By Miranda Massie on April 2, 2019
Travelling is top of mind for me right now. On spring break, I spent two weeks chaperoning teenagers across Italy and Greece. And though the dust hasn’t even had time to settle on my suitcase, I’m already dreaming of my next adventure and my next destination. Unfortunately, a major barrier to my wanderlust is always the associated costs. Travelling is expensive and requires discipline both prior to and during a trip.
This month, I’m sharing some money-savvy hacks to support your frugal and fruitful travel.
Keep your eye on the deals
Take breakfast to go
Book hotel stays that include breakfast. Start your day with a big meal and pack extra snacks so you can save money on food throughout the day.
Avoid on-the-road prices
Pack your own food on travel days so you can avoid paying for pricey food on flights and trains or in airports. With healthy options on hand, you’ll be able to avoid the drive-through.
Find the free days
Many museums and galleries have free days or visiting times throughout the week. Some also offer discounts for students, children and families. Check their websites in advance.
Double check your coverage
Be sure to check your travel insurance coverage, or the coverage of a spouse or dependent. If you’re already covered through work or a credit card, you can avoid paying additional insurance costs. If you are enrolled in UBC’s extended health befits, be familiar with your coverage while travelling outside BC or Canada. Visit the UBC travel benefits site.
Take a staycation!
A vacation does not always need to involve travel. Take advantage of the amazing sights, eats and activities available locally. This will also allow you to save your dollars for a future trip. Read more about staycation ideas for Metro Vancouver on Daily Hive and Miss604.
Wherever your travels take you, I encourage you to prioritize taking time off. Breaks are important for building resilience and promoting mental and physical health. Allow yourself time to breathe, relax and be present without the threat of an incoming credit card bill looming in your head. Have any savvy travel hacks of your own? Share in the comments below!
All my best,
Photo credit: Miranda Massie
By Miranda Massie on April 2, 2019
This month, we feature Dr. Sarah Parry, a sessional instructor in academic writing and American literature in the Department of English Language and Literatures. Learn how developing and teaching a wellness curriculum intended to help students inspired Sarah to make changes that support her own health, as well as the wellbeing of her colleagues.
What are the central challenges you face in your role as faculty?
Sessional faculty face many challenges. We often teach many courses and work close to year-round, and our workloads can negatively affect our physical health, mental health and relationships. As well, contract work can be stressful as the prospects of long-term employment are uncertain. The lack of tenure-track positions can also result in low morale.
How do you manage these challenges?
With the help of the Student Health Promotion and Education unit, I developed a wellness curriculum for my first-year writing course. Though it was originally meant to help students, I have found that it helps me just as much! I use the text, Wellness Issues for Higher Education, which looks at stress, emotional health, exercise, diet, sleep and social and intellectual wellness, among other topics.
During the course, students develop and implement their own strategies for exercise, nutrition or time-management, and they write personal reflections about the changes they make to support their wellbeing. Some students use apps to monitor their social media use in order to create time for other activities. Others establish meal-sharing traditions or take yoga or other exercise classes.
I have learned how to sleep well as a consequence of teaching wellness and now swim three days a week. Taking the 30-Day Mindfulness Challenge was great, too. I am currently working to improve my social and relationship wellness by making sure I do something social once a week.
Can you offer any suggestions or advice for new sessionals or faculty to help them manage their time and work/life commitments?
I find it helpful to leave one day a week free for rest, even it it means getting up early on other days. I think it is a good practice to work no more than 60 hours per week in peak periods. The single most important thing I have learned is to maintain a regular sleep/wake cycle.
Are you involved in any specific initiatives and/or research that promote health, mental health and wellbeing?
As part of UBC’s Healthy Workplace Initiative Program, I established a faculty wellness room for the department, where faculty can retreat for short stretch, exercise or meditation breaks.
I also initiated ergonomics education to help faculty promote their own wellbeing while marking and lecturing. It’s important for them to know about best practices such using a slant board when marking to avoid excessive neck strain and using an anti-fatigue mat when lecturing. As well, I contacted the UBC Ergonomics Program about creating some classroom ergonomics resources to help faculty promote their own wellbeing while marking and lecturing.
I am also a member of the Teaching and Learning Wellbeing Community of Practice, which advocates for policies and practices that improve student and faculty wellbeing. We hold several events at CTLT (Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology) every year. Faculty interested in joining us can contact Michael Lee, Gail Hammond or me at email@example.com.
Dr. Sarah Parry is a sessional instructor in academic writing and American literature in the Department of English Language and Literatures. She is chair of the Standing Sessional Committee and also serves on the Faculty of Arts Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee and the Teaching and Wellbeing Community of Practice design team.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Parry
Posted in Guest Contributor, Thriving Faculty | Tagged challenges, English, faculty, learning, rest, sessional instructors, student success, Support, teaching, Thriving faculty, UBC, wellbeing | Leave a response
By Miranda Massie on December 5, 2018
Imagine you have a close friend who is feeling stressed and overwhelmed, and they ask for your advice. What words of encouragement and support might you offer?
- “You’re doing great.”
- “Look at what you’ve accomplished.”
- “Give yourself a break.”
- “Take some time for yourself.”
- “What can I do to support you?”
Now imagine it is you that feels stressed and overwhelmed. Would you say these same things to yourself? Chances are, probably not. Typically, we are much harder on ourselves than we are on others. Finding ways to be kind to ourselves is especially important at busy times of the year like this.
Self-compassion is strongly linked to our wellbeing. It can reduce negative mind states such as anxiety, depression, stress, rumination, perfectionism and shame. It can also increase positive mind states like life satisfaction, happiness, connectedness, self-confidence, optimism, and gratitude.1
Three ways to enhance self-compassion:
1. Reframe negative thinking patterns
Our minds produce a constant stream of thoughts, a large portion of which are negative. A key to reducing the impact that these thoughts have on us is to identify negative self-talk and to reframe it towards the positive. For example, when you are being hard on yourself, notice these thoughts and ask yourself if you would say these things to someone you love. If not, why would you say them to yourself?
2. Focus on your practical wisdom
Sometimes it can feel like we are coming up short in aspects of our lives. When facing these thoughts, focus instead on your practical wisdom.2 We are all experts in something so discover what it is that gives you a sense of mastery and play to those strengths. Often these are skills and character traits that go unrecognized or underappreciated like empathy, intuition, altruism and self-reflection.
3. Acknowledge your emotional labour
We give a lot of ourselves to others, to our jobs, and to our communities — often doing so without realising or acknowledging the emotional energy that it requires. The emotional labour and effort we exert in managing and regulating our emotions in our personal and professional lives can impact our wellbeing.3 Acknowledging these efforts is a way of cultivating compassionate towards ourselves.
Other easy ways to practice self-compassion:
- Watch this two-minute video for tips on practicing self-compassion.
- Listen to this 10-minute guided meditation for self-compassion.
- Get ideas for enhancing self-compassion with these articles: Give the Gift of Self-compassion, 5 Ways to Thrive Today, Tomorrow and Beyond and Treat Yourself: Why you Deserve a Gift this Holiday Season
This busy holiday season, I invite you to be kind to yourself as well as those around you. Find ways to see the common humanity amongst us all and treat yourself with the same compassion and care that you do the people you love.
Warmest wishes to you, your colleagues and your loved ones this season.
All my best,
2 Eastman, C. A. (2016). Improving Workplace Learning by Teaching Literature: Towards Wisdom. Switzerland: Springer Nature. http://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-29028-7
3 Bierema, L. L. (2008). Adult learning and the emotional self. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 120, 55–64. http://doi.org/10.1002/ace
Posted in Editorial, Miranda Massie | Tagged care, compassion, editorial, emotional labour, gift, Holidays, overwhelm, Relaxation, rest, self-care, self-compassion, thinking, wisdom | Leave a response
By Miranda Massie on October 23, 2018
How do you like to Thrive?
It’s nearly Thrive Week at UBC and I’m excited! An award-winning and nationally-recognized initiative, Thrive invites the UBC community to explore diverse and unique paths to mental health.
While there are many relevant ways to foster and maintain good mental health, research consistently points to five actions that can help.
We call these the Thrive 5:
1. Thrive by moving regularly: Moving regularly can help you manage stress and feel more positive.
2. Thrive by resting up: Spending time without screens before bed can help you sleep better and feel more rested.
3. Thrive by eating to feel nourished: Adding more veggies to your diet boosts the health of your mind and body.
4. Thrive by giving back: Helping others and giving back can give you a sense of purpose and connection.
5. Thrive by saying hi: Checking in regularly with family, friends and colleagues builds supportive relationships.
These five actions seem intuitive and simple enough, but in practice, they can seem like daunting tasks. I know that exercise, fruits and veggies, a full night’s sleep and social time are good for my health. But sometimes, all I have energy for is takeout and the couch, which leaves me feeling guilty or disappointed about my inaction.
What I’ve realised is that another critical part of my mental health is understanding my limitations and being self-compassionate. If we learn how to cut ourselves some slack, perhaps it will create the space needed to use the Thrive 5 more effectively.
This month, while I encourage you to use the Thrive 5 as ways to explore mental health, I also encourage you to listen to your needs. If all you feel like doing is going home and zoning out in front of the TV or going to sleep, do it. Enjoy the mental rest, forgive yourself and move on. There is always tomorrow.
And if tomorrow you’re looking for ideas to help you explore your own path to mental health, check out the Thrive Calendar for a range of engaging and diverse events, activities and experiences. Happy Thrive Week!
All my best,
Photo credit: Student Communications and UBC Thrive
Posted in Editorial, Mental Health, Miranda Massie | Tagged connection, eating, giving back, healthy diet, helping others, movement, physical activity, resilience, rest, sleep, social connection, thrive, Thrive 5, Thrive week | 1 Response
By Miranda Massie on December 7, 2017
In the true spirit of the holiday season, I feel it is important that I not only be honest with myself, but with you as well. This fall was tough: it was probably the most demanding, hectic and draining fall that I have experienced in many years, at work and in my life outside of work. The upside is that I’ve been able to share my wellbeing work with large numbers of the UBC community, and that I’ve handed in my last school paper for the semester. It was a rewarding and meaningful time, both personally and professionally, and I hope the same is true for you. Even so, I’m conscious of the fact that my personal gas tank is hovering on empty as I push myself towards the finish line that is my holiday break. As we find ourselves in the middle of yet another busy season (one that is sometimes overshadowed by consumerism, busyness and all manners of excess), I’m experiencing a lot of internal questions:
Could I be doing more? Should I be doing more? Why do I feel guilty when I’m not working or studying? Have I let others down? Am I capable? What should success look like?
In sharing these vulnerable thoughts and insecurities recently with friends and now with you, I’m reminded of a practice that is often overlooked but one imperative to our survival – especially at this time of year: self-compassion.
Practicing self- compassion
What is self-compassion?
It is taking the time to treat ourselves the same way that we would treat a loved one, whether they’re two-legged, four-legged, winged, etc. It is acknowledging that we, too, deserve care and comfort during stressful and difficult times. It is the act of silencing our inner critic in the hope of accepting that we are entitled to a break.
Why is it important?
Self-compassion has been strongly linked to wellbeing. It can lead to reductions in negative mind states such as anxiety, depression, stress, rumination, thought suppression, perfectionism and shame. It has also been found to increase positive mind states like life satisfaction, happiness, connectedness, self-confidence, optimism, curiosity and gratitude .
How do you start?
- Practice self-kindness instead of self-judgement.This means accepting our imperfections with empathy instead of shame and criticism. The more we cling to aspirations of perfection, the more we judge the end result. Recognize and value the massiveness of what we try to do each day and know there will be situations, histories and events beyond our control and that these are not a reflection of our worth or character.
- Look for common humanity instead of isolation.This involves acknowledging that we may face difficult situations, but we are not alone in doing so. Trials and tribulations are part of the common human experience, and they are ones that we do not have to face alone.
- Try mindfulness instead of over-identification. This is working to process negative emotions in a constructive way in order to avoid emotional reactivity and negative thought patterns. Reflect on how you are more than your external achievements and that internal accomplishments are worth just as much.
Want to learn more?
Watch this two-minute video for tips on practicing self-compassion
Or, listen to this 10-minute guided meditation for self-compassion:
This holiday season, as a reminder of the true meaning and spirit of this time of year, I invite you to give yourself the gift of self-compassion. Take it slow and be kind in your expectations of the self. Cut yourself some slack. Find new ways to silence that internal critic and replace it with a voice of kindness and charity. And I promise to try and do the same for myself as well. As 2017 closes, let’s get ready to meet the New Year with fresh eyes and an open heart.
Posted in Editorial, Miranda Massie | Tagged editorial, generosity, kindness, Mindfulness, Miranda Massie, patience, recharge, rest, self-care, self-compassion, spiritual health, Support, survival | 3 Responses