By Guest Contributor on October 23, 2018
Guest contribution from Dr. Thara Vayali
Resilience is the ability to experience discomfort, recover, adapt and grow from challenge. This does not mean enduring or subjecting oneself to repeated discomfort for the sake of “being resilient”. To strengthen our resilience muscle is to build a buffer between what is happening and how we deal with it.
There are many ways to activate and strengthen the resilience muscle. Variety is crucial: no single direction or exercise will create an agile, responsive muscle. The key is to begin with the basics. A coach would generally recommend becoming adept at the basic skills before you try any fancy moves. Daily training may seem repetitive or minimal compared to facing overwhelming or exciting challenges, but it is the only way to prepare for those challenges. The same goes for resilience.
The primary tool for resilience-building is mindfulness. It has been shown that our ability to navigate discomfort begins quietly, in a daily practice that refines our awareness, focus and self-care. Ten minutes of quiet, focused breathing with the intent of observing and allowing sensation to pass is the practice. The best athletes know that persistent, daily practice is what gives them the framework to excel.
Let’s begin with three common situations where mindfulness can be harnessed.
Notice the auto-pilot moments
Auto-pilot exists to save our brains from consciously choosing every daily decision. Unfortunately, auto-pilot can also drive our actions, reactions, desires and values. As you find 10 minutes of daily mindfulness, begin to notice how your auto-pilot impacts your thoughts, interactions and relationships. The goal is simply to notice, as self-awareness is a primary exercise for resilience-building.
Survival of the focused
Focus may be our most valued resource. Neurologically, the best practice is to observe when, where and why your attention drifts. “Task-switching” gobbles up our energy through notifications, emails, open-door policies and a fear-of-missing-out, along with the urge to always be “doing” something rather than sitting still. Sitting still is a skill. Build a schedule that allows you to have one hour of single-task focus time – with no communication devices or interruptions. Notice how that feels. Ten minutes of daily mindfulness is the very beginning of this practice.
Rest for the weary
Getting through challenges does not mean losing sleep, though somehow we have associated the two. Rest allows us to think more clearly, and quality sleep tempers our reaction time and biases. Some of the major obstacles to our sleep are staying up past our natural sleep time, thinking about difficult situations close to bed time, and having screens too close for too long. Think about where and when you allow phones, computers and in-depth processing in your space – do you have any boundaries? If not, choose times and places where these are off limits in your home and at work. In the hour before bed, avoid screens, leave behind the big thoughts, and take the time for a mindfulness practice before bed.
Consider this your resilience physiotherapy. Practice diligently and you will see a change in how you experience situations and how you respond to and grow from them.
Dr. Thara Vayali is a Vancouver-based naturopathic doctor and yoga teacher, UBC alum and popular guest contributor to our Healthy UBC newsletter who specializes in intestinal and immune health, hormones, and pain-free bodies. For more information about Thara, visit www.tharavayali.ca
Photo Credit: Student Communications & UBC Thrive
By Melissa Lafrance on October 3, 2018
Studies show that our minds are wandering 46.5% of the time.1 With all the digital distractions around us, it’s not surprising that there’s greater focus on mindfulness practices. A tremendous amount of research over the past 20 years has demonstrated the benefits of mindfulness for physical and mental wellbeing. Whether you are new to mindfulness, practicing already, or part of a department or unit looking for a team-building activity, everyone can benefit from this simple practice.
At UBC, you have the opportunity to explore mindfulness and enhance your wellbeing with the 30-Day Online Mindfulness Challenge.
About the 30-Day Online Mindfulness Challenge
Available to all UBC staff, faculty and postdoctoral fellows at all campus locations, the 30-Day Online Mindfulness Challenge is a free, innovative and evidence-based program that encourages employees to incorporate mindfulness into the workplace and in their everyday lives. Content is delivered via any online or mobile device and focuses on simple yet powerful and achievable learning objectives.
You can expect:
- 10 minutes per day of mindfulness training for 30 days
- Expert-led and evidence-based programming
- Online platform that can be used anywhere
- Free to join and includes participation of a buddy or colleague of your choice
- Open to all UBC staff and faculty (Vancouver and Okanagan campuses)
What previous participants say:
“Mindfulness practice helps reset my mind and have a clear perspective when I become unfocused or feel overwhelmed in the workplace.”
“Taking the Challenge with a colleague was really helpful…having another person who understood the immediate benefits of practicing mindfulness… it kept us accountable.”
“The Take 5 mindfulness practice has become a regular part of how we begin team meetings. [It’s] helped us be more present, better listeners, engaged and resilient.”
All UBC staff and faculty in Vancouver and the Okanagan can participate in the 30-Day Mindfulness Challenge by:
- Registering for the Challenge orientation webinar: Oct. 17 from 12:00-12:30 p.m.
- Taking a look at the orientation video on Mindwell-U’s website.
- Creating your profile on the online hub using this UBC Vancouver and Okanagan staff and faculty link.
- Choosing to register for the 2018 Challenge (Oct. 29 – Nov. 27) and/or the 2019 Challenge (Apr. 15 – May 10). Additional start dates will be available later.
If you have any questions, email Melissa Lafrance at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: Melissa Lafrance
Posted in Information Update, Mental Health, Mindful Moments | Tagged 30 day challenge, concentration, education, Focus, free, mental health, Mindfulness, practice, resilience, UBC, wellbeing | Leave a response
By Guest Contributor on October 3, 2017
Guest contribution by Wendy Quan
Your mind races. You worry. You feel scattered.
Congratulations, you have a human mind.
How to regard your busy mind
You may know about the mindfulness concept called the “monkey mind”, the name given to your busy mind. You have a lot going on in your life, so your mind jumps around like a monkey. It can be stressful and annoying.
Maybe you’ve tried meditation, with the hope that you’d find some bliss in your life. Maybe you’ve sat in meditation and gotten frustrated because your monkey mind just won’t shut down.
Having thoughts is normal, it’s human. It is actually not too realistic to expect that your mind will shut off and be blissful, even in meditation. But if you cultivate a meditation practice, you will notice an increase in focus and concentration, and moments of peace and calm.
How to observe your busy mind
- Be the “observer” or the “witness” to your thoughts.
Allow yourself to watch the goings-on of your mind. You will be intrigued, if not entertained. It’s akin to watching a movie. Pause and just watch what your mind does. Notice how your thoughts often move from one subject to the other, how your thoughts don’t necessarily make any sense. Are your thoughts replaying something from the past? Are they disparate and have no logical flow to them? Are they emotional reactions? These are all typical observations.
- Observe without judgment.
As you witness your moment-to-moment thoughts, it’s likely you will judge them. Your inner voice might sound like this: “why am I thinking about this silly thing?” or, “this is stressing me out” or, “am I being jealous?”
Practice non-judgment. Just observe and notice your thoughts.
What this will do for you
This simple practice can:
- Increase your self awareness
- Allow you the opportunity to change your thoughts, if you wish to do so. You can retrain your mind to be more positive if you can catch yourself thinking negatively, then intentionally change your thinking.
- Improve your mood
- Help you realize if your thoughts are causing you stress
- Be entertaining
Please give this a try right now. It only takes a few moments!
Wendy Quan is an industry leader in helping organizations implement self-sustaining mindfulness meditation programs to create change resiliency. She is the founder of The Calm Monkey, the first and only online and in-person training and certification of its kind, which turns experienced meditators into Mindfulness Meditation Facilitators in the workplace and community.
Wendy is a certified organizational change manager who has been recognized as a pioneer by the Greater Good Science Center of the University of California, Berkeley and the global Association of Change Management Professionals. Her client list includes individuals from around the world and organizations such as Google and the government of Dubai. Her life’s purpose is to help people create a better experience of life.
By Miranda Massie on January 10, 2017
New Year’s resolutions. At this time of year in particular, people spend a fair amount of time thinking about them, recording them and typically either loving or hating them. Unfortunately, we can also become de-motivated or discouraged if we perceive ourselves as failing for not completing them.
I chose not to set any resolutions this year, at least not in the traditional sense. In an effort to better use by mental energy, I’m adopting a new philosophy for how I view the world. I’m hoping this new outlook will provide me with more time and energy to re-dedicate towards things that I love (cooking, family and friends, and creative pursuits).
I’m hopeful that this new outlook might resonate with others and so I am sharing it with you today!
The 3 As for Managing Your Mind and Your Energy
Accept: Begin by acknowledging and accepting that there are things beyond control, and then move on. Time spent worrying or being angry over things that you cannot change is time you could better spend elsewhere. Consciously recognize what you cannot control, perhaps even saying it out loud, to shift your focus elsewhere.
No amount of yelling, worrying or complaining will make that traffic move any faster.
Appreciate & Attempt: Next, take stock of the areas in your life where you have some influence. Where possible, attempt to manage these as best you can.
You may not have control over getting a cold but you can influence your eating and sleeping habits to heal faster.
Alter: Finally, turn your focus and energy to things that are within your realm of control. We have the ability to alter aspects of our lives and effect change. That is empowering knowledge.
Spend your time focused on who and what you can change (hint: look inwards, this is typically you!)
Whatever and whenever you decide to make changes in the New Year, I hope you will keep this perspective in mind. We all deserve to spend some of our time and energy focused on the things that bring us fulfillment and joy.
All my best,
3 A’s of Stress Management and Spheres of Influence (Adam Rollins, The Neutral Zone, 2014)
Posted in Editorial, Mental Health, Mindful Moments | Tagged accept, alter, appreciate, Change, Control, editorial, Energy, Focus, manage, mental health, mindset, Miranda Massie, new year, outlook, resolutions, Support, UBC | 2 Responses
By Melissa Lafrance on January 10, 2017
Faculty and Staff at UBC have the opportunity learn and practice mindfulness through two programs this spring:
1. Take the first steps to learning about mindfulness with the 30 Day Mindfulness Challenge 6 – March 7, 2017.
Format: Online, 10 minutes a day. Suitable for everyone, especially those with no mindfulness experience or those looking for support in incorporating mindfulness into busy day-to-day life.
2. Go in-depth and further your practice with the Mindfulness@Work program April 10 – May 15, 2017.
Format: In-person and homework practice, 1.5 hours per week for six weeks. Suitable for everyone, especially those looking to expand their knowledge behind the science of mindfulness and its applicability in the workplace.
The 30-day Mindfulness Challenge is an innovative and evidence-based online training for UBC staff and faculty looking to incorporate mindfulness into the workplace and in their everyday lives. With 10 minutes a day for 30 days, participants will be healthier, more productive and better able to problem-solve and work effectively in a team.
|How it Works:||Key Impact Areas:|
Register for the Online Challenge Now until February 3!
- UBC Vancouver staff and faculty registration link
- Submit the $25 registration fee (cash, cheque payable to UBC Human Resources, or journal voucher to KPGK) to Melissa Lafrance, Human Resources, 600 – 6190 Agronomy Rd, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3.
The six-week, in-person training program will run April, 2017. For those looking for a more in-depth mindfulness training, Mindfulness@Work specifically focuses on integrating the practice of mindfulness in the workplace to promote effectiveness, teamwork, and communication.
- Delivers expert-led and evidence-based programming
- Content is delivered and classes are led by a mindfulness expert
- Learn and practice meditation and core Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
How it works:
- 5-10 minutes per day
- Online, anytime, any device
- 30 consecutive days
- $25 to join which includes participation of a buddy of your choice
Key Impact Areas:
- Health and wellbeing
- Leadership and resiliency
- Increased performance
- Teamwork and conflict resolution
Spring 2017 Program
Mondays, 9:00 – 10:15am: April 10, 18 (Tuesday), 24 & May 1, 8, 15
Retreat (mandatory): Saturday, May 6, 10:00am – 2:00pm
Register for Mindfulness@Work Program now until April 6!
- UBC Vancouver staff and faculty registration link
- Submit the $100 registration fee (cash, cheque payable to UBC Human Resources, or journal voucher to KPGK) to Melissa Lafrance, Human Resources, 600 – 6190 Agronomy Rd, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3
- Most staff & faculty have the option to access one of UBC’s professional development funding programsto cover the $100 registration fee. Learn more about PD funds here.
Posted in Events, Mental Health, Mindful Moments | Tagged 30 day challenge, attention, Focus, mental health, Mindfulness, mindfulness@work, Mindwell U, program, registration, stress relief, training | Leave a response
By Guest Contributor on June 8, 2016
Guest contribution by Wendy Quan
Do you have a busy mind? If you said yes, congratulations, you have a typical human mind!
The mindfulness concept of the ‘monkey mind’ is the name given to your busy mind. You know that one I’m talking about — you have so much going on in your life, that your mind jumps around like an agitated monkey. Most people generally are not too aware of it, and when you do notice it, it can increase your stress when you notice the monkey mind.
Perhaps you recognize your busy monkey mind and have tried to calm it down. Maybe you have tried meditation on your own by reading a book or trying to learn by listening to recordings. Did you find this successful? If not, it’s likely that you got frustrated because your monkey mind just won’t ‘shut down’ and stay calm.
Having thoughts is normal – it’s human. As you practice meditation, you will notice an increase in your focus and concentration. You will be increasingly more capable of focusing in the object of your meditation, such as your breath, a visualization, or a silent mantra. It is very common to expect a completely calm mind when meditating but the reality is that this should not be expected of meditation.
Here’s the key: Meditation is not about achieving a totally blank or calm mind throughout the entire meditation. Meditation is about focusing, and then when your mind does wander (and it will!), your job is to notice when it has wandered, then re-focus on the object of your meditation.
A great tip is to change how you regard your wandering mind – instead of getting frustrated and disappointed when this happens, congratulate yourself for noticing when your mind has strayed. Feel good that you’ve noticed! Feel good that you are self-aware! See your growing awareness as a positive, not a negative.
Every time you notice your mind has wandered, know that you are doing a good job in meditation!
Doesn’t that change your perspective on the wandering mind? When I teach this perspective in class, people feel relief and start to enjoy meditation so much more.
Wendy Quan will be teaching a three-week summer ‘Learn To Meditate’ class for beginners at UBC. Join her for a wonderful introduction to mindfulness and meditation, and leave feeling confident to start your personal practice. Program cost is $35 and sessions run July 11, 18, 25 from 12:00-1:00pm. Sign up here.
Wendy Quan is a certified organizational change manager who has created an innovative way to build personal and organizational change resiliency through meditation and mindfulness. Wendy has two published papers on this subject with the worldwide Association of Change Management Professionals, speaks at conferences, and has taught at UC Berkeley. Wendy is a leader in the change management community and founded the Vancouver Change Management Practitioner’s community of practice. Her career has also included management in human resources, organizational development, coaching and information technology.
By Miranda Massie on January 12, 2016
I rarely set New Year’s resolutions. While I find that a new year is a great time to re-evaluate and reset my health behaviours, I am jaded by many years of watching my resolutions fall lonely by the wayside as the weeks move on.
Human motivation is an interesting phenomenon. Our behavior is commonly described as the result of internal (intrinsic) or external (extrinsic) factors that push and pull us towards a desired outcome. We are motivated to act based on elements such as rationality, drive, incentives, self-control, cognition and reinforcement, but are often passive participants – acting or not acting without taking the time to understand why.
This year, instead of making the New Year about resolutions or goals, I am making it about my motivations to achieve these goals. My hope is that by focusing my attention on how and why I am motivated to reach my goals, instead of on the goals themselves, that I might actually create some long term changes.
- My goal: complete a one-month workout plan
- My motivations: more energy; diversify my current (and boring) workouts
- My focus: feeling stronger; increasing my daily energy levels; boosting my self-esteem
- My goal: eat out 2x per week or less
- My motivations: save money; eat less processed foods; try new recipes
- My focus: saving for my wedding; spending quality time with my partner and our wealth of underused cookbooks
Ways To Stay Motivated
Break down goals and use bite-sized steps to get there. This allows for celebration and achievement along the way and can help identify the deeper motivators behind the goal. “Be healthier” is a tough goal to achieve unless you identify what this means to you and why.
Share your goals
Share your motivation and goals with a partner or friend. They can check-in and help provide additional external motivation, reminders, (or nagging) when necessary. Posting your goals/motivators can also help keep you accountable to yourself. A friend of mine even framed his!
Put an end to it
Studies have shown that long range and open ended goal setting can be problematic, even contributing to symptoms of depression. By setting a realistic end date (I might suggest 4-8 weeks), your goal is measurable, tangible and ultimately more achievable.
Identify your motivators
Tease out the specific benefits that you are hoping to achieve through your goals. This can help provide a deeper connection to the goal and a more personal motivation for seeing it through. Why are you setting this goal and how would you like it to impact your life.
Relapse, re-set and repeat
Forgive yourself if things do not go perfectly. Seeing your goals through to completion might require you to take a break, re-set or re-evaluate. Use this time to review goals, steps and roadblocks and then begin again.
I invite you to welcome the year 2016 with open arms. Take this month to delve deeper into the motivations that live behind your resolutions as it may provide you with the added value to carry on.
All my best,
Ways to stay motivated this month at UBC:
- UBC Recreation Free Week: Jan 11-17
- Dog Walkers Stroll: Jan 20
- Art Lovers Walk: Jan 26
- Free Bodyworks Fitness Consultation Sessions
Dickson JM, Moberly NJ. Reduced specificity of personal goals and explanations for goal attainment in major depression. PloS one, 2013, 8(5):1932-6203.
Litt MD, Kleppinger A, Judge JO. Initiation and maintenance of exercise behavior in older women: predictors from the social learning model. Journal of behavioral medicine, 2002, 25(1):0160-7715.
Harackiewicz, JM. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: the search for optimal motivation and performance. San Diego: Academic Press, c2000.
Posted in Editorial, Mental Health, Miranda Massie | Tagged 2016, attention, balance, editorial, Energy, Focus, goals, Miranda Massie, motivation, recreation, resolutions, set-backs, Support, UBC | 3 Responses
By Miranda Massie on July 6, 2015
Welcome to July, folks! May I just say how excited I am that summer is officially upon us? Aside from the obvious perks that accompany this time of year, such as the weather and increasing opportunities to barbeque, it also signals the end of the K-12 school year!
My partner is a teacher, you see, and the month of June can be a tense one in our house. July arrives with a tremendous sigh of relief and relaxation that lasts for precisely 5.5 weeks, until preparations for September begin again.
On the last day of classes this year, my partner came home exhausted. It was grad prank day at school. This year, it involved furniture redecoration, lipstick portraits on the walls, fire alarms, water balloons, eggs, and exasperation! Needless to say my partner was tired and frustrated. In doing my best to play the role of empathetic supporter/cheerleader, I shared some recent thoughts I had been having about our understanding of control, and how a perceived lack of control can lead to some pretty complicated emotions.
Control is a funny thing. I say funny because it seems that in order to gain control, we must first learn to let it go.
It has been a process for me over the years to learn how unproductive it is to expend time and energy being angry and upset by situations I never had a hope of controlling in the first place.
So, what can we control? The short answer is: Ourselves. We have absolute control over our own behaviour, reactions, attitude and mindset. I love the diagram below because I feel it represents these ideas in such a clear way. There are things in life that matter. There are things in life that we have actual control over. Where these two circles overlap, is where we need to focus our energies.
Easier said than done.
How do we make this happen?
|Example: An increasing workload due to the vacation schedules of colleagues.|
|Emotions: Frustration, stress, anxiety, anger, resentment, hopelessness, excitement|
|Things that matter to me:
|Things I cannot control:
||Things I can control:
By focusing on the things that really matter to us and the things that can control, we train our brains to approach situations differently. We take ownership of a challenge and jump back in the driver’s seat with full control.
This month, if you find yourself becoming angry or frustrated with someone or something, I invite you to stop and take a pause. Are you expending your energy on something that is outside of your realm of control? If so, identify one or two things you can control, and start there. You might just find yourself with a brand new outlook and a fresh start to the day.
Enjoy the sunshine!
All my best,