BC Brain Wellness Program Adapting in the Face of COVID-19

In today’s age of social connectedness, the practice of social distancing is tough for most of us, but it can be especially challenging for people living with chronic brain disorders.

The BC Brain Wellness Program is designed to provide complimentary support for people who access clinics at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, their care partners, the healthy aging, and anyone interested in brain health. The idea behind the program is to support and encourage brain wellness with lifestyle choices, which range from exercise, to wholesome nutrition, to music and art.    

Like almost all community programs, the BC Brain Wellness Program is stopping in-person meetups during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the team is using this as an opportunity to develop online programming and to come up with creative ways to stay healthy during this time of social distancing.

“What we are really striving for is physical distancing—not social distancing," says Dr. Silke Cresswell, leader of the BC Brain Wellness Program. "We need social support and community more than ever, along with healthy living which includes exercise, creativity, and wholesome nutrition. Those are the foundations of being well, both physically and mentally.” 

Since launching in October, BC Brain Wellness has run many successful programs, including art for wellness where participants create visual art pieces, music and motion, and exercise classes geared specifically to people living with brain disorders. The team also hosts Wellness Wednesdays which focus on a different topic each month. In February, for example, a team of experts discussed how to use visual and literary arts to express thoughts and feelings, and March featured the importance of social connection.

The program will now shift towards offering as many programs as possible online. For example, the team is coming up with exercises that can be done at home which will be led by a coach through Zoom. The Brain Wellness Website will have blog posts containing suggestions as well as personal stories from the team about finding ways to stay active, and will also point people to existing online resources. The posts will be shared on Brain Wellness social media platforms so that participants can comment with their own experiences and suggestions regarding ways they’ve managed to stay active and healthy despite social distancing. The team is planning to periodically check in with participants to see how they’re feeling and if they’re finding the online programming effective.

"In these challenging times, there also is opportunity: Connect with friends and family you meant to call ages ago, get the spring cleaning jump started, create a garden sanctuary, finish that knitting project, finally start to learn a new language, do the daily yoga challenge, create the photobook online, volunteer...the list goes on," says Dr. Cresswell. "For us at Brain Wellness, this is an opportunity to expand our online activities and to connect with members of our BC community who cannot attend programs at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health in person. We are looking forward to hearing your ideas!" 

The team will continue to post updates about programming onlince which can be found in the following places: 

BC Brain Wellness Website

Facebook (BC Brain Wellness Program)

Twitter  (@BCBrainWellness)

You can subscribe to emails here and any questions can be sent to brain.wellness@ubc.ca