By Miranda Massie on December 5, 2018
Imagine you have a close friend who is feeling stressed and overwhelmed, and they ask for your advice. What words of encouragement and support might you offer?
- “You’re doing great.”
- “Look at what you’ve accomplished.”
- “Give yourself a break.”
- “Take some time for yourself.”
- “What can I do to support you?”
Now imagine it is you that feels stressed and overwhelmed. Would you say these same things to yourself? Chances are, probably not. Typically, we are much harder on ourselves than we are on others. Finding ways to be kind to ourselves is especially important at busy times of the year like this.
Self-compassion is strongly linked to our wellbeing. It can reduce negative mind states such as anxiety, depression, stress, rumination, perfectionism and shame. It can also increase positive mind states like life satisfaction, happiness, connectedness, self-confidence, optimism, and gratitude.1
Three ways to enhance self-compassion:
1. Reframe negative thinking patterns
Our minds produce a constant stream of thoughts, a large portion of which are negative. A key to reducing the impact that these thoughts have on us is to identify negative self-talk and to reframe it towards the positive. For example, when you are being hard on yourself, notice these thoughts and ask yourself if you would say these things to someone you love. If not, why would you say them to yourself?
2. Focus on your practical wisdom
Sometimes it can feel like we are coming up short in aspects of our lives. When facing these thoughts, focus instead on your practical wisdom.2 We are all experts in something so discover what it is that gives you a sense of mastery and play to those strengths. Often these are skills and character traits that go unrecognized or underappreciated like empathy, intuition, altruism and self-reflection.
3. Acknowledge your emotional labour
We give a lot of ourselves to others, to our jobs, and to our communities — often doing so without realising or acknowledging the emotional energy that it requires. The emotional labour and effort we exert in managing and regulating our emotions in our personal and professional lives can impact our wellbeing.3 Acknowledging these efforts is a way of cultivating compassionate towards ourselves.
Other easy ways to practice self-compassion:
- Watch this two-minute video for tips on practicing self-compassion.
- Listen to this 10-minute guided meditation for self-compassion.
- Get ideas for enhancing self-compassion with these articles: Give the Gift of Self-compassion, 5 Ways to Thrive Today, Tomorrow and Beyond and Treat Yourself: Why you Deserve a Gift this Holiday Season
This busy holiday season, I invite you to be kind to yourself as well as those around you. Find ways to see the common humanity amongst us all and treat yourself with the same compassion and care that you do the people you love.
Warmest wishes to you, your colleagues and your loved ones this season.
All my best,
2 Eastman, C. A. (2016). Improving Workplace Learning by Teaching Literature: Towards Wisdom. Switzerland: Springer Nature. http://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-29028-7
3 Bierema, L. L. (2008). Adult learning and the emotional self. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 120, 55–64. http://doi.org/10.1002/ace
Posted in Editorial, Miranda Massie | Tagged care, compassion, editorial, emotional labour, gift, Holidays, overwhelm, Relaxation, rest, self-care, self-compassion, thinking, wisdom | Leave a response
By Melissa Lafrance on December 7, 2017
UBC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provides confidential counselling and work-life consultations to eligible UBC faculty, staff and their dependents. EFAP can be accessed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, including over the holidays.
As the busy holiday season begins to ramp up with to-do lists and social commitments at work and at home, it can all feel a little overwhelming. Many challenges and complex feelings can come up, such as loneliness for people who live far away or are estranged from their families, anxiety from too many social interactions and to-do items, worry from financial stress, or frustration and anger caused by family arguments. Whatever your challenging situation or feelings about it, EFAP is here to help. Their counselling services include, but are not limited to, issues related to stress, anxiety depression, relationships, parenting, family dynamics, elder care, workplace conflicts, and substance use/addiction. Consultations are also available to help with debt and finances, career transitions and healthy food choices during the holidays.
To review their services, visit the Shepell website, UBC’s EFAP service provider. (Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization to access the site.)
If you need immediate support, call Shepell’s Care Access Centre at 1-800-387-4765.
Prepare for Any Vacation with Shepell’s My EAP Mobile App
You can also prepare for the holidays and get vacation-ready with Shepell’s My EAP mobile device app. Download the My EAP app to gain immediate, confidential and secure access on the go.
Explore Holiday Helper Articles
Here are some holiday-themed articles for you by Shepell that can help you maintain your wellbeing during the holiday season. (Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization to access these articles.)
- Rediscover the joy of the holidays with make it meaningful: reconnecting to the spirit of the holiday season
- Become a smart shopper and creative gift-giver with tips for savvy holiday-season spending
- Time out: making the most of the holidays
- Learn how to have a stress free holiday season
It’s important to remember that the holiday season can also bring up feelings of loneliness, sadness and pressure. It’s not uncommon to feel a range of emotions during this time of year.
- Read more about loneliness and the holiday season
- Spot the holiday “blues” and explore helpful tips
- Find out steps to maintain good relationships during the holidays
For more information, including requesting brochures, booking an EFAP orientation presentation, or sharing compliments or concerns about your counselling experience with Shepell, please contact:
Health & Wellbeing Associate
Extended Health Benefit Plan
Don’t forget to get the most of your UBC benefits by reviewing your Extended Health Benefit Plan.
The plan is designed to help promote the continued health and wellbeing of UBC staff and faculty. Benefits include coverage for a wide range of services that are beyond the scope of BC Medical Services Plan coverage.
Want to learn more?
- Learn things you should know about your travel benefits coverage before you go on vacation.
- If you have questions about your UBC Extended Health benefits, contact UBC Benefits.
Posted in Benefits Spotlight, EFAP | Tagged balance, coaching, counselling, EFAP, Employee and Family Assistance program, family, Holidays, resilience, resources, Shepell, stress management, Support | Leave a response
By Miranda Massie on December 7, 2016
Welcome to December everyone! However hectic your fall term may have been, I hope it was meaningful and filled with success. We now find ourselves getting ready to launch into another busy season, one that can sometimes be overshadowed by consumerism, gift buying and all manners of excess.
I saw a really great ad the other day that urged: “Create memories, not garbage this holiday season”. In keeping with the newsletter’s theme of spiritual health this month, I want to share a gift with you that I hope will serve as a reminder of the true meaning and spirit of this time of year. My wish is that this gift will support you in making wonderful memories with family and friends as we approach the new year.
Give yourself the gift of self- compassion
What is self-compassion? It is taking the time to treat ourselves the same way that we would treat a loved one or dear friend. It is acknowledging that we too deserve care and comfort during stressful and difficult times. It is the act of silencing our internal critic in the hope of accepting that we, like everyone else, are human and entitled to a break.
Experts believe that self-compassion involves three main actions:
- Self-kindness instead of self- judgement: Accepting our imperfections with sympathy instead of shame and criticism. The more we cling to aspirations of perfection, the more we judge the end result.
- Common humanity instead of isolation: Acknowledging that we may face difficult situations, and that we are not alone in this. Trials and tribulations are part of the common human experience.
- Mindfulness instead of Over-identification: Ensuring that we process negative emotions in a constructive way in order to avoid reactivity and negative thought patterns.
Why is this important? I am reminded of the saying “Charity begins at home”. I believe that compassion begins within. In order to truly experience compassion and kindness for others, we must be willing to do the same for ourselves. We at UBC are fortunate to work with some of the most amazing, selfless and dedicated colleagues on this campus. If we truly want to continue supporting colleagues and serving students, we also need to be willing to go to bat for ourselves.
This holiday season I invite you to give yourself the gift of self-compassion. Cut yourself some slack. Silence that negative critic in your head and replace it with one of kindness and charity. Forgive yourself. Leave pessimistic self-talk and resentment behind and as 2016 closes, prepare to greet the New Year with fresh eyes and an open heart.
Posted in Editorial, Mental Health, Miranda Massie | Tagged care, compassion, editorial, forgiveness, giving, Holidays, humanity, kindness, Mindfulness, Miranda Massie, self-care, self-compassion, spiritual health, Support, UBC, work | 2 Responses
By Melissa Lafrance on December 7, 2016
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, or with yourself.
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.
Assess Your Spiritual Wellbeing
Where ever you find yourself, 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 feeling may also be related to other causes and there are some resources available to help you understand them.
Ways You Can Improve Spiritual Wellbeing
- 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.
- 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.
- Be mindful and/or meditate and/or do yoga.
- Be kind to others and yourself.
- Be grateful. Discover ways you can practice gratitude.
- Forgive. If it does not serve a purpose in your life and only causes you anguish, forgive and let it go.
- Give back to others.
- Become part of a community and maintain enriching relationships. Learn five ways to detox your relationships.
- Remain receptive to pain or sorrow. These feelings can help us discover how spirituality can help us cope.
- 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 as well. 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 Shepell’s Care Access Centre at 1-800-387-4765 or visit Shepell’s website to view services available.
- 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
Posted in Healthy Path, Mental Health | Tagged awareness, Healthy Path, Holidays, Melissa Lafrance, mental health, openess, positivity, quiet, Relaxation, religion, spiritual health, UBC, wellbeing | Leave a response
By Melissa Lafrance on December 7, 2016
As the busy holiday season begins to ramp up with to-do lists and social commitments at work and home, it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming. We have some ‘holiday helper’ articles for you by Shepell, UBC’s EFAP provider, that can help you maintain your wellbeing during the holiday season.
- Rediscover the joy of the holidays with Make it Meaningful: Reconnecting to the Spirit of the Holiday Season
- Become a smart shopper and creative gift-giver with Tips for Savvy Holiday-season Spending
- Warm-Weather Activities to Bring Your Family Together
- Time Out: Making the Most of the Holidays
It’s important to remember that the holiday season can also bring up feelings of loneliness, sadness and pressure. It’s not an uncommon occurrence to feel a range of emotions during this time of year.
- Read more about loneliness and the holiday season
Employee and Family Assistance Program Services
UBC’s EFAP provides confidential counselling and work-life consultations to eligible UBC faculty, staff and their dependents. EFAP counseling services can be accessed by calling the Shepell Care Access Centre, 24/7, at 1-800-387-4765.
Counselling services include but are not limited to issues related to:
- Personal/emotional(stress, anxiety, depression);
- Couple/relationship(communication, separation/divorce);
- Family(parenting, elder care);
- Work (workplace violence/harassment and conflicts); and
UBC staff, faculty and dependants have many ways to get help today, all completely confidential. Review the services available here and use the icons under Get in Touch to book your service anytime, anywhere.
If you have questions about the UBC EFAP or Shepell, contact Melissa Lafrance, Health and Wellbeing Associate, at 604-827-3047 or email@example.com.
Extended Health Benefit Plan
Don’t forget to get the most of your UBC benefits this December by reviewing your Extended Health Benefit Plan.
The plan is designed to help promote the continued health and wellbeing of UBC staff and faculty. Benefits include coverage for a wide range of services that are beyond the scope of coverage of BC’s Medical Service Plan.
Want to learn more?
Learn things you should know about your travel benefits coverage before you go on vacation.
If you have questions about your UBC Extended Health benefits, contact UBC Benefits.
By Miranda Massie on December 7, 2016
The temperature may have dropped but that’s no reason to stop moving. Check out all of the ways that you can keep your heart rate up over the holidays.
Week 1: Cold Weather Workout Tips
Before walking out the door, make sure to review our cold weather workout tips to ensure that you stay warm, dry and comfortable.
Week 2: Skate Your Way to Health
Enjoy some old fashion fun at Vancouver’s only outdoor skating rink at Robson Square. Skate rentals are $4, and skating is free if you bring your own! Plus, skating is a great workout that has lots of health benefits. Check out a full list of 38 Metro Vancouver skating rinks here.
Week 3: Winter Sport Conditioning
Getting ready to hit the slopes? Try these quick 30-minute fitness conditioning videos for skiing and snowboarding.
30 Minute Ski Conditioning Workout
28 Minute Snowboard Conditioning Workout
Week 4: Staying Strong Over the Holidays
Try these quick and easy bodyweight-only exercises that you can do anytime, anywhere. Even if you are travelling or have a packed schedule of social engagements, you can still stay on track with your fitness goals and routine.
For more even fitness tips and inspiration, visit our Fitting in Fitness page.
Posted in Fitting In Fitness, Physical Health | Tagged cold weather, conditioning, fitness, health, Holidays, Ice skating, physical health, skating, ski, snowboard, tips, UBC, winter, workout | Leave a response
By Miranda Massie on December 4, 2014
The holiday season is upon us and my levels of anxiety are rising as I write about it. Far too often, a time of year, meant to remind us about peace, compassion, love and self-reflection, can instead lead us to batten down the hatches and to prepare for the worst.
We spend our time trying to “survive” the holidays and expend our energy rushing, buying and worrying instead of savouring an opportunity to connect with loved one and to care for ourselves.
Outside of a health care setting, self-care refers to the cultivation of self, focused on nurturing our personal needs and allowing ourselves to relax, regenerate and recharge in meaningful ways.
In anticipation for this year’s season, I am already managing my anxiety levels as I think about demands on my time, things to buy, party invitations and social commitments. This month I am sharing my holiday secret with you.
I have decided that my holiday helper will be a good book.
Books open windows to the familiar, the unknown, the ugliness in the world and the beauty of the human condition. They are powerful entities that provide readers with escapism, travel, comfort, terror, laughter and a chance to understand something more, outside of ourselves.
Did you know that reading books is good for your health?
- Reading can affect/transform individual personalities and self-perception.
- Reading fiction provides cognitive and emotional simulations – we run stories through our minds, similar to a computer running a simulation.
- Reading sharpens our social skills making us more empathetic and understanding.
- Books and poetry provide therapeutic uses in counselling and cognitive therapies.
- Literature can enable us to express and understand our feelings in a safe and imaginary setting.
- Freud said, “Our actual enjoyment of an imaginative work proceeds from a liberation of tensions…enabling us…to enjoy our own daydreams without self-reproach or shame.”
Never underestimate the healing properties of a good book.
This month, I invite you to identify your holiday helper and administer a little self-care in order to delight in the moment, instead of just surviving through it.
What I have been reading lately:
- The Birth House-Amy McKay (fiction)
- Out of the Blue-Jan Wong (non-fiction, memoir)
- Gender Failure-Rae Spoon and Ivan E. Coyote (non-fiction, short stories)
- Balades Indiennes-Multiple authors (fiction, short stories-French)
- Currently reading: Obasan-Joy Kogawa (fiction)
Bruneau, L. & Pehrsson, D-E. (2014) The Process of Therapeutic Reading: Opening Doors for Counselor Development. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 9, 346-365.
Djikic, M., Oatley, K., Zoeterman & Peterson, J.B. (2009) On Being Moved by Art: How Reading Fiction transforms the Self. Creativity Research Journal, 21:1, 24-29.
McArdle, S. & Byrt, R. (2001) Fiction, poetry and mental health: expressive and therapeutic uses of literature. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 8, 517-524.