By Miranda Massie on August 6, 2014
In my editorial last month, I invited our readers to reflect on their work environment, and to try one new thing to create a healthier workplace. The University is a large entity and attempting to establish healthier environments can be a daunting task. If each individual member of our staff and faculty community tried to make one change, we could harness this momentum and the impact could be felt on a wider scale.
So, what can we do as individuals to make our working communities healthier?
In posing this question, I am reminded of a 5X15 event that I attended as part of the Indian Summer Festival in June. Five dynamic and engaging speakers are invited to each talk for 15 minutes, unscripted, on a topic of their choice. I was fortunate to hear Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, visual artist and member of the Haida Nation, speak as one of the evenings presenters. Michael recounted an old Quechan legend that made its way to Haida Gwaii called The Little Hummingbird.
Michael spoke about belonging, specifically as individuals to a larger community and how in Haida communities, people rely on individual members to “do what they can” in order to contribute to the larger whole. No matter how small or insignificant an individual may perceive their gesture to be, acknowledging that it all contributes to the betterment of the future of the group is essential.
I really appreciate this idea that in doing what we can with what we have at our disposal, we have the ability to take an active and participating role in our health at work.
An easy way to embark on this journey is through recognition. ‘Thank you’s’ are free and gratitude does not cost a thing. Best of all, rewarding the work of others through recognition has been proven to benefit one’s health.
Peer recognition has the most impact, as colleagues tend to be the people that see day–to-day work and tasks being completed. This type of public recognition is more meaningful and lasting as it fulfills two of our innate human needs: the need to belong (social) and the need to be appreciated (esteem). People who feel appreciated and valued in the workplace are more productive, generally happier and more likely to extend their gratitude to their families, social networks and communities. Showing and receiving gratitude and appreciation has been shown to release the hormone oxytocin in the body which serves to bond relationships, reduce negative emotions and relieve pain.
This month, I invite you to be generous with your ‘thank you’s’, and to show your appreciation for colleagues when you feel it is deserved. If you are looking for other ways to recognize staff and faculty at UBC, or want to find out what the University does as an organization to reward employees, visit the Staff Recognition page.
With recognition in mind, I would like to thank all of our readers who take the time to provide feedback and send their appreciation. We do this work for you and hope that it helps you move towards a healthier UBC!
All my best,
Posted in Editorial, Mental Health, Miranda Massie, Physical Health, Spot Light | Tagged appreciation, Celebrate, community involvement, culture, gratitude, Haida, health, hummingbird, indigenous, Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, recognition, success, thank you, wellbeing, workplace | Leave a response
By Colin Hearne on December 3, 2013
We hear so much about holiday stress that it can be easy to lose sight of what the holidays really should be: fun, joyful, and a little bit magical. A strong focus should also rest on what Larry Culliford, author and psychologist, defines as ‘your adventure playground’… ‘a place to learn in and have fun’ and ‘a place in which to extend and grow’ – Your Spirituality.
When speaking of spirituality, it is not ideal to consider spirituality as a thing or an object. It is better thought of as a boundary-less dimension of human experience. Spirituality is not tied to any particular religious belief or tradition, although culture and beliefs can play a part in it. Every person has their own unique spiritual experience or beliefs, but regardless of our individuality and unique approach, one factor of spirituality that we can’t ignore is the need for connectivity. Separateness is an illusion. Everything is interrelated. This holiday season, the message is ‘connect’. Connect with others, connect with your environment, and connect with you.
The Importance of Connecting
Lots of research has been done on social connections and the implications of having too little.
- In 2012, researchers from UC Los Angeles looked at what genes were being expressed in lonely and socially-integrated people and found that people who feel socially isolated or detached, or experience a chronic threat of social losses, experience more inflammatory related problems such as arthritis and an overall poorer immune system
- Also, in 1995 researchers found that low social connections are generally associated with declines in physical and psychological health, as well as a higher propensity to the antisocial behavior that leads to further isolation.
- Finally, a 2010 brain imaging study led by researchers at the University of Michigan suggests that social rejection can activate the same parts of the as during physical pain.
Connect To Thrive
This holiday season, make it your priority to become more spiritual and to connect, using the below tips:
- Go outside– Don’t let the beauty of this time of year go unnoticed. Snowy days, crisp air, and outdoor activities like walking, skiing or ice skating are all reminders of the enchantment of the season. Take a few moments to get outside and reconnect with your surroundings.
- Take care of your health: The holiday season can be a real stress on your mind and body. Ensure you get the sleep and exercise you need to make it to the New Year. Don’t skip meals, and try to eat a balanced diet. Remember: it’s easier to get into a festive mood when you’re well-rested and not under the weather.
- Get together: It’s good to socialize at this time of year. The flurry of activity around mixing and mingling can take your mind off the shorter days, colder temperatures and stresses of life. Accept invitations from friends and family members, And why not consider extending a few of your own?
- Appreciate the good things in life: During exhaustingly busy times, you may wonder what the effort is all for. Every now and then, it’s important to sit down, put aside the difficulties and stresses of life, and reflect on the things that you do have. By focusing on the good things, you not only gain an important bit of perspective, but will draw more positive energy towards you.
- Read a book: Reading is a brilliant way to relax, de-stress, and connect with yourself. Psychologists believe this is because the mind has to concentrate on reading, and the distraction of being drawn in to a literary world eases tensions in muscles and the heart.
- Remember to breathe: Some consider breathing to be the most important of all the bodily functions, because everything depends upon it. Life is dependent upon breathing. Breath is life. Yet, most people are unconscious of their breathing and take it for granted. Click here for more information on becoming more breath aware.
“Oh the things you can find If you don’t stay behind.” – Dr Seuss
Make December the month where you make your spirituality and connectedness a priority –take the first step by attending ‘Stress Busters 2’ on Dec. 19, 2013, 12-1pm in Henry Angus Building, Room 254. In this talk, explore your personal stress triggers and review some practical, easy techniques to make brief relaxation moments a natural part of your everyday life with. To register click here.
By Miranda Massie on October 1, 2013
Whether at the UBC campus or across the Lower Mainland, being a member of any large community can be isolating. It can be difficult to establish connections with others while balancing our daily responsibilities; however, these connections are an integral component of our social health. Being socially healthy is just as important to our overall wellbeing as exercising or eating right. However, this idea of social health is definitely more abstract than knowing to eat 7-8 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
After doing some reading, I have narrowed the list down to one tangible thing that we can do to foster social connections, and in turn, bolster our wellbeing: give back through volunteering.
One way to combat feelings of isolation or loneliness is to get involved with an organization that gives back to others. Volunteering not only serves as a way to expand our social network, but it lets us to spend time with people who have similar interests.
The Health Benefits of Volunteerism
• Volunteering positively impacts our psychological wellbeing as it can help us feel better about ourselves.
• Volunteering provides opportunity for meeting new people in new settings, which results in positive mental health effects.
• Helping others is a self-validating experience: knowing we can make a difference in the world can serve as protection against depression.
• Community participation through volunteering has been shown to boost self confidence and self-esteem
• Giving back to the community through volunteering can reduce feelings of alienation and lead to greater feelings of social responsibility.
The benefits do not stop there, nor are they limited to individuals. According to the United Nations, “volunteerism benefits both society at large and the individual volunteer by strengthening trust, solidarity and reciprocity among citizens, and by purposefully creating opportunities for participation”
As Canadians, we seem to be headed in the right direction when it comes to our social health. In 2010, 47% of Canadians 15 years and older were involved in volunteer work. Statistics also show that people who are involved in community activities as children are more likely to become involved in volunteering and service organizations as adults. This provides a great motivation for involving our children and family members in our volunteer activities.
Visit the Go Volunteer site to find listings of opportunities in your area, or start now by participating in the My Health My Community Survey project.
Jones, F. (2000). “Community involvement: the influence of early experience.” Canadian Social Trends. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 11-008. No. 57.
Miller, K. D., & Schleien, S. J., Rider, C., Hall, C. , Roche, M., and Worsley, J. (2002) Inclusive Volunteering: Benefits to Participants and Community. Therapeutic Recreation Journal. Vol. 36, No. 3, 247-259.
Piliavin, Jane Allyn, & Siegl, Erica. (Dec., 2007). Health Benefits of Volunteering in the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 48, No. 4 pp. 450-464.
Wilson, John. (2000). Volunteering. Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 26, pp. 215-240.
By Miranda Massie on October 1, 2013
Visit UBC’s Botanical Gardens on Oct 19-20, 2013 for the annual Apple Festival and sample more than 70 varieties.
Bodyworks is UBC’s only fitness centre for adults and older adults. Memberships are as low as $35/month. This accessible, fun-filled fitness centre offers opportunities to develop new relationships and achieve health goals, for all bodies and abilities. View the brochure or contact the Registration Office for more info: 604-822-0207 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did you know that there is a Weight Watchers group that meets weekly on the UBC Point Grey Campus? Find support and work towards improving and maintaining health.
The fall tennis programs are up and running at the UBC Tennis Centre. Check out their new TGIF league! Sign up now as spaces are filling up fast.
UBC’s Robson Square campus will be hosting weekly Pilates sessions this fall on Wednesdays from 12-1pm. Receive 10 sessions for $90. Registration closes October 2nd.
Get involved in a study exploring how Mobile Technology can support the management of Type-2 Diabetes. Hosted by the UBC eHealth Strategy Office and the UBC Faculty of Medicine – participants will be compensated.
Vancouver’s first annual city-wide photography festival is dedicated to celebrating local and international photography and lens-based art.
Drop in with your family and friends throughout the month of October to help enhance wildlife habitats and community parks through tree planting.
This is the largest year ever for this festival, with more than 80 events including readings, panel discussions, performances and interviews for all ages.
Posted in Community Health News, Events, Mental Health, Miranda Massie, Physical Health | Tagged community involvement, tree planting, UBC Apple Festival, ubc bodyworks, UBC Tennis Centre, Vancouver writers festival | Leave a response