HUMAN RESOURCES – The World Health Organization has labelled stress the “health epidemic of the 21st century.”

For many in the workplace, it can be challenging to properly respond to stress, which can take a toll on individuals’ mental, physical, and relational health.

“I spent the last 15 years of my professional career in demanding leadership positions in the healthcare industry,” says Iwona Sienko, RN, BSCN, MBA, owner of Healthy Transitions Consulting. “I had always thought I was living a healthy life, but by my mid-40s, I started to suffer from various health issues. I was on a number of medications, I couldn’t sleep, I was often irritable, and I was on the way to having a stroke or a heart attack.”

Sienko was able to turn her life around, thanks to her discovery of mindfulness practices.

“My favorite definition of mindfulness is: coming back again and again to the present moment, without judgment of what one is thinking, feeling, or experiencing, with an attitude of curiosity and kindness,” she says.

“Mindfulness has been around for almost 40 years, but we’ve only recently begun to fully understand how important it is in our everyday lives.

“It’s not really about taking stress way from our lives. Healthy levels of stress are good for us. Rather, it teaches us how to respond to stressors and events in our lives in a more effective way.”

According to Sienko, mindfulness starts as a practice, but is most effective when it is woven into the fabric of our daily lives.

“You can start your mindfulness journey by just learning to stop and take a big, slow breath,” she continues. “There are some very simple tools that, when applied to our daily lives, can make a big difference.”

Sienko teaches some of these tools in one hour Stress Smart workshops, one of several Healthy Transitions programs.

Also, she is a licensed facilitator of the innovative smartUBC Mindfulness Training program, which was developed in the US, but is now managed by the University of British Columbia Okanagan.

The training consists of eight two hour sessions and a four hour workshop over the course of eight weeks.

“Through these weeks, we help clients understand the physiology of stress and learn how emotions impact our daily lives,” says Sienko. “We are introducing people to specific mindfulness exercises that will help them develop new neural-pathways. This program is essentially teaching people to rewire their brains.”

To find out more, or to register for an upcoming program, visit

Upcoming StressSmart Workshops
Okanagan Regional Library – Kelowna Branch

1380 Ellis St, Kelowna
– September 11, 2018 6-7pm

– September 13, 2018 12-1pm
– September 18, 2018 6-7pm

Okanagan Regional Library – Westbank Branch
2484 Main St., West Kelowna
– September 12, 2018 6-7pm
– September 19, 2018 6-7pm

Investment: $10.00
Donated to ENSO Society – Teen Wilderness Expedition