By Miranda Massie on March 4, 2019
Nourishment goes beyond nutrition, beyond food labels, calories and superfoods. Nourishment is a mental, physical and even spiritual state where we feel fulfilled, satiated and whole. Our modern lives often have us running to and from commitments, engaging with fast-paced technology and navigating personal and professional demands. This leaves little time to think of food as anything but the fuel to help get us there. In the spirit of Nutrition Month, I’m providing a little ‘food for thought’ (pun-intended), some simple steps to support feeling nourished.
1. Practice gratitude
At the start of a meal, take a quick moment to consider where your food came from. Picture who had to work in order for the food to land on your plate. In that moment, pause and say thank you.
Why: Gratitude supports mental health and wellbeing, and slowing down supports healthy digestion.
2. Don’t forget your liquids
The body needs food to function, but it needs hydration to survive. To ensure that you are hydrated throughout the day, try water tracking and reminder apps, incorporating beverages into your daily routine (before breakfast, before bed, with all meals), and using a favourite water bottle.
Why: 60% of our bodies are made up of water, which needs to be replenished in order to support many important health functions.
3. Prioritize sleep
Set up a sleep routine and do your best to keep it consistent. Try setting a reminder to go to bed at the same time each day, invest in comfortable sheets, limit caffeine consumption and avoid technology before bed.
Why: Sleep and nutrition go hand in hand. Our diet can positively or negatively impact our quality of sleep, and our sleep patterns can result in irregular or overindulgent eating habits.
4. Identify what brings you comfort
For me, comfort food includes cheesy pasta, salt and vinegar potato chips and wine. We all deserve to indulge once in a while: it’s important. However, we should also be aware that we define these foods as ‘comfort’. We often use these foods as a way to avoid dealing with challenging people, situations or emotions. By identifying the foods that you crave the most, it brings awareness to the emotions driving the eating.
Why: Being more mindful of why and when we reach for certain foods can interrupt habits and enable portion control and increased self-awareness.
5. Listen to your body
Pay attention to subtle signs your body might be telling you about your diet. Consider writing them down or tracking them over time. Have a headache? Your body might need more water or perhaps you’ve been drinking sugary beverages. Experiencing a gastro-intestinal issue? This could indicate an allergy or a need for more fibre-rich foods. Skin inflammation? This might indicate a food intolerance.
Why: Getting to know your body’s rhythms can help catch an issue, challenge or allergy early, leading to increased physical comfort and piece of mind.
This month, I encourage you to look beyond nutrition and reflect on what helps you feel nourished. This may mean eating meals with friends, establishing a new bedtime routine or even indulging in your favourite comfort foods (just to make sure they’re still as delicious as you remember).
You can also read more about strategies to help you feel nourished.
All my best,
Posted in Editorial, Miranda Massie, Nutrition | Tagged comfort, editorial, gratitude, mental health, nourishment, Nutrition, nutrition month, physical health, sleep, tips, tricks, UBC, water | 2 Responses
By Miranda Massie on January 8, 2019
Welcome to a new term and a brand new year. By the time some of you are reading this, your work will be well underway. My typical day jumps from one workshop to the next and one project to the next, seldom leaving time for pause, reflection, or celebration.
Before things get too hectic and we really start to feel the pressure, I’d like to take a moment to arrive – where we have the space to take a deep breath, to reflect and to pat ourselves and others on the back for a job well done. Try it with me.
Inhale 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…
Exhale 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…
Inhale 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…
Exhale 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…
If you’re looking to incorporate a moment to arrive into your day, or even your team meetings, follow the instructions below:
- Pause before you begin a meeting, group activity or task.
- Invite everyone to take 1 minute to focus their attention on breathing.
- Allow the body and mind to settle and focus on what you are about to begin.
This month, I encourage you to take a moment to arrive – whether it’s at your desk, for a meeting or to connect your mind and body. Acknowledge the past and allow yourself to start fresh and anew.
We accomplished a lot last year and many of you took the time to share your feedback and tell us how Healthy UBC supports your wellbeing. Here are some of my (and your) favourite articles from 2018:
- Five Secrets to a Healthier Heart: Ways to improve the physical and emotional health of your heart
- Learn How to “Heart Your Parts!”: A quick guide of sexual and reproductive health tips
- What Your EQ Can Do for Your Relationship IQ: Harnessing emotional intelligence to positively impact relationships
- Clear Space to Be Well: Ways to enhance your space for better wellbeing
- Self-compassion: The Gift that Keeps on Giving: Finding ways to be kind to ourselves
Thank you for your kind words, your support for our efforts in workplace wellbeing and for your brave examples of hard work and commitment to lift up the people of UBC.
All the best for 2019!
Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (“Minute to arrive”)
Photo credit: Miranda Massie
By Melissa Lafrance on December 7, 2017
This month’s Healthy Path is all about self-reflection and exploring our spiritual wellbeing, which is a fitting topic with the holiday season right around the corner.
Spiritual wellbeing is unique to each individual and involves values and beliefs that help provide a purpose in our lives. In general, spirituality is the search for meaning and purpose in human existence and can involve working to balance our inner needs with the rest of the outside world .
Spiritual wellbeing may not be something that you often think about, yet its impact and influence on your life is unavoidable. Spirituality also involves being tolerant of others’ beliefs and to live and act authentically in a way that is consistent with our values and beliefs. For some, spirituality may be equated with traditional religions such as Christianity, Hinduism or Buddhism, while for others, it may mean growing personal relationships with others or through a connection with nature.
You can live your life with purpose if you are purposely self-aware. If purposeful self-awareness is an unfamiliar concept, there are activities you can practice that can eventually instill self-awareness.
Nurturing our personal needs and allowing ourselves to truly relax, regenerate and recharge in meaningful ways is important for our own self-care. Keep in mind the big picture, think about what is meaningful to you, and be mindful of your surroundings to truly savour the moments and experiences you encounter this holiday season – whether it’s with your family, friends, strangers, other beings or with yourself.
Here are some articles for you by Shepell, UBC’s EFAP provider that can help you prepare yourself emotionally for the holiday season get-togethers with a guide to holiday peacekeeping. Learn how you can improve your relationships with others and improve your relationship with yourself.
Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization to access Shepell articles.
Assess Your Spiritual Wellbeing
Take a moment to reflect and evaluate your own spiritual wellbeing with this brief quiz:
- Do I make time for relaxation in my day?
- Do I make time for meditation or prayer?
- Do my values guide my decisions and actions?
- Am I accepting and open to the views of others?
- Do I feel a sense of hope and have a positive outlook on life?
If you answered ‘no’ to any of the questions, that may be an area to work on exploring and improving. These feelings may also be related to other causes and there are some resources available to help you understand them.
Ways You Can Improve Spiritual Wellbeing
1. Be still, be quiet. Take time for yourself, even if it is for five minutes as you wait for the bus or when you go to bed. Try to disconnect from electronic devices and just be in the moment.
2. Practice being non-judgmental and having an open mind. Take five deep breaths to gather your thoughts before responding or reacting to a situation or person.
3. Be mindful and/or meditate and/or do yoga.
4. Be kind to others and yourself.
5. Be grateful. Discover ways you can practice gratitude. (Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization to access this article.)
6. Forgive. If it does not serve a purpose in your life and only causes you anguish, forgive and let it go.
7. Give back to others.
8. Become part of a community and maintain enriching relationships. Learn five ways to detox your relationships.
9. Remain receptive to pain or sorrow. These feelings can help us discover how spirituality can help us cope.
10. Do something outside of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to be challenged or to be (or act) silly. After all, the best memories are created when we come across unexpected moments, people or situations. They are often the ones we learn lessons from the most. These lessons allow us to discover nuances within ourselves and build our knowledge and values, thereby creating stronger meanings in our lives.
Resources for Staff and Faculty
- UBC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program: Counselling services for you and your dependents. Call the Shepell Care Access Centre at 1-800-387-4765 for immediate support or visit Shepell’s website to view their available services.
- Meditation and Mindfulness Programs at UBC
- Benefits to support staff and faculty mental health
- Yoga at UBC Recreation or UBC Yoga Club
- Campus Chaplaincy
- Consider these volunteering opportunities
Photo credit: Melissa Lafrance
By Miranda Massie on October 25, 2017
It can be challenging to stay resilient in the face of life’s challenges, but the good news is that we all have the capacity to make small improvements to boost our mental health. These strategies and changes are individual, and what works to boost your positive mental health may not work for someone else.
It is nearly Thrive week at UBC and what is unique about Thrive are the variety of engaging and diverse events, activities and experiences to help each person thrive in their own way. Find a full list of the week’s events here.
For those unable to attend a Thrive event, participate online in the #LetsThriveUBC social media challenge. Each day of the challenge is centred around a theme based on UBC’s five wellbeing priorities.
Inspired by these themes – and because I get asked this a lot by folks across UBC – I created a list of suggestions to help you get started. Check out my tips for small actions you can take to thrive each day of the week.
Fifteen Ways to Thrive (in Five Days)
Day 1: Feel Good Foods
A well-balanced, nourishing diet helps us all to thrive, fueling important academic and professional work.
- Eating breakfast or adding protein to your breakfast (egg, peanut butter, cottage cheese)
- Trading your caffeine for flavoured (lemon, cucumber) or fizzy water
- Buying yourself a small, feel-good treat
Day 2: Active Movement
Moving more can improve both mental and physical health, and impact academic and professional success.
- Walking briskly for 10 minutes today
- Standing for five minutes at the top of every hour
- Dancing around your house for the length of one song (suggestions)
Day 3: Thriving Spaces
Environments, both built and natural, play an important role in facilitating physical, mental, social and ecological wellbeing.
- Breathing in fresh, outside air for five minutes
- Making your bed with fresh sheets
- Spending 30 minutes somewhere with exposure to natural light
Day 4: Resilience
Reducing stigma, a supportive campus culture, and access to resources are key to improving resiliency and coping skills.
- Writing a gratitude Post-It (list three things you are grateful for in two minutes or less)
- Taking five deep breaths, counting to five on each inhale and to five on each exhale
- Laughing at a funny movie, meme or video
Day 5: Key Connections
Diversity, equity, inclusion and respect are key values in building and sustaining environments where we can all thrive and be well.
- Putting away or turning off your phone (and other electronic devices) during all meals today
- Talking to a friend (or a pet if they are a better listener)
- Asking for or accepting help from someone else, even if it is for something small
You may not feel the results immediately, but over time all of these small actions can pave the way for improved resilience and help fine-tune our mental health.
We are well into the fall semester, and I know of many staff, faculty and students who are feeling the impact of work, academic and personal pressures. This month, I encourage you to take the time to care for yourselves so that you may be at your best to support those around you. Consider attending a special Staff & Faculty Pop-up Wellness Lounge (Nov. 2, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.).
All my best,
References and further reading:
Photo credit: UBC Thrive
Posted in Editorial, Mental Health, Miranda Massie | Tagged action, environmental health, gratitude, inclusion, mental health, Nutrition, physical activity, resilience, self-care, thrive, Thrive week, UBC, wellbeing | 1 Response
By Melissa Lafrance on October 25, 2017
Time to dig out your flannel jammies, rain boots, and scarves: winter is coming. Let’s look on the bright side: at least we don’t get wallops of snow like the east coast for four months of the year. On the west coast and Metro Vancouver, we get the rainy season, which can be pleasant if we make the most of it. Research has shown that gratitude increases overall wellbeing, so let’s look at a few things we can be grateful and cheerful for this November.
1. Benefit from the Mindfulness@Work Program (starts Nov. 7)
This six-week, in-person and highly beneficial program focuses on integrating mindfulness in the workplace to promote effectiveness, teamwork and communication, and has many more personal and professional benefits. The enrolment fee is $100, and UBC staff and faculty can access professional development funds to cover the cost.
The program begins November 7, with a second cohort starting in April 2018. Spaces are limited, so register now!
2. Aim to Thrive at UBC (Oct. 30 – Nov. 3)
Thrive is a mindset as well as a week-long series of events and year-long focus on building positive mental health and reducing stigma for everyone at UBC.
3. Rain graffiti is coming to UBC (starts Oct. 30)
Be sure to notice new things in your environment when you step out for a walk on campus. You might just find something whimsical, quirky and fun on the pavement. Rain grafitti uses water-repelling and eco-friendly paint that only appears when wet. If you spot it, take a photo and share it on social media with the hashtags #LetsThriveUBC and #UBCSEEDS for a chance to win tickets to an upcoming UBC School of Music concert.
4. Daylight Saving Time ends at 2:00 a.m. (Sunday, Nov. 5)
Mornings will be brighter and we gain an hour! Don’t forget to turn your clocks back one hour before you go to bed Saturday night on November 4. Learn more about Daylight Saving Time.
5. Grow your mo’ during Movember (Nov.)
Led by the Movember Foundation, Movember is an annual, global, moustache-growing charity event held during November to raise funds and awareness for men’s health. Each year, brave and selfless individuals from around the world come together in a commitment to moustachery. Join the movement to help men live happier, healthier, longer lives.
6. Enjoy fall colours by getting outside
The crisp weather won’t chill your bones because you’ll be warming up with exercise. Get outside and check out these thriving places and spaces at the Vancouver campus and 30-minute walking maps, walking events and groups.
Check out Tourism Vancouver’s list places to enjoy fall colours. If you like to hike, check out Vancouver Trail’s suggested hikes for November and December. Be sure to check trail conditions and prepare before you go out. For more hiking trails, check out Vancouver Trails and Outdoor Vancouver.
7. Cook comforting foods with fall produce
Savour fall flavours with BC Fresh’s featured fall recipes and use the fantastic array of in-season fall produce in BC.
8. Explore other offerings at UBC
- UBC Farm’s upcoming workshops
- UBC Recreation’s staff and faculty offerings
- UBC Bodyworks Fitness Centre
9. Take up ice skating
UBC Recreation’s ice-based programs include hockey and skating lessons for youth and adults. UBC Rec also offers drop-in sessions of public skating, figure skating, hockey, and stick and puck. Their dynamic range of hockey and skating programs can accommodate people of all ages and skill levels. Whether it’s your first time on the ice or you’re looking to refresh your hockey skills, they have a program for you.
10. Additional events and activities
Photo credit: UBC Communications and Marketing
“I have lost over 100 lbs, beaten chronic heart failure, and feel better than I have in eight years”: Thriving Campus
By Melissa Lafrance on December 7, 2016
This month’s Thriving Campus feature is Sue Lebrun, Return to Work Advisor in Human Resources. Thriving Campus features, testimonials, contributions and personal experiences linked to health and wellbeing from UBC staff.
How do you Thrive at work?
About two years ago, I was diagnosed with several serious and life-threatening medical conditions. I am lucky enough to be living in Vancouver where there are world-class doctors, and was referred to some amazing specialists who provided me the necessary treatment to bring these conditions under control. I was, and still am, extremely fortunate to be working in Human Resources at UBC where not only do they talk the talk but walk the walk when it comes to workplace wellbeing and providing an environment where staff can thrive.
My manager and my amazing team supported me throughout my journey back to wellbeing, including implementing accommodations that allowed me to continue to work full-time while at the same time providing the assistance I needed for some physical limitations I was experiencing as a result of my illnesses. I also developed a “healthy lifestyle” support system with several colleagues who started walking with me a couple of times a week so I could engage in the physical activity I needed to do as part of my wellbeing journey. My whole team also provided me with the encouragement and support I needed to start making healthier lifestyle choices. As a result of this support, I have lost over 100 lbs in the last 13 months, have beaten chronic heart failure, and my other chronic medical conditions are well-controlled. I feel better now than I have in the last eight years and I am happy to say I am thriving at work.
How do you Thrive at home?
When I was diagnosed, harsh reality set in and I realized I needed to find a way to make some significant lifestyle changes around diet and exercise as well as making tough decisions about the life I was living at the time. Fortunately, I am blessed with a circle of caring and loving family and friends who have supported me with my journey to wellbeing. With their love, encouragement and support, I was able to move past a very unhealthy personal relationship and start implementing healthy food choices and increased physical activity.
My friends take me on hikes on the weekends, my dog makes it easier to exercise regularly during the week as she loves and needs to walk, and my son helps with the physical things I am unable to do. In addition, my sisters and nieces who live in Ontario and I have started a weekly internet group called The Show – The Sisterhood of Wellness. The group focuses on looking at the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of wellbeing and engaging in activities that fulfill those needs – regular physical activity, making healthier food choices, loving ourselves for who we are, supporting one another, forgiving ourselves when we mess up, and reminding ourselves that the journey to wellness is one step at a time and a slow and steady journey towards a lifelong implementation of healthier choices rather than “dieting” and “exercise”. As a result of my hard work and the support I was provided and continue to receive, I am a very healthy, happy and thriving woman leading a full life.
Susan Lebrun was born and raised in Sudbury, Ontario, in a very close and loving family. She was married and had a child at the age of 20, became a single parent at the age of 27, and was on social assistance and lived in subsidized housing for a number of years. Through some amazing opportunities, she was able to begin post-secondary education at the age of 30 and after completing her Early Childhood Education program at Cambrian College in Sudbury, moved onto the Social Work program at Laurentian University in Sudbury and graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work degree in 1999 while working and raising a child on her own. She was employed in both the non-profit and private sector for 10 years working in vocational rehabilitation. She moved to Vancouver in 2004 and continued working in the disability management industry up to 2012, when she joined UBC as a Return to Work Advisor in Workplace Health Services.
By Miranda Massie on October 25, 2016
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! November marks the start of UBC Thrive on campus (the eighth year to be exact) and the culmination of six months of planning for our small-but-mighty Thrive Committee.
The goal of Thrive is to encourage staff, faculty and students to find small and manageable ways to build positive mental health skills every day. It can be challenging to stay resilient in the face of life’s challenges but we all have the ability to improve our mental health. Thrive’s events and activities aim to help everyone build skills and learn about resources that promote mental health.
You can find a full list of the week’s events here but I wanted to highlight some key ways that you can get involved:
Attend the Thrive Kick-Off Celebration: Drop by the square outside the bookstore on October 31 from 8:30am-11:30am for free drinks, stress balls, snacks, live music and more.
*Special highlight* Join Professor Ono at 9:45am as UBC becomes one of the first universities in the world to formally commit to university-wide health and wellbeing by signing the Okanagan Charter.
UBC’s Largest Zumba Class: Join us on Nov. 4 for this free lunch-hour fitness class hosted by UBC Recreation. Short Zumba sessions will be running every 15 minutes along with other activities, snacks and more!
Take the #Thrive365 Photo Challenge: Unable to make one of the events? Participate in the #Thrive365 Photo Challenge from anywhere by posting the ways that you thrive each day of the week. Click here for full challenge details.
Ultimately, building positive mental health is about supporting those around us in making small changes, working to reduce stigma around mental illness and by trying something new for your mental health today.
Here are some other ideas that you can try right now!
5 Ways To Beat Stress This Week
1) Watch this 3 minute TED talk: “Try something new for 30 days”
2) Take 5: Take a deep breath in through your nose as you count to five. Release the breath through your mouth as you count to five. Repeat this exercise five times to re-focus, calm nerves or for a short mental break.
3) Make a quick gratitude list: Grab a post it and make a list of 4-6 things or people for which you are grateful. Expressing gratitude and thanks can produce a wealth of health benefits.
4) Take a free online resilience course: com has a wealth of online learning modules, including topics like managing stress, mindfulness and resilience. Try watching one lesson each day and you will be done in no time!
5) Get up and stretch: Take a 30 second stretch break or try one of the following stretches to get your blood flowing and to give your eyes a rest.
This month I encourage you to try one new thing to beat stress and boost your ability to take on new challenges.
All my best,
Posted in Editorial, Events, Mental Health, Miranda Massie | Tagged breath, challenge, events, gratitude, Happiness, mental health, stress management, stretching, thrive, Thrive week, UBC | 1 Response
By Melissa Lafrance on October 25, 2016
Time to dig out your flannel jammies, rain boots, and scarves: Winter is coming. Let’s look on the bright side: at least we don’t get wallops of snow like the east coast does for four months of the year. On the west coast and lower mainland, we get the rainy season, which can be pleasant if we make the most of it. Research has shown that gratitude increases overall wellbeing so, let’s look at a few things we can be grateful and cheerful for this November.
Benefit from the Mindfulness@Work Program starting November 7
This six-week, in-person and highly beneficial program focuses on integrating mindfulness in the workplace to promote effectiveness, teamwork, and communication and has many more personal and professional benefits. The enrolment fee is $100, and UBC staff and faculty can access professional development funds to cover the cost.
The program begins November 7, with a second cohort starting in April 2017. Limited spaces are available, so register now!
You’re Invited to Thrive at UBC, Oct 31 – Nov 4 (and onwards)
Thrive is a mindset and a week-long series of events focused on building positive mental health and reducing stigma.
Check out our New Website!
To reflect the new approach UBC is taking towards health and wellbeing, we have a new and improved site for faculty and staff to access details about their UBC benefits, and ways to be healthy at work and in your personal lives. Check it out at www.hr.ubc.ca/wellbeing-benefits. Learn more about the new features of the new website.
Daylight Saving Time Ends Nov 6, 2016
Mornings will be brighter and we gain an hour! Don’t forget to turn your clocks backward 1 hour before you go to bed Saturday night. Learn more.
Grow Your Mo during Movember!
Movember, the month formerly known as November, is a moustache-growing charity event held during November each year to raise funds and awareness for men’s health. Each year, brave and selfless individuals from around the world come together as one and stand side by side, united in a commitment to fine moustachery and to help men live happier, healthier, longer lives. Join the movement for men’s health.
Get Your Blood Flowing and Enjoy Nature by Walking
The crisp weather won’t chill your bones, because you’ll be warming up with exercise! Get outside and love this beautiful month! Click here for a list of active walking groups and walking related activities at UBC. All groups and activities welcome newcomers and participants of all abilities.
Cook Comforting Foods with Fall Produce
Savour fall flavours with cozy recipes (link to recipes article) using the fantastic array of fall produce!
Explore Other Offerings at UBC
November means the start of ice skating season! UBC Recreation’s ice-based programs include hockey and skating lessons for youth and adults. Rec also offers drop-in sessions of public skating, figure skating, hockey, and stick & puck. Their dynamic range of hockey and skating programming can accommodate people of all ages and skill levels. Whether it’s your first time on the ice, or you’re looking to refresh your hockey skills, they have a program for you!
If you need more ideas to stay busy this November, check out Tourism Vancouver’s top ten fall activities.
By Guest Contributor on August 3, 2016
Guest contribution by Wendy Quan
Before we launch into the question that can make your day more positive, ask yourself:
- Do you believe that thoughts affect emotions?
- Do you believe that emotions affect your life?
When I ask these questions to a room of people, most hands inevitably rise, along with expressions of contemplation and gentle head nodding. Your thoughts are constantly streaming all day long, and creating your perception of life’s experiences. If you pay attention to your thoughts during the day, you may notice that these thoughts are plentiful and jump from subject to subject, or that you are ruminating about a particularly bothersome subject. There is a term in mindfulness called the ‘monkey mind’ which quite fittingly describes when your thoughts bounce around between topics.
The one question I ask my audiences, which is really very simple, can make a very big difference in people’s lives. Catch yourself as often as you can during the day, and ask yourself this question:
“Do I need to be thinking about this right now?”
When you ask yourself this question, you will observe your current thought and hopefully become aware if that thought is useful or not. There certainly is ‘functional thought’ which is productive and useful, like planning. But many of our thoughts are ruminations about something that may be bothering us, or worrying about something coming up that hasn’t even happened yet.
When you ask yourself “Do I need to be thinking about this right now?” you become more aware of whether the thought is productive or is just stressing you out. For example, if you are worried about something but have already made up your mind as to how you are going to deal with it, there is no reason to keep thinking about it. By catching yourself with this phrase, you can make a conscious decision that you will now move on from that thought and think about something else (hopefully more positive!).
Give this one easy question a try and see what difference it makes for you. Chances are you will be happy to see that it helps you have a more positive day.
Wendy Quan, founder of The Calm Monkey, is the industry leader helping organizations implement mindfulness meditation programs and combining change management techniques to create personal and organizational change resiliency. She trains passionate meditators to become workplace facilitators through workshops and online training.
Wendy is a certified organizational change manager who has been recognized as a pioneer by the University of California, Berkeley and the global Association of Change Management Professionals. Her life’s purpose is to help people create a better experience of life.
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,
By Miranda Massie on November 1, 2015
November is an exciting time for our office. It marks the culmination of an initiative for which we spend six months planning. This initiative is UBC Thrive.
A lot of the messages we hear during Thrive are about finding small, simple and effective changes to build resilience and balance in our lives. Instead of just talking about Thrive in my editorial this month, I decided that in true health promoter fashion I would instead practice what I preach.
I set out on a seven-day challenge to incorporate more ‘Thrive’ into my life. Next week, I invite you to try the same. You might surprise yourself and find something new that will help you Thrive 365!
Thrive: My seven-day challenge (October 21-27, 2015)
Day 1: Draw circles and turn them into recognizable objects
I did this in front of the TV one night while watching the news. I grabbed a scrap piece of paper and drew six circles in Sharpie and then then went to work. I ended up with a ladybug (a childhood favourite), a jack-o-lantern (inspired by the time of year), a baseball (my mind was on the BlueJays), a lollipop (who doesn’t love candy?), a flower, and a snowman. This challenge allowed be to be creative without any pressure. It also satisfied my inner doodler.
Day 2: Eat whole foods
I tried to go a whole day without eating any processed food. I did not make it. I think that we have become so used to incorporating certain pre-made or boxed food into our meals that we consume foods before realizing what we are eating. This challenge ended up being more of an exercise in mindfulness than nutrition. When I started paying attention to what I was grabbing from the fridge, it was much easier to focus in on whole foods and ingredients.
Day 3: Illustrate your perfect day
I did this challenge during the last 15 minutes of my lunch break one day. I found a few crayons in the office arts and crafts drawer and tried not to overthink it. My perfect day would take place near the water, with the sun shining and the people I love around me. Using bright colours and thinking about nature really lifted my mood.
Day 4: Hold a solo dance party
I tend to have these on a semi-regular basis anyways. Just me in my kitchen, cooking brunch on a Saturday morning dancing along to an oldies playlist (I highly recommend this as a stress reliever). This week, however, I opted for a group dance party instead. I attended a wedding on the weekend and danced the night away with friends and strangers.
Day 5: Create a new mood or inspiration board
I was inspired by the challenge from Day 1 and created a “Perfect Day” inspiration board. I am normally up for crafting but found myself low on glue and glossy magazines so I opted to create a virtual board on Pinterest instead. Check out the images that I found to depict my perfect day(s).
Day 6: Meditate for at least 15 minutes
I accomplished this one while riding the bus on my way into work. I was nervous since I do not have a regular meditation practice outside of yoga classes, so I decided it best to download an app (Stop, Breath & Think). I chose two 6-minute guided meditations, one titled ‘gratitude’ and the other ‘the commonality of suffering’. I have been struggling recently with the cancer diagnosis of a family member and thought these themes might help give me some perspective.
Who knew that 12 minutes on the 99 B-line could leave me feeling so light? I surprised myself with how restful and peaceful my mind felt after just a few minutes.
Day 7: Write down a list of five people that you are grateful for
This was my last challenge and I found it a really fun exercise. I am incredibly fortunate to have enough amazing people in my life with whom I could fill a whole notebook. I decided instead to think a bit outside of the box. I thought about my rights and responsibilities, the things that I hold dear, and stuff that helps me through tough times. My list went as follows:
- Edgar Degas (for inspiring me to become a dancer)
- Whitney Houston (for the Bodyguard soundtrack)
- Emmeline Pankhurst (for working to win women the right to vote)
- The inventor of the cheeseburger (because they are delicious)
- Mr. Henderson (for showing me how to put the perfect curve in my baseball hats)
The great thing about this one is that the list can change every day!
I am so excited to be a part of Thrive in its seventh year at UBC’s Vancouver campus, and you will find me out and about promoting ways to build positive mental health on campus November 2-6. This year, we are encouraging UBC staff, faculty and students to find ways to thrive 365 days throughout the year.
I hope that I have inspired you with some ideas for how you can incorporate ways to thrive into your life each day. Seven down, only 358 more to go!
Happy Thrive everyone!
All my best,
Challenge inspired by: Tap Into Your Creative Side With This 7-Day Challenge (http://greatist.com/)