By Miranda Massie on March 3, 2015
Community walks, health and transit panel discussion, TED Talks streaming at UBC, spring break activities for the family, Continuing Studies courses and more! Find out what is happening in and around the community this month.
UBC’s 4th Annual Relay for Life, March 6
Join the UBC Community and the Canadian Cancer Society for a 12-hour community event to raise funds and awareness for cancer prevention in Canada.
Storm the Wall Festivals, March 22 and 26
Join the inaugural community and youth festival on March 22 featuring food trucks, interactive games, inflatables and a free Bobs and Lolo concert for the kids!
Then, celebrate the end of the semester on March 26 at Storm the Wall’s last day. This festival day will feature races such as the super-iron races, a staff and faculty heat, a fan zone with games and prizes, food trucks, and more.
Defeat Depression 5K Walk/Run, March 29
The Mood Disorders Society of Canada along with the UBC Mental Health Awareness Club are hosting a charity run/walk to raise awareness about the stigma of mental health issues and to raise funds for local mental health organizations.
UBC Staff and Faculty Camp Discount: Vancouver campus Summer Camp reg. opens March 2
For the first time ever, UBC Staff Faculty can get a discount for their child’s participation in UBC Summer Camps! Simply register your child at www.camps.ubc.ca, and after making payment in full, apply for your 5% discount by completing this online form. Note that some restrictions do apply.
Explore the critical link between transit and health. You are invited to an expert panel discussion on transit’s role in building a livable healthy region, promoting walking and biking, reducing sedentary time in cars, and improving air quality.
Mindfulness, Neuroscience and Coaching, March 20
Explore the science of mindfulness and its application to a coaching practice and organizational culture. Offered through UBC Continuing Studies.
Discover the art and heart of balancing caring for the self while caring for others. Offered through UBC Continuing Studies.
President’s Awards for Staff: Call for Nominations, Deadline March 13
Do you know UBC staff who make outstanding contributions to UBC? We invite you to recognize them and their achievements by nominating them for the 2015 President’s Service Award for Excellence and President’s Staff Awards (Vancouver campus).
Off campus events
Vandusen Botanical Garden (Vancouver)- Free Kids Admission, March 1-31
Kids are free for the month of March! Bring your children 12 years and under to explore the 55 acres at the VanDusen Botanical Garden.
Pick up your scavenger clues and start the hunt! Explore the Village searching for the answers. When you think you’re done, stop in at the General Store to see if you have earned a prize.
Celtic Fest-Surrey, March 14
Get your Irish on and celebrate the wearin’ o’ the green at the Surrey Museum’s annual Celtic Fest.
Playdome-Vancouver, March 14-22
Come and play at Canada’s largest indoor carnival with over 45 rides and attractions at BC Place.
Walk Richmond, March 14 & 28
Free, fun and safe guided walks are for people of all ages and are coordinated by the Richmond Fitness and Wellness Association.
Posted in Community Health News, Events, Mental Health, Miranda Massie, Nutrition, Physical Health | Tagged burnout, camp, coaching, depression, discount, family activities, Mindfulness, Relay for Life, self-care, spring break, Storm the Wall, TED2015, transit | Leave a response
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 March 3, 2014
This month, UBC’s Health, Wellbeing and Benefits team has a great line up of sessions focused on a wide variety of topics from suicide prevention training to parenting skills and time management. Join us and take a few moments to build new skills, boost your health and to reflect on how you face the day. (Courses are at the Point Grey campus unless otherwise indicated)
To gear up for spring, UBC is hosting a Total Health Challenge – a fitness and nutrition challenge focused on improving your overall health. This opportunity offers an exciting and competitive means of taking control of your total health and wellbeing; and the option of participating on your own or with your colleagues! Registration here or for more information click here.
Depression & Arthritis: Self-management Techniques That Work-March 13th @ 12-1pm
Over 7.1 million Canadians suffer from either depression or arthritis, and in many cases suffer from both. This workshop aims to help Canadians living with either depression and/or arthritis by providing self-management tools to help them lead healthier lives and fully engage in work. For more information or to register, click here.
Hypertension, or High Blood Pressure, is when the pressure from the blood in your arteries is elevated and your heart has to work harder than normal to pump blood through the blood vessels. It is the number one risk factor for stroke and a major risk factor for heart disease. Join Jason Min from the UBC Pharmacists Clinic in this one-hour workshop and learn how to take control of your blood pressure through lifestyle intervention and learn new healthy tips to keep it that way. For more information or to register, click here.
The Ergonomics program at UBC strives to have an Office Ergonomics Representative for each unit. The training will help representatives promote, educate and ensure musculoskeletal health in all UBC units. Office Ergo Reps are trained by the Ergonomics Coordinator in simple computer workstation set-up, and to recognize signs and symptoms of injuries from poor ergonomic set-up and control strategies to reduce or prevent symptoms. For more information or to register, click here.
Take a time-out from work for your mental and physical health! Join your campus colleagues for a lunch -hour walk on Mondays and Fridays. Monday’s group leaves at 12:30 p.m., while Friday’s leaves at 12:10 p.m. outside the General Services Administration Building (GSAB). All abilities welcome. For more information, call 604.827.3047, email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here.
Join the UBC Meditation Community, which holds weekly sessions from September through May. Click here for more information.
Posted in Colin Hearne, Events, Healthy UBC Initiatives, Mental Health, Physical Health | Tagged Arthritis, depression, Ergonomics, health challenge, hypertension, Meditation, powerwalking | Leave a response
By Colin Hearne on October 30, 2013
As the holiday season begins to sneak up upon us, so too does the inevitability of a dizzying array of demands. Parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining arrive on our doorsteps and can trigger stress and depression, derail your holidays and hurt your health. When stress is at its peak, it’s hard to take the time to stop and regroup.
Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past. With practical tips, you can minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays, and you may even enjoy the holidays more than you thought you could! So let the preparations begin, today.
Preventing holiday stress and depression
Here are 10 tips that the Canadian Mental Health Association recommends to help prevent holiday stress and depression:
1. Acknowledge your feelings: If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones, realise that it is normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
2. Reach out: If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. These events can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
3. Be realistic: The holidays don’t have to be perfect, or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.
4. Set aside differences: Try to accept family and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. Be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
5. Stick to a budget: Before you begin you gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. Try these alternatives: Donate to a charity in someone’s name, give homemade gifts, or start a family gift exchange.
6. Plan ahead: Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. This will help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.
7. Learn to say no: Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
8. Don’t abandon healthy habits: Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks. Continue to get plenty of sleep and physical activity.
9. Take a breather: Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Take a walk at night and stargaze. Listen to soothing music. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.
10. Seek professional help if you need it: Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.
“Don’t allow your wounds to transform you into something you’re not” – Paulo Coelho
Make November the month where you make your mental health and happiness a priority –take the first step by attending Achieving Happiness on November 12, 2013, 12-1pm at UBC’s Vancouver Campus.
In this talk, Kostadin Kushlev, PhD student and Vanier Scholar at UBC’s Department of Psychology will explore a wide range of factors that contribute to happiness, from the obvious, such as having good relationships and good health, to the less obvious, such as the benefits of pro-social behavior and a focused mind.