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Mental Health Awareness: As Told by a New Dad, who is Mentally Unaware

I was told the birth of my daughter would have significant effects on my sleep schedule, social schedule, and life in general. One can never truly understand what that means until one is in that situation. Needless to say, our newborn baby, while we love her dearly, has caused my wife and I to change some things in our lives, if only temporarily. One of those things that have changed is our sleep (or lack of) schedule. I’ve always thought I was quite efficient at functioning with little to no sleep. Having certain sets of life circumstances… think long nights in Vegas, middle of the night hiking trips, and overnight flights across the globe… I always saw myself as someone who can manage without sleep, and still have the ability to be aware of not only my needs but other people’s as well. With this new experience of fatherhood, I’m learning that long nights in Vegas and long nights with a crying baby are two drastically different experiences. Being a new father has also made me realize how unaware I can be of my own mental health. I find myself thinking mostly about my new baby and my wife, and what their needs are, and by the time I realize what I’m needing, it’s too late and I’m in a crabby mood.

Thinking more about this made me realize how easy it is for us to lose track of what we’re needing, as well as other people’s mental health needs. As a therapist, I like to think that I am usually good at being aware of others’ needs, understanding what kind of support they are seeking, and encouraging them to pay attention to their mental health. However, when a big, life-changing event happens, or when we get wrapped up in our day to day lives, it’s easy to lose focus of what we may be lacking emotionally, and what we need to “fill up our tank”.

Because of how easy it has become for me to lose awareness, particularly on days after a very long sleepless night, I’ve started a new habit. Every day on my way home from work, after I exit on to a certain street, I use that time to check in with myself and ask myself how things are going. That exit is my signal to make myself aware of anything I may be needing.  As I work to cement this new habit into a daily ritual, I will also start to look at what strategies I can employ and how I can adjust my perspective so I won’t be burnt out or be frustrated at my darling daughter.

What is your “exit” on the way home from work? What is needed to keep your “tank” full? I encourage you to take a moment and make yourself aware of what you may be needing and how you’re doing. It doesn’t take much time and it sure beats waiting until you’re emotionally exhausted to realize you’re struggling. Once you find your “exit” and know what you need to do so you don’t get burnt out, take the necessary time to find what strategies you can employ and how you can make this a new habit.

Here are some identifiable warning signs that you be close to burning out to watch for along with some self-care tips.

Warning Signs

  • Increased illness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Your mind feels fuzzy
  • You feel stressed all the time, along with increased anxiety
  • Loss of enjoyment or pleasure for working, successful completion of projects, or even being with friends and family.
  • You are crabby, grouchy, or just not in a good mood
  • You forget appointments, due dates, and possibly even social events.
  • You have chronic fatigue

Self-Care Tips

  • Just say “No”- It is ok to decline a new project if you are feeling overwhelmed.
  • Take time to relax. If you need assistance with this try guided meditation, massage, or even yoga.
  • Make sure you take the time to fulfill all 8 areas of your wellbeing on a regular basis to help you overcome burnout and eliminate some stressors.
    • Physical- sleep, eat, exercise enough.
    • Spiritual- keep an eye on what you value and what your purpose is and make sure you do that activity often.
    • Intellectual- Find an activity that is interesting to do- something to stretch your imagination, creativity, and make you use your brain in a different way than you do every day.
    • Financial- Try using a financial calculator or meet with a financial advisor to discuss your personal situation. Talking about your finances and knowing what you need to accomplish to be financially stable is a good starting point to feeling less stressed, overwhelmed, and burnt out.
    • Social- Even if you don’t feel like you have time, make time to be with friends and family so they can support you in your goals, or babysit your child so you can be with your partner alone.
    • Emotional- Stay positive. Find something positive each day to focus on- your daughter is healthy, you have a job etc. If you struggle with this, look up how to reframe negative thoughts into positive ones.
    • Environmental- Your environment includes your social, natural outdoor, and built environment. Take time look at your surroundings and maybe check out that store or museum you always drive by because you are too busy.
    • Occupational- Take 5 minutes of your day to talk to a co-worker to learn from them, connect with them, and see how you can support each other at work.

We all have these areas that we need to fulfill in order to be successful, less stressed, and energized to face the next day and adventure. I hope with these tips and reminders, you can quickly recognize when and how to fill your “tank” and be able to handle late nights and responsibilities that we all have. And don’t forget to find that “exit” so you are reminded to take the time to do these things and be mentally aware.

As always if you need help with any of this or just need to talk, please use the resources that are available to you. If you have an Employee Assistance Program at work don’t hesitate to call them. If MINES is your EAP give us a call anytime. It’s free, confidential, and available 24 hours a day. You can reach us at 1-800-873-7138.

 

 

To Your Wellbeing,

James D. Redigan, LPC

The MINES Team

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Mental Health Awareness Month 2017

BeAware

As you may or may not know, May is National Mental Health Awareness month in the United States. Here at MINES improving services, knowledge, and awareness around mental health issues, and providing solutions to these issues is our business, our specialty, and our passion. Therefore, it’s safe to say that Mental Health Awareness Month is important to us as it allows us an opportunity to jump into the national conversation around critical behavioral health topics on a national level and help the fight to increase awareness and decrease stigma around mental health.

Importance

To shed some light on why this is so critical, consider the following statistics:

US General Stats:

  • 1 in 25 adults are currently diagnosed with a serious mental illness; 1 in 5 are currently diagnosed with some sort mental illness
  • There are a wide variety of anxiety disorders, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and specific phobias to name a few. Collectively they are among the most common mental disorders experienced by Americans.
  • Approximately 10.2 million adults in the U.S. have co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders.
  • Serious mental health illnesses cost people $193.2 billion in lost earnings every year in the U.S.
  • Nearly 60% of adults with a mental illness did not receive care in the previous year.

Men:

  • 3% are currently diagnosed with a serious mental illness; 14.3% are currently diagnosed with some sort mental illness.
  • Men die from suicide at twice the rate as women.
  • 6 milling men are affected by depression per year in the U.S.
  • The Top 5 major mental health problems affecting men in the U.S. include: Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Psychosis and Schizophrenia, and Eating Disorders.
  • Men are significantly less likely to seek help for mental health issues than women. Causes for this include reluctance to talk, social norms, and downplaying symptoms.

Women:

  • 5% are currently diagnosed with a serious mental illness; 21.2% are currently diagnosed with some sort mental illness.
  • 12 million women in the U.S. experience clinical depression each year. Roughly twice the rate of men.
  • Although men are more likely than women to die by suicide, women report attempting suicide approximately twice as often as men.
  • Many factors in women may contribute to depression, such as developmental, reproductive, hormonal, genetic and other biological differences (e.g. premenstrual syndrome, childbirth, infertility, and menopause).
  • Fewer than half of the women who experience clinical depression will ever seek care. And Depression in women is misdiagnosed approximately 30 to 50 percent of the time.

Kids:

  • 50% of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14; 75% by the age of 24.
  • 20% of 8 to 13 year of age in the U.S. will be diagnosed with some sort of mental illness in their lifetime.
  • Girls 14-18 years of age have consistently higher rates of depression than boys in this age group.
  • Nearly 50% of kids with a mental illness did not receive care in the previous year.
  • LGBTQ adolescents are twice as likely to attempt suicide than non-LGBTQ youths.
  • More than 90% of children who die by suicide have a mental health condition.

This month from MINES

All throughout this Mental Health Awareness Month, MINES will be tweeting out stats to stoke the conversation and resources to help those that may not know where to go. We will also be sharing thoughts, resources, and insight from different members of the MINES team around some of today’s important behavioral health issues right here on MINESblog. So please follow if you are not already, and feel free to share with anyone you think may benefit from the information. And if you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health issue, please encourage them to reach out to one of the resources above to find the help they need. And as always, if MINES is your Employee Assistance Program and you need help, information or just need to talk, call us 24 hours a day at 1-800-873-7138.

Resources

Keep the conversation going

As always we ask that you don’t let the conversation end with the end of the month. We don’t have to wait until next year to keep talking about Mental Health especially when there are so many people out there in need of help and information. Keep good track of your own health and wellbeing, don’t be afraid to seek help if you need to, and assist others by talking to them and sharing information and directing them towards care providers that can help them.

To your wellbeing,

Nic Mckane,

The MINES Team

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Curiosity Did Not Kill The Ferret

From celebrating pets to ferrets, zoos, and dolphins, April is an animal lovers’ dream month as we celebrate National Ferret Day on April 2nd, 2017, National Zoo Lovers Day on April 8th, National Pet Day on April 11th, and National Dolphin Day on April 14th.

As I snuggled up with my business of jills (my group of female ferrets) during National Ferret Day, I thought about what lessons ferrets can teach us as a society. I submit to you that there are several key characteristics that ferrets, along with our other furry, feathered, and scaly friends, have that we could develop more extensively in ourselves.

Curiosity

Ferrets are phenomenal animals to own and watch as they test their limits and expectations with everything they encounter, not to mention their boundless curiosity. Whenever they come across something they would like to have as their “treasure” and they haven’t seen it before, they perform a ritual of tasting, circling, poking with their nose, and if the “treasure” passes their test, they then determine the best way to move it to their stash. No object is too heavy or bulky and everything is up for claiming. I cannot recount how many times my left shoe, box of garbage bags, or napkins have gone missing no matter how high or hidden they are.

What if we took lessons from this, and approached each new task, co-worker, or call and found a way to use your skills to test new things and find ways to make it your own? Ferrets both in the wild and as pets look at the world as endless opportunities to explore everything around them. Take time to be curious about new systems at work or about your newest co-worker. Talk to them about where they come from and what their experiences are. By developing new skill sets and relationships, you are ultimately setting yourself up for success both professionally and personally.

Intelligence

Besides being incredibly curious, ferrets are very intelligent. They can sense danger ahead of time and are attuned to human emotions. They know the difference between my left and right shoe, they can be potty-trained, and can do obstacle courses. They are ever learning new ways to get to where they want to go and they aren’t discouraged when they don’t “know” something. They simply observe what happens when they do a certain activity and try it differently if it doesn’t get the desired results they wanted.

Can you imagine how much life would change if we open our minds up and allow our brains to be re-wired to change our biases and perspectives on life? We could accomplish so much more as a society if we could just switch off our prejudice and focus on our common goals. So how do we use this knowledge about ferrets? The next time you are angry about how you were treated by your co-worker or boss, step back and filter that experience through their eyes. Do you think it was intentional or could they have been busy and not realized what they did or said could have triggered you? If you do that with every situation instead of automatically having assumptions, you will start to see the world differently and maybe you will be able to explain what about the incident made you angry so your co-worker and boss can try to adjust their actions.

Companionship

My ferrets, like most animals, are social creatures. They seek out attention and want to have a community. They don’t shy away from being around others or seek isolation 100% of the time. Ferrets tend to want to be around their own kind, whether they are sleeping, hunting, or committing larceny. My ferrets sleep in the most awkward positions on top of each other and don’t seem to mind as they are near each other. If you remove one of them, the other will wake up and want attention too. Now I may never have seen my ferrets hunt, but I have watched wild black-footed ferrets hunt and it is very similar to when my ferrets are up to their thieving ways. Cooperation is key.  They know that between the two of them they can figure out how to climb the cabinet to get that hidden bag of potato chips or how to move a pair of crutches from the closet to under the couch.

We should try to do this as well. Not the team larceny of personal property, but the seeking out of companionship and friendship. Don’t isolate yourself. Take that 5 minutes to talk to others at work, go out to lunch, or discuss what is going on. Surround yourself with supportive people and lean on your friends and family when times are tough or when you want to share your success and laugh.

Final Thoughts

Animals have lots of lessons they can teach us. From their character traits to their social interactions, if you pay attention to them, you can see an unbiased version of what it means to live contently, take risks, and thrive on adventure. Take a minute the next time you are at the zoo, outdoors, or cuddling with your favorite furry, feathered, or scaly friend, and thank them for showing you how to live. Enjoy your animals as I know I will be enjoying my beloved teachers. And don’t forget to give them a special treat to say thank you on one of these fun “holidays”.

 

To Your Wellbeing,

Raena Chatwin

The MINES Team

 

http://www.petdayusa.com/

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National Walking Day and Your Heart

National Walking Day/American Heart Association

Originally founded as the “Association for the Prevention and Relief of Heart Disease” in 1924, the American Heart Association (AHA) is the United States’ largest volunteer organization battling heart disease today. Today, the AHA sets the standard for many of the basic life saving and disease preventing standards like Basic Life Support certification and the training and proper application of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The AHA also operates an affiliated organization, the American Stroke Association. In 2006, the American Heart Association put together the very first National Walking Day to spread awareness of heart disease and the importance of daily activity to our health. Currently, the 1st Wednesday of every April continues to be “National Walking Day” and should be a day that we all take into consideration as we look at our daily activity and heart health. It is a day that should act as a reminder that if we want our hearts to stay healthy and our bodies to stay mobile we must get out and move. This April 5th get out and walk and let it be a day that either supports the already healthy habits that you incorporate into your life or let it be the first day of building good habits into your routine while getting away from some of the bad ones.

Building good habits while eliminating bad ones

One thing that we can’t escape is that humans are creatures of routine and habit. We like our daily groove when it works and we hate the daily grind when it works against us. While it can be very difficult to remove the groove and grind from our lives, one thing we can do is slowly change or modify pieces of it to support our goals one chunk at a time. Much of our routine is based on habit, of which there are good and bad habits. The trick to encourage, support, and reward the habits that make a positive impact on us to reinforce and continue that behavior. On the flip side, ignoring, discouraging, and being mindful of the bad habits will help to remove the self-destructive behavioral from our lives. This is easier when you have a good or healthy activity ready to take the place of an old bad one. An example of this may be to take a walk when you would normally sit and play a mobile game during your break at work. Or maybe have a healthy snack in place of your trip to the vending machine. The two don’t need to be related either. For instance, if your goal is to reduce the amount of time you spend online (bad habit) you can use pretty much any positive use of time (good habit) to utilize your time that you would have otherwise been wasting.

Taking walks and being active physically is very much a habit. It’s one of those things that may be hard to start doing but after it becomes part of your routine you will begin to look forward to, enjoy, and miss when your schedule prevents you from being able to partake.

Benefits/Risks

Walking at least 30 minutes a day can help you:

  • Reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Improve your blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood cholesterol levels.
  • Prevent weight gain and lower the risk of obesity.
  • Improve your mental well-being.
  • Increase your energy and stamina.
  • Improved circulation.
  • Reduce your risk of osteoporosis, breast cancer, and colon cancer.

Risks of being inactive:

  • Increased risk of heart disease.
  • Increased risk of high blood pressure.
  • Increased risk of obesity.
  • Increased risk of blood clots in older people and those with clotting issues.

We could go on and on with the benefits and risks here but I think you get the idea. Basically, everything that being active helps you with, being inactive increases the risk of. This is pretty straightforward so I will spare you any more lists. What we all need to understand is that our bodies are designed to move, to be used, and if we don’t use it, we will lose it. Of course, activity isn’t all there is to it as we need to fuel our activity with the right fuel to keep us going as well. There is no real secret to eating heart and body healthy foods. You can research for hours trying to find diet secrets and magic foods but the truth is health foods have always been right in front of us and we have always known that they were good for us. We’re talking about vegetables here, and fruits (watch the glucose), and whole grains and complex carbs. The American Heart Association suggests the following guidelines:

You may be eating plenty of food, but your body may not be getting the nutrients it needs to be healthy. Nutrient-rich foods have minerals, protein, whole grains and other nutrients but are lower in calories. They may help you control your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure.

Eat an overall healthy dietary pattern that emphasizes:

Limit saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, red meat, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages. If you choose to eat red meat, compare labels and select the leanest cuts available.

Getting Started/Resources

Listed below are just a few resources to get you started with some basic information on heart health, finding a trail or walking path, and ways to support your walking community.

At this point, we’ve covered what National Walking Day stands for and why it’s an important symbol of health and wellbeing. We’ve also gone over some diet and exercise basics, and what you need to know to get started on a basic walking or workout routine. Armed with this information we hope that you can now start new, healthy habits that support your own heart health and spread awareness to others to help your social network and community become better educated on the importance of heart health in the spirit of National Walking Day.  Now get out there, have fun, and be well!

 

To your wellbeing,

Nic Mckane

The MINES Team

 

Sources

American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2017, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/American-Heart-Association-Recommendations-for-Physical-Activity-in-Adults_UCM_307976_Article.jsp#.WMbndjsrJpg

Move More in April. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2017, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/Walking/Move-More-in-April_UCM_448665_Article.jsp#.WMblOjsrJpg

The American Heart Association’s Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2017, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/The-American-Heart-Associations-Diet-and-Lifestyle-Recommendations_UCM_305855_Article.jsp

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The Importance of Reconciliation

Researchers in the field of psychology have determined that most arguments and conflicts in relationships are reconcilable.  Unspoken words that are inundated with harsh criticism and expectations of one another are conveyed when we argue with a friend, loved one, or partner.  We tend to think the other person in the relationship needs to change instead of our expectations of them; even if those expectations are unrealistic (Christensen 2000). The perfect relationship does not exist; if we are mindful of that in our relationships, we will not be surprised when conflict arises and hopefully will be more open to reconciling.

 

Below are a few ways to help move towards reconciliation in a relationship:

  1. Let the positive outweigh the negative.  Everyone has negative traits, nobody is perfect.  By constantly focusing on the positive it can help put the value of your relationship into perspective.
  2. Try and see the other’s point of view. When in conflict, we tend to shut down and push others out.  Staying open to your partner or friend’s viewpoint will help keep lines of communication open.  Using words like “I” and “we” will foster less defensive reactions.
  3. Take advantage of the here and now. If there is an issue bothering you, don’t wait until later to talk about it as it can lose its context.
  4. Make the first move. Waiting for the other person to apologize can create a wedge in the relationship that can last a long time.  Having to sacrifice being right over being happy can be difficult.  However, apologizing first makes you the bigger person and it shows that you value the relationship enough to get over the conflict and move on.
  5. Take accountability. Saying sorry shows the other person that you are taking accountability for the part you played in the conflict and this will help foster forgiveness.
  6. Visualize forgiveness. Before speaking a single word, envision the conflict melting away into space; let this picture burn into your mind.  This will help foster good intentions when trying to make amends.
  7. Relationships require compromise. There is a myth that people need to change to make the relationship work, this is false.  By compromising with your partner or friend, you are showing them that they matter enough to you that you are willing to meet them where they are at.  It is not realistic to expect your partner to make all the changes in the relationship.
  8. Be sincere. If you are trying to reconcile just to get an apology back, you may want to reconsider. Reconciling is about being unconditional so it is best not to expect anything in return.
  9. Have realistic expectations. Reconciling is about creating peace.  You may try these suggestions to reconcile a relationship and the person might not be ready to accept forgiveness.  At least you know you did everything you possibly could and now the “ball is in their court”.  You can be at ease knowing you had nothing but good intentions.

 

More reading on reconciliation:

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/7-courageous-steps-reconciling-struggling-relationship/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/189478-how-to-reconcile-a-broken-friendship/

 

To Your Wellbeing,

Alea Makley, Clinical Case Manager

The MINES Team

 

 

References:

Christensen, A. & Jacobson, N. S. (2000). Reconcilable differences. New York: Guilford Press.

https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2008/07/31/reconciling-relationship-conflicts/

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GOOD GRIEF

What is grief?

Grief is a natural reaction to loss. It can be a loved one, friend, co-worker, pet, and even sometimes objects such as a house or car. It’s important to understand that grief is a way in which our minds and bodies cope and that grief can be a healthy, even necessary, process. Everyone experiences grief at some point in their lives and works through it on their own terms. In fact, 1 in 5 people will experience the death of someone close to them by the time they are 18. Grief can be an extremely personal time where people may reach out to others or isolate themselves. We will discuss the difference between healthy and unhealthy grieving, along with the common stages of grief.

The stages of grief

Depending on where you look you can find anywhere from 5 to 7 stages of grief. For sake of brevity, we will focus on the core 5 stages. The stages are:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

While these stages represent an overall progression, it is important to note that it is possible to move back and forth between stages, skip stages and even begin the stages again once you’ve reached acceptance. For instance, you may skip the bargaining stage and go straight into the depression stage but then fall back into the anger stage before finally reaching the acceptance stage. The healing process will be painful and depending on the level of grief you are experiencing can often take a long time. Sometimes it may take weeks, other times it can years to reach some form of resolution to the grieving process. It is important to focus on happy memories and positive thoughts when working through a loss. In 2008 psychologist Dale Lund of California State University surveyed 292 recently bereaved men and women age 50 and older and found that 75 percent reported finding humor and laughter in their daily lives and at levels much higher than they had expected. Other research has shown that being able to draw on happy memories of the deceased helps you heal — those who are able to smile when describing their relationship to their husband or wife six months after the loss were happier and healthier 14 months out than those who could only speak of the deceased with sadness, fear, and anger. Everyone works through grief their own way and in their own time but it is important to recognize when the grieving process has stagnated and is not progressing toward acceptance in a healthy way. This may be a sign that professional help is needed.

When is grieving good/bad?

As we mentioned above grief is a very natural, human reaction to tragedy and necessary to our healing process. Grieving is healthy when we are able to use it to process our thoughts and emotions in a way that lets us heal and eventually reach a state of acceptance that lets us move on from the tragedy. This does not mean forgetting about the people we may have lost or the events that might have happened, but simply reaching a place emotionally that allows us to live our lives normally. Grief is unhealthy when we stop progressing through the stages and get stuck. This may happen in any one of the stages and you may even switch between a couple but are never able to reach the acceptance stage. This can happen for any number of reasons. Depression, isolation, and compounding life sources of stress and grief are just a few factors that could lead to obstacles in the grieving process. If this becomes the case, it is often best to seek professional help. Contacting a professional grief counselor is the best first step in assessing where you are in the grieving process and to determine if there are other areas of concern that need attention. To get in touch with a qualified counselor you can talk to your primary care doctor and they can often make a referral. You may also have direct lines to behavioral health benefits through your employer’s health plan or Employee Assistance Program. Check with your Human Resources Department if you are not sure.

How to grieve in a healthy way

As we said, there is no right or wrong way to grieve, but there is healthy and unhealthy grieving. In order to help yourself stay positive and productive in the healing process it is helpful to keep in mind:

  • You are not alone – Friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, church groups, and others you know socially can help. Think about whom you know that can support you.
  • Don’t let others tell you how you should feel – Only you know what’s right for you. What someone else went through when they dealt with grief may not be what you experience.
  • Let others know how they can help – What you need while navigating the grieving process may be different from moment to moment, day to day, and week to week. Let others know how your needs are changing.
  • Everyone’s grief is unique – There is no guide to tell you when to start and stop grieving or when to move from one stage of the process to the next. However, if you feel that your grief is getting worse and that you are not progressing, there is help. Contact a grief counselor or EAP to get in touch with help. If your EAP is MINES our contact information is below.

Of course, this is not a comprehensive list and as you navigate through the healing process you may find that certain things help and others don’t. Find what works best for you.

How to help others grieve

At this point, you should see that grief is personal and can be a sensitive topic to some people. It can be hard to find ways to talk about grief or offer help if you know someone is grieving or struggling with a loss. There are things you can do, however, that offer support without being intrusive or overbearing. Things you might try include:

  • Just being around – Sometimes there is nothing you can say that will make a person feel better. But just the fact that you are around can help. By being present and ready should they need something, the grieving person will feel supported even if you or they don’t know exactly what to say at the moment.
  • Food – When someone is grieving, sometimes food is the last thing on their mind. They may not feel up to cooking or going out to get something. Or they may be suffering from lack of appetite which is common during grief. Being handy with quick, nutritious, easy to eat items such as fruit, veggies, or simple dishes can be a great help. As well as helping them remember when they ate last and ensuring they are getting enough sustenance.
  • Support for decisions – When depressed, people’s decision-making ability can suffer. Try to help the griever put off big decisions until they are in a better state of mind. If necessary be there to act as a voice of reason and clear thought should important choices come up that need to be addressed.
  • Listening – If and when the grieving person is ready to open up and talk, be there to listen. Offer simple understanding and words of support. Try and keep them talking so that they can vent their emotions when they have a chance. Steer away from any judgment and instead offer encouragement as much as possible. Talking is healing.
  • Let them cry – Seeing our loved one’s cry can be painful, but don’t let that make you discourage them from doing so. Crying can be an important part of emotional processing. Instead, comfort them, offer them tissues, and even cry with them.

Be there for the person in need but allow them the chance to choose to open up to you on their own terms and in their own time. Trust that if you are there for them they will let you know when they need you. Intervene only if you sense that they are getting worse and not taking care of themselves in a way that will help them get better in time.

Moving on

If you are currently grieving, supporting someone who is, or have grieved in the past but have reached acceptance, continue to focus on and preserve the good memories you have. You may always feel the sting of the loss to some extent but as you remember your passed loved one, lost relationship, or even a lost pet, the pain will slowly disappear over time and the fond memories and times that made you laugh and smile will be all that remain. If you are struggling and having trouble reaching the point of acceptance and do not feel as if you are healing, please reach out to someone. Find a close friend or family member you can confide in, seek out a grief counselor to talk to, and again if your employer has an Employee Assistance Program use that resource to find the help you need. If you have MINES as your EAP, we are always here to talk 24/7, please reach out to us anytime at 1-800-873-7138.

 

To Your Wellbeing,

Nic Mckane

The MINES Team

 

Sources

Children’s Grief Awareness Day. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2017, from https://www.childrensgriefawarenessday.org/cgad2/index.shtml

Konigsberg, R. D. (2011, March 14). Grief, Bereavement, Mourning Death of Spouse. Retrieved March 24, 2017, from http://www.aarp.org/relationships/grief-loss/info-03-2011/truth-about-grief.html

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Through Imagination and Exploration, Find Joy at Work

This March compiles three events that are all based on children and the importance of remembering to explore the world, use your imaginative side, and have fun. Children demonstrate all you need to know to have good work/life balance. From the re-imagined Disney® classic Beauty and the Beast coming out to celebrating Little Red Wagon Day, we are reminded that we can (and should) use the same lessons that we teach the younger generation. We’re also reminded of the importance of looking at problems from all sides and discovering new avenues to work through everything.

From the original to Disney®

This month Disney® released the reimagined Beauty and the Beast in a live-action retelling of a story that was originally written by a French novelist in the 1740s to audiences (http://bit.ly/2mNh3EU). Disney’s® 1991 version brought a variation of the original story that wowed audiences. Disney® captured the story of a beast, a magical castle with a magical rose, and the love between a father and daughter and transformed it into a story of love and exploration with plenty of imagination thrown in with talking furniture and accessories. However, even with adding some elements to the original story, Disney® honed in on life principles that can be applied to everyone. Both the original story and the 1991 movie focus on the love between a father and selfless child, and about giving up something precious to discover more. It is about looking beyond the veil and not accepting the status quo.

Takeaways from the new Beauty and the Beast

The new rendition that debuted this month focuses on a girl trying to find her place in the world and includes plenty of imagination and laughter. Bringing together elements from the original story, the Broadway musical, and the 1991 Disney version, this story centers on looking past first impressions and addressing the pain and hurt each character dealt with in the past. (Spoiler alert! The remainder of this paragraph contains minor spoilers for the new movie. Please skip to the next section if you wish to avoid this.) This version hones in on the explanation of why the rose is important to Belle to why the Beast reacts to everyone around him, along with closing the other characters’ stories. Belle discovers the truth of her past and the Beast realizes he is stuck in the past. Maurice is a grief-stricken father who struggles providing for his daughter and feeling guilty of his past actions. However, both Maurice and Belle allow their imagination to rule and accept magic which in turn allowed them to explore their past so they could succeed in their future. The movie concludes with all the characters being reunited with their loved ones and they all, well almost all, lived happily ever after.

Are you a Beast, Belle, or Maurice at work?

No matter which version you watch or read, these characters appear as a prince turned into a beast due to his arrogance and self-focus, a young lady who loves knowledge and sees past initial impressions, and a father who loves his daughter and will do anything to see her succeed. Each character makes good and bad choices along the adventure and it isn’t until they learn to get along that they can reverse the bad situation they are in.

Everyone has bad days and it can be hard to let go of the past. However, if you take the time to look deeper, you will see that not everything is the way it appears. When you are feeling frustrated by a co-worker’s actions, take the time to review the situation and check in with your co-worker to see if there is something going on in their lives that may have caused them to react other than you were expecting. Review your past and see what is holding you back from building relationships with your co-workers or seeking to improve your work-life balance. Each Beauty and the Beast character drives home another point about not accepting things at face value and using the talents of those around you.

Imagination is key to all ages

The imagination that Disney® brings to the screen helps provide a formula that makes the movie a success. Imagination is a great tool, whether it is with inventing something that can take you where you need to go or helping you find solutions to problems at work. We all go through changes at work and at home and struggle with how those changes affect us. Next time you are struggling, think outside the box to find solutions. You will be amazed how a little imagination will help you achieve your goal. If you struggle with staying engaged with your work or with your team, find a creative team-building activity to do or use your imagination to find new ways to stay engaged. Sometimes you need to explore new avenues to find joy in your job.

Exploration is essential

Let your imagination take you places so you can continue to succeed and grow both professionally and personally. Take time to explore and enjoy the world you live in – both at home and at work. Spending time in nature is known to help reduce anxiety and stress. Whether it is taking five minutes see what is outside your work building or taking the time to look at your company’s website, take the time to explore what new things you can find and appreciate. You never know what new possibilities you might find or new ideas that will come through exploration. When Belle showed the beauty that surrounded Beast’s castle, the Beast’s eyes were opened and his heart began to heal. Without exploring what can be, it is easy to become disillusioned with your job and lose that joy of working for a great company.

Take action

Using these key things, do something. Don’t sit and complain. Be like Belle’s dad, Maurice, and take action. Don’t sit back when you see something isn’t going right. Stand up for what is right even if you co-workers think you are “odd”.  Do something to make work even better! Does your company have a Wellness committee? Would this help you be more successful? Your “happily ever after” is possible only if you act to secure it.

From work to your community

March 30th celebrates Little Red Wagon Day and provides a chance to celebrate imagination and to encourage kids to get outside and be active.  Radio Flyer, which is perhaps one of the most well-known red wagon producers, states that “The majority of Americans have owned a red wagon, and a majority of those people will pass their wagon down to the next generation.” For almost 100 years, Radio Flyer has been creating warm memories that last a lifetime and support unstructured outdoor play.

Use this day to see how you can use your imagination and explore ways to help your community live up to the spirit of this day. Check out Radio Flyer’s website here for more information and suggestions on how you can do this. http://www.radioflyer.com/little-red-wagon-day/

 

To your wellbeing,

Raena Chatwin,

The MINES Team

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National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

For National Eating Disorder Awareness Week this year, we wanted to highlight a local community member and eating disorder awareness advocate, Amy Babich. Amy was gracious enough to provide us with her thoughts, experience, and resources to help others that may be struggling with an eating disorder. Amy’s insights are below:

This week is NEDA Week, a.k.a. National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and every year I make it a priority to openly discuss this deadly disease that is often left in the dark. Unfortunately, it seems that unless a celebrity addresses the topic, or an extremely severe case finds its way to the media, eating disorders are rarely talked about. This makes them more stigmatized, underfunded, and a seemingly ‘less important’ mental health issue.  Also, the lack of discussion and education about eating disorders can make it much more difficult for those struggling to seek help.

The Facts

  • Anorexia nervosa has the highest overall mortality rate and the highest suicide rate of any psychiatric disorder.
  • Eating disorders have very low federal funding, totaling to only $28 million per year. *To give you an idea of how limited that amount of research money is, Alcoholism: 18 x more funding ($505 million), Schizophrenia: 13 x more funding ($352 million), and Depression: 12 x more funding ($328 million)
  • Every 62 minutes, at least one person dies from an eating disorder.
  • There are more eating disorders than just anorexia and bulimia; there is also EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified), orthorexia, ARFID(avoidant restrictive food intake disorder), and diabulimia.
  • Only 1 in 10 people with an eating disorder will receive treatment in their lifetime.
  • Insurance companies’ often refuse coverage for eating disorder treatment. *Based on level of care needed, treatment costs between $500-$2,000 PER DAY.

My Own Battle

It took me many years, and numerous rounds of treatment, to get to where I am today: recovered from anorexia. I wanted to start by saying that so that people can realize if recovering from an eating disorder was as simple as “just eat your food,” it wouldn’t have taken 4+ years, 3 different facilities, and 8 admissions to do so. For me, my eating disorder was a slow suicide, and one of the many self-destructive behaviors I engaged in. It wasn’t about the food, and if you ever are to hear anyone talk about eating disorders, they’ll also tell you the same.

Recovery didn’t come until I really wanted it, which took much longer than the people who were by my side through it all had hoped, including myself.  What it really took for me to choose recovery was a very serious medical complication. In my last relapse, I had a seizure on my best friend’s floor at 2 a.m. The seizure was caused by refeeding syndrome, which is a life-threatening reaction that the body has when it is severely malnourished, then suddenly increases its food intake.  Unfortunately, it took me losing complete control over my body to want to take back control of my life; and as strange as it may sound, I am so grateful for that seizure, and truly don’t know if I’d be here now, had it not happened.

Because of the struggles I have endured, I am an advocate for eating disorders, mental health, the LGBTQ+ community, women, and children. I believe whole-heartedly that I am here on this earth to let people know that they are not alone.

To Those Struggling

There is help out there, and it’s okay to ask for it. That’s why things like eating disorder treatment facilities, programs, and specialized therapists exist. Know that you are worthy of love, happiness, and freedom and that you are not alone. Asking for support takes a great amount of strength, so please try not to look at it as a weakness. Recovery is possible, and this big, beautiful, chaotic mess of a world needs you.  Stay strong, and keep fighting.

Resources

NEDA Helpline: 1-800-931-2237

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-223-5001

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

 

 

With wishes of happiness & health,

Amy Babich

Final thoughts from MINES

Eating disorders are serious. Please don’t wait to reach out if you need assistance. Employee Assistance Programs like MINES are here to provide resources and guidance to make sure you get the help you need. We are always here to talk. Please call us at 1-800-873-7138 if you or someone you care about is struggling with an eating disorder, depression, or any other work/life issues that you may need help with.

Sources:

https://www.aedweb.org/index.php/education/eating-disorder-information/eating-disorder-information-14

http://www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/

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Why the Groundhog is a Pessimist: Or How I Learned to Stop Hiding from My Shadow

groundhog-629863_960_720Last week it was that peculiar time of year where we watch a furry little rodent, made famous by the infamous Bill Murray movie, pop out and either rejoice in the delight of incoming spring or run back into the ground prepping for 6 more weeks of impending winter, all based on whether or not it sees its shadow. Well, I don’t know about you but that raises some questions for me. First, why retreat from the winter weather, doesn’t the groundhog ever go skiing? Couldn’t the groundhog just have come out facing the other way? And lastly, why does the groundhog have to be so pessimistic? Before we look at some of these a bit deeper let’s discuss why this is relevant in the first place. I think that there is a little groundhog in all of us and when things get a bit gloomy they will pop their heads out and react in either a positive or negative manner. Whether we run in fear of 6 more weeks of winter or come out and face the world with optimism is up to us.

What is the groundhog scared of anyway?

Of course by now you’ve realized that we are talking about more than just a groundhog’s shadow here. The shadow really is anything that might represent unknown situations, new paths in life, or adverse situations that we may be worried about that may be stressful or undesirable like a lost job or medical procedure. Like the winter months, uncertainties and uncontrollable circumstances are unavoidable. These are the shadows in our lives and how we learn to think of these shadows can make all the difference when it comes to maintaining a positive mindset and continuing on with our lives productively and without causing ourselves undue stress. While it is natural to face challenging situations with caution, you must not let the need to be careful and thoughtful lead to fear and anxiety. Instead it is important to focus on what you can control and let logic, mindfulness, and confidence guide your thoughts because by letting go of what you can’t control you give yourself less to worry about that can’t be helped while more energy is spent on matters you can actually impact in a positive way.

Look at the bright side

Being optimistic is all about maintaining focus on the good in our lives while letting go of the bad. This sounds simple but as most of us can agree this can sometimes be very difficult to achieve. With the right tools and a little practice it is totally possible. Your mental state and perception can have a profound effect on how you feel physically and emotionally – affecting things like how much energy you have, how motivated you are to do physical or strenuous tasks, or how much anxiety or grief a negative interaction can create. To combat this, it is helpful to set your expectations in a positive manner by imagining positive outcomes rather than always feeling the worst will happen. Try using positive self-talk to promote good thoughts that bolster your confidence. This includes internal phrases such as “I can do it,” “This will work,” and “Everything will be okay.” These may sound cliché but it is important that we have these positive expressions in our repertoire to act as a counter to the negative thoughts that can creep into our minds in order to give you a way to balance out the nature of thoughts that may be passing through your mind at any given moment.

If anxiety, worry, or fear are a common occurrence you can help break your mind of these habits with practice. Working on being proactively mindful throughout the day can help with this. There are many ways to do this and it is important to figure out what works best for you because there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to positive thinking.

To get you started here are a few ideas. Practice meditation or just some mindful breathing exercises for a temporary respite from your day. Find quiet spots where you can spend a moment or two to unwind and take a few deep breaths during your routine. If you have more time you can schedule in regular meditative or mindfulness practice. While tough at first, meditation becomes easier. For starters you can try a mindful breathing exercise. To do this simply close your eyes and breathe in and out slowly making each inhalation and exhalation last 4-6 seconds. Count the seconds in your head or out loud if it helps and make sure to focus on each breath as it flows in and out. You will slow your heart rate and begin to relax. I recommend doing this for at least a minute but go for as long as you want as the longer you practice this the more at rest you will feel. This is a great way to wind down at night before you go to sleep as well.

This next one is a tip that a counselor once recommended to stop negative thoughts, or all thoughts really, if you are feeling overwhelmed. This may sound odd but what you do is dunk your face or even your entire head in cold water. What this does is provide a shock to your system that acts as a thought interruption and force some reallocation of blood flow. This will help distract your mind from negative thoughts you may be dwelling on and reset your fight or flight response. Again this one may sound uncomfortable, but trust me, when you do it your anxiety will definitely feel less overbearing.

Here at MINES there is an exercise that we ask people to do when we are teaching our clients about optimism and positive thinking. First thing you need to do is find a partner as you will need two or more people. Next, think of a challenging situation or instance that would normally trigger pessimistic thoughts or negative thinking. Share your thoughts, pessimism, and reasons behind them to your partner(s). Your partner(s) then challenge your beliefs or thoughts about the situation. This exercise is designed to show you how different perspectives can be had around the same situation and to challenge the basis of negative thinking. Another benefit of this group dynamic is that you get to share your worries and thoughts, more often than not finding that others share similar feelings. This creates a sense that you are not alone which helps create another source of comfort.

Don’t Run from Your Own Shadow

It’s important to understand that a lot of our negative assumptions are rooted in habit, otherwise it’s easy to place blame on yourself which is counterproductive. And just like any bad habit it will take some determination, mindfulness, and patience to break. Always keep in mind that you are not alone in your efforts. Reach out to friends, family, and co-workers and help each other challenge negative thinking. We hope that some of the tips and techniques that we talked about here will help you stay positive, and if your employer has an EAP like MINES don’t hesitate to call them up and talk to someone that can help you with your goals. Continue to practice challenging your negative thoughts and maintaining an optimistic outlook and we are confident that regardless that the groundhog saw their shadow this year you certainly won’t be the one to hide from 6 more weeks of winter.

 

To Your Wellbeing,

Nic Mckane

The MINES Team

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Total Wellbeing: January 2017

 

 Total Wellbeing Icon

January 2017: Occupational Wellbeing and Retirement Planning

Get Involved!

 

death_to_stock_communicate_hands_1Welcome to the January issue of TotalWellbeing! If you have been following TotalWellbeing you know that every month we focus on one of the 8 Dimensions of Wellbeing. This year will be looking at these dimensions in conjunction with a monthly topic and how those two things vary in our communities. This month we will hone in on Retirement Planning and how different people may view how to go about that and how planning for your retirement affects your Occupational Wellbeing. For a closer look at this month’s topic and helpful resources please check out The Path and The Connection below.

Last month MINESblog saw two important posts that we hope you found useful. To recap, in case you missed them, we talked about Colorado Gives Day which is an annual charity day that supports Colorado non-profit organizations that do great work all year around. If you missed it but still want to donate head over to coloradogives.org to see how you might still contribute. Next, we know that the holidays can be a stressful time of year so we posted a guide to find joy amidst all the holiday madness.

As always, for more information please check out the links to the left or hit the share button to send us a message, and to be notified when we post more resources and articles make sure to subscribe to MINESblog. See you next month!

To your total wellbeing,

The MINES Team

The Path: How Retirement Planning Affects Your Wellbeing

Did you know that almost every country has some form of pension and social security benefits whether it is government funded or paid into by the employee? It is pretty incredible to think that so many countries see the importance and value of planning for the time when you will no longer work, either voluntarily or due to circumstances out of your control. Italy even has an elective residency visa that is generally used by foreigners who are retired and want to live in the Italian countryside. So how are you preparing for your retirement? Whether you are at the beginning or the end of your career it is important to your overall wellbeing to think about and find ways to start planning for retirement. Your occupational wellbeing is an important aspect of this. If you prepare for your retirement, you will feel happier as you get closer to that point. You will be able to focus your energy for your occupational wellbeing toward other work related issues rather than having to scramble that last year before you retire or feeling like you will never be able to retire.

It is never too early to start preparing for your retirement. Check out these resources.

Tips for you:

Talk to your co-workers or Human Resources and see what they have done to start preparing for the future. It is never too late to start that 401k or talk to a professional about it and you might have some great resources available at work.

The Connection: Get Involved

Wellbeing does not simply start and stop at the individual. Our community is connected to each of our own individual wellbeing in a huge way. When we are well we can better function within our community.  We can help our fellow humans thrive, and in turn, when our community is prospering, it helps each of us reach our goals as individuals. So why not help our community so we can all thrive together? Each month we will strive to bring you resources that can help you enhance the wellbeing of those around you or get involved with important causes.

Community Wellbeing Resources:

This month, think about contacting your local shelter or organization and helping others work on their occupational wellbeing, whether it is helping them write a resume, coaching them on interview techniques, or helping them develop computer skills. Use your individual skill set to help someone else take a step toward keeping their occupational wellbeing strong and healthy. Check out this website and look for ways you can help in your community here!

Don’t forget that PersonalAdvantage, your online benefit through MINES, has tons of great resources for all the dimensions of wellbeing that we discuss here, along with some articles and assistance for Retirement Planning. If you haven’t checked it out yet, or want to see what resources they have for this month’s topic check out the link below. You’ll need your company login, so make sure to get that from your employer or email us and we’ll be happy to provide that to you.

Check Out PersonalAdvantage Here!

 If you or a member of your household needs assistance or guidance on any of these wellbeing topics, please call MINES & Associates, your EAP, today for free, confidential, 24/7 assistance at 800.873.7138.
 mines_logo_blue MINES does not warrant the materials (Audio, Video, Text, Applications, or any other form of media or links) included in this communication have any connection to MINES & Associates, nor does MINES seek to endorse any entity by including these materials in this communication.  MINES accepts no liability for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided herein, nor any additional content that may be made available through any third-party site. We found them helpful, and hope you do too!

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