By Melissa Lafrance on January 8, 2019
What does your emotional wellbeing look like in the new year? Whether or not you have some personal objectives in mind, remember that reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you need support for your emotional wellbeing this year, or if you’re concerned about a colleague, friend or family member, reach out as early as possible. Your campus community cares, and help is available for you and your dependents.
Melanie’s Dilemma: When family relationships are more rocky than smooth
Melanie just returned from visiting her family. Although she was happy to see her loved ones, she feels emotionally drained after spending time with her younger brother. Since their parents’ divorce, Melanie and her brother have had a sensitive relationship filled with disagreements and confrontations. When they are together, there are tense moments that increase Melanie’s feelings of anxiety and frustration. Melanie really wants to address her emotional wellbeing in the New Year by dealing with the persistent issues between her and her brother in the hopes of improving their relationship.
How EFAP can provide confidential relationship support:
Through the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provided by Morneau Shepell, Melanie can connect with a professional counsellor who specializes in relationship challenges and conflict resolution. She can receive confidential, short-term counselling for a range of relationship issues, including communication and mental health challenges. Because EFAP services are available in a variety of formats, including video counselling and First Chat, Melanie can choose the support service that’s most convenient for her.
To help her communicate better, resolve conflicts and approach the situation with her brother differently, Melanie can access Morneau Shepell’s www.workhealthlife.com online hub for articles on improving family communication and resolving family conflicts. (Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization.)
If the situation requires specialized care or long-term counselling, Morneau Shepell will find resources to best meet individual needs and budget.
EFAP could also refer Melanie to a registered psychologist, social worker or clinical counsellor. Through UBC’s Extended Health Plan, Melanie may be reimbursed for 100% of reasonable and customary charges, up to a maximum of $2,500 per year. No doctor’s referral is required to access this service.
Katie’s Challenge: The emotional toll of caring for an ill family member
Katie’s father has been living with her for the past two years. He’s physically capable of caring for himself, but is financially dependent on Katie and her partner. Recently, he was diagnosed with gout and is having difficulty coming to terms with the diagnosis and the diet changes his doctor advised him to follow. Katie would like some advice for herself as a caregiver and also for her father to support him through this diagnosis.
How EFAP can help:
EFAP is available for eligible staff, faculty, retired employees, and their dependents. Dependents include spouses and children, as well as parents that are financially dependent on the employee. Because Katie already enrolled her father in EFAP, they can both access Morneau Shepell’s support services.
For Katie’s father, a counsellor can help him cope with health changes. He can also receive nutrition advice and health-related consultations from naturopathic doctors, registered dietitians and nurses over the phone. As a caregiver, Katie can support her own emotional wellbeing through counselling. Confidential email or e-counselling for psychological support is available, which Katie might find useful since she enjoys writing and journaling.
By Miranda Massie on February 5, 2018
A variety of personal, professional and educational situations have presented themselves recently that have prompted me to explore and reflect on my values.
Perhaps influenced by the current state of the world (or any number of other factors in my life at the moment), the value I seem most drawn to is love. After some coaching and reflection, I am able to say that I see love as the most foundational value upon which my values system is built.
Within a workplace context, I value leading with the heart and strongly believe that we should be able to bring our whole selves and whole hearts to work. I think work should be a place where is it safe to be authentic, and to openly acknowledge and practice our values.
There was a time not too long ago, when I felt that I had to separate my values from my professional self. I was sure that my personal values were too ‘soft’ to be present in my work. Bringing love into the workplace might seem like a radical idea, but I realize now that it might be a way to create change and to re-frame the idea of “workplace culture”.
In the spirit of love (and Valentine’s Day), I offer five ways to improve the physical and emotional health of your heart:
1. Say Thank You
Practice gratitude by thanking others, either publicly or privately. Doing this on a regular basis can increase happiness, contentment, pride and hope. It also make us more willing to help others. 
2. Laugh Out Loud
Laughter is one of the oldest and most cost-effective health products on the market. It produces a wide range of both physical (pain reduction, improved cardiovascular health, better immunity) and psychological benefits (elevates mood, creates focus, reduces stress). 
3. Show Compassion
Practicing compassion towards ourselves is just as important as showing compassion to others. Through compassion, we learn to soften our hearts and see improvements in kindness, self-confidence and connectedness. 
4. Spend Time in Nature
Exposure to nature not only boosts lower blood pressure, but it also builds empathy and fosters community. 
5. Stay Connected
Social support creates physical and emotional connection. It has also been found to be a protective factor against stress, and less stress on our hearts leads to healthier lives! 
This month, I invite you to imagine what it would be like if we worked from our hearts. Wishing you a February full of love, warmth and happiness.
All my best,
By Miranda Massie on May 4, 2017
If someone had told me a few years ago that I would eventually be writing articles about sex for work, I probably wouldn’t have believed them! It was a common belief at the time (and for many still is), that it was okay to talk about certain aspects of health at work, but sex was definitely not one of them.
Personally, I don’t see how I can honestly and authentically do my job without acknowledging all of the facets of wellbeing that contribute to overall health. I may be biased by the fact that I have a background as a sexual health educator, but I like to dedicate at least one editorial a year to my often underrated, overlooked and sometimes stigmatized friend: sexual health. (Bonus: I get to come up with catchy, tongue-in-cheek titles!)
My top tips for getting re-acquainted with your sexual health
If you don’t use it, you might lose it.
As comical as it sounds, when it comes to sexual health, research says it’s true. Regular use and care for our reproductive parts and sexual organs helps to keep them, and their owners, healthy. Click here to learn more about the health benefits of keeping sexually active.
Parents: It’s going to be ok!
When you’re a parent, talking about sexual health with your kids can add another layer to a tricky topic, one that can provoke both anxiety and stress. For any parents or guardians out there looking for tips on how to talk about this topic with your kids, consider registering for our upcoming workshop:
Find study buddies
There’s a lot of research going on at UBC that relates to sexual health. One example is the UBC Sexual Health Laboratory. Consider signing up to take part in a study – the topics are varied and there are a range of participation options (online, in person, solo, with a partner, etc.). These are often wonderful opportunities to contribute to learning and research while discovering new things about yourself and your sexual health.
Avoid Dr. Google
When it comes to a topic like sexual health, my advice is avoid Google. Not only is there a lot of misinformation on the Internet, but search results can often be unreliable. Learn more about the dangers of Dr. Google here and see the suggestions below for more accurate online sources.
Seek out the right sources
As an alternative to Google, I recommend checking out the following resources for unbiased, non-judgmental sexual health information:
- SexandU: Rated one of the top 10 health websites in Canada, this site is run by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
- Options for Sexual Health: Educational resources for all ages and services available for free to all residents of BC.
- Scarleteen:Don’t be fooled by the teen/20’s label: This site has accessible information and advice for all ages.
- Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights:Like the World Health Organization, but for sexual health in Canada. Policy, research, advocacy and information.
- Experiencing a non-consensual or unwanted sexual experience can have negative impacts on your mental health and physical health and wellbeing. If you need to speak with someone, you can contact your EFAP at 1-800-361-5676 or learn about sexual assault resources at UBC. Information related to UBC’s new Policy on Sexual Assault and Other Sexual Misconduct will be disseminated in the coming weeks.
Sexual health is a broad and diverse realm of our wellbeing that can include intimacy, relationships, sexuality, gender, safety, reproduction and personal values. This month, I encourage you to have fun exploring what sexual health means to you.
All my best,
By Melissa Lafrance on February 2, 2017
How can managing your emotions be good for your heart? The brain and the heart are closely connected. When your emotions adversely affect your mental wellbeing, your heart is impacted as well.
Stress & Heart Health
There’s a reason why we have a stress response – it’s necessary for survival. When stress or distress become overbearing and chronic, it has significant effects on your health, specifically your heart.
In a stressful situation, your body responds with a chain of reactions. Cortisol and epinephrine are released, which temporarily increase breathing rate, heart rate and blood pressure. This prepares you to deal with the situation and is also known as the “fight or flight” response. Most of us are able to return to normal functioning following a stressful situation. However, if such situations happens often, stress causes your body to remain in a heightened state for days or weeks at a time. Stress can also affect cardiovascular health by influencing behaviours such as unhealthy eating, sedentary behaviours, excessive alcohol consumption and smoking, thereby affecting cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
Chronic hypertension, or high blood pressure, can damage the artery walls. Managing stress and improving emotional wellbeing can improve overall heart health. Learn more about preventing high blood pressure.
You should consult your physician if you are concerned about your stress levels or your risks for cardiovascular disease. Learn more about preventing and managing risk factors.
Get involved & take care of your heart:
- Learn more about heart anatomy & function and cardiovascular disease risk factors
- Inform yourself on heart health by visiting our Virtual Health Fair & Online Assessment
- Visit heartandstroke.ca to learn more about Heart Health & Heart Month
Emotional Wellbeing & Stress Management:
- Work or talk it out with UBC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program provider, Shepell
- Shepell’s Stress Coach Connects – an online stress management program
- Improve your stress management with the 30-Day Online Mindfulness Challenge
- Learn mindfulness for the workplace and how to establish your own meditation practice with the Mindfulness@Work Program
- Check out other stress management resources for staff and faculty
Posted in Healthy Path, Mental Health, Physical Health | Tagged blood pressure, care, emotional health, emotions, healthy hear, Heart health, management, prevention, risk, Stress, wellbeing | Leave a response
By Melissa Lafrance on February 2, 2017
Emotional Intelligence is the capability of individuals to recognize emotions, both their own and those of others. Having a high level of emotional intelligence can help us in understanding and addressing emotional reactions, to better guide your thinking and behaviour. Emotional intelligence is one key to helping us achieve happiness and overall wellbeing.
Happiness is more than a frame of mind. A positive frame of mind has been proven to have a direct relationship to good health. Learn about the power of laughter and being grateful, about taking time for yourself, and tools you can use to become happier. Read more.
If you are a manager or people leader, learn how you can manage with emotional intelligence.
Learning Opportunities for Emotional Intelligence
There are a number of learning opportunities for UBC faculty and staff that can help you explore emotional intelligence as it relates to your career and leadership success.
UBC Continuing Studies
UBC Continuing Studies has courses and programs for individuals to explore their emotional intelligence (EQ) as it influences career success. Check out the online EQ assessments and in-person EQ courses at https://cstudies.ubc.ca/study-topic/interpersonal-communication-skills/emotional-intelligence.
You may be able to use your tuition waivers (staff only) or PD funds to pay for UBC Continuing Studies courses. Visit http://www.hr.ubc.ca/wellbeing-benefits/benefits/details/professional-development/ for full information.
Learning with Lynda.com
Lynda.com has many online courses that focus on emotional intelligence and leadership, which UBC faculty and staff can view for free. Here are a few short videos that can help you explore the concept of emotional intelligence:
- What is emotional intelligence? (4:33m): https://www.lynda.com/Business-Skills-tutorials/What-emotional-intelligence/124087/144436-4.html?org=ubc.ca
- Appreciating emotional intelligence (4:28m): https://www.lynda.com/Business-Skills-tutorials/Appreciating-emotional-intelligence/137886/151208-4.html?org=ubc.ca
- Cultivating emotional intelligence (5:21m): https://www.lynda.com/Business-Skills-tutorials/Cultivating-emotional-intelligence/122471/139734-4.html?org=ubc.ca
Visit http://lynda.ubc.ca to learn more about UBC faculty and staff access to Lynda.com.
Benefits to Support your Emotional Wellbeing
If you are enrolled in the UBC Extended Health plan, you can be 100% reimbursed up to a maximum of $2500 for each person per benefit year, for counselling services from a Licensed Psychologist, Registered Social Worker or a Registered Clinical Counsellor.
UBC’s EFAP provider, Shepell, offers counselling services for you and your dependents for the following topics:
- Any mental health concern including depression, anxiety, addiction and more
- Stress & resiliency
- Bullying & abuse
- Family concerns (communication, parenting, dynamics, and more)
- Workplace communication or conflicts
To get started with Shepell’s Support Services, call 1-800-387-4765 or browse their available services online.
EFAP Health Coaching
UBC’s Employee & Family Assistance Program provider, Shepell, can help you understand health issues and concerns in addition to helping you make the changes needed to be well.
There are many ways to get help today – all completely confidential. Shepell’s Health Coaches are Registered Nurses and Occupational Health Nurses who offer practical, personalized support for health issues:
- Smoking cessation – via EFAP’s Stop Smoking Centre
- Weight management
- Healthy eating – via EFAP Nutrition Support led by Registered Dietitians
- Stress management
- Exercise as a component of a healthy lifestyle
- Health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol
UBC offers a range of programs and services in support of mental health, all of which are free to access. Explore the range of mental health resources available for staff and faculty.
To get started with Shepell’s Health Coaching, call 1-800-387-4765 or browse their available services online.
Posted in Benefits Spotlight, EFAP | Tagged Benefits, continuing studies, counselling, courses, EFAP, emotional health, emotional intelligence, emotions, Employee and Family Assistance program, Shepell, Support | 1 Response
By Miranda Massie on February 3, 2016
Highlighting heart health in February always seems appropriate. Hearts and love are top of mind at this time of year, and it’s a nice reminder to keep the ol’ ticker in tip-top shape. Heart health check-ups available this month on campus:
- UBC’s Travelling Health Fair: Sign up for a free personalized health screening
- The CAAMPUS project: Sign up for a free heart health assessment
I’d like to say, however, that heart health doesn’t end there. We are keen to focus a lot of time and attention in ensuring that we are physically well, but what about our emotional health? Is it possible to have a physically healthy heart and yet it still be unwell? February can also be a great time to check-in emotionally with an aspect of our health that is often overlooked.
How Healthy is Your Heart?
Say Thank You: Gratitude is a powerful emotion
Practicing gratitude through thanking others or with private acknowledgement has been linked to increased happiness, contentment, pride and hope. Being grateful can also make us more willing to help others. Send someone a thank-you card, or make a list of the people in your life you are grateful for.
More about gratitude
Acknowledge Achievement: Recognizing others is beneficial to their health as well
Only about 50% of staff and faculty at UBC say they receive recognition for their accomplishments at work. Acknowledging colleagues for their efforts and achievements can make a big difference to their wellbeing and engagement so pass it on!
Start now with custom Thank You cards
Laugh Out Loud: positive impacts on both emotional and physical health
Regular laughter reduces emotional tension and improves emotional connections with others as well as self-confidence. Laughter has also been linked to lower blood pressure and increased muscle relaxation.
Connections between Laughter, Humour and Good Health
Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. –William Wordsworth
This month I invite you to explore what heart health means to you. Finding the right balance between its physical and emotional care can be the best Valentine’s Day gift around!
All my best,