By Miranda Massie on June 7, 2017
The sun is out, there is the smell of freshly cut grass around us and it is finally starting to feel like summer. We seem to have skipped right over spring this year, with the cherry blossoms late to the party and a cold chill in the air lasting longer than usual.
Over the past few weeks, I have been amazed at the remarkable influence of weather patterns and the natural elements on human emotions. People seem physically lighter, and they are quicker to smile and laugh. There is a palpable increase in human energy and there is a celebratory feeling in the air. Not only does the city come alive once again, but so do the people within it.
The biggest bonus of this recent shift in weather? The health benefits that come along with it.
Six ways to use nature to boost your health
1. Take a brain break: Being surrounded by nature provides a much-needed break for the brain. The natural environment reduces overstimulation and allows your mind to rest, recover and re-focus.
Try stepping outside, taking five long deep breaths and then returning to work.
2. Get dirty: Exposure to soil bacteria can act as a natural antidepressant, activating brain cells that improve mood, reduce anxiety and facilitate learning.
Try planting a patio herb garden.
3. Move more, sit less: Better weather leads to more time spent outdoors, which leads to increased activity. By moving more, we boost heart, joint and bone health.
Try taking a 30-minute walk outside this week.
4. Learn who’s who in the zoo: The presence of animals in nature not only enhances social connections between people, but can have a therapeutic effect on mental health.
Try to find five different insects or animals the next time you are outside.
5. Use nature as a gym: Studies show that people who exercise outside have a lower risk of poor mental health.
Try taking your regular workout to a nearby park.
6. Ask an expert: Evidence shows that learning about our natural environment makes us more empathetic towards both humans and animals.
Visit the Beaty Biodiversity Museum.
*A special note given the mention of empathy*:
I want to take a quick moment to acknowledge our many colleagues who are celebrating Ramadan this month. The long sunny days that many of us find so appealing can prove challenging, particularly for those fasting during this religious holiday. This month, I encourage you to offer words of support and encouragement. Read more about Ramadan and one author’s suggestions for how best to support friends and colleagues.
Have fun outside!
All my best,
This is Your Brain on Nature: National Geographic
Go Play Outside: Healthy UBC Newsletter, August 2015
Nurture Your Relationship with Nature: Healthy UBC Newsletter, June 2016
Vitamin Nature: Healthy UBC Newsletter, July 2015
Cheng, J. C. -H. Environment and Behavior: Connection to Nature: Children’s Affective Attitude Toward Nature. 44 Vol. Sage Publications, 01/2012. Web. 26 May 2017.
By Miranda Massie on April 5, 2017
This Month’s Feature:
April 12 & 23: Gardening Workshops
Get active, get outside and participate in one of two free gardening workshops.
April 12: This workshop will be facilitated by one of the Roots on the Roof gardeners and will be hosted at the rooftop garden at the Nest. Be ready to get your hands dirty during this beginner-friendly workshop open to all levels of gardening ability.
April 23: This family-friendly workshop will enable parents and tots to learn about the joys of gardening together. Come with your little one, nurture a joint love for getting your hands dirty and grow beautiful plants! Hosted at the Old Barn Community Centre.
Other Events and Activities
The UBC School of Nursing is pleased to present a stunning series of short films reflecting people’s lived experiences and the research-informed programs that have made a meaningful difference for them and their families. The screening will take place at the UBC Chan Centre, 7:00–9:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.
April 8: Westbrook Village Easter Celebration
Celebrate Easter with a true egg-stravaganza. Festivities include an Easter egg scavenger hunt, little bunnies friendly walk & run, and a meet and greet with a life-sized Easter bunny. It’s sure to be a hare-raising event!
April 10: Contract Faculty Marking Party
Join fellow contract faculty members in a quiet and collegial space to focus on grading in preparation for returning term papers and final assignments to students. Come for the whole day, or drop in! Coffee and snacks will be provided.
Come on out to the Frederic Wood Theatre and enjoy a free slam poetry show. Poets from all around town are coming to this special first annual show hosted by the UBC Slam club.
In this Learning Circle series, offered through the Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health, you’ll learn from the individual journeys of distinguished leaders in indigenous health. Presenters may cover topics such as: self-care, work-life balance, navigating mainstream systems, shaping policy from within the system, working with communities and more.
April 18: Pop Up Egg Market
The UBC Farm Harvest Hut will be open at 4:30 p.m. for everyone to drop by and pick up some fabulous farm-fresh organic eggs ($7 per dozen). They will also be selling seasonal produce, seeds and herbs. Pop-up markets run every other Tuesday evening until the regular summer markets begin.
Want to take part in the seventh Annual Staff and Faculty Sports Day? Be sure to register by April 26 – last year’s event sold out so teams are encouraged to register as early as possible. Register online now!
One Day @ UBC single-day courses provide easy and affordable access to top experts in their field. Join Evgeniy Panzhinskiy, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the Faculty of Medicine, to learn about the latest advances in the field of diabetes research, our current understanding of the mechanism of the disease and the most promising strategies to cure diabetes.
Ongoing: Yoga and Pilates for Staff and Faculty at the Alumni Centre
Get stronger this spring by attending free yoga and Pilates classes with your colleagues.
Drop in on Wednesday mornings (7:30–8:20 a.m.) for Pilates stretching and strengthening.
Yoga classes are held on Fridays (12:05–12:50 p.m.). Please email email@example.com to be added to the attendance list.
These classes are free for all UBC faculty and staff. Please bring your own yoga mat. Classes are held on the 2nd floor in the Bill & Risa Levine Classroom.
Posted in Community Health News, Events, Nutrition, Physical Health | Tagged community, contract faculty, egg market, events, film festival, gardening, indigenous health, sports day, UBC, Wesbrook Village, workshops | Leave a response
By Miranda Massie on June 8, 2016
This May marked the 5th annual David Suzuki Foundation 30×30 challenge, which encourages Canadians to spend at least 30 minutes in nature every day for 30 days. Sounds easy, right? It turns out it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.
I regularly find myself outside (walking to the bus, heading to meetings, etc.) but rarely do I attempt to purposefully spend time in nature. I realize now that walking down a busy street is not the same as sitting under a tree in a park. Research shows us that exposure to nature is good for our wellbeing. It boosts our immune system, lowers blood pressure, increases creativity, builds empathy and fosters community.
Despite being aware of all of these benefits, consciously finding time in my day to get outside was tough. Truthfully, I ran out of ideas after going for a couple of walks and having my lunch on a bench on Main Mall.
That is where the 30×30 challenge daily tips came in handy! It provided a list of 30 different ways to inspire my ‘re-connect’ with nature. Here are some of my favourites:
Tips for taking a time-out in nature
- Read outside: Grab your coffee and a book and start your morning off with some fresh air
- Eat alfresco: Invite colleagues to take lunch outside or take your dinner to a local park
- Bring nature indoors: Enhance your home or workspace with plants, fresh flowers, shells, rocks or pine cones
- Get dirty: Exposure to soil bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae can act as a natural antidepressant, activating brain cells that improve mood, reduce anxiety and facilitate learning.
- Stargaze: Go outside on a clear evening and look at the sky. Stretch out on a blanket and relish the sense of perspective.
- Cloud watch: Look up! Cloud watching any time of the day clears the mind and calms the senses.
- Listen: Did you know birds have their own language? Instead of identifying species, pay attention to the behavior and communication of our feathered friends.
This month, I invite you to think about how to take advantage of the the warm summer weather and beautiful natural surroundings to re-introduce some nature into your life!
All my best,
Posted in Editorial, Miranda Massie | Tagged 30x30, David Suzuki Foundation, eating, editorial, gardening, health benefits, Miranda Massie, Nature, outdoors, plants, reading, summer, time out, weather, wellbeing | 1 Response