By Miranda Massie on June 5, 2018
The sun is out, the air has warmed, and it’s the perfect time to incorporate a little play into our lives. Being a grown-up and a professional doesn’t mean that we can’t infuse our days with some fun. Here are a few ways to bring recess back into your life.
Week 1: Join Yoga on the Mall
Take a break from your work day and participate in Yoga on the Mall, a fun and free group yoga class. Can’t make the mall? Look for other classes near your workplace, home or neighbourhood that take place outside.
Week 2: Up Your Lawn Game IQ
Fitting in fitness doesn’t need to be overly strenuous. Lawn games are a great way to keep active while socializing with people of all ages. Check out this Family Education list of the top 10 backyard party games for all ages and consider adding one or two to your next BBQ or group event.
Week 3: Playgrounds Aren’t Just for Kids
Playgrounds are fun places to spend time no matter what age you are. They also offer an opportunity to spice up an otherwise boring workout. Discover how to use swings and jungle gyms to your advantage with this Full Body Playground Workout from Parents.com.
No playground around, or perhaps it’s full of kids? Try these 17 Picnic Bench Exercises from RedefiningStrength.com.
Week 4: Get Some Extra Credit
Did you know you’re already benefitting from many of the chores or activities you already participate in? Cleaning, gardening, walking the dog and even shopping are some of the ways you are already fitting in fitness, so keep up the great work!
Calories burned during leisure and routine activities (Harvard Health)
Photo Credit: UBC Communications and Marketing
By Miranda Massie on June 7, 2017
Where in the grown-up handbook does it say that we have to take ourselves seriously all of the time? Aside from the very obvious benefit of play (it’s fun!), there is a growing body of research linking play in adults to increased creativity, stress relief, positive relationships and increased co-operation.
Week 1: Go play outside
Grab a Frisbee, bocce set or soccer ball and venture outside. Take a 30-minute break to kick a ball around or enjoy a quick game with colleagues outside the office. These are great and inclusive low- or no-cost activities.
Week 2: Make it a family affair
Try exploring new ways to incorporate fitness into family time. You can play outdoor games, go on beachfront or neighbourhood explorations or play fitness games like the one shown in the video below. You can also take full advantage of walks and play time with pets. It can be exercise for you too!
Week 3: Explore the outdoors with lunchtime bootcamps
Enjoy UBC’s campus, beaches and trails while increasing your cardio, strength, core and flexibility. Start dates: June 21 and July 24.
Week 4: Find your friends
Want to explore the BC wilderness, but don’t know who to go with, where to go or what to do? Consider joining Wanderung, an email-based mailing list that helps connect you with others across the city to organize or join hikes and cycle trips.
By Miranda Massie on June 3, 2015
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”– George Bernard Shaw
Summer is on the horizon and this time of year is always a nostalgic one for me. I am flooded with memories of summers spent in the backyard, running through sprinklers, drinking Slurpees in the park and hanging out at the community pool. In my mind, summer is intrinsically linked with opportunities for fun.
Unfortunately, somewhere between the carefree summers of our childhood and our current states of adulthood, we have forgotten how to play. Where in the grown-up handbook does it say that we have to take ourselves seriously all of the time? Or that kids should be the ones to have all the fun?
We have a tendency as adults to self-edit our behaviour. We hold back as if seeking some unspoken permission before engaging in anything that might be considered childish or childlike. If the recent Staff and Faculty Sports Day on campus demonstrated anything to me, it is that we are all looking, if not craving, opportunities to infuse a bit more fun into our lives.
Aside from the very obvious benefit of play (it is fun!), there is a growing body of research linking play in adults to increased creativity, stress relief, more positive relationships, cooperation and improved social skills.
Benefits of Play
- Increased insight and creativity: Playfulness and a happy mood have been found to broaden our thoughts patterns allowing for new ways of thinking to emerge.
- Improved social connections: Play requires communication, collaboration and trust. The same skills that children are encouraged to build continue to grow and improve in adulthood.
- A thicker wallet: Laughter is free, as are many opportunities for fun and play. Make use of free or low-cost outdoor spaces, positive people in your life or community activities.
- A mental health boost: Endorphins released during exercise through play can increase feelings of well-being. Games and puzzles can also help improve brain function and protect against memory loss.
Opportunities for Play
- Start a games drawer in the office: Start collecting old games, puzzles and sports equipment to play during lunch or on a break.
- Host regular friendly competitions: Invite colleagues to compete in a hoola hoop competition or a Trivial Pursuit tournament.
- Play with children: Take the time to learn from the masters. Visit the trampoline gym, play make believe or watch a favourite childhood movie.
- Get outside: Play with a pet at the beach or invite friends to the park for bocce or Frisbee. Buy a popsicle and half it with a friend, or a stranger!
- Get creative: Pick up an adult colouring book (yes this is a thing) or have a craft night with friends.
I love finding an empty swing set and swinging as high as possible. I enjoy seeing my surroundings from a new perspective, feeling the wind blow through my hair and being carefree-if only for a few minutes. Once I come down and plant my feet on the ground again, something in me has changed. I feel a little bit lighter and a little bit brighter. Often the best feeling is knowing I was able to break with convention without worrying what the other adults around me might think.
This month I invite you to give yourself permission to have fun. Give yourself permission to be a little silly, to laugh until you cry, to run barefoot on the grass, to take a risk and to re-connect with the elements of your childhood that filled you with unabashed joy.
Throw caution to the wind and when a chance to play presents itself, take it!
All my best,
Check out this fun TED Talk about Creativity and Play!
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 Colin Hearne on December 4, 2014
This month’s Thriving Faculty interview is with Lori Brotto, Associate Professor Division Head, Gynaecologic Specialties in UBC’s Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology.
Thriving Faculty is a regular column highlighting UBC Faculty who exemplify integration of health and wellbeing into their classrooms, research, departments and communities. Thriving Faculty support others in their health and wellbeing, in addition to making a commitment to their own self-care. This column highlights personal and professional stories of Thriving Faculty.
What are the central challenges you face in your role as Faculty?
Time. I often feel over-committed, and although I have attempted to become more selective about the projects and initiatives I participate in, I am finding that those to which I am drawn are very time-intensive. Like most faculty, much of this work occurs “after hours”, so trying to maintain some work-life balance is often a struggle.
Based on your experiences, please describe the relationship between student mental health & wellbeing and learning?
I see this directly in the students I work with and supervise. Their confidence and ability to truly participate as a team member is heavily influenced by individual factors such as mood, stress, fatigue, and medical health.
Do you implement any strategies to support student mental health and wellbeing in the classroom/lab?
I schedule regular check-ins with all of my students and trainees. In addition to being an opportunity to discuss their research and/or clinical activities, it is also an opportunity to check in on their mental wellbeing. I have been so fortunate to work with an amazing group of students and trainees who share open communication.
Please describe the role of your own mental health and wellbeing in your teaching, research and service to the community?
I meditate every day, even on those overly committed days when you find yourself eating breakfast at 2pm. I also take part in some extracurricular physical activities that are important for my own mental wellbeing and energy. I try to focus on one activity at a time, whether it is immersing myself in writing a grant application, staring at a dataset carrying out statistical analyses, listening to the story of a patient, or engaging in a physical exercise. I try to focus solely on that activity and notice when my mind drifts to other factors on my to-do list. I use mindfulness to guide my attention back to one thing in the present moment.
What strategies do you use in your own life, that help you thrive as Faculty?
See previous answer. I also have three very busy and active children who make it easier for me to move my focus from work to “play”.
Are they any specific initiatives and/or research you are involved in that promote health, mental health and wellbeing?
A good part of my program of research involves developing and testing mindfulness-based interventions for women with various kinds of sexual health and gynaecologic difficulties. As a facilitator in these group sessions, I also actively take part in the exercises I invite my participants to take part in. There has evolved a wonderful synergy between my research on mindfulness for women and my own personal mindfulness practice, with both mutually influencing one another.
Are there any resources on campus that you have found to be helpful for promoting wellbeing for either yourself or your students?
I try to take advantage of the various workshops offered by the university that address topics around work-life balance, assertive communication, dealing with conflict, etc.
In your role as faculty, please describe your experience balancing work-life commitments? Is there a metaphor that depicts this relationship?
It’s a cliché, but fits entirely for me: Work hard, play hard.
Lori Brotto has a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and completed a Fellowship in Reproductive and Sexual Medicine from the University of Washington. She is currently an Associate Professor in the UBC Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and Head of the Division of Gynaecologic Specialties, as well as a registered psychologist in Vancouver, Canada. She is the director of the UBC Sexual Health Laboratory where research primarily focuses on developing and testing psychological and mindfulness-based interventions for women with sexual desire and arousal difficulties and women with chronic genital pain. Other major lines of research include exploring sexuality and reproductive health in ethnic minority women, studying the intracrinology of androgen metabolites in women’s desire, asexuality, and sexuality after cancer. Dr. Brotto is the Associate Editor for two major sexuality journals, Archives of Sexual Behavior and Sexual and Relationship Therapy and has over 80 peer-reviewed publications.