By Miranda Massie on July 16, 2019
Check out the links below to see what we’ve been reading and listening to lately.
Walk-in Wellbeing Clinic Permanently Open for Business – UBC Okanagan News (May 29, 2019). Pair this great news with our Thriving Faculty profile of Lesley Lutes (February 2019).
Changing My Mind: Margaret Trudeau Speaks on Mental Health – alumni UBC Podcasts (June 5, 2019)
Alumni Spotlight: Michael Dumont, Indigenous Primary Care – Faculty of Medicine (Spring 2019)
A Place You Can Go: Small Steps for Big Changes – UBC Okanagan In The Field (from Diabetes Research Day, 2019)
UBC Goes All in for Sustainable Seafood – UBC News (June 7, 2019)
Looking for additional summer reads? Check out UC Berkeley’s list of titles from the Greater Good Science Center that explore themes like happiness, burnout, emotional intelligence and communication.
Photo credits: Lesley Lutes, UBC Faculty of Education, UBC Faculty of Medicine, UBC Health, Wellbeing and Benefits, UBC Brand 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
By Colin Hearne on March 3, 2015
This month features Jennifer Nicholls, Online Learning Systems Specialist with Technology, Media and Professional Programs at the Robson Square campus of UBC Continuing Studies.
Thriving Campus features, testimonials, contributions and personal experiences from UBC staff, faculty and students.
What strategies do you use in your work life to help you thrive?
We spend approximately eight hours a day at work, ideally eight hours sleeping, which leaves eight hours for everything else. Therefore I feel that since I spend one-third of my day at work, it’s important to make it enjoyable. To me, that means I need to have a sense of purpose, people to support and interact with, and ways to take a break.
To find a sense of purpose, I like to balance working on things I’m experienced in and confident working on (where I’m the expert), with learning something new that I’m not as comfortable working on (where I’m the amateur) but need to improve. It helps me get a bigger picture of what’s going on, and allows me to “see the forest for the trees.” It also challenges me, as I sometimes feel more comfortable just sticking with what I know.
As for having people to support and interact with (and taking a break), I enjoy going out of the office and trying new coffee break locations, going for a walk at lunch, or doing a stretch routine either in an empty class room or outside (even with people walking by). I have rounded up office-mates to join me for a stretch at lunch. More recently, the office as a whole joined forces across units to bring in a lunch time yoga instructor once a week. I do find that it makes a positive difference. I keep a yoga mat on hand (and a change of clothing) in the office just in case the opportunity arises. I find I also enjoy meeting people in different units, even if it’s just to say a friendly “hello” while passing in the hallway.
While the bulk of my work is in front of a computer, I am fortunate that there are parts where I can take my laptop out of the office and sit in a main common area, or print a document off for editing/review and take it to a new environment.
These options aren’t always available, and I sometimes struggle with motivation to do an activity, but I have found that I feel better afterwards (100% of the time). As an alternative at times, I take a reading break and read a few pages of whatever book currently has my attention on my e-reader.
What strategies do you use in your personal life to help you thrive?
Outside of work, I’ve been involved with Ultimate (Frisbee) for a number of years. I play and coach. I enjoy both getting the activity and introducing others to the sport. It has been a huge part of my adult life and I owe much to the sport. I play for fun in the local Vancouver Ultimate League, and sometimes travel for competition (both locally and internationally). I am working on transitioning to new sports, and to that end I enjoy hiking and trail riding/running, and have signed up for Leg 2 of the Death Race (in Grande Cache, AB). I tried sea kayaking last summer and would like to do more of that in future.
It’s not a secret that exercise makes it easier to “thrive”, it just seems a question of motivation. I motivate myself by incorporating exercise into other things. For example, biking to work is a refreshing alternative to a packed skytrain—I have to get to work, and if I bike, it’s like an early morning spin-class. If I want to go to sunny beach destination, I look for a destination with an Ultimate tournament so I spend the days on the field getting exercise, and enjoying the beach and the new destination either after games or stay an extra day.
A self-confessed lifelong learner, Jennifer enjoys helping others learn and finding ways to reach their goals In her free time she is an avid sportsperson having captained, coached and played at all levels while advocating the importance of being a good teammate and communicating under pressure.
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.