By Melissa Lafrance on October 3, 2017
Food is one of the most basic needs for our survival and health, but it also involves sharing, celebrating and demonstrating our care for others, and supporting our rituals and traditions. Food and social interactions often go hand in hand.
Have you ever noticed your food intake being influenced by particular social activities or connections with certain groups or individuals? Social settings can highly influence our behaviours, including food choices. While social gatherings often promote occasional indulgences, they can also involve consuming healthier options.
Check out the following tips:
- Huffington Post’s 10 Tips for Eating Healthy at Parties
- Dietitians of Canada’s Healthy Eating at Meetings, Events and at Work
Most of us live in communities, and making healthy choices can be tied to relationships with the people that surround us. Social support from friends and family in the form of encouragement, accountability, establishing connections, and modeling or sharing healthy behaviours can influence choices . Having social connections that foster supportive acceptance and participation are helpful in making us feel included and respected. Eating meals together, both at work or at home, can help increase social interactions and nurture relationships. Learn more with the following resources:
- Center for Nutrition Studies’ tips for inclusivity and respect around food choices and behaviours
- Reward Gateway’s top reasons to eat together at work
Studies show a strong relationship between a workplace’s physical and social environment and employee health behaviours. A lot of our waking hours are spent at work, which can involve meetings and social gatherings.
Consider these tips and recipes while at work:
- Dietitians of Canada’s Healthy Eating at Meetings, Events and at Work
Try these recipes for bringing your own lunch to work:
- Cookspiration’s Roasted Broccoli Mushroom Mozza Frittata
- Jamie Oliver’s Cracking Chicken Burrito
- Damn Delicious’ Easy Burrito Bowls
- Eating Well’s Mediterranean Wrap
What should you bring to a potluck? Try these re-imagined classic dishes you can serve at a potluck or social event:
- Our June potluck edition of Healthy Recipes & Tips
- Cookspiration’s Layered Mexican Dip
- Cookspiration’s Lightened up Guacamole and Chips
- Cookspiration’s Zucchini Lentil Fritters with Dill Sour Cream
- Cookspiration’s Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Curry Mayo
Melissa Lafrance’s Tip of the Month
This month, set a goal to take part in at least one of the following:
- Engage in at least one social event (i.e. do the 30-Day Online Mindfulness Challenge with a buddy or organize an office potluck)
- Eat lunch with a friend or group of colleagues at least once per week
- Go for a walk at lunch with someone in your network at least twice this month
Become a UBC Health Contact
Each week in October, we will be sharing tips, tricks and information to support social health. To receive weekly reminders or for more information on how you can promote health and wellbeing at UBC, sign up to be a UBC Health Contact.
By Miranda Massie on August 3, 2017
Summer is in full swing. The beautiful weather at this time of year always reminds me to appreciate the stunning natural environment in which we live, work and play. At UBC, we are unique in that we are just a short walk away from beaches, forests, gardens and natural wonders that draw tourists from around the globe. With this realization though, my internal motivation to stay inside and work can sometimes take a hit.
On the plus side, research tells us that we do not have to be outside to reap the benefits of our natural surroundings. The new Wellbeing Design Lab in the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) at UBC Vancouver is a great example of how to enhance your physical space in order to optimize wellbeing.
Click on the video below for a virtual tour of the space.
When designing the lab, the wellbeing of its occupants was top of mind. Some of the features in the space include height adjustable desks, a Pacific Spirit Park wall mural, different plant varieties, flexible and varied spaces, and natural light.
Read on to find out how you can boost your health while indoors.
Furniture that can be adapted or customized to suit a variety of needs helps to increase productivity and accessibility while also boosting social connectivity and inclusivity.
Try: Re-arranging your desk layout, adding a keyboard tray or attending a free Sit-Stand Desk Workshop.
Grab some green
Did you know that simply looking at images of nature provides a host of positive health benefits, including decreased stress and improved mood? Also, high-oxygen-producing plants like peace lilies can help to increase productivity and comfort, while reducing stress and sickness in workplaces.
Try: Changing your desktop image and screen saver to a favourite image of nature, or caring for a small plant at your desk or with a group of colleagues.
Find the balance: “Me Space vs. We Space”
Collaboration can help boost connection and creativity, but the healthiest forums for collaboration are the ones where you can identify and use a range of spaces to suit your working needs in the moment. Some examples include collaborative workspaces, quiet office spaces, flex spaces, hot desks/drop-in stations and comfortable lounge spaces.
Try: Identifying and labeling the different areas in your workplace to help ensure everyone knows what type of work fits best in that space, and where they can go to get the level of interaction they require. You could even give the spaces fun names or colour zones.
Let the sun shine
Appropriate levels of natural light and sunshine can improve mood and alertness, minimize disruption to circadian rhythm, enhance productivity, support good sleep quality and provide appropriate visual acuity.
Try: Taking your next break close to a window, or booking a room with natural light for meetings or an hour of quiet work time. No windows? There are lots of great buildings at UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan that provide a wealth of natural light, including the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS), AMS Student Nest, Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre, Forest Sciences Centre (bonus, it has plants!) and Okanagan Administration Building (with Sunshine Café!). It’s worth paying them a visit.
This month, as you look wistfully out your window at the beautiful scenery, I encourage you to find new ways to bring that splendor indoors and to see if it improves your health. I also invite you to stop by the Wellbeing Design Lab, Monday to Friday from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. to explore the space.
For more information, including UBC research on the connection between natural environments, physical spaces and health, check out the following:
- Environmentally Smart Design: Designing for Social Wellbeing Across the City and in the Workplace (UBC CWL required)
- Health and Community Design: The Impact of the Built Environment on Physical Activity
- Healthy People with Nature in Mind (UBC CWL Required)
- Natural Environments, Health, and Well-Being
- Rationale to Address Well-being through Physical Spaces in Post-Secondary Settings
Grinde, B., & Patil, G. G. (2009). Biophilia: Does Visual Contact with Nature Impact on Health and Well-Being? Int. J. of Environmental Research and Public Health, 6(9), 2332–2343.
Huet, V. Literature review of art therapy-based interventions for work-related stress. Int. J. Art Therapy. 20,66–76 (2015).
Huss, E. & Sarid, O. Visually transforming artwork and guided imagery as a way to reduce work related stress: A quantitative pilot study. Arts Psychother. 41, 409–412 (2014).
Photo credit: UBC Communications and Marketing
By Miranda Massie on June 8, 2016
This May marked the 5th annual David Suzuki Foundation 30×30 challenge, which encourages Canadians to spend at least 30 minutes in nature every day for 30 days. Sounds easy, right? It turns out it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.
I regularly find myself outside (walking to the bus, heading to meetings, etc.) but rarely do I attempt to purposefully spend time in nature. I realize now that walking down a busy street is not the same as sitting under a tree in a park. Research shows us that exposure to nature is good for our wellbeing. It boosts our immune system, lowers blood pressure, increases creativity, builds empathy and fosters community.
Despite being aware of all of these benefits, consciously finding time in my day to get outside was tough. Truthfully, I ran out of ideas after going for a couple of walks and having my lunch on a bench on Main Mall.
That is where the 30×30 challenge daily tips came in handy! It provided a list of 30 different ways to inspire my ‘re-connect’ with nature. Here are some of my favourites:
Tips for taking a time-out in nature
- Read outside: Grab your coffee and a book and start your morning off with some fresh air
- Eat alfresco: Invite colleagues to take lunch outside or take your dinner to a local park
- Bring nature indoors: Enhance your home or workspace with plants, fresh flowers, shells, rocks or pine cones
- Get dirty: Exposure to soil bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae can act as a natural antidepressant, activating brain cells that improve mood, reduce anxiety and facilitate learning.
- Stargaze: Go outside on a clear evening and look at the sky. Stretch out on a blanket and relish the sense of perspective.
- Cloud watch: Look up! Cloud watching any time of the day clears the mind and calms the senses.
- Listen: Did you know birds have their own language? Instead of identifying species, pay attention to the behavior and communication of our feathered friends.
This month, I invite you to think about how to take advantage of the the warm summer weather and beautiful natural surroundings to re-introduce some nature into your life!
All my best,
Posted in Editorial, Miranda Massie | Tagged 30x30, David Suzuki Foundation, eating, editorial, gardening, health benefits, Miranda Massie, Nature, outdoors, plants, reading, summer, time out, weather, wellbeing | 1 Response