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Sleep – The Luxury You Can’t Live Without

Happy National Sleep Awareness Week, we certainly hope you slept great last night. Setting up good sleeping habits and getting a solid 7-10 hours of sleep per night is critical to lasting wellbeing but it can be tough to do. To help we called in an expert. This week’s blog has been graciously written by our friend and wellness partner Michelle Zellner, owner and founder of Better Beings. Michelle has been a trainer, coach, and facilitator for over 20 years. Seeking to inform, influence, and inspire, Michelle’s experience allows her to deliver on a wide variety of topics, including exercise, nutrition, weight loss, stress management, sleep, preventing and managing chronic disease, and work-life balance just to name a few.

Sleep – The Luxury You Can’t Live Without

How did you sleep last night?  No, really, HOW did you sleep?  I’ve spent years asking this question to those around me who always seem to get a good night’s sleep.  What’s the secret?  People who have no trouble sleeping don’t give it a second thought, but there are so many things needing to go right to get that good night of sleep, I think it’s amazing anyone does!  I have come to believe sleep is like most other things—some people are naturally better at it than others.

As a kid, I was the one at the slumber parties who was up, ready to go, at 6am.  Let me tell you, parents were not so thrilled!  Growing up, I remember lying awake, unable to fall asleep, for what seemed like forever. I was certain I was missing out on some kind of fun!  I always wondered how my sister could sleep sooooo late, even on Christmas morning.  She would tell me—”just wait until you get older and you’ll be sleeping in too.”  Nope, never happened.  By the time I moved away for college, things were getting especially interesting.  Sleep talking and sleepwalking became regular occurrences.  Japanese was my foreign language of choice and my roommate would tell me I’d sit straight up in the middle of the night and start speaking Japanese (more fluently than when I was awake).  I would often find my way to the stairwell at the opposite end of our dorm hall and have conversations with friends as they were coming home from a fun night out. On several occasions, I woke up to find myself sleeping on the floor outside my friend’s door.  I had no recollection of any of these events, but it turns out I was a pretty social, conversational person, while completely asleep.

At the time, I thought this was funny, odd, weird.  It made for great stories but was definitely a bit scary.  I wish I had been more interested in figuring out WHY this was happening, but eventually it became less frequent and then ceased altogether.  I now know that change, stress, irregular sleep patterns, and chronic sleep deprivation are triggers for this type of nighttime activity.

These are just a few of the challenges I’ve had with sleep.  For a period of time, I battled severe insomnia.  It would take hours for me to fall asleep and then would wake at 1:00 or 2:00am, unable to fall back to sleep.  This would happen several nights in a row and led to anxiety about going to bed.  My journey on the quest for the magic answer to blissful sleep has led me to discover I am far from alone in this struggle. While your challenges may be different, the root causes of sleep issues, and the consequences of sleep deprivation, are the same.  When we are young, we can get away with a lot.  I did well in school, had energy for gymnastics (as a kid), work and fun.  I was a generally pleasant person and any moodiness could be attributed to A) being a teenager or B) being hungry.  As with many things, the older we get, the less resilient we become.

Unfortunately, societal norms including schedule patterns (school, work, activities, and dietary habits) and the overuse of technology, are making it increasingly difficult for children, teenagers, and adults to get the quality sleep necessary for optimal human functioning and performance.  The side effect of not being tired the next day is just one small piece of why we need anywhere from 7-10 hours of quality sleep per night.  This should be the time for rest, repair, and hormonal reset.  Parts of the brain and body get to relax, while other parts of the brain and body get busy. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to the increased risk for every single physical and mental health issue, because the critical functions designed to take place during various phases of our sleep cycle are either cut short or not happening at all.  Sleep is actually a necessity—not a luxury!

There are many reasons why we are sleep deprived, and identifying your obstacles to healthy, quality sleep is the first step.  I have come to realize that a good night’s sleep starts in the morning.  The behaviors we engage in throughout the day will either promote or obstruct our sleep that night.  Let me outline a few of the basics.

Back in the day, we operated on a natural day/night cycle…hunting and gathering during the day and, as darkness approached, we got quiet and hid from all the dangers that lurk. With that darkness, the pineal gland produced and released melatonin—one of our sleep-inducing hormones.  Our movement throughout the day allowed the body to produce adenosine triphosphate—a byproduct of the glucose burned as fuel in the body.  Adenosine is a brain chemical that also signals it is time for sleep.  Upon rising with the sun, the body released adrenaline and cortisol—two hormones that help get us going by releasing glucose and triglycerides into the bloodstream for fuel and circulating that fuel by increasing heart rate and blood pressure.

We ate real food (in appropriate amounts), which provided nutrients that enabled the body to produce adequate amounts of melatonin (think Omega-3 fatty acids), we did not eat fake food that the body had to work really hard to get rid of (think excess sugar), and we were not overconsuming stimulants (which trigger a release of cortisol, keeping you alert!).

We had the occasional big stressor (a big beast that wanted to eat you) and we did not have artificial light and physiologically and cognitively stimulating media devices.

For most people today, life looks nothing like that!  In fact, it may be quite the opposite.  The environment in which we live is not the one the human brain and body were designed for, so we need to do the best we can to simulate or create such an environment.  To set ourselves up for quality sleep (and a quality life!) we need to:

  1. Eat real food more often than not—consuming most calories early and often during the day and fewer as bedtime approaches.
  2. Minimize caffeine intake (no more than 200mg/day) and make sure you cut off consumption at least 10 hours prior to going to bed. In addition, avoid alcohol at least 4 hours prior to going to bed.
  3. Move your body as much as you can, as hard as you can, as often as you can.
  4. Manage your stressors during the day (meaning do not allow cortisol to be released unless it is really a threat to your existence).
  5. Have an evening winding down routine, allowing the house, the body, and the mind to get ready for sleep. The house gets dark, the body gets relaxed, the mind gets quiet.  Turn off the devices!
  6. Listen to your body and brain! If you find yourself snacking at night, it may be because you are ignoring the signals that it is time for bed.  When you override the messages from adenosine and melatonin and force yourself to stay awake, you reach for some form of sugar.  Instead—GO TO BED.

If you struggle with getting quality sleep, here is my suggestion.

  1. Identify the obstacle to sleep (check all that apply)
    1. Busy Mind
    2. Stress (cortisol released throughout the day)
    3. Inactivity
    4. Eating too late/types of food/amount of food
    5. Caffeine consumption
    6. Technology
    7. Interruptions (kids, animals, full bladder, significant other)
    8. Other?
  2. Create a real strategy to modify a behavior that could be impeding quality sleep.
  3. Recognize that it is the cumulative effect of all the things we do consistently over time that have the largest impact on the outcome. Multiple behaviors may need modification, and they have to become your habits to really reap the benefits.

Through analyzing my own tendencies, and acknowledging which ones were potentially impacting my sleep, I have been able to restructure and modify many of those habits.  While I occasionally have a difficult night of sleep, I am happy to say that insomnia is no longer a regular part of my life.  I also know, that even though that I am doing all I can right now to set myself up for quality sleep, it is not always in my control.  I try to make really healthy choices in every other area—what I put in my body, how much I move my body, and how I manage my stress triggers—to hopefully minimize the damage that inadequate sleep may be causing.  The healthy choice is usually the harder choice, but ultimately, I believe those healthy choices will produce a healthy, happy, productive human being.  So far, I have found it worth the effort—and I believe you will too!


To your wellbeing,

Michelle Zellner, Owner/Founder of Better Beings


instagram:  @betterbeingsus


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Total Wellbeing: March 2018

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The Relationship Between Excelling at Work and Physical Wellbeing


Welcome to the March edition of TotalWellbeing, your guide to the 8 areas of wellbeing. So far, we’ve looked at enhancing your financial wellbeing through money smarts and the relationship between nutrition and your environmental wellbeing. With a lot more wellness topics to cover this year we will continue to emphasize the concept of community and look at how our actions affect our community, states, and even other countries.

To your total wellbeing,

The MINES Team

How Physical Wellbeing Affects Your Ability at Work

Your physical wellbeing can impact just about every other part of your overall health. If you’re impaired physically it can affect your ability to think, socialize, maintain optimal energy levels, and can negatively affect your mood and even lead to depression. With this in mind, it’s easy to see how physical wellbeing can impact your ability to work effectively no matter what job you may have. This is why it is important to maintain your physical wellbeing by exercising regularly, eating healthy foods, and being mindful about how you manage stress. Take this month to examine how to incorporate more activity into your day to get your heart pumping, even if it’s just a short walk every day, a little bit is better than nothing. Save time by doing healthy activities while working such as quick “deskercise” routines or simple stretches during the day. To help, check out exercise and nutrition tips on  PersonalAdvantage if you have it, or even use some of your wellness sessions through MINES to speak to a coach. If you start building healthy habits now, supporting your physical wellbeing will become second nature and you’ll always have the energy and physical ability to excel at your workplace.

To access your wellness sessions, give us a call at 1-800-873-7138 and we will help you get set up right away. Also, PersonalAdvantage has some great tools and webinars this month to improve your knowledge around exercise, nutrition, and healthy habits to support physical wellbeing and be sure to check out our “Reducing Workplace Stress” infographic.

Question of the Month

How could paying attention to your physical wellbeing help you be more productive at work?

Quote of the Month

“The part can never be well unless the whole is well.”

– Plato

MINES Updates/Community World View

Physical wellbeing can mean something different to each individual and furthermore, many countries around the world have a different approach to fitness and varied statistics around the overall wellbeing of the population. For instance, Japan has one of the lowest obesity rates in the world, with contributing factors being the focus on fresh produce and seafood in their diets and a high average activity levels since most people walk, bike, or take public transit to work. The US on the other hand had one of the highest obesity rates in the world caused by low activity rates and high levels of processed and fatty foods. Therefor it’s important to focus on your own activity and encourage others to eat well, walk more, and in time we may be able to shift our communities towards a healthier life style that supports our physical wellbeing.

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.

This Month’s Focus

Check out this month’s webinar on Workplace Differences

Catch up on MINESblog:

Don’t Feed the Trolls

MINES 2017 Review

Check out this Month’s Infographic

Important Links

Visit our BLOG

MINES and Associates

2018 Training Catalog

Balanced Living Magazine


MINEs Archives

Contact Us


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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TotalWellbeing: January 2018

 Total Wellbeing Icon

The Relationship Between Money Smarts and Financial Wellbeing


For 2018, we at MINES wanted to find a new way to promote the 8 areas of wellbeing. In order to do this, we decided to switch up our monthly communication into areas that you can copy and send out to your employees or give you suggestions around trainings that relate to this wellbeing topic. We also want to continue on from last year’s emphasis on the community and look at how what we do can affect those around us and that affects your community, your state, and even other countries.

To your total wellbeing,

The MINES Team

Financial Wellbeing- Engaging Your Money Smarts

This month as we look at financial wellbeing, we also want to consider how you can improve your Money Smarts and how your employer fits into this equation. Even if a raise isn’t in the cards for you, your employer may offer other ways for you to improve your financial wellbeing. Maybe you have access to a 401K or our online resource, Personal Advantage where you can work on your budget or take some webinar trainings. MINES also offers financial counseling if you have EAP services through us. This first month of the year is a great time to talk to your employer about where you want to go and ask them for advice about what benefits you have access to that you could do to improve your financial wellbeing. Personal Advantage has some great tools and webinars this month to improve your Money Smarts and Financial Wellbeing.

Question of the Month

How can you help improve your Money Smarts both at work and at home?

Quote of the Month

“Winter is a season of recovery and preparation.”

– Paul Theroux

MINES Updates/Community World View

Each country values money or uses money a little differently. This year will see the Tax Reform take effect. How does this tax reform affect your community or your state? It is an interesting concept to look at the larger picture and see how similar it is to other countries and how others around you and even outside the United States are looking at this financial reform here. Take the time to chat about it with those around you and learn their perspective. You never know what you will learn. And consider how does finding ways to change your money smarts help your community, and in return send out a ripple effect to your city, state, and nation to improve how we look at money at all levels?

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.

This Month’s Focus

Check out this month’s webinar on Money Smarts

MINES blogs last month:

Theo Bear and 2017

Kids These Day…

Publication Update

Day of Persons with Disabilities 

Check out this Month’s Infographic

Important Links

Visit our BLOG

MINES and Associates

2018 Training Catalog

Balanced Living Magazine


MINEs Archives

Contact Us


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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Theo Bear and 2017 (a brief review of a big year)

2017 is coming to a close, but before we say hello to the new year we wanted to take a look back and review some of the highlights of the past year. At the same time, we thought we would take this opportunity to introduce our mascot to those that don’t know him, and look at some of MINES’ adventures through his eyes. We are speaking of course of Theo Bear. We’ll start with a little backstory on Theo Bear and then take a look at what he was up to over the past year.

Who is Theo/Theo’s History

Theo is the personification of the large stuffed Teddy bears that travel around with us to various events and meetings that we have around Colorado and the rest of the country. Theo has his beginnings as a small(er) stuffed bear used as giveaway prizes at benefit fairs. A former MINES team member started the tradition back in the 1980’s. The lucky winner would get to take a large stuffed Theo Bear home to their kids or other family members, or sometimes they just wanted Theo for themselves. Of course, when the tradition started the bears were much smaller, but as his popularity grew so did his size. Now, with him in the passenger seat, it becomes much easier to use the carpool lane. It began as a cute offering but soon turned into an iconic expectation, as eventually whenever we showed up at an event people would ask where the bear was, or on the flip side wherever we showed up with the bear people would exclaim, “There’s the bear, that must be MINES”. And now year after year people come to our table or booth wherever we are and try and win their very own Theo to take home.

One of the earliest, and sweetest, memories we have of him is when the grandmother of a blind, special needs preschooler won Theo. We were happy enough that she won, but when she sent the video of the child hugging and loving the bear there wasn’t a dry eye in the office. As you can see with his long-history and sentimentality, it’s no mystery that he remains a strong tradition year after year. So, what has Theo, and the rest of The Mines Team, been up to recently? Let’s take a look back at some of the highlights of our 2017 adventures.

2017 adventures

So, what has Theo, and the rest of The Mines Team, been up to recently? Theo is a busy guy these days, accompanying MINES account managers, sales team, and clinical case managers to many MINES outings making him the perfect vessel to use to look back at 2017 and remember the fun and exciting trips, memorable events, and new friends MINES encountered.

With Clients/Benefit Fairs

Not only are benefit fairs where Theo has his roots but is also the primary activity Theo does all year long. It is rare to see a MINES team member at a client’s office for a benefit fair or open enrollment without Theo. Carrying him from the parking spot into the various venues always draws lots of looks and questions from passerby’s but once we are settled at our table he is the perfect attraction and conversation starter to get employees interested in their EAP benefits.

As I mentioned one of Theo’s primary purposes at these fairs and client events is to be given away as a raffle prize, and boy does he stir up the competitive nature in the employees coming by our table. People want to win him for all sorts of reasons, for themselves, for their kids, for their spouses, and at one fair for one of our Las Vegas clients, the whole staff tried to rig the raffle so that their male supervisor would win to give him a much-needed laugh.

Benefit fairs can often last a good part of the day with most of the time spent informing employees of the ins and outs of their EAP benefits and answering any questions they may have. It can be exhausting and at the end of the day you are ready to relax and as you can see in the picture, sometimes you’re lucky enough to get a quick chair massage by some of the other wellness vendors at the fair. Us providers need to look after each other you know?


Theo also spent a lot of time in Las Vegas this year. No, not to gamble despite what you may think from the picture, but to visit and support our many clients that call Nevada their home. MINES visits Las Vegas consistently over the year and starting in September our Account Managers, with Theo in tow, made their way to the Nevada desert for benefit fair season.

Here’s another one of Theo and one of our account managers, Eric, making their way through one of the many hotel lobbies, and below you can see Theo getting acquainted with the Las Vegas office that MINES uses as our Nevada base of operations.

Wellness Initiatives

Next, let’s move on to another big initiative MINES had for 2017, community wellbeing. In the pic above we can see Theo enjoying a little rest after doing some exercise at the end of the day in the MINES workout room. MINES has always strived to encourage a culture of wellness and health. Not only does the data behind our EAP and wellness services reinforce that a healthy employee is a productive employee, it’s also just fun. These last 2 years, thanks to our excellent wellness committee, we have made a big push to enhance our wellness initiatives at the community level. We partnered with HealthLinks, a signature program from the Colorado School of Public Health that helps businesses assess health and safety policies, create goals, connect likeminded business together, and even certify employers as “Certified Healthy Businesses”, which of course MINES is proudly one of. And by practicing what we preach, MINES was even awarded the Colorado Health Links Innovation award in August for our effort on employee wellbeing.

Earlier in July, MINES was also awarded the ADA Corporate Health Champion Award from the American Diabetes Association for our efforts to support our employees across nutrition/weight management, physical activity, and organizational wellbeing.

A lot of how we support the wellbeing of all the MINES team members is through encouraging healthy habits in the workplace. Above you can see Theo trying to break his bench press record, looks like he could use a spotter though. Safety first! In addition to the workout room that is utilized on a regular basis, we also hold healthy events. We do summer and winter “Office Olympics” that encouraged people to get up from their desks and engage in some fun and active games around the office. We also host a semi-regular group activity called “MINES Reclines” where after hours, members of the MINES team can get together for an activity. We have done rock climbing, outdoor walks, fun runs, and things to support mental wellbeing too such as art classes and educational events.

At the core of everything we do is our mission to serve our clients, so of course, we do everything we can to support the wellbeing of their employees. Our monthly newsletter  “TotalWellbeing” offers monthly tips, articles, goals, blog post updates, and community resources all centered around the wellbeing theme of the month which spans all 8 dimensions of wellbeing. In addition, our Whole Organization Wellbeing program, or WOW, is an enhancement service to our core EAP where employees gain access to professional health coaches to address issues on nutrition, fitness, sleep, goal setting, and more. MINES is constantly working to enhance our wellness services and in 2018, expects to expand the wellness services included across all our EAP offerings as well as enhanced work/life services.


Next, MINES hit the road for conference-season. A year at MINES wouldn’t be complete without at least few conference under our belt and this year Theo joined us at just about every one of them. He helped us tackled the Mile High SHRM conference in January, as well as the NPELRA (National Public Employer Labor Relations Association) and the Colorado Culture of Health conferences in April. Headed north for Montana SHRM conference in May and joined us at the 1st annual HealthLinks conference in August. He brought us booth visitors and became an honorary SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) as he helped us power through the SHRM conferences in Colorado, Wyoming, and Arizona during August and September. We met a ton of great people, gave out tons of information, swag, and hugs, and got to say hi to some of our great HR contacts while we were at it! Fun times!

The MINES Office

As you can see it has been a busy year and we thank you for letting us take you down memory lane. We’ll finish with just a few more fun pics from around the MINES office as we relax and bring in the new year.

While Theo isn’t a licensed counselor like our expert case managers are, he has been known to console from time to time. Our Case Management Team is constantly supporting our clients through routine services as well as critical incidents so when the going gets tough, it’s good to know that we have a little back up for them!

Every once in a while, someone here at the MINES office needs a moment to rest and catch their breath. When that happens, Theo is there to offer a soft place to lay and relax for a moment before getting back to it.

Of course, when Theo isn’t working remote or traveling to see a client, he spends the rest of the time hanging around the MINES office.  Here he is with some of the MINES team along with a whole squad of “other” Theo’s during “National Bring Your Teddy Bear to Work Day”. What? Just like Santa, you didn’t think he did all this by himself, did you?


As you might imagine after all the craziness of the last year Theo is very much looking forward to taking some time off, putting his furry feet up for a bit, and relaxing. But don’t worry, if you are one of the many people who look forward to a visit from Theo each year, in 2018 he will be back hard at work serving our clients, saving lives, and influencing the course of human (and bear) events*. See you then!


*The MINES Creed from our Founder and Chairman, Dr. Robert Mines… minus the bear part…

To your wellbeing and a great 2018!

Have a happy New Year from The MINES Team

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Kids These Days…

The MINES Team is excited to share our latest article from one of our very talented administrative assistants, Tanya Paulson. Titled “Kids these Day… How to Work with Millennials”, Tanya helps bust some of the assumptions around Generation Y and gives tips on the best ways to synergize with them in the workplace.

The issue can be viewed here starting on page 16:

Tanya’s as well as the rest MINES publications can be viewed here:


To your wellbeing,

The MINES Team

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Publication Update December 2017

Just a quick update.

Dr. Robert Mines (chairman and psychologist) and Dr. Dani Kimlinger (CEO) from the MINES Team were honored to contribute to an article by Bruce Shutan in this month’s issue of The Self-Insurer. The article is called Beyond Opioids and covers how EAPs, like MINES, and good benefit-plan design can help treat addictions and other substance use issues in an employee population as well as control overall health care spending.

The issue can be viewed here:


Check out other Self-Insurer publications here:

And check out other MINES publications here:


To your wellbeing,

The MINES Team

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International Day of Persons with Disabilities and the ADA: The Legal Side of Psychological Wellbeing at Work

December 3rd is International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and this year’s theme is “Transformation towards a sustainable and resilient society for all”. Transforming workplaces so that they foster resilience among all employees is a worthy goal – one that both MINES and I share with real passion.

Fortunately, most employers now generally understand the links between employee mental health, productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. This is real progress. Unfortunately, only 15% of supervisors and managers are actually trained in how to recognize and respond to employees who may be struggling. This is a problem that MINES and I are taking steps to remedy through our work with our clients and by offering training and consultations to supporters of campaigns like Colorado Mental Wellness Network’s Mental Health Equality at Work.

Employers do not generally associate the Americans with Disabilities Act and Family Medical Leave Act with psychological or mood-related conditions. This knowledge deficit can be problematic because more often than not an employee will reach a point of crisis before exploring potential job accommodations. By that time, it is often too late to save the employment relationship and everybody loses.

This common pattern of “waiting until a crisis” may partly explain the recent surge in depression-related employment discrimination claims filed with the EEOC. These filings increased by 56% between 2003 and 2013, and the EEOC issued written guidance for employees with mental health conditions, as well as their health care providers, for the first time in December 2016.2016

I train supervisors, managers, and HR staff in how to create psychologically healthy workplaces, how to use accommodations as everyday management tools, and how to comply with the ADA and FMLA. Managers are always happy to learn about low- or no-cost accommodation tools they can use right away, instead of making their employees wait for a crisis to occur before requesting them. And, they are relieved to learn that the ADA does not require the elimination of essential functions – a common yet erroneous assumption.

One of the areas I partner with MINES on is training supervisors how to have the early conversation with employees who may be struggling. This is a skill that does not come naturally to most of us – managers don’t want to pry, say the wrong thing, violate an employee’s privacy, play the role of therapist, or step over a legal line of which they’re unaware. MINES personnel have truly mastered this skill over the years.

Another exciting area of partnership with MINES is providing highly specialized mediation and case management services for the toughest ADA and/or FMLA cases involving mental health conditions. Most ADA requests are not challenging to manage. However, some cases are so complex they require the expertise of seasoned psychologists to provide case management guidance and support. Examples include rare diagnoses, some types of personality disorders, and difficulty in finding the right medication or treatment plan. MINES plays an indispensable role in guiding these cases to a sustainable path forward for both the employee and employer.

Lastly, MINES and I collaborate in providing outsourced disability and absence management services nationwide. When we take on this role for our clients, we are truly in the best position to transform workplaces to foster resilience among all employees.

In closing, I hope everyone will celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities with us, by taking proactive steps to accommodate employees at all levels of cognitive, emotional, and social functioning.


To Your Wellbeing,

Judge (Ret.) Mary McClatchey

MINES Consultant

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Physical Wellbeing and Stress

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), being mindful of your physical wellbeing means recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy foods, and sleep in order to maintain a healthy mind and body. Physical wellbeing is an important concept on many levels as your level of physical health has a huge influence on other parts of your life such stress levels, optimal hormone production, and energy levels to name a few. In this blog, my intention is to look at how stress and physical wellbeing interact with each other on a day-to-day basis and explore some things that we can all do to boost our physical wellbeing and lower our stress levels at the same time.

What does Physical Wellbeing Look Like?

The choice to maintain your overall physical wellbeing is one of balance. It doesn’t mean that you need to eat a super strict diet and exercise every day. It is more about creating healthy habits that you do on a consistent basis. If you are mindful of what you eat and how much you exercise, you will naturally start to move towards the healthier path. The more you repeat the behavior, the more you will begin to see the effects and the easier it will become to develop a routine. As you choose the healthier path more often than not, the good habits will grow and soon you won’t have to think about it, eating healthy foods will become the norm and a day where you don’t exercise or do some type of physical activity will feel strange and unproductive.

Before we get ahead of ourselves it is important to remember that physical wellbeing is just as much about making good decisions as it is about avoiding bad ones. For example, excessive drinking and drugs will impact your physical wellbeing in a huge way, as will eating junk food or never exercising, so remain vigilant and avoid the dangerous stuff just as much as you seek out the healthy. If we learn to moderate and balance ourselves it can go a long way in managing the impact of one of the biggest health hazards around, stress.

What is Stress?

Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. While the definition is pretty broad, how each of us experience stress, and the circumstances that may be responsible for our stress, can be very specific and personal. This is one of the reasons there is no “cure-all” or universal way to eliminate stress from your life. The important thing is to monitor yourself for signs of stress and manage any stress in a proactive way to minimize any effects on your wellbeing.

So, what happens when we don’t manage our stress in a healthy and proactive manner? Well, stress can lead to numerous negative effects that can impact our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Some signs of unmanaged stress include fatigue, nausea, muscle tremors, twitches, headaches, anxiety, guilt, grief, fear, depression, irritability, inability to rest, memory and attention problems, trouble sleeping, and more. Again, since each of us has our own unique sources of stress, it is important to understand how you as an individual react to stress and monitor yourself for signs.

How Physical Wellbeing Interacts with Stress

The good news is that there are things that we can do to manage and reduce the stress that we experience. For the purpose of this blog, I will focus on the physical wellbeing side, which includes physical activity, good nutrition, and sleep. Focusing on your physical wellbeing can both manage current stress as well as prevent future stressors such as disease and health conditions caused by poor physical wellbeing, so it really is a win/win situation!


First, as a proactive management tool, exercise is one of the best and healthiest ways to manage the stressors of our daily lives. Exercise helps your muscles get rid of stress-induced tension and acids that build up, while also helping your body release feel-good endorphins that will help you relax. It will be important to develop an exercise routine that is aerobic, so you get all the heart-healthy benefits and make it fun so you’ll continue to enjoy doing it.

In addition to higher energy levels and relaxation benefits, another “pro” of regular exercise is a higher quantity and better quality of sleep. Now we will talk about sleep more in a bit, but for now I just wanted to note that it is important to stick to your exercise routine when you are stressed or tired. One of the reasons for this is that while we sleep our body uses this time to regulate chemicals in our body including neurotransmitters and hormones. When we don’t get enough sleep, those chemicals can be out of balance, but when we exercise it helps to balance out those same chemicals, meaning that when you don’t get enough sleep it becomes more important to exercise in order to keep your body in stasis.

Some exercise tips include:

  • Get a workout buddy. When you have a reliable partner to workout with, it makes exercise more fun. You can encourage and hold each other to the commitments that you have both made.
  • Talk to your doctor. A doctor can help gauge where your physical wellbeing is at now and help set healthy goals to strive for. This will also help you approach your goals in a safe and calculated way specific to your individual needs.
  • Avoid Boredom. Don’t set yourself up for failure by selecting activities you know you hate. If you can’t stand running in place on a treadmill, run outside or bike instead. Working out in solitary not your thing? Try group classes to shake things up.


Next up is nutrition. Good eating habits centered around eating regular, nutritious meals will further help your body stay chemically balanced, improve energy levels, and reduce the chances of stress causing disease caused from poor nutrition including obesity and diabetes.

When developing your nutritional goals, it will be important to focus on foods low in fat, sodium, and refined sugars. Look for foods containing complex and complete carbohydrates such as whole wheat breads and flours. When purchasing meat, think about using leaner options such as turkey bacon and chicken over fat-heavy pork. Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine and limit alcohol consumption.

It can also be important how you eat. As much as you can help it, eating should not be a rushed or stressed endeavor. Try to set aside enough time that you don’t need to rush through your food. Not only will this lead to easier digestion, but mindful eating can be a time for relaxation and contemplation. For instance, try this mindful eating exercise next time you are having dinner. Begin by taking the time to look at your food and notice how it looks, if it’s a hot meal pay attention to how the steam rises from the dish, and how the colors of the various food items look. Take a single bite and focus on how the food tastes, what the texture is like, and what you enjoy about each bite. If you are eating with family members have them describe their own thoughts about the food and the eating experience. Mindful eating not only helps you appreciate the food and the overall experience of eating, it also has physical benefits such as easier digestion from the slower eating pace. Eating slower also means your body will have more time to tell you it’s full before you take those few extra bites. Of course, this is just one example of using a simple everyday activity as a mindfulness exercise, but it should get you thinking about other activities in your own day-to-day life that have mindful potential. Leveraging these small “mindful moments” can go a long way in helping you maintain perspective and stay present among all the external stressors in your life.

Some other nutrition tips include:

  • Do not go to the store hungry and stock only healthy foods at home. Not going to the store hungry and making sure to only buy healthy food means that when you are hungry and craving the junk food you will simply not have access to it. Over time you will begin to truly enjoy and crave the good, healthier options.
  • Make simple swaps for a leaner diet. Rather than eliminating foods you love, try simply making them healthier with a few substitutions. Prepare veggies without sauces or butter, reduce your fatty meat portions, grill instead of fry, dip food in sauce rather than smother it, and choose whole-grain, low-salt, and low-fat options when shopping.
  • Make a meal log. Keeping a list of the meals you eat can help you visualize your eating habits, identify patterns, and find opportunities for improvement. Sometimes you just don’t realize that you had 3 cheeseburgers already this week, but if you keep a list it becomes easier to find those bad habits you may not think about otherwise.


Sleep can be a huge issue for many people, and the frustrating thing about the sleep/stress cycle is that stress can often be the cause of sleepless nights and in turn being tired makes you less resilient to the effects of stress. This can cause an exhausting spiral that can quickly take its toll on your wellbeing and other good habits such as your exercise routine, even though as I mentioned above, it’s even more important to exercise when you have had poor sleep.

In addition to magnifying the effects of stress, not getting enough sleep causes all sorts of negative effects and can be dangerous. Drowsiness can cause delayed reaction time, impaired judgement, poor vision quality, decreased motivation, irritability, and lack of focus. All of these side effects are bad by themselves but when combined with activities like driving or operating machinery, the risk factor goes way up. To combat these risks, you need to be mindful and purposeful of your sleeping routine. Make it a goal to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night, and build your bedtime routine around this effort. Begin by building a bedtime ritual that you start at the same time every night. Pick relaxing activities that help you wind down. This could be reading a book, meditating, taking a warm bath, journaling, or something else you find enjoyable and relaxing. Try to avoid any activities that involve a screen like a TV, computer, or mobile device as these screens can emit light within a specific spectrum that can interfere with, and alter, your sleep/wake cycle.

Some sleep tips include:

  • Keep to the same bedtime and wake time schedule, even on weekends.
  • Eliminate noise and light from your sleep environment (use eye masks and earplugs).
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages and foods close to bedtime.
  • Avoid alcohol; although it may seem to improve sleep initially, tolerance develops quickly and it will soon disturb sleep.

Other Considerations

By now you should have at least some idea around how stress and physical wellbeing interact with each other and may even have an idea of how you’re going to use your physical activities to help reduce stress. No matter what your physical and nutrition plan is, balance and moderation will be important. Don’t exercise yourself into exhaustion and don’t diet yourself into a nutrient deficiency. In fact, we would advise that you talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen or diet. Find out what path works for your unique set of needs and proceed slowly. Start developing those good habits while you scale back the bad ones and before you know it these changes you make will become habitual and most importantly, sustainable.

It is practically impossible to avoid stress in our daily lives, and we must accept that many things are outside our control. However, by maintaining the facets of our lives we do have control over, we can be infinitely better prepared to handle the stressors that inevitably come our way. It is crucial that we maintain healthy habits that will build “positive spirals” in our lifestyle and overall health. The journey is not always an easy one but the good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. Reach out to your social network of friends and family and see who wants to take the journey with you or is at least willing to encourage you and help you stick to your convictions. Read self-help books on topics your struggling with, talk to others that may have experience, and try out local support groups.

If your employer offers one, you can also reach out to your Employee Assistance Program to see what resources they can offer to help such as MINES’ wellness programs or online portal, PersonalAdvantage, that provides articles, assessments, tips, trainings, and other resources on fitness, nutrition, stress, and much more. Call us at 1-800-873-7138 or email us at if you have any questions.


To your wellbeing,

Nic Mckane

The MINES Team

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Kindness at In Its Simplest Form


According to the Oxford dictionary, kindness is “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate”. But it goes beyond just being friendly or considerate. It is the act of stepping outside your norm and doing something for someone else just for the sake of being nice. Today try celebrating #WorldKindessDay by finding unique ways to help those around you and yourself. You may be surprised at how much happier you will be and may even notice a permanent change in your environmental wellbeing at home and at work by simply celebrating this day in a new way.

Ways to be Kind at Work

Some days it can be tough to be kind at work, especially if there are hurt feelings, frustration around responsibilities, or if you are just plain busy. However, those are the best days to take a couple of moments out and force yourself to do something kind for those around you.

Here are 10 simple things you could do at work today to celebrate this important concept.

  1. Take a co-worker out to lunch or coffee who may be going through a stressful time (or bring them in a cup of their favorite beverage).
  2. Ask a co-worker who is struggling with caregiving or is having a hard time, what you can do to help or offer to babysit one night for them.
  3. Write a thank you note or bring in a treat for your janitorial staff who are rarely seen but do a ton of work to make sure your office is clean and ready to go for you.
  4. Say thank you to your receptionist for their hard work making sure your office runs smoothly.
  5. Send an encouragement note out to a co-worker.
  6. Smile at everyone you see in the hallway. This will encourage you and your co-workers!
  7. Don’t wait to be asked, but stay late or come in early and help a co-worker out on a big project.
  8. Stop and say “good morning” to a co-worker that you don’t normally interact with.
  9. Bring in a big crock pot of soup to share with everyone who wants some.
  10. Publicly recognize someone’s strengths and thank them for a job well done.

And remember, if you see someone struggling that needs help or should talk to someone, the EAP is a great resource and MINES and Associates has counselors available 24/7 to talk. Please give them our number at 1-800-873-7138 and offer to help them call.

Ways to be Kind at Home

We all know about random acts of kindness as there are countless stories of people buying coffee for the person behind them or passing along the good holiday cheer to strangers. This is an important aspect of what this day is all about. However, it is also important to bring this home to your family and friends.

  1. Offer to help a family member or friend work on their weekend to-do list.
  2. Take someone a meal so they don’t have to cook dinner for a day.
  3. Have everyone in your home (whether it is just you, your significant other, and/or your kids) write a thank you note to each person in the house.
  4. Do a chore for someone that you know they don’t like to do.
  5. Try writing up a list of random acts of kindness that someone could do for others in the house. Then every week draw from that list and do that action.
  6. Send a gift to someone who is having a hard day.
  7. Leave a treat for your mailman in your mailbox.
  8. Clean your kids’ room for them, without grumbling.
  9. Thank someone for their everyday contribution.
  10. Set time aside to have that lengthy conversation with your relative that likes to talk.

Ways to be Kind to Yourself

There are plenty of acts you can do that are selfless and helpful to those around you. However, have you considered that you need to be kind to yourself? Those times you feel guilty, stressed by your actions, or unsure about yourself, take this day to look inward at how you can build your personal wellbeing and improve yourself. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Treat yourself to something special. Most nutrition experts will agree that having a cheat day built into your healthy food schedule allows for habits to solidify and for you to enjoy life and those special occasions. So, take this time to examine what makes you happy and what you can do to support your needs. And take the time to tell a friend, co-worker, or family member your needs so they can support you in the future. Communication is key and we are all in this crazy world together trying to make the best of each day.

And it is always a good idea to talk to a counselor if you feel you need help or want to find ways to improve your wellbeing. MINES is happy to talk with you and help you set goals around this. Or you can check out our monthly communication that dives deeper into all 8 areas of wellbeing to see how you can support your needs.

Celebrate Kindness Every Day!

Use this day to start finding ways to incorporate kindness into your life. As you do this, you will be amazed at how satisfied you feel, how helpful you feel, and how much you can influence those around you. Smile, give generously, be helpful in small ways.

Here’s to your continued journey to total wellbeing,


Raena Chatwin

MINES and Associates



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Alzheimer’s Awareness Month 2017

Hard to believe it is November again already.  And with November comes National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.  So much has happened on the Alzheimer’s front since this time last year.

I have never been more optimistic that a breakthrough is on the horizon.  Dr. Huntington Potter at the Anschutz Alzheimer’s Research Center right here in Denver has an exciting clinical trial going on with promising results so far.  It really feels to me like some big news may be around the corner from the scientific community.

In the meantime, family care partners for those living with various forms of dementia need resources, support, and last but not least, rest!

Although all three of my parents who suffered from Alzheimer’s have left us, I remember well the journey my family traveled for 16 years through the world of dementia.  Fortunately, someone recommended that we reach out to the Alzheimer’s Association and thankfully we did.  They provided, classes, support groups, and a 24/7 helpline so we could call day or night and ask any question, no matter how basic or complicated. A real person was always on the phone to help us through the roughest times.  So here comes the number; write it down… you will never be alone with this number at hand.   800.272.3900.   The Alzheimer’s Association is also the largest private funder of dementia research.  The bottom line is that these folks are just great – they will help you find the resources you need and care about you and your family throughout your journey. And they don’t care what type of dementia your family may be dealing with.

This might be a good time to mention some other great resources and in the process, give a brief overview of my involvement in the world of dementia since losing my folks to Alzheimer’s.  People sometimes say they bet I am relieved to be “done” with Alzheimer’s and I tell them, “Oh no, I am just warming up”.  I will not rest until we get Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia off the planet.

That is one reason why I’m involved in a new project called Dementia Friendly Denver.  We are a grassroots, not for profit initiative that is part of Dementia Friendly America, which was introduced a few years ago at the White House Conference on Aging.  There are now 130 American cities joining in this all-volunteer mission to make communities more dementia friendly and improve the lives of those living with various forms of dementia.  The DFD team I chair recently partnered with the University of Denver to host a two-hour community education event.  You can check out the slides from that event and upcoming news at

The reason it is important to think about all types of dementia in November during National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month is that only 50% of those with dementia get a diagnosis.  I want to spread the word that it is important to know which type of dementia your loved one may have.  Alzheimer’s accounts for about 70% of all cases, but there are other types of dementia, like Vascular, Lewy Body, and Frontotemporal to name a few.  Dementia Friendly Denver has a Resource Guide listed on the website I mentioned above that will connect you with 800#s and websites for each type of dementia support.  You can also get a referral list of doctors who can help you get a specific diagnosis at the Alzheimer’s Association helpline.  Here comes the number again….800.272.3900.

And of course, all of this is why I joined the MINES team a few years ago providing dementia lunch and learns and coaching for our EAP clients.

I guess you can tell that I feel passionate about our need to find a prevention, treatment, and cure for Alzheimer’s disease and that I really feel we are close.  In the meantime, November is a month to help each other find the resources we need as family caregivers and most importantly, to take care of ourselves so we can care for our loved ones.  Respite is a term for giving caregivers a break and it is critical for those of us caring for someone with dementia.  Everyone needs to recharge. So let me give you another resource… can find a Respite Locator on the website  It provides a list of respite options which you can then investigate.

OK, it would be totally inappropriate to wish you all a “Happy Alzheimer’s Awareness Month” so instead I will tell you that I am happy to have new hope for a breakthrough.  I am also happy that Congress voted to include an additional $414 million in next year’s Alzheimer’ Research budget. That is real progress.

Enjoy the month of November with your family, don’t hesitate to get the help you need now as a care partner and take care of yourselves so we can celebrate when the breakthrough comes.  I will be throwing a party for the world and you will all be invited! – JJ


To Your Wellbeing,

JJ Jordan

MINES Affiliate and Alzheimer’s/dementia Expert

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