Head to Heart

staying well and
balanced together

When life gets busy, how do you stay balanced?

First Nation Health Directors play a tremendous role in helping others access the care they need to stay well.

Sometimes, Health Directors give so much to others, that they may not leave enough for themselves. This can make us feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and burned-out.

Head to Heart is a way to help our health directors stay well and balanced with work and life, and provide support for their success in improving the health care system and their communities.

Head to Heart is a simple reminder to make time for yourself and your wellness.

Watch the Head to Heart Video

This campaign is inspired by our health directors, to help our association members feel supported in their health and wellness journeys.

4 Pillar Approach to Stress Reduction

Head to Heart is an ongoing shared resource comprised of stories, tips and reminders from Health Directors based on our 4 Pillar approach in reducing stress. Select any one of the pillars below to get started, or scroll down to view all the tips.

Honouring the Land

Physical exercise and nature-based healing.

Powering Down

Disconnecting from technology and recharging your Spirit.

Weaving Networks of Support

Connecting with others for support.

Nurturing Spirit

Supporting the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of your being.

Honouring the Land

Get in tune with nature. Spending time outdoors each day is a proven remedy to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and stress levels, and boost your immunity.

  • Reconnect with your heritage outside and Honour the Land.

    Reconnect with nature

    Go outside! We are lucky enough to live amongst the most beautiful scenery in the entire world! Take advantage of that, and reconnect with nature!

    I love to do traditional gathering of food; I fish, pick berries, harvest and preserve our traditional foods. I feel that it really gives me a better connection with the land and what it provides for us.
    Rosemary Stager

    Eat healthy, traditional foods

    Eat healthy, traditional foods! We tell people to do this so much, but do we practice what we preach? Holistic health is about mind, body and spirit. Not only will you be a more effective leader, you'll also have more energy at the end of day.

  • Be your own Health and Wellness Champion

    Find time during your day to get your physical exercise in! Take the stairs! Walk to work! It's amazing the difference that the little things can make.

    Commit to spending 30 minutes in nature for 30 consecutive days!

    I talk with the Creator, sometimes you just have to surrender to him, and realize that he is looking after you, and that you have to trust the situation you are dealing with at the time.
    Rosemary Stager
    I smudge every day; I have juniper and sweet grass. I also am making traditional regalia (a replica of my grandmothers) as a way of connecting with my culture and tradition.
    Rosemary Stager
  • Everywhere around us is nature and we are a very small part of it, so every time you step out the door notice that you have the mountains, you have the river, you have the trees. So for me when I walk to work, it’s a breath of fresh air.
    Charlene Dawson

    Is your food connected to the land?

    Is your food connected to the land? Are you eating real, healthy, and traditional food? We are at our most optimal health when what we put into our bodies is natural and from the Earth. Have you gathered berries or roots recently? Have you gone fishing? Eating natural foods reaffirms our connection to this Earth.

    Build it into your daily routine

    Honouring the Land doesn't have to be a big and onerous task that requires careful planning. It can be a really easy day-to-day thing! Go for a walk during lunch, bike to work or tend your garden at home. Build it into your daily routine!

    Make an offering to the land, and ask to take the medicine.

  • Being in the sweat lodge, that is really connecting yourself with the land, you are sitting on the ground, you have the rocks and fire and the heat.
    Rosemary Stager

    Touch Water

    Touch Water! For many First Nations people in BC, natural bodies of water hold a spiritual significance. Feeling the water offers a great way to Honour the Land and reconnect with traditional practices.

    Find someone to commit to doing regular physical activities with you.

    Take your meeting on the road

    Take your meeting on the road! If you're having a brainstorming meeting, make it a walking meeting! Not only does it incorporate physical activity into your day, but you'll likely find that it gets your problem-solving juices flowing, making you more effective at your work!

  • Reconnecting with our heritage outside

    What traditional activities have your people done outdoors, on the land? Have you reconnected with these practices lately? There is something deeply centering and timeless about reconnecting with our heritage outside, and really honouring the land.

    I've been staying physically active; I do daily walking and I’ve been climbing over 350 flights of stairs every week. I try to find other activities to do in between, like badminton and biking.
    Nora Martin, 2014

    Honour the Land by drumming, singing and attending sweat lodge ceremonies.

    How do we take care of ourselves, how do we feed ourselves? It’s not a matter of just going to the store, it’s about going fishing, going berry-picking, picking roots, and doing things that are helpful.
    Charles Nelson, 2014

    Appreciate all we've been given by nature

    When was the last time you connected with nature? The last time you listened to the sound of the rivers and streams? Heard the wind as it swept through the trees? Savoured the crispness of the Fall air? Take some time, and appreciate all we've been given by nature.

    I find a place by my home where I can go to the river, and sit and listen. That’s medicine too.
    Charles Nelson, 2014

Powering Down

Recharge your mind and soul for the upcoming day ahead by turning devices off, and pursuing human-powered activities.

  • Find out what recharges your batteries

    What gives you energy? For some, being amongst family and friends fills them with energy. For some, a crowd can drain their energy, and they may opt instead for a night of quiet reflection to recharge their batteries. There is no right or wrong answer; it's whatever is right for you.

    I have a twelve year old daughter who is really into electronics and sometimes we have to just shut it all off, and put it in a basket. And it’s not to be disturbed and we don’t sleep with it.
    Lisa Morgan

    Schedule time for yourself.

    Take command of your day

    Sometimes stress can come from not having a clear plan for the day. Take five minutes and write down the two most important things that you need to get done today, and do them as soon as you get to work. Being organized is a great way to take command of your day!

  • Burnout can happen very quick, so you need to take time for yourself, such as a walk in the morning or walking after work. Taking that time for your own life is key so that it's not just about work all the time.
    Kim Roberts

    Figure out what matters to you

    Take some time, and figure out what matters to you! Do you like singing and creating music? Do you value engaging in traditional activities outdoors? Make a list of things outside of work that you value, and take the time to prioritize them.

    Honour your spiritual side

    Are you neglecting your spiritual side? When was the last time that you connected with a higher power, and reflected on what it means to be human, a part of the community and a part of the world?

    Make a list of things outside of work that you value, and take the time to prioritize them.

  • I turned off my blackberry and my computer and went for a run in this incredibly beautiful territory. I felt whole, I called my parents, I called my partner, I remembered my children and all my friends that I trained with to do this amazing work.
    Evan Adams, 2015

    Walking, drawing, building, exercise, music; all can be a form of meditation!

    Prioritize yourself

    Value your personal goals, as if they were work goals! Your own personal goals are just as important as the demands of work. If you don't prioritize yourself, nobody else will.

    It’s very important to not feel that your only way of being social is through electronics. So I’ve made it a rule in my house that we turn off everything during dinner time.
    Lisa Morgan, 2015
  • Schedule time for yourself

    Often, we leave our personal goals to the side, waiting for "when we have time." The problem is, there will never be time, unless you make time.

    Spend time with a loved one

    Go out for the evening with someone you care about, and leave your phone at home!

    Create that mental space where wellness can flourish, and part of that means focusing on the present.

    Schedule a vacation

    It can be hard to take time for yourself, and the idea of being gone for any extended period of time can give the average Health Director a panic attack. Remind yourself that the world won't end if you take a break, and you'll be more effective when you return!

  • It's okay to take a personal day

    This can be a daunting concept for some Health Directors, who often have a never-ending list of tasks to accomplish, but you will be more effective after a day of self-care, and less likely to burn out!

    My vision for health is, although we can’t go back in time, that there was a time when our parents used to get together and play cards, and we played tag outside, and we connected. And I believe that we were much healthier then. We should remember to love ourselves and have the self-esteem to realize that we’re worth taking care of.
    Colleen LeBourdais, 2014

    Go to bed at a reasonable hour

    It can be tempting, as busy Health Directors, to stay up and just reply to that one email, or to watch just one more episode before heading to bed! Resist this urge! Sleep is critical for a healthy balanced lifestyle.

    Focus on the present

    Are you present when you're at home, or with friends? Or is your mind still at work? All of the R&R in the world won't matter if your attention remains focused on work.

    I take care of myself by shutting down my electronics for an hour and read a novel. One of the things I struggle with is maintaining my daily exercise, and it’s something I found rewarding when I actually do it (laughs).
    Cindy Robinson, 2014

    Communicate face-to-face where possible

    It can feel incredibly lonely and isolating to spend your day behind your desk, without any meaningful human contact. Answer that email in person!

  • Turn off your phone for an hour! Sometimes, you just need to disconnect and focus on yourself.

    Take time for yourself

    Leave work emails for work time! With so much responsibility, it can be tempting to quickly hit "reply" while at home. You need to take time for yourself! Those emails will be there in the morning.

Weaving Networks of Support

Connect with your professional peers, family and friends to seek and offer support, and stay well and balanced together.

  • Practice lateral kindness

    Due to the stress and high-pressures of our work, we forget sometimes that the person on the other side are only human as well. Be the positivity that you want to see in the workplace!

    I think connecting with people and being easy to talk to is really important. Many people have trouble opening up, so being sympathetic and listening to them is a great start in learning to connect.
    Lisa Morgan

    Your work has immense value

    It can be easy to lose sight of the greater picture while lost in the weeds of our day-to-day struggle. Take a moment to gain some perspective, and think about all the people that you've helped during your career.

    You've touched many lives for the better! Remember that!

  • Create a wellness challenge for your workplace

    Have people commit to a health and wellness plan, and provide mutual support to each other to accomplish it.

    As a part of the FNHDA, you have access to a resilient network of peers that understand the unique pressures of your job.

    Learn your traditional language

    Not only does it bring a deeper connection with your culture, but it forces you to interact with new people, or people you already know in a different way.

    We have a number of Health Directors, and a lot of us have known each other throughout the years, so when someone new comes onboard, it’s also good for them because they can get that support from other Health Directors.
    Charles Nelson, 2014
  • Get it out in the open

    Sometimes we feel that we need to just grin and bear it. You'll find that your problems will feel less daunting afterwards once it's out in the open, and realize that people are willing to help!

    Volunteer! Give back to the community and find your soul refilled!

    As a health lead, to take care of my mental health and physical wellness, I spend a lot of time with my dog. I take her on trips. I like having someone to take care of and someone to take care of me.
    Cynthia Jamieson, 2014

    Support can come in many forms

    Sometimes your support network is unconventional, and that's okay! If you draw strength from the love and companionship of a cherished pet, that's great! It's not for anyone else; it's for you!

  • Be proactive in creating positivity

    Your co-workers can be a source of endless stress, or a fountain of limitless strength. Foster an atmosphere of respect, and be really proactive in creating a positive work atmosphere!

    Be a part of the community

    Getting to know your clients, and having them get to know you, gives you a better understanding of their needs. Not only does it provides others a better understanding of your role, but it also communicates a realistic idea of the services that you can provide. People work better with friends, compared to total strangers.

    Create an environment where we are supportive of one another.

    Trust your staff, talk with your staff, they are there to help you, they are there to support you. Just believe in them and they will believe in you.
    Kim Roberts, 2015

    Consider starting a weekly support group

    Several Health Directors have found immense value in talking through their problems with other people. Consider starting a weekly support group, whether it be in person, via email or by telephone!

    Be a source of strength for someone

    Support is really a two-way street, and showing empathy is a reciprocal process. Be there for someone else, and you'll find that they'll be there for you!

  • Reach out to other Health Directors

    It can sometimes feel as if nobody understands the stress that comes with the job. As a part of the FNHDA, you have access to a resilient network of peers that understand the unique pressures of your job!

    It's okay to ask for help! Reaching out for help is a sign of strength.

    Schedule some quality time

    Who gives you strength, simply by their presence? Who are the people that you value the most in life? Are you spending enough time with them? Schedule some quality time, away from the T.V. to spend time with them.

    Before I can take care of anybody else I need to take care of myself, and one of the big pieces for me was clinical support. I’ve had the same clinical counsellor for 12 years (the continuity of care).
    Crystal Morris


    Connect emotionally with someone and practice safe sex! Sexual activity has been proven by numerous studies to reduce stress and increase happiness!

    As a Health Director, I take care of my mental wellness and staying balanced by practicing a lot of my traditional ceremonies and by attending a regular weekly support group.
    Irene Johnson, 2014

Nurturing Spirit

Nurture your own wellbeing, connect more fully with others, and fulfil your life’s purpose through building your self-compassion, self-confidence and independence.

  • Engage with your culture

    Explore how traditions like drumming, dancing, storytelling, and self-care can help support your physical, emotional and spiritual being.

    It's so important to connect with yourself; connect with who you are, your overall being, your people
    Rosemary Stager
  • Realize you’re here for a reason.

    Contemplate where you are in this existence, where you want to be, and where you’re needed most.

    Make an effort to provide yourself with the same understanding and support you give to others.

    Get creative

    Honour the Creator by becoming a creator yourself. Make your own contribution to your culture’s rich, artistic heritage.

    Nurture your well-being

    Connect more fully with others and fulfil your life’s purpose through building your self-compassion, self-confidence, and independence.

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For Members
To find out more on the wellness program, along with more updates for FNHDA members, please visit our members portal.