to be prepared in a medical emergency. Join UBC Benefits Specialist Stephanie Mah for a one-hour session to deepen your understanding of your travel benefits and ensure that your well-earned vacation is as stress-free as possible.
Building Bridges: Collaborations at Work – Mar. 14, 1:15pm – 2:15pm (Location: Robson Square)
Working with others is a requirement in the workplace, and when collaborations successfully occur, many feel positive, productive and willing to face challenges. This session will teach you the key elements of teamwork and provide an opportunity to practice collaboration-building techniques. For more information and to register, click here.
Welcoming Change in Your Life – Mar. 16, 12:00pm – 1:00pm (Location: Point Grey)
Change is a natural part of life. You may be aware that a change is imminent but are uncertain about what it will involve and how it will affect your life. Join us for a session that will address the emotional reactions involved with change and help you learn the coping skills to manage change more effectively. Participants will understand the different types of change, develop management strategies and learn to view change in a more positive manner. For more information and to register, click here.
Creating Balance in Your Life – Mar. 29, 12:00pm – 1:00pm (Location: Point Grey)
In today’s environment of competing demands, relentless commitments and constantly feeling short of time, balance often does not come easily or naturally. Join us for a session to help you explore how your current choices impact work-life satisfaction and to develop strategies to achieve greater balance in your life by identifying your priorities and things you may not be able to control. For more information and to register, click here.
Ergo Your Office Tutorial – Mar. 29, 12:00pm – 1:00pm (Location: Point Grey)
Optimize your computer work environment to improve comfort and reduce the risk of injury. This one-hour tutorial combines a presentation and a practical session, giving you hands-on experience in adjusting typical office equipment. By the end of the tutorial you will know how to set up your chair, keyboard/mouse and monitor to promote neutral working postures. For more information and to register, click here.
Coming up soon …
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Posted in Events, Healthy UBC Initiatives | Tagged balance, Change, collaborations, Diet, Dr. Thara Vayali, Ergonomics, events, free, healthy UBC Initiatives, mental health first aid, Stress, stress management, travel benefits | Leave a response
By Melissa Lafrance on October 25, 2016
Guest Contribution from Dr. Thara Vayali
There is a lot of noise out there in the big world; The din of the city, the sounds of the office, the sirens, the speakers, the swell of festivities. These can be overwhelming as we try to process our audio world, and our senses can be dulled as we try to cope.
The small sounds of nature get drowned out not only by our man-made sounds, but by the over-powering sounds of nature itself; winds through trees, heavy rains,and rushing water. Very few times in our lives do we have a chance to revel in environmental silence.
This constant external stimulation gives us even more reason to cultivate a quiet on the inside. This sound of silence exists all the time within us, if we can find a way to listen.
When given a chance to listen to our inner world, we may find that it is just as noisy as our outer world, if not more so. Noticing the quality of the quiet inside is one ways to take action for our mental health. With simple self check-ins we have a way to sense what the quiet inside is doing for us, and adjust it so that the volume and quality can be turned to a level we can thrive within.
Quiet on the inside is something we all have naturally, so we just need a little reminder to observe it. I like to describe quiet in four different groupings, within which are the varying qualities that effect how we think, feel and filter our experiences – we may tend toward one type of quiet more than another; or toward one that doesn’t serve our situation. Mental wellbeing comes from becoming aware of how we become quiet and choosing behaviours that help us.
There have been multiple authors, poets and thinkers who reflect on the types of silence that exist, which I’ll categorize expand on and add to below:
The Go-To quiet (fleeting calmness)
First Aid – when the mind/senses are overwhelmed/worked and a moment of grace is granted, but will soon be bustling again; A place of pause, non-doing, relief – a break.
The Doing quiet (busy mind)
Thinking – when intellect is in its element with thought and process having a dance together; A place where we are present, but only with ourselves – mono-tasking.
Noisy – the “bite your tongue” moments or episodes of quiet rumination; A place of resentment, self/other judgement, sullen – a quiet chaos within.
Curious – aware of possibilities and fertile ideas; A place of interest, exploration, unquenched desire – engaged & intrigued
The Feeling quiet (attentive)
Sober – feeling the depth & breadth of a situation, leaving us speechless; A place of shock, sympathy, perspective.
Listening – presence with another’s perspective. Genuinely interested in their experience, their words; A place of expansion, connection, spacious conversation.
Distancing – when we are baffled and/or resigned to the situation at hand; A place of apathy, non-understanding, disconnection.
The Being quiet (at ease)
Rhythmic – finding ourselves absorbed within our creative selves. Distinct from thinking quiet; A place of flow, timelessness, pleasure.
Captivated – when we are taken by an experience, allowing something to unfold in front of us; A place of alert perception, excitement, awe
Trusting – this arrives when we find restful slumber or daydream; A place of safety, release, surrender.
Peaceful – where we find ourselves in accord with our surroundings, where we can be alone, together. A place of co-existence, acceptance, patience.
As you browse through this list, you will notice that all quiet is not the same. Everyone has quiet within them. We are not introverted nor extroverted wholly. Take a moment and ask yourself about the quiet that commonly appears on your inside.
Print this list out, underline your tendencies and circle the qualities you would like to pursue.
One of these “quiets” is likely to arrive within us daily, so we have at least one opportunity to check in and choose every day. Some of these quiets will be easier than others to change, but the benefit is primarily in the noticing. Over time, noticing transforms into possibility and choice.
Three steps to balancing your quiet, daily:
Find just one moment a day when you find yourself not speaking and ask yourself:
- Which quality of quiet am I experiencing right now?
Once you have a sense of that:
- Do I find my answer to #1 is unchanging daily and is this quiet serving me right now?
If you find that you are consistently experiencing one quality of quiet, or if it is not helping your headspace:
- What is one step that I can take today to discover and actively foster the kind of quiet I want to feel within me?
For further reading, I’d suggest visiting a selection of articles by Maria Popova, where she collates and reflects on adult & children’s books on the value of quiet:
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 Melissa Lafrance on April 5, 2016
Thriving Faculty is a monthly column that highlights UBC faculty who exemplify the integration of health and wellbeing into their classrooms, research, departments and communities.
What are central challenges you face in your role as Faculty?
Oh my gosh, there are so many! Probably the main challenge involves time-management. There are always a million exciting projects to pursue, too many to do in one lifetime, and at any given time my students and I are pursuing dozens of these. Moreover, in addition to these research projects I have classes to teach, committee memberships, journal editorial responsibilities, grants to apply for, media interviews to give, and on and on. And of course there is also life outside of work, things like family, hobbies, sleep and eating! In short, the sheer quantity of activities and responsibilities can be overwhelming. This challenge requires some combination of a) time-management skills and b) acceptance that one will always be behind on multiple things. At the same time, the sheer quantity of projects and activities keeps work fresh and exciting.
Do you implement any strategies to support student mental health and wellbeing in the classroom/lab?
I think it is important that my students feel listened to, understood, and supported, and I try to convey that in my everyday interactions with students. I also try to create a lab characterized by enthusiasm, authenticity, and collaboration. The idea is to make day-to-day life in the lab fun and exciting more than stressful and pressured, and for students to learn that they can come to me for guidance or advice when they need it. Sure, stress and anxiety and even rejection are part of graduate school and part of the research enterprise. But we get into this field (psychological science) because it is exciting to produce new knowledge and exciting learn how to better understand and help people.
What strategies do you use in your own life, that help you thrive as Faculty?
My first rule, which I recently heard echoed by another researcher in the U.S., is to be nice. Being nice is one of the few things we can control. We all have weaknesses; for example, I am poorly organized and always fall behind on my email (as I type this I have 153 messages in my inbox requiring action or replies). Often, despite my best efforts, I fall behind on deadlines or do not give timely email replies to others. So the least I can do is be nice to others; that is something within my control and abilities. Life is more pleasant when we are all nice to each other. Another strategy I use is to make sure I have time for my hobbies, which includes my weekly doses of exercise. In my case I enjoy various martial arts, both as a student and as an expert in the role of psychology in martial arts competition. I try to train three or four times per week, and try to never allow myself to train less than two times in a given week, because after I train I feel happier and less stressed. Life can get very busy, and has gotten even busier since the birth of my first kid, but making time for hobbies and exercise seems to be a key for my own mental health.
Are there any specific initiatives and/or research you are involved in that promote health, mental health and wellbeing?
I study suicide, including why people feel suicidal and why some who feel suicidal go on to attempt suicide. More about my research can be found at my lab website: www.PEBL.org. I also am a member of the UBC suicide awareness committee, which helps to provide education and resources to the UBC community regarding suicide prevention (such as http://thrive.ubc.ca/prevent-suicide).
In your role as faculty, please describe your experience balancing work-life commitments? Is there a metaphor that depicts this relationship?
Hmm, a metaphor. Well, I think we often feel that we have to juggle everything, and that if we have 27 balls in the air it is absolutely essential to not drop any of them, or else! Instead, what I have learned is to have some acceptance that balls will get dropped, and that these can be picked back up again if important to me, and that this is the rule, not the exception. I will never successfully juggle everything. So I focus on the balls most important to me and frequently let other important ones drop, sometimes for good, or sometimes just temporarily until I pick them back up again. And I accept that if I am doing my best to not drop the most important balls, and doing my best to be nice to everyone along the way, things will work out.
E. David Klonsky, PhD, is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at UBC. His research examines motivations for and causes of suicide and self-injury, and he recently developed the Three-Step Theory (3ST) of suicide. He is Associate Editor of Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, Past-President of the International Society for the Study of Self-injury, and he has advised numerous agencies regarding suicide/self-injury diagnosis and prevention, including the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-5) and both US and Canadian Government agencies. Dr. Klonsky has more than 70 publications on suicide, self-injury, and related topics, and has been recognized by awards from the American Association of Suicidology, Association for Psychological Science, and Society of Clinical Psychology (American Psychological Association).