By Miranda Massie on February 3, 2016
Highlighting heart health in February always seems appropriate. Hearts and love are top of mind at this time of year, and it’s a nice reminder to keep the ol’ ticker in tip-top shape. Heart health check-ups available this month on campus:
- UBC’s Travelling Health Fair: Sign up for a free personalized health screening
- The CAAMPUS project: Sign up for a free heart health assessment
I’d like to say, however, that heart health doesn’t end there. We are keen to focus a lot of time and attention in ensuring that we are physically well, but what about our emotional health? Is it possible to have a physically healthy heart and yet it still be unwell? February can also be a great time to check-in emotionally with an aspect of our health that is often overlooked.
How Healthy is Your Heart?
Say Thank You: Gratitude is a powerful emotion
Practicing gratitude through thanking others or with private acknowledgement has been linked to increased happiness, contentment, pride and hope. Being grateful can also make us more willing to help others. Send someone a thank-you card, or make a list of the people in your life you are grateful for.
More about gratitude
Acknowledge Achievement: Recognizing others is beneficial to their health as well
Only about 50% of staff and faculty at UBC say they receive recognition for their accomplishments at work. Acknowledging colleagues for their efforts and achievements can make a big difference to their wellbeing and engagement so pass it on!
Start now with custom Thank You cards
Laugh Out Loud: positive impacts on both emotional and physical health
Regular laughter reduces emotional tension and improves emotional connections with others as well as self-confidence. Laughter has also been linked to lower blood pressure and increased muscle relaxation.
Connections between Laughter, Humour and Good Health
Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. –William Wordsworth
This month I invite you to explore what heart health means to you. Finding the right balance between its physical and emotional care can be the best Valentine’s Day gift around!
All my best,
By Miranda Massie on February 4, 2015
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.-Helen Keller
I work on a remarkable campus with many remarkable people. I feel privileged have this opportunity and I often leave meetings thinking, “Wow, that person is really great at this” or “I am in awe of this person’s ability to do that…” This happened to me just the other day and then another thought popped into my head: “Isn’t it interesting that regularly I think these things to myself and then never actually share them with those colleagues?”
This year, Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday and I find myself disappointed. In years past, a highlight for me has been to write personal Valentines for my co-workers-a tradition I started on my second week of work at UBC in 2011. I make a trip to the store and pick up the paper Valentines with Elmo or Strawberry Shortcake on the front and drop them off at peoples desks (because who doesn’t like to get a Valentine!) It is something fun and silly that tends to make people smile and hopefully lets them know that they are appreciated.
Taking the time to do this in a professional setting is often overlooked. We are busy rushing from meeting to meeting, constantly juggling priorities without always having the time to connect on a personal level with our colleagues.
In an effort to make up for my inability to shower my colleagues with Valentines on February 14, I have decided instead to send a small number of personal gratitude Valentines. I am going to actually share with others what I admire about them, how I appreciate their work and how they provide me inspiration.
Last year, I wrote about How To Be Your Own Valentine.
Did you know that practicing gratitude actually has health benefits?
- Sharing our gratitude for others or taking time to reflect on what you are grateful for can have a positive effect on levels of happiness and pleasant emotions.
- If harnessed and used as a personal strength, this gratitude can lead to increased relational wellbeing, helping us feel more connected to others.
- In addition, the simple act of witnessing gratitude (by others or towards others) can have a motivating effect on our own behavior. It can lead to increased social awareness, higher likelihood to support others and can motivate us to emulate these qualities in ourselves.
This Valentine’s Day, in addition to recognizing romantic partners and loved ones, I invite you to reflect on your colleagues. Whom do you admire? Who provides you with professional inspiration? If you are able to make the time share your feelings of gratitude with them you both might just end up a bit healthier than when you started!
All my best,
Algoe, S. B., & Haidt, J. (2009) Witnessing excellence in action: the ‘other-praising’ emotions of elevation, gratitude, and admiration. The Journal of Positive Psychology 4 (2), 105-127.
Emmons, R. A., & Crumpler, C.A. (2000) Gratitude as a Human Strength: Appraising the Evidence. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 19(1), 56-69.
Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389.
By Colin Hearne on February 4, 2015
Due to Valentine’s Day, many of us recognise February as a relationship wellness month. However, Feb. 14 should not be the only opportunity to show your love for family, friends, and yourself. Through UBC‘s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provider, Homewood Health, the new counselling service Relationship Solutions is available to support you in taking a proactive approach to enhancing your relationships – and ultimately making bonds, romantic and otherwise, healthier all year round.
Relationship Solutions is offered through the EFAP Plan Smart – Lifestyle and Specialty Counselling Services. This service provides you with information, resources and coaching and can help you take a proactive approach to enhancing your relationships with loved ones.
Relationship Solutions can help you with the following situations:
- Need help communicating with loved ones? Learn the importance of communication, honesty and forgiveness.
- Want to get the spark back? Learn how to keep your relationship fresh.
- Juggling kids, work, and your love life? Today’s couples are busy. Find out tips on how to make time for each other.
- Need help resolving couple conflict? Learn how to work out differences constructively, and how to appreciate and communicate each other’s point of view.
You will receive a Relationship Solutions Resource Kit that includes:
- A two-part educational workbook with information on how to enhance communication and a series of exercises designed to encourage you and your partner to re-engage with each other.
- A relationship self-help book, focused on improving relationship communication and resolving conflict.
- Other tools to support behaviour change in a fun and meaningful way.
This service is delivered by a Homewood Health relationship counsellor and is delivered over the telephone. Typically, the service includes two telephone sessions. If you require more counselling support, Homewood Health can arrange for face-to-face counselling with you and/or your partner.
Want to know more?
For more information on Relationship Solutions or UBC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP), visit our website.
If you have any questions about EFAP, contact Colin Hearne, Health & Wellbeing Associate, at 604-827-3047 or email@example.com.
Remember: if you ever feel overwhelmed or stressed out by the challenges you face in life, you can easily access counselling (face-to- face, over the phone, or online) from Homewood Health. Visit www.homewoodhumansolutions.com or call 1-800-663-1142.
Posted in Benefits Spotlight, Colin Hearne, EFAP, Mental Health, Physical Health | Tagged counselling, EFAP, family, February, intimate, proactive solutions, relationships, romantic, valentine's day | Leave a response
By Guest Contributor on February 4, 2015
Guest Contribution by Dr. Joti Samra
5 steps to a financially-wise Valentine’s Day:
Identify your beliefs, assumptions and expectations around Valentine’s Day: then challenge them.
Start by articulating your beliefs and assumptions around Valentine’s Day. Be honest with yourself. Do you think you have to take your partner out for a fancy expensive dinner for them to know how much you love them? Do you worry your partner will be disappointed if he or she doesn’t “get” an expensive gift? Articulate the thoughts that compel you to overspend on Valentine’s, and then challenge those thoughts. Ask yourself, are those thoughts accurate? Are they valid? Check in with your partner and ask them if they feel or expect what you may be assuming they do.
Create a Valentine’s Day budget.
It is amazing how often people don’t do the obvious – speak openly about how much they are going to spend on Valentine’s Day. Often, we get caught up in assumptions or perceived expectations of what we think the other person wants or expects, and then end up overspending on unneeded and unnecessary items. So talk openly about this; speak to your partner about what you would each like to do, and set (and stick to) a Valentine’s Day budget. Be realistic in this and keep in mind, Valentine’s is ultimately just another day.
Be creative in planning Valentine’s Day activities.
Generate fun, low-cost activities you can do with your partner. The main overarching aim is to spend time together on this day. Make a special dinner at home; turn off all technology (cell phones, TVs, computers) and just focus on each other; go for a long walk; take a day off work and spend the day in bed cuddling and watching movies. Do something you might not do on another day. The day can be meaningful and highly memorable in the absence of fancy dinners or extravagant gifts.
Give low or no-cost gifts.
Make a pact to spend no or little money on gifts. If you have a talent, use it! Write a love letter (handwritten, not text or email). Write a poem or a song. Choreograph a sexy dance for your partner.
Remember: love is not defined or communicated by material goods.
In this day and age of consumerism, it is easy to get caught up and feel the pressure of having to “buy” something as a symbol of our love. Keep in mind that how much you love, care for and adore another is not related to what you buy them! Our love is communicated by making someone feel special and important to you: so do something this Valentine’s Day that communicates that to your partner.
Interested in learning more about how your extended health benefits can work to better your relationships? UBC Staff and Faculty have access to a number of health related prevention services through the Employee and Family Assistance Program. Staff and faculty who are enrolled in UBC’s extended benefits plan also have $1,200 coverage per year to see a Registered Psychologist.
Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych., is a clinical psychologist and organizational and media consultant. She is the host of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network’s “Million Dollar Neighbourhood” and was the psychological consultant to CITY-TV’s “The Bachelor Canada”. She has also served as a psychological consultant and expert to a number of other TV shows and news outlets. Dr. Samra maintains a clinical practice in Vancouver. Her website is www.drjotisamra.com and she can be followed @drjotisamra.
By Colin Hearne on February 4, 2014
Legend tells us that Valentine’s Day came about when a Roman, set to be executed for his religious beliefs, sent a love letter to his jailor’s daughter, who had visited him during his confinement. It is said that he signed the letter from your Valentine, forever chiseling the phrase into history as a symbol of kindness, compassion and love. Although the truth behind the Valentine legend is murky, it does emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and – most importantly – romantic figure, and as a result has made February a month to share aforementioned kindness, compassion and love. The heart has become a central symbol of all of these.
Is this good for us?
It can feel good to be the recipient of a kind word or offer of help from a friend or colleague. Acts of kindness, compassion and love not only make the world a better place, but bestowing them on others reflects back on us – improving our mental and physical health, boosting our self-esteem, and allowing us to communicate better with others. People who perform acts of kindness would agree that it makes them feel good to be kind to others.
What the studies say
Research shows that not only can kindness, compassion and love make us feel good, but can also have significant physical and mental health benefits.
Some examples are:
- Researchers from the Universities of California, San Diego, and Harvard found that when people benefit from kindness, they ‘pay it forward’ by helping others who were not originally involved. When people in the study were given money to help someone else, a domino effect occurred, causing each person’s generosity to spread to three people, then to nine people, and then to still others in subsequent waves of the experiment.
- Arthur Aron, a social psychologist at Stony Brook University in New York, found that feelings of love trigger the brain’s dopamine-reward system. Dopamine is a powerful neurotransmitter that affects pleasure and motivation. It is activated in many people, for instance, by winning a lot of money or taking stimulants. Put simply he found that love invigorates us
- Researchers at Harvard University showed a film about Mother Teresa’s work among the poor in Calcutta to 132 students. They then measured the levels of Immunoglobin A (an antibody that plays a critical role in immunity,) which showed markedly increased levels in all test subjects. In other words, purely witnessing compassion has the power to boost our immune system.
- Practicing small acts of kindness can help you become a happier, and the boost in mood can stay with you for months, according to research from York University. More than 700 people took part in a study that charted the effects of being nice to others, in small doses, over the course of a week. Six months later, participants reported increased happiness and self-esteem.
- The act of compassion triggers activity in the parts of the brain involved in pleasure and reward, according to researchers at Emory University.
Feel the glow
In the spirit of the story of Valentine’s Day, here are seven ways you can bring a warm glow to your own heart, and bring more meaning to the lives of others.
- Smile more often: Something as simple as a smile can create a connection with others and leave both parties feeling happier. Smiling and saying hello to people doing their job can make all the difference in how that person views his or her profession.
- Give compliments: A sincere compliment can turn a person’s world around. By making it a habit to give at least three sincere compliments a day, we can acknowledge the good in others and we can start to see the good in ourselves.
- Send thank you notes: Often, we are so busy that we don’t take the time to properly thank someone who has done us a good turn. A short hand-written note can be a pleasant surprise to receive; so too can a note letting someone know how much you appreciate them.
- Volunteer: By giving your time and energy to causes that you believe in, you are making a difference in the world. People who volunteer their time tend to be happier.
- Practice patience. Allow someone to get in line in front of you in a checkout line or in traffic.
- Give little gifts for no reason: People love to receive thoughtful gifts (whether purchased or handmade) when they aren’t expecting it. You can even give a gift to a stranger by donating items to a local charity for distribution.
- Kindness on a budget. There are many ways to show kindness without breaking the bank. Leave an extra-large tip for the busy wait-staff, pay for the order of the person behind you in the drive-through, or put money into someone’s parking meter that is about expire. Giving anonymously is guaranteed to make you smile.
(Source: Homewood Health)
Start the kindness by taking care your own heart. Sign up for the 2014 Travelling Health Fair at UBC. This year’s dates are Feb. 20th in Henry Angus Room 254, and Feb. 25th in Neville Scarfe Building Room 1005, 9am – 4pm.This year will focus on Cardiovascular Health. For more information click here or call 604.827.3047. Space is limited so register early.