By Miranda Massie on February 5, 2019
Looking to reap the mental benefits of your movement this month? Discover ways to enhance your mental fitness while being physically active. To inspire you, check out these previous guest articles by Wendy Quan (The Calm Monkey) and Dr. Thara Vayali.
- Try a Walking Meditation: A how-to-guide for trying a walking meditation
- 3 Secret Stress Senses: Innovative body movements to combat stress
- 3 Walking Meditations for the Summer: Still perfect to try in the early spring or in rain-proof gear!
Remember, a mindful moment doesn’t have to lack movement. Enjoy!
Photo credit: UBC Thrive
By Colin Hearne on January 7, 2015
Welcome to this month’s delicious recipes inspired by UBC Dietetics student Stephanie Dang.
For more of Stephanie’s tasty treats visit our brand new HealthyUBC Recipe Series web page – Bon Appétit!
Cinnamon Oatmeal Breakfast Pudding– click here to view
Winter Squash Risotto – click here to view
Pita and Tzatziki- click here to view
Quick Steamed Fish Fillets with Potatoes and Asparagus- click here to view
To keep informed of all new recipes and additional health and wellbeing offerings sign up for the Healthy UBC Monthly Newsletter or become a UBC Health Contact.
Stephanie Dang is a fourth-year dietetics student at the University of British Columbia. When she is not busy studying, Stephanie volunteers at the eating disorder clinic at Children’s Hospital, works at a local bar, and plays soccer. Stephanie believes that living “healthy” means enjoying everything in moderation, and maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Staying physically active and satisfying your body’s nutritional needs shouldn’t be considered a burden, and if it is, seeing a dietitian is a great way to get advice on how to enjoy healthy living!
By Guest Contributor on January 7, 2015
Guest contribution by Dr. Joti Samra
The start of a new year seems to be a perfect time to make changes in one’s life. About half the population of North America makes New Year’s resolutions, with the most common resolutions relating to weight loss, exercising more, quitting smoking, and improving one’s financial situation. However, research indicates that by July, the overwhelming majority of individuals have failed in sticking to their resolution, or even remembering what they promised to resolve.
You are not alone in both making a resolution and feeling you have failed in the past. Most people fall into the trap of making unrealistic resolutions with goals that are overly ambitious.
The following steps can increase the likelihood that you make a resolution that actually sticks!
- Pick an attainable goal
The goal should be something that, based upon the life you are living, is something that you can achieve.
Ensure that your goal is measureable. To change your goal, you will have to know where you are headed, and how to determine if you are getting/have gotten there.
Ensure the goal is realistic and time-limited. You may want to lose 30 pounds, but a realistic goal may be to lose 15 pounds this year and 15 pounds the following year. Set a specific period of time in which you will accomplish your goal. As you accomplish your time-limited steps, you can reward yourself for successes.
Remember that small change is better than no change. Get support as you start to make the change.
- Identify Barriers
Anticipate setbacks. If you have tried to make this change in the past, what got in the way of the change being successful before? Problem-solve the barriers that you have encountered in the past.
Identify the pros of not changing the behaviour (this can often help you appreciate why the change has not yet happened). Identify the cons of changing (the reasons the change may be difficult to do).
Establish a specific contingency plan for each of the barriers you identify.
- Implement Change
Obtain a baseline of your behaviour. Track your usual activity for a week. This can often help you to identify patterns in your day and help identify times when it would be easier to implement the change.
Be aware of the powerful impact that conditioning plays in activity and behaviour. Actively working to change habits that you may have gotten into that are not conducive to achieving your goal.
Approach behavioural change gradually. Make small, specific changes.
Make a schedule with yourself to build the activity into your day-to-day life.
- Revisit & Revise
Do not get discouraged by setbacks. If you are not on track with the changes you identified, work to identify the barriers. Were your expectations too high? Was the specific goal you set too ambitious?
Revise your goal as necessary.
Expect & visualize success.
- Reward yourself: Set milestones that can help you track your progress. Ensure that you schedule in regular rewards for each milestone that you achieve.
Reminder: UBC Staff and Faculty have access to a number of health related prevention services through the Employee and Family Assistance Program. Staff and faculty who are enrolled in UBC’s extended benefits plan also have $1,200 coverage per year to see a Registered Psychologist.
This article is adapted in part from an article Dr. Samra wrote for The Globe and Mail (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/ask-a-health-expert/fail-ive-already-given-up-on-my-new-years-resolution/article1355420/).
Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych., is a clinical psychologist and organizational and media consultant. She is the host of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network’s “Million Dollar Neighbourhood” and was the psychological consultant to CITY-TV’s “The Bachelor Canada”. She has also served as a psychological consultant and expert to a number of other TV shows and news outlets. Dr. Samra maintains a clinical practice in Vancouver. Her website is www.drjotisamra.com and she can be followed @drjotisamra.
By Guest Contributor on January 7, 2015
Guest contribution by Sasha Tymkiw
In January, resolutions are everywhere. Fitness resolutions, however, tend to remain more secretive than the rest, probably due to failed attempts of New Years’ past. Creating a healthy support network with which you can share your goals will increase the likelihood that you stay motivated and turn your resolutions into reality.
Here are a couple simple but helpful methods that should have you feeling supported in no time.
1) All of us have people in our lives whom we consider to be negative or positive influences. From frenemies to loyalists, we can all name at least one off the top of our head.
A good exercise is to make a list of those who have been consistently supportive of you in the past. These friends and colleagues are the ones who you can always count on to support you, especially when you feel your inner die-hard dwindling. Whether it’s a co-worker with whom you’ve forged a strong bond, or an old friend who never fails to pick up the phone, these are people you have never had to question and never will.
It’s a good to provide each individual with specifics on how they can help you, as a personal matter such as fitness can be awkward to approach without a clear direction. Also, keep in mind that supporting you shouldn’t feel like a part time job: something like a quick daily check-in through text messages can be enough.
2) New activities are always easier with another person, and making a friend into a gym partner will provide a socially rewarding aspect to your sessions. Favour people who don’t have a history of standing you up or backing out at the last second.
Since scheduling between two people can be tricky, it’s often easier to make your gym date reoccurring (say every Saturday at 10), as a standing appointment is simpler for two schedules.
Now is a better time than ever to create a support network as everyone is in the same boat and likely to help each other out. So profit on this good cheer because we all know: it only happens once a year!
Sasha Tymkiw is a certified Personal Trainer and has been involved in sports (competitive swimming, snowboarding, horseback riding) since childhood, making the natural progression to personal training in her early twenties. With a bachelor of psychology, numerous fitness certifications and years of experience, Sasha views pushing one’s body as an integral part of the human experience. Sasha works both independently as a trainer and teaches around Vancouver, becoming one of the first instructors who offered boot-camp style workouts in East Vancouver. Sasha is sponsored by Garden of Life Protein Powder and will be competing in her second figure competition in March 2015, promoting a long-term, balanced approach to the sport.
By Guest Contributor on April 3, 2014
Money is second only to sex in terms of being one of the most common sources of stress I see in my patient practice. When our financial situation is going well (meaning finances are stable, within our control, and effectively serving as a means to important ends), our overall sense of wellbeing and health (both physical and emotional) is improved. When our financial situation is out of our control, emotional distress results.
Despite the fact that finances are consistently reported as one of the top stressors for adults nationwide, there continues to be a significant amount of stigma and shame individuals experience when talking about money. We aren’t taught financial skills in grade school, and very few of us have parents that educated well in this realm. It’s never too late, however, to start educating yourself.
Here are some effective tips to start to get a handle on your money:
1. Think about money as being a means to end. Articulate your financial goals and dreams, and establish specific and actionable goals.
In and of itself, money means nothing. This may sound like an obvious statement, but regularly remind yourself that money is just a means to an end. Identify what that end is for you. What are your short-term and long-term financial goals? What short-term and long-term dreams do you have? Be specific about what you want to achieve, and write those things down. Research demonstrates that when we write our dreams down, we are much more likely to follow through on achieving them. Then establish specific and actionable goals. For example, saying you “want to save more” is a general and non-actionable goal. Saying you “want to save an extra $100 per month” is a specific and clear goal. Then, identify what actions you will take to ensure this happens. The more specific you are, the more likely you are to be successful.
2. Identify the emotion states that surround money for you.
Money is an emotionally charged topic! Many of us have a number of strong emotions that surround money and finances – this can include fear (e.g., about having enough to survive), guilt or shame (e.g., if you have made poor financial decisions in the past), anger (e.g., at a partner’s spending habits) or low self-esteem/confidence (if you lack strong skills in managing finances). The emotional reactions we have surrounding money often come from our family of origin, can be strongly ingrained, and can interfere with our ability to take next steps with respect to improving our financial health. Pay attention to the emotions (and associated thoughts) that come up for you. Try to identify the source of those emotions, and work to problem-solve those causes.
3. Confront your financial challenges head on.
When we are faced with worry or stress about anything in our life – including finances – we have a strongly ingrained natural tendency to want to avoid and procrastinate on addressing those issues. Although avoidance helps us in the short-term, avoidance is an unhelpful long-term strategy in that our worry and anxiety grows over time. Pay attention to times that your urge to avoid surfaces, and be proactive in taking steps to expose yourself to things and situations that increase anxiety (e.g., opening bills, doing taxes, making an appointment with a financial advisor).
4. Manage your stress!
Financial difficulties are, not uncommonly, a tangible result of other stressors in our life, including relationship stressors. Identify the source of stressors in your life and work to proactively target and problem-solve those stressors, as doing so can have an overall significant positive impact on your financial health.
5. Never shop as a way to improve your mood.
Many people, particularly women, have a tendency to want to shop when mood is low, sad, depressed, anxious, or even angry. Although this can lead to a temporary lift in mood, often our decision-making is poor when we are experiencing negative emotions, and we often make decisions we later regret. Work to regulate other negative emotions and avoid impulse-shopping. Seek treatment for underlying mood issues if these have been unaddressed.
6. Identify your financial “needs” and differentiate those from your financial “wants”.
Most people are guilty of spending money on unnecessary things that they don’t need. Impulse-shopping, shopping when mood is low, and a desire to “keep up with the Jones’” are all contributing factors. Be honest with yourself about your financial needs (the “must-haves”) and separate those out from your financial wants (the unnecessary, “nice-to-haves”). If you are in a challenging financial situation, be mindful of how much is being expended on the wants, and actively work to reducing those expenses.
7. Channel your emotional energy into the things you can change, and work toward acceptance of the things you cannot.
No matter how hard we wish, will, or think it: we simply cannot change the past financial decisions we have made. Take a stance of radical acceptance of past decisions, mistakes and failures. Then focus your energy on what you can control moving forward. All too often, we get caught in ruminating about the past, and this does nothing other than increase our stress and worry, and interferes with our ability to put energy into changing our future.
8. Find a financial workout partner!
When it comes to our physical health, we have workout partners for a reason: they help us stay accountable, on track with our program, and motivate us when our urge is to avoid or procrastinate. Finding a financial workout partner can serve the same goal! Find a friend, family member, or neighbour who can serve as a buddy. Remember – almost everyone struggles with some aspect of their financial health, and all of us can benefit from having the support of someone who is also trying to make changes in their financial life.
9. Our financial health is intimately connected to our psychological and physical health.
Finances – and all of the related worries, anxieties and stressors that come along with being in a less than ideal financial situation – take a tremendous impact on our psychological and physical health. Be mindful that improving your financial attitudes and behaviours will have an overall positive impact on your psychological and physical health.
10. Remember: changing your financial behaviours is process and a journey, and slow and steady wins the race.
Once you make up your mind to tackle your financial situation head-on, it can be tempting to try to make immediate drastic changes. Remind yourself that there is no rush to the finish line, and that the best thing you can do is establish realistic and specific goals that are sustainable over time. From a psychological perspective, you are much more likely to succeed if you establish goals that you can stick to for the long haul.
Reminder: UBC staff and faculty have extended benefits that provide $1,200 coverage per year to see a Registered Psychologist. For more information, visit the UBC Extended Health Benefits webpage.
Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych., is a clinical psychologist and organizational and media consultant. She is the host of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network’s “Million Dollar Neighbourhood” and was the psychological consultant to CITY-TV’s “The Bachelor Canada”. She has also served as a psychological consultant and expert to a number of other TV shows and news outlets. Dr. Samra maintains a clinical practice in Vancouver. Her website is www.drjotisamra.com and she can be followed @drjotisamra