By Miranda Massie on January 11, 2018
January has arrived and we are back to greet another new year at UBC.
Despite missing my morning sleep-ins and binge-watching true crime dramas on Netflix, I derive a certain satisfaction from returning to a routine. I feel more productive and organized, and I notice an immediate improvement to both my sleeping and eating habits. I even started writing in my Five Minute Journal. (It remains to be seen how long this will last, but I’m cautiously optimistic!)
We are primed for all things new and renewed at this time of year and often start out feeling strong and motivated. But is this sustainable? How long do our resolutions really last? Can our intentions stand the test of time, and should they? How do we avoid feeling like we have failed if things don’t go as planned?
When it comes to changing habits or taking action, I truly believe that the most important factor is a deep understanding of the self. “Sticking with it” or having a “can-do attitude” doesn’t work for me personally. I have learned that in order to avoid feeling like a failure, a specific set of factors must be in place if I’m to be successful. It starts with an examination of what gets me excited, what keeps me going and what can derail my good intentions. My musings might help guide your New Year intentions.
If it’s not right in front of me, I won’t do it.
I easily forget (or intentionally avoid) tasks, even when I chose them. For my 2018 workout plan, I wrote it out calendar-style, with colourful markers and check boxes. It will sit on my kitchen table to ensure that I follow it. It makes for a messier home, but also keeps me accountable. Check out some of my inspiration from Pinterest.
I get bored easily.
Times like these I wish I was a runner. I envy people who like to run: it’s so simple and accessible, but I can’t think of anything I’d rather do less. In order to stay interested and involved in my fitness routine, I need to change things up. I incorporate apps and different types of workouts including yoga, and I’m hoping to take up swimming again in our beautiful UBC Aquatic Centre.
I like a challenge.
The competitive streak in me shines when a challenge is thrown down, even when it is with myself. I like to win and want to win, so I turn my resolutions into mini competitions with myself or others. I’ll be joining the UBC Walkabout this month as a way of increasing and tracking my daily steps, and I use the Carrot app to get rewards for my walking because who doesn’t want more Aeroplan or Scene points?
I need a deadline.
The best way for me to fail at a new habit or resolution is to have it last forever. I am fundamentally unmotivated by anything that does not have an end in sight. My New Year fitness plan is currently set for 10 weeks. Once I complete that, I will celebrate, take a few weeks off and then re-assess what I want to do next. I also make sure to write out a list of rules (guidelines or criteria if you prefer) to keep me accountable, one that includes minimum time limits and what types of activity count.
Setting the stage for change has become just as or even more important than what my ultimate goals are. In being more intentional at the start, I find that I’m much more likely to have all the pieces in place to feel successful.
This month, I invite you to leave some room for self-compassion, inspiration and success in whatever form your resolutions might take. Find ways to manage your New Year energy, investigate ways to keep motivated and perhaps even step out of your comfort zone like Professor Ono.
Wishing you a wonderful start to 2018!
All my best,
Photo credit: Miranda Massie
By Miranda Massie on January 11, 2018
Harnessing mindfulness can help us gain a sense of control over our experiences. By actively engaging in situations as they arise, we can utilize mindfulness to our advantage. We can use it to suspend judgement and cultivate patience, thus avoiding stress. Here’s how mindfulness works:
If you are looking for a way to reset your brain and your thought patterns, try listening to this Meditation on Intentions for the New Year (10 minutes):
Or sign up for one of our upcoming mindfulness training programs.
Photo credit: UBC Communications and Marketing
By Miranda Massie on January 10, 2017
New Year’s resolutions. At this time of year in particular, people spend a fair amount of time thinking about them, recording them and typically either loving or hating them. Unfortunately, we can also become de-motivated or discouraged if we perceive ourselves as failing for not completing them.
I chose not to set any resolutions this year, at least not in the traditional sense. In an effort to better use by mental energy, I’m adopting a new philosophy for how I view the world. I’m hoping this new outlook will provide me with more time and energy to re-dedicate towards things that I love (cooking, family and friends, and creative pursuits).
I’m hopeful that this new outlook might resonate with others and so I am sharing it with you today!
The 3 As for Managing Your Mind and Your Energy
Accept: Begin by acknowledging and accepting that there are things beyond control, and then move on. Time spent worrying or being angry over things that you cannot change is time you could better spend elsewhere. Consciously recognize what you cannot control, perhaps even saying it out loud, to shift your focus elsewhere.
No amount of yelling, worrying or complaining will make that traffic move any faster.
Appreciate & Attempt: Next, take stock of the areas in your life where you have some influence. Where possible, attempt to manage these as best you can.
You may not have control over getting a cold but you can influence your eating and sleeping habits to heal faster.
Alter: Finally, turn your focus and energy to things that are within your realm of control. We have the ability to alter aspects of our lives and effect change. That is empowering knowledge.
Spend your time focused on who and what you can change (hint: look inwards, this is typically you!)
Whatever and whenever you decide to make changes in the New Year, I hope you will keep this perspective in mind. We all deserve to spend some of our time and energy focused on the things that bring us fulfillment and joy.
All my best,
3 A’s of Stress Management and Spheres of Influence (Adam Rollins, The Neutral Zone, 2014)
Posted in Editorial, Mental Health, Mindful Moments | Tagged accept, alter, appreciate, Change, Control, editorial, Energy, Focus, manage, mental health, mindset, Miranda Massie, new year, outlook, resolutions, Support, UBC | 2 Responses
By Melissa Lafrance on December 7, 2016
Coaching@UBC Information Session – Jan. 9, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm (Location: Point Grey)
Coaching@UBC is accepting applications for the 2017 Coaching Internship Program, and we invite you to learn more about the internship and the Coaching program. These one-on-one professional coaching services have helped over 1,500 UBC employees. UBC employees have an opportunity to become Credentialed Coaches with financial support from one of our Coaching Internship Award. For more information and to register, click here.
UBC Walkabout Kick-Off – Jan. 11, 12:00pm-1:00pm.
Anyone already registered, or interested in joining this year’s Walkabout, is invited to attend the Kick-Off event. Walkabout is an annual nine-week health and wellbeing challenge promoting regular exercise in social settings. For more information, event dates and Kick-Off details, click here.
Career Navigation Three-Part Series (Location: Point Grey)
Join UBCs Career Navigation & Transition Consultant Pooja Khandelwal to discover and design opportunities for your professional success to enhance your UBC career experience.
Part 2: Making Meaningful Connections – Jan. 12, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
In this interactive session, discover ways to unfold your unique career strengths while learning about new resources and opportunities for the enhancement of your career.. For information and to register, click here.
Mental Health First Aid Training – Jan. 17 & Jan. 31, 9: 00 am – 4:30 pm (Location: Point Grey)
Mental Health First Aid, a two-day in-person workshop, aims to improve our community’s mental health literacy by providing participants with the skills and knowledge to help better manage potential or developing mental health problems in themselves, a family member, a friend or a colleague. Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health problems, be able to provide initial support to a person who may be developing a mental health problem or is experiencing a crisis, and be prepared to guide a person towards professional help. For more information and to register, click here.
Mindfulness Programs Celebration & Orientation – Jan. 17, 12:00pm – 12:45 pm (Location: Point Grey)
Join us to learn more and to enroll in the upcoming Mindfulness Programs at UBC. All those interested are welcome, and past participants are invited to celebrate and share their experience with the 30-Day Online Mindfulness Challenge and the Mindfulness@Work Programs. For more information and to register, click here.
Coming up in the New Year…
UBC Suicide Awareness Day – January 25, 2017
QPR Suicide Prevention Training – Diamond Health Care Centre on Jan 24 & Point Grey on Jan 25
Travelling Health Fair – Dates to be announced in January
Posted in Events, Mental Health, Nutrition, Physical Health | Tagged career navigation, coaching, courses, free events, health, Mindfulness, new year, programs, UBC, Walkabout, wellbeing | Leave a response
By Melissa Lafrance on January 12, 2016
A goal without a plan is just a wish. -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
It’s the time of year when we set plans to be our best selves for the year ahead, by improving our physical, professional, social, financial and/or mental wellbeing. How can we improve the chances that our goals will unfold and result in the outcome we hope for at the beginning of the year? Reaching and achieving goals can feel insurmountable even when we have the best of intentions. It takes persistence, accountability, motivation and planning.
There’s something satisfying about crossing an item off a to-do list. So why is it that a lot of us don’t take the opportunity to apply the same concept of making a list for our goals? Wouldn’t it be just as rewarding to place a completed check mark next to a goal? We’ve all experienced the feelings of pride, joy, excitement and relief that accomplishment can bring, and those feelings can help our willingness to put forth effort towards developing plans and goals.
A 1968 article by Dr. Edwin Locke, “Toward a Theory of Task Motivation and Incentives” found that employees were motivated by clear goals and appropriate feedback1. Dr. Locke went on to say that working toward a goal provided a major source of motivation to actually reach the goal which, in turn, improved performance.
You might be wondering, where do I start to accomplish my goals? How can I make these wishes realities? No matter how big or small your goal, making change requires planning, and SMART goal setting can be helpful2. Follow these guidelines to setting SMART goals to avoid them falling through the cracks and never getting accomplished.
SMART goals are:
Don’t be vague. Your goals should be clear and unambiguous. Specific goals produce a higher level of output. Break down hurdles by having single, precise, and idealistic end results.
Make sure you can measure how you will achieve your goal, by making your goal quantifiable, include target dates and units of measurements. Measurements such as how much, how often, or how many will allow you to track your progress can help keep you motivated.
Don’t set yourself up for failure, because your motivation relies on success and hope. Breaking down your main objective into smaller sub-goals and getting feedback from your support network can help determine if the end result is attainable within the parameters you have set for yourself. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t challenge ourselves. Find a happy medium.
If your goals are not relevant to you, they will likely dissipate. Avoid becoming bored or disinterested by ensuring you are passionate and energized about reaching your potential. The significance of anticipated accomplishment will help keep you interested, and in turn, motivated to follow through.
Place your goals and sub-goals within time frames and stick to it! Re-adjusting may be necessary.
Remember to have a strategy for staying accountable. Make sure to write them down. Thinking about your goals and having them in mind is not enough. You will need to evaluate your plan and re-adjusting will likely be necessary. Remember to translate your sub-goals and goals to your calendar and schedule appropriately.
Finally, it is important to highlight and acknowledge your victories and challenges along the way. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice and feedback from your support network. Here are UBC, we are incredibly fortunate to work in a highly collaborative environment and have many services to help and support us.
How UBC can help:
Articles to help with goal setting:
- Understanding and Setting SMART Goals
- How do I get there from here? Setting and Attaining Career Goals
Accessing EFAP for help with:
Contact Shepell, UBC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program provider for help with health coaching, fitness & nutrition support.
- Locke, EA. Toward a theory of task motivation and incentives. Elsevier, 1968, 3(2):157-189.
- Fuhrmann, CN, et al. Goal-Setting Strategies for Scientific and Career Success. Science Careers, 2013.
By Miranda Massie on September 15, 2015
Welcome to September! The campus is once again a buzzing hive of activity, excitement and new beginnings.
Though not the start of a new calendar year, September marks the beginning of the new school year and brings with it a sense of refreshment and renewal. Unfortunately, this can often be coupled with high levels of stress, increased work related pressures, and, as one of my colleagues put it, a general sense of ‘fury’ across campus.
How do we cope?
What strategies can we use to get through this hectic time and remain healthy and well?
It is no secret that the last month has been a challenging one for several of us within the UBC community. There has been anxiety, flurries of questions and the stress of uncertainty. Add the increased stress of the start of the school year, longer commutes and never-ending coffee lineups and you have a recipe for burnout and negative attitudes.
September could not have arrived at a better time. This is our chance to stop and hit reset. It’s important for us to remember some key points:
- We have the power to control how we face the day.
- We hold the ability to approach situations in a different way.
- We can change our behaviour and interactions with others.
- We deserve this fresh start, as do our colleagues, students and loved ones.
UBC may not be new to me but it may be new to others. I want to keep in mind that what I have experienced is the past, and that every individual, student, colleague and community member deserves my very best this year. I have a unique opportunity to help others, to potentially impact their experience at UBC, and I want to have the energy and passion to do this when the chance arises.
Join me this month in hitting the reset button. Give yourself the gift of a fresh state of mind with which to enter the new school year and afford others around you the opportunity to experience this too.
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”-T.S. Eliot
All my best,
By Miranda Massie on January 7, 2015
Welcome to 2015! A new year tends to bring with it a sense of refreshment and revitalization. New commitments are made, slates are wiped clean and health is often a focus. Making and keeping resolutions, however, is a tall order that can leave us feeling let down and sometimes disappointed in ourselves.
This year, I have decided to re-focus the way that I think about my health. In the past, I might have spent a great deal of time and energy thinking about the What and the How. What will I commit to? How long will I try to make it last?
I am instead going to re-boot my resolutions and focus on the Who. Optimum health relies on a balance between all aspects of our personal wellbeing, and that person is me! Finding personal balance can lead us to achieve our personal best.
Below I have included a list of different dimensions of health with the hopes that it might help us all to re-evaluate what is important to your personal health. You might want to choose one and focus on optimizing that dimension of your wellbeing this month. Alternately, you might want to come up with one goal related to each dimension to work on improving.
Our feelings and moods. Feeling good and managing emotions can help us overcome challenges.
Work and Financial Health:
A necessity for survival. Sound knowledge and practices can Increase confidence and the use of important skills.
Valuable for performance and job success. Take pride in facing new challenges and developing a repertoire of skills.
Staying grounded is important. Developing a meaningful world view can increase our sense of belonging and help us when faced with problems.
Building and maintaining relationships is key. Ensuring a support system builds relationships and self-esteem.
Daily choices are a great start. Optimum physical health reduces stress and creates energy.
Having fun is fun. Time for play allows us to laugh, relax and recharge.
Listening to our needs. Personal needs and boundaries can work to prevent health difficulties.
The Who is key. Wellbeing is not a one size fits all solution. This month, I invite you to re-boot with me. Re-evaluate your health priorities, re-prioritize where you expend your energy and re-focus on what matters to you in this moment.
Here is to a healthy and happy start to 2015!
All my best,
Dimensions of health mentioned above are based on the areas of health from UBC’s Live Well to Learn Well webpages.
Posted in Editorial, Mental Health, Miranda Massie, Nutrition, Physical Health | Tagged dimensions of health, Energy, financial, health, new year, personal best, play, resolutions, spiritual, wellbeing, work | Leave a response
By Miranda Massie on January 7, 2014
Fitting in Fitness
Like many others, January is the time when I reflect on the habits –good and bad– that I have adopted over the past year. January is also when I set new goals for the year to come, particularly around nutrition and physical fitness. We tend to get a bit overzealous with our New Year’s resolutions and this can often leave us feeling inadequate and disappointed with our progress, or lack thereof.
According to the Canadian Psychical Activity Guidelines, adults between 18 and 64 should get 150 minutes of moderate (biking, brisk walking) to vigorous (jogging, skiing) physical activity per week. This equates to only 2.5 hours out of a total of 168 hours in a week. I must admit, I was taken aback by this number — it actually appears manageable!
2.5 hours is less than the length of one hockey game, about the same amount of time as a movie, or slightly longer than two undergraduate lectures. The best part of it all is that it breaks down to 20 minutes per day; a timeframe that I feel is realistic and manageable.
To give us a boost of confidence going into the New Year, I have included a list of ways to fit fitness into your day, relieving the pressure of having to set aside dedicated time to exercise.
Take a brisk 15-minute walk after two meals each day. It could be breakfast and dinner, or lunch and dinner, but adding a walk to the end of a meal makes it easy to remember and can help to dispel any lingering post-food grogginess.
Walk the stairs on your break. Most buildings on campus have a set of stairs that are most likely infrequently used. Plug in some headphones and walk up and down to get your blood flowing. A great alternative if the weather is lousy!
Capitalize on chores and housework. Perform regular tasks like mopping, scrubbing, raking or mowing at a vigorous pace to get your heart pumping. Offer to help out a neighbor for more of a workout.
Exit the bus early. For those who use transit to commute, exit the bus or train a few stops early. You can reach your 20-minute quota before you even get home. Or, come prepared to walk to meetings on the other side of campus instead of driving.
Hydrate with a little help. There is a great free App called Waterlogged that helps you track your daily water intake and will even remind you to hydrate throughout the day with an alarm that sounds like running water.
Ultimately, we are working towards reducing our risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and obesity. Physical activity is one of the largest preventive factors against chronic physical illness, and these chronic conditions are also risk factors for poor mental health. Improved physical health can promote social connectedness and self-efficacy, as well as support a sense of belonging and empowerment. As a result, we can experience elevated mood, clearer thinking capabilities and improved self-esteem, all of which are crucial to our overall positive mental health.
Here’s to a healthy New Year!
All my best,
Craft, L., Freund, K., Culpepper, L., Perna, F. (2007). Intervention study of exercise for depressive symptoms in women. Journal of Women’s Health, 16, 1499-1509.
De La Cerda, P., Cervello, E., Cocca, A., Viciana, J. (2011). Effect of an aerobic training program as complementary therapy in patients with moderate depression. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 112, 761-769.
Eriksson, S. & Gard, G. (2011). Physical activity and depression. Physical Therapy Reviews, 16, 261-268.
Yonca Bicer, S., Asghari, A., Kharazi, P., Shaygan Asl, N. (2012). The effect of exercise on depression and anxiety of students. Annals of Biological Research, 3, 270-274.