By Miranda Massie on October 23, 2018
In support of UBC’s commitment to workplace health and wellbeing, HR is bringing back a unique professional development opportunity for UBC Vancouver faculty and staff.
Developed at Google and founded in neuroscience, Search Inside Yourself (SIY) is a training program that uses emotional intelligence and mindfulness to optimize performance, build leadership skills and increase wellbeing. The SIY program consists of:
- 2-day, in-person, cohort-based training taught by SIY-certified instructors (January 14 and 15, 2019 at UBC Vancouver)
- 4 weeks of follow-up exercises, content and cohort conversations via email (approx. mid-January to mid-February)
- 1-hour debrief session via webinar to integrate learning, answer questions and provide direction going forward (approx. late February)
Cost: $50 per person (eligible for PD funding). Registration deadline: January 4, 2019.
Spots are limited and are filled on a first come, first served basis. Register now!
What previous participants had to say:
- 98% of participants would recommend the SIY program to a colleague
- 85% of participants felt more confident when having difficult conversations
- 88% of participants reported increased ability to remain calm in challenging situations
“The neuroscience information was insightful and the exercises and practices were interesting enough to consider implementing in my everyday life.”
“I learned that having more compassion towards others and self if a great way to show leadership, to step up and to be more valuable.”
For more information, including program benefits and what’s included in the cost of the program, visit the Search Inside Yourself webpage.
By Guest Contributor on December 2, 2015
Health benefits of mindfulness include less stress, improved sleep and reduced pain
The chances are good that you have heard about mindfulness recently– it’s everywhere! From the World Economic Summit in Davos, to 60 Minutes, to the Armed Forces or the Seattle Seahawks, mindfulness is being used in a multitude of settings , as it has been proven by neuroscience to do everything from improve leadership skills and sleep quality, to reduce stress and conflict.
What is mindfulness & how does it work?
Mindfulness is a systematic training of the attention to help people live their lives in the here and now. By teaching people to focus on the moment, without judgement, they can see things more clearly – the good and the bad, and can therefore respond more skillfully.
Benefits of mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness can improve both physical and psychological symptoms as well as create positive changes in health attitudes and behaviors.
|Physical Health||Mental Health||Workplace Benefits|
The University is participating in a pilot project in partnership with the Movember Foundation to bring the benefits of mindfulness to faculty and staff. During 2015, UBC offered several mindfulness workshops, plus a ‘Mindfulness@Work’ six-week course and one-day retreat taught by Dr. Geoffrey Soloway and Kara Smith of MindWell Canada. All events were well attended, with results showing increases in resiliency, productivity, and the ability to handle stress and interpersonal conflict.
To further create a mindful community at UBC, the 30 Day Mindfulness Challenge, an online mindfulness training, is being offered to 225 faculty and staff on a first-come-first-served basis.
The Challenge is an online mindfulness training where lessons are delivered via any device, anytime, and anywhere that takes just 10 minutes a day for 30 consecutive days. Participants and their buddies (each person will be asked to invite a buddy for free, from outside the organization) will learn core mindfulness concepts and be able to experience outcomes including improved health and wellbeing, enhanced productivity and creativity, and improved problem-solving and teamwork.
Orientation and Information Sessions
To learn more about mindfulness and the 30 Day Challenge, join Dr. Soloway on Dec. 8, Jan. 12 and Jan. 13 for one-hour information sessions. Click here for more information.
Can’t Make the Orientation Session?
Everyone is welcome to attend an orientation session, however attendance is not mandatory in order to register for the challenge. To secure a space in the 30-Day Challenge, payment must be made at an orientation session or sent to UBC Human Resources (attn. Melissa Lafrance). Please note that payments will not be processed until after December 8, 2015. Click here for more information.
MindWell Canada (MWC) is a leader in helping people integrate mindfulness into their personal and professional lives, by working with executives, athletes, health care professionals and teachers helping them create a more joyful, less stressful and more connected career and life. MWC has a network of partners around the world and has worked with companies and organizations throughout North America, Europe and Asia.
Dr. Geoffrey Soloway has been working in the area of health promotion, mindfulness and wellbeing for over 12 years. Geoff completed a PhD on Mindfulness at OISE of the University of Toronto, as well as a Master’s of Education on Holistic Education. Geoff is also an Organizational Coach, completing his certification through the University of British Columbia. Currently, Geoff is a Partner with MindWell Canada, and Instructor for UBC Continuing Studies.
Posted in Geoffrey Soloway, Guest Contributor, Mental Health, Mindful Moments | Tagged 30 day challenge, challenge, Geoffrey Soloway, mental health, Mindfulness, Movember, online, skills, UBC | Leave a response
By Melissa Lafrance on November 1, 2015
Thriving Campus features, testimonials, contributions and personal experiences linked to health and wellbeing from UBC staff, faculty and students.
How do you Thrive at Work?
I thrive at work in many ways. One is moving between different energies. If I’m having a physically heavy day, I will make it a point to block off part of the day for seat work at my desk. Alternatively, if I’m stacked with work that requires me to be in front of a computer or in meetings all day, I take a moment to go for a quick walk around the facility. When possible, I book meetings off-site so that I may walk to and from them. It gives me the chance to stretch my legs and organize my thoughts as I travel to and from meetings.
What also helps me thrive is working with a great group of people. The staff in my unit are very supportive of each other. Over time, we have grown to know each other personally and take moments to share a story and have a laugh. Beyond that, I’ve been fortunate to connect with many professionals from whom I can always seek advice and assistance. This reciprocal professional network serves to remind me that the stressors I experience are not uncommon and can always be solved with some creative thinking or collaboration.
Another opportunity to thrive that I try to seize as much as possible are learning opportunities. As a facilities manager, I liaise with a number of maintenance trades. Asking questions about how various systems work and what’s required to fix them not only helps me makes informed management decisions, but also stimulates my curiosity for understanding. I also actively seek professional development opportunities related to my field of work. Attending workshops or off-site conferences allows me to learn and network both within UBC and externally. This term, I’ve enrolled in a beginner French course through UBC Continuing Studies.
In addition to working at UBC, I am also a member of the Canadian Forces Army Reserve. This work allows me to switch into a completely different mindset that is very different from my civilian life. Participating in training exercises is both physically and mentally challenging, but it gives my mind and body a break from the daily stressors of my civilian career.
How do you Thrive at Home?
At home, thriving comes naturally. My wife and I recently moved into our new place and now that we’re settled in, relaxing becomes part of our daily routine. I enjoy cooking with my wife as we experiment with new recipes. I also take time to work on home improvement projects. I am currently trying my hand at carpentry, crafting a breakfast table and benches for the nook. Being alone working in the shop puts me at peace and the outcome of a tangible product is something I can be proud to share with others.
Living in Vancouver provides ample opportunities to thrive. With the mountains and water nearby, I take full advantage of seasonal activities throughout the year. Although I’m not competitive in sport, I am recreationally active and that keeps my mind and spirit in a good place. Being in nature is very refreshing and reminds me why it is so important to live sustainably. I also indulge in new experiences, such as viewing an exhibit in town or participating in a community event. I find this brings me new energy and ideas, broadening my outlook beyond the daily routines work and life. This city also has some amazing restaurants and my wife and I do treat ourselves once in a while.
Work hard, play hard.
By Colin Hearne on June 3, 2015
This month we are featuring Social Psychology PhD candidate Ashley Whillans. Ashley was recently recognized as the lead author of a study focusing on how having a “time is money” attitude can be a barrier to acting in environmentally friendly ways. It struck a cord with us at Healthy UBC, and prompted an invitation to become the first Thriving Graduate Student!
Thriving Faculty exemplify the integration of health and wellbeing into classrooms, research, departments and communities.
What central challenges do you face in your role as a PhD student?
As a PhD student working in two highly productive research labs, the biggest challenges I face are related to deadlines. In research, there are often many speed-bumps. I am constantly trying to balance multiple deadlines, while keeping enough slack in my schedule to deal with delays and (of course!) to make time for friends, family, and fun (I’m getting married in August, so there has been a lot of fun the last few months!). I am always working on time management – i.e., figuring out how to maximize productivity, while minimizing hours spent at my computer.
Based on your experiences, can you describe the relationship between student mental health, and wellbeing and learning?
I am a first-generation university student. When I graduate with my PhD, I will have three more degrees than anyone in my family! In second year of undergrad, I transferred from Douglas College to UBC. I remember feeling overwhelmed: The classes were huge, the coursework was demanding, and I worked part-time to pay rent. I struggled to feel like I fit in. It wasn’t until I became involved outside of the classroom that I started to excel. Extracurricular involvement made me feel part of the university experience and gave me a place to belong. I can say first-hand that social connection can motivate students not only to learn in class, but also to learn from and explore all of the unique and exciting opportunities that university has to offer.
Do you implement any strategies to support student mental health and wellbeing in the classroom/lab?
I work with a lot of undergraduate research assistants: they are our lab superheroes! To support the mental health and well-being of the students that I work with, I try my best to implement two empirically based strategies: (1) Fostering social connection and (2) Discussing challenges.
(1) Social connections are important! Having quality social connections is one of the most important factors in determining well-being. Because lab work can be quite solitary, I try to foster connections by hosting sushi lunches and going out for adventurous meals. These activities help to build a sense of community and friendship. Then, if there is a problem or there is a stressful time of the semester, we all have a “lab family” to turn to. I am a huge fan of the social media site “Humans of New York,” and there was a recent post that very nicely sums up this strategy: “I want [my students] to know that I cared about them before there was a problem.”
(2) We often think that other people are doing better than we are. My own research with UBC Assistant Professor Frances Chen suggests that most students believe that their peers are more socially successful than they are, which negatively impacts belonging and well-being. These beliefs stem in part from the fact that people act happier in public than in private and because people do not readily talk about their negative experiences. In other words, from a distance, everyone’s life seems rosier than it actually is! Many students look up to their graduate student and faculty advisors—it is even easy for me to forget that professors are humans too! Thus, I feel it is my responsibility to let students know I am constantly in a process of trying and failing in all areas of my life— from running studies to trying to fit in a few hours to jog around block. Science and life aren’t always as perfect as they seem from the outside! By being honest, I hope to create an open environment where it is acceptable to talk about both our successes and our failures.
What strategies do you use in your own life, that help you thrive as PhD student?
When I’m stuck and I feel like I’m not making progress, I take a break. I grab a friend and stroll the gardens at UBC, go for coffee, or spend time giggling with colleagues over the latest cute thing on the internet. Small breaks are refreshing, and make “work mountain” easier to climb!
Are they any specific initiatives and/or research you are involved in that promote physical and mental health and wellbeing?
Psychology is a large department and it can sometimes be difficult for students to find their academic home. UBC Professor Michael Souza and I are currently exploring novel ways to increase student engagement among new majors. Specifically, we are assigning new psychology majors to small “cohorts” lead by senior students. These cohorts meet once per month to discuss anything and everything from study habits, to post-grad careers, to managing exam stress. Students also attend events throughout the year, hosted by our department like skill-building workshops, and meet-your-professor events. We are very excited to enroll 200-300 students next year in this program, in hopes of making our large department feel smaller and more connected.
In your role as a PhD Student, please describe your experience balancing work-life commitments. Is there a metaphor that depicts this relationship?
Work-life balance is about being honest with yourself and with those around you. By reaching out, being authentic, building connections and forming learning communities, work becomes less like work, and a lot more like a natural extension of life.
Ashley Whillans completed her BA (Hons.) and her MA at UBC. As a PhD candidate in the Social Psychology program, she works primary with Dr. Elizabeth Dunn & Dr. Frances Chen to study happiness, friendship formation, and health. Read Ashley’s article on UBC News here.
Posted in Colin Hearne, Mental Health, Physical Health, Spot Light, Thriving Faculty | Tagged behaviour, environment, graduate studies, Happiness, money, resilience, skills, Thriving faculty | Leave a response
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.