By Miranda Massie on February 5, 2018
A variety of personal, professional and educational situations have presented themselves recently that have prompted me to explore and reflect on my values.
Perhaps influenced by the current state of the world (or any number of other factors in my life at the moment), the value I seem most drawn to is love. After some coaching and reflection, I am able to say that I see love as the most foundational value upon which my values system is built.
Within a workplace context, I value leading with the heart and strongly believe that we should be able to bring our whole selves and whole hearts to work. I think work should be a place where is it safe to be authentic, and to openly acknowledge and practice our values.
There was a time not too long ago, when I felt that I had to separate my values from my professional self. I was sure that my personal values were too ‘soft’ to be present in my work. Bringing love into the workplace might seem like a radical idea, but I realize now that it might be a way to create change and to re-frame the idea of “workplace culture”.
In the spirit of love (and Valentine’s Day), I offer five ways to improve the physical and emotional health of your heart:
1. Say Thank You
Practice gratitude by thanking others, either publicly or privately. Doing this on a regular basis can increase happiness, contentment, pride and hope. It also make us more willing to help others. 
2. Laugh Out Loud
Laughter is one of the oldest and most cost-effective health products on the market. It produces a wide range of both physical (pain reduction, improved cardiovascular health, better immunity) and psychological benefits (elevates mood, creates focus, reduces stress). 
3. Show Compassion
Practicing compassion towards ourselves is just as important as showing compassion to others. Through compassion, we learn to soften our hearts and see improvements in kindness, self-confidence and connectedness. 
4. Spend Time in Nature
Exposure to nature not only boosts lower blood pressure, but it also builds empathy and fosters community. 
5. Stay Connected
Social support creates physical and emotional connection. It has also been found to be a protective factor against stress, and less stress on our hearts leads to healthier lives! 
This month, I invite you to imagine what it would be like if we worked from our hearts. Wishing you a February full of love, warmth and happiness.
All my best,
By Miranda Massie on February 2, 2017
- Who’s there?
A broken pencil.
- A broken pencil who?
Never mind. It’s pointless.
Cue the groans. Perhaps a knock-knock joke is not the best way to illustrate the helpful and healing power of humour.
At some point, you have probably heard that laughter is the best medicine. While it may not be among the most cutting-edge treatments on the market, it might actually be one of the oldest and most cost-effective health boosters available.
Since February is host to Valentine’s Day, it seems like a fitting time to think about ways we might soften our hearts (emotionally) while strengthening our heart health (physically).
10 Ways Humour Can Benefit Your Heart
- Laughter activates and increases blood flow to the part of the brain involved in pleasurable feelings, which can lead to elevated mood and increased happiness.
- Both sides of the brain are stimulated during laughter, which can create more focus and clarity, as well as creativity.
- Positive emotions and laughter enhance social connections and generate intimacy through positive interactions.
- Laughter reduces at least four of the known hormones associated with stress in the body, including cortisol and dopamine.
- Laughter eases muscle tension and psychological stress, which help us to relax.
- Chemicals released in the brain during laughter bind to nervous system receptors to naturally reduce feelings of pain.
- Laughter causes blood vessels in the body to expand, increasing blood flow, leading to improved cardiovascular health.
- Laughter produces deep diaphragm breathing, which serves as a pump for the lymph nodes. Increased lymphatic function leads to antibody production and overall better immunity.
- Deep belly laughing helps exercise the lungs. The more air that you take in, the more oxygen that flows to your brain and body.
- Repeated laughter helps tone and condition muscles in the face, core and back.
This month, I invite you to look out for ways to add more laughter into your life. Watch a funny movie or attend a comedy show. Spend time with friends and family who make you laugh. Strive to find humour during stressful or trying times. Make sure you are always laughing with someone, not at the expense of others.
Though everyone’s sense of humour will differ, here are a few clips and sound effects to get you started. Remember, laughter is contagious – do your part to spread heart health around!
Baby laughing soundtrack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaQiSOAQOhg
Laughter yoga: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGNOF8DVIPQ
All my best,
Posted in Editorial, Mental Health, Miranda Massie, Physical Health | Tagged Benefits, blood pressure, editorial, emotions, Exercise, fun, funny, humour, jokes, Laughter, mood, oxygen, pain, relationships, stress management, stress relief, UBC | 1 Response
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 Melissa Lafrance on November 1, 2015
UBC’s Health, Wellbeing and Benefits team has a great line up of free activities and events coming your way this fall. Sign up today for topics including Ergo Your Office, Digestive Health, Career Navigation, Thrive Workshops, and plenty more!
Bacteria & Bowels-Digestive Health Series, Part 2: Oct. 29, 2015 @ 12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
Part 2 of Healthy UBC’s Fall Digestive Health Series with Dr. Thara Vayali. In this session, attendees will learn the real deal behind bacterial balance, what probiotics can do (and can’t do) and whether probiotics are appropriate for you. Leave with four easy food ideas that promote bacterial health to incorporate into your diet over the next four weeks. Click here for more information.
Course is currently full. Email Melissa.email@example.com to be added to the waitlist.
Thrive 2015: Seasonal Stress – Nov. 2, 2015 @ 1:15-2:15pm (Location: Robson Square)
This workshop is being offered as part of Thrive at Robson Square. This workshop will explore ways to stay energized and mentally healthy during stressful times. Participants will learn about seasonal changes on physiology and the human response and how to practice gentle stress-relieving mental and physical exercises to improve their energy and outlook. Click here for more information and to register.
Thrive 2015: Lighten Up Your Day – Nov. 3, 2015 @ 12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
This workshop is being offered as part of Thrive. This lunch and learn will highlight the benefits of adding humour into your life and discuss appropriate ways of incorporating it into the workplace. By the end of the session, participants will be able to: understand their sense of humour, recognize the physical and psychological benefits of humour, and develop techniques to professionally communicate using humour. Click here for more information and to register.
Thrive 2015: Healthy UBC Career Navigation Series: Part 2 & 3– Nov. 5 and Dec. 3, 2015 @ 12-1pm (Location: Diamond Health Care Centre)
Join UBC’s Career Navigation & Transition Consultant Pooja Khandelwal in the second and third sessions of this three-part series to help UBC employees navigate possible career opportunities and create a personalized career development plan. Register for Session 2 and Register for Session 3.
Are you Heart Healthy? Say Yes with CAMMPUS and Sign Up for A Free Assessment or Attend an Information Session
Information Sessions: Nov. 12, 2015 @ 12:15-1pm (Location: DHCC/VGH) & Dec. 1, 2015 @ 12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
UBC Health, Wellbeing and Benefits in the Department of Human Resources, in collaboration with the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, invite UBC faculty and staff extended health plan members to participate in a unique project called CAMMPUS (Cardiovascular Assessment and Medication Management by Pharmacists at the UBC Site). CAMMPUS features confidential, expertly guided services provided by the UBC Pharmacists Clinic to help you find out your current level of heart health and take steps to keep this risk as low as possible.
To learn more about CAMMPUS, please join us for this short presentation and discussion. Click here for more information and to register to the information sessions.
Feelings & Fibre-Digestive Health Series, Part 3: Nov. 19, 2015 @ 12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
Part 3 of Healthy UBC’s Fall Digestive Health Series with Dr. Thara Vayali. Learn the reasons behind how mood, food and digestion can affect each other, and how different types of fibre can assist with full-body health, with four simple diet and lifestyle ideas to achieve a blissful belly. Click here for more information. Course is currently full. Email Melissa.firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the waitlist.
Mental Health First Aid Training – Nov. 25-26 2015 @ 9am – 4:30pm (Location: Point Grey)
The goal of Mental Health First Aid training is to improve mental health literacy. This workshop, in collaboration with the Canadian Mental Health Association, provides participants with the skills and knowledge to help people better manage potential or developing mental health problems in themselves, a family member, a friend or a colleague. Gain the skills to recognize signs and symptoms of mental health problems, provide initial support and be prepared to guide a person towards appropriate assistance.
Please note: This training is 12 hours in length to be completed in two sessions over a two-day period. If you are not able to attend both sessions, you will not be eligible for the course completion certificate.
Ergo Your Office: Nov. 25, 2015 @ 12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
Optimize your computer work environment to improve comfort and reduce the risk of injury. This one-hour tutorial combines a presentation and a practical session, giving you hands-on experience adjusting typical office equipment.
By the end of the tutorial you will know how to set up your chair, keyboard/mouse and monitor to promote neutral working postures. Click here for more information and to register.
Stay tuned for 2016 offerings…
Posted in Ergonomics, Events, Healthy UBC Initiatives, Mental Health, Physical Health | Tagged career navigation, digestive health, healthy courses, Heart health, Laughter, Stress, Thrive 2015, UBC, wellbeing, workshops | 1 Response
By Colin Hearne on September 3, 2013
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? Well, not exactly. It can help, as what we eat greatly impacts our moods and emotional health, as well as our overall well-being, but the apple in this saying is not what we should concentrate on – it’s the ‘a day’ part, the habit-forming inference.
According to Healthlink B.C.:
‘Building and maintaining healthy habits is a key part of a creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. There are many changes you can make depending on what your body needs to get healthy. If you have problems with your lungs or heart, you may wish to find help to quit smoking. If you are overweight you might want to find tips on eating healthy and adding physical activity to your day’.
With September having crept up sneakily, and as we wave goodbye to the beautiful July and August sun, one promise to make yourself this September is to become more habitual in a way that replaces the unhealthy habits with healthy new ones.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Healthy New Habits for September
- Face Fears
An important step in managing anxiety involves facing feared situations, places or objects. It is normal to want to avoid the things you fear. However, according to the online self-help resource, Anxiety BC (2013), ‘avoidance prevents you from learning that the things you fear are not as dangerous as you think’. Similarly researchers at Northwestern University have found that just one positive exposure to a fear had lasting effects in people six months later. Write down the fears that hold you back, whether it is fear of heights, fear of joining a new gym or exercise class or even the fear of public speaking; and identify resources where you can gain the tools to make the first step.
We all know it’s the best medicine, but laughter is also an effective preventative, which, according to an article in Psychology Today titled The Benefits of Laughter (Marano, 2003) “establishes-or restores-a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between people’.” This article also highlights that “laughter in relationships can decline dramatically as people get older”. Change this. Start watching funny movies, read humorous novels, or spend time with people who make you laugh – it’s contagious!
- Become a Pet Person
Scores of studies have shown that people who own pets tend to live longer, happier and healthier lives. In The Role of Pets in Enhancing Human Well-Being: Physiological Effects (Friedman), a study looking at the relationship between pet ownership and cardiovascular health highlighted the positive effect of having a pet. In particular, it found that pet owners were more likely to be alive one year after spending time in a coronary care unit than non-pet owners. While scooping poop may be an annoying task, the unconditional love and often silly behaviours intrinsic to our animal friends’ makes happiness come all too easily. Caring for another is one of the best things for our health.
- Be Adventurous
“Novelty-seeking is one of the traits that keeps you healthy and happy and fosters personality growth as you age,” says C. Robert Cloninger, author of the study Understanding Our Need for Novelty and Change . The study also highlights how being curious about life and the world has helped throughout human history, citing examples of explorers discovering new places and our ancestors learning valuable survival skills. Be adventurous and try something new!
Healthy Habits at UBC
Making changes and adopting new habits is fantastic, but it can also be daunting. Support is available through UBC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP). Our EFAP provider, Homewood Health, has a comprehensive and confidential counseling as well as Plansmart and Health Management services as well as a range of e-courses and an extensive online Health Library available to everyone enrolled in the UBC EFAP – so for any changes you feel you’d like to make you can receive up to date advice and trusted, professional information
If you do one thing for your health this month
Finally, keep yourself current on the health and well-being resources and tools available to you by continuing to read our monthly Healthy UBC Newsletter. New behaviours do not have to be radical, so let us help you through our latest health articles, lists of free workshops, EFAP information, health events on- and off-campus, the latest corporate discounts, and much, much more….make it your first step to good health this month!