Don’t Feed the Trolls: Why You Should Ignore Those That Just Want to Get on Your Nerves

This morning…

As I am sure a big a percentage of us do, I began this morning by perusing the headlines and reading a few articles while I prepared for the day. Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but depending on the content of the article sometimes, especially in our current political climate, I find it irresistible to scroll down to the comment section to see what people are posting and saying. Why do I do this? Is it because I want to see what intelligent discord is happening without me? Maybe. It is because I feel I will gain some sort of invaluable insight into what I’ve read through the opinions of others? Probably not. Or is it because I have some sort of morbid curiosity with the inevitable flame war that I know will no doubt be taking place? Yeah, that must be it. However, in my comment scanning tendencies lays an element of self-sabotage to my emotional wellbeing as it relates to my harmony with the online community because within the mild-mannered comments of reasonable people lay Trolls waiting to sow their special brand of discord amongst the exchanges.

But what is a troll? And why is it important to be aware of what they do so that you don’t take the bait? Because falling into a “conversation” with an online troll is not only a waste of time, but can also negatively affect your mood and overall wellbeing. So, what can we do to counter these on-line fire starters? Easy, ignore them and never, ever under any circumstances, attempt to feed them.

What is a Troll?

First, let’s discuss what exactly an online troll is. Wikipedia defines a troll as “a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting quarrels or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion, often for the troll’s amusement.” That’s right, these trolls are scanning the same articles and getting involved in the same comment sections as you but with the sole purpose of ticking people off. Trolls are fairly obvious most of the time. With over the top comments, or completely ridiculous rhetoric it should be easy to see them coming. However, when certain lines are crossed and certain topics are tread upon, it can be extremely difficult to ignore them.

There is not just one type of troll either. They come many forms including trolls that specialize in insults, name-calling, profanity and racism, and anything offensive that they can think of. These guys border on the edge of cyberbullies and are probably the worst of the bunch. Next, you can have trolls that love to argue and just never seem to let something go until they are satisfied they have had the last word. The list goes on including trolls that are offended by anything and everything and will paint you as the bad guy no matter what you say; trolls that think they know it all and can’t help but correct you in any manner of grammar, statistics, or anything you think you know better than they do; and trolls that will simply say a single enraging comment and then recede into un-breaking silence to watch the enraged responses pour in. Regardless of the type of troll you’re up against it, your best defense is, again, DON’T FEED THEM!

Don’t Feed Them!

Now that we know what a troll is, let’s talk about why we shouldn’t ever feed them. To feed a troll is to take their bait, usually an inflammatory comment, and reply to them. This can be irresistible. They can’t truly believe what they wrote, can they? Maybe if I can just reason with them or give them some facts I can change their mind… No! This is exactly what they want.

Typically, a troll’s comments have no real reason behind them other than to get on your nerves or offend you in some way. For this reason, ignoring them can be tricky, however, especially if they make you angry. It’s like when someone tailgates you or cuts you off in traffic. It can be very hard not to get angry at the person who just disregarded your safety to gain a few seconds of time in traffic. But as tempting as it is to yell and scream out your car window at them, or use less than kind hand gestures, it goes without saying the safest and most reasonable course of action is to let them pass, take a deep breath, and be on your way without escalating the situation. Just as it’s natural to be angry when someone puts you in danger while in traffic, it’s natural to want to argue your point of view when you disagree with someone especially on a fundamental level. However, it’s impossible to win an argument with someone who’s only goal is to oppose your own.

Why Do They Get on Our Nerves Anyway?

So even if we know what a troll is and what their objective is, why is it that we still allow these nasty little things to affect us? One reason is that we tend to take even anonymous criticism personally. I mentioned cyberbullying earlier, and like bullies do, it can feel like we’re being picked on and being singled out in front of the rest of the comment section. In this case, it is important to remember that it is nothing personal, you simply happened to be the one that took the bait and subsequently suffered the obnoxious wrath of the would-be troll. We also tend to be defensive about things we believe in and often you are probably reading an article or browsing content about issues or topics you are interested in, care about, and are passionate about. And when someone comes along and starts spewing negativity in the face of these things you care about, it is hard not to get defensive. Counter this by keeping in mind that the troll does not know who you are, where you come from, or what kind of person you are. They only know what you type back to them, so the less you give them the better.

Another reason Trolls’ comments can bother us is that we forget that what they are saying is just their opinion, or fabricated all together with the goal of pushing our buttons. If we let ourselves think that an online comment is a broad opinion or fact and not just the misguided thoughts on one individual, it can lead to putting more weight into the hurtful comment/content then it merits. This concept has broader implications as well, especially relevant to the increasingly polar appearance of the US population. Often, the loudest voices online are coming from the smallest sources leading us to think that these small extremes make up a bigger percentage of the population than they really do. This is critical to remember if you are bothered by things you read online as you need to keep in mind that the most vocal people are often on the far ends of the spectrum, the most pleased or most outraged, the “extremes”. The people in the middle rarely make as much noise even though they make up the majority. This concept can be seen in anything from online comments to political rallies to restaurant reviews.

You’ll be better off, trust me!

The only true way to counter a troll is to ignore them. By doing the digital equivalent of walking away from a confrontation, you not only prevent them the satisfaction of letting them know they got to you, you also limit any affect the would-be troll may have on your mood or day. Avoid the knee-jerk reaction to respond, take a deep breath, and move on. It will allow you to get the negativity out of your mind and out of your day as soon as possible and allow you to focus on more important things, like the interactions and relationships that you have in real life such as friends, family, and co-workers. These are the people you care about and that care about you. You value their opinions and they value yours. Don’t waste time thinking about the trolls that like nothing more than to undermine anything you would express to them.

I wish you happy web-surfing, enjoy what you read, enjoy your exchanges with reasonable users online, and if you come across a Troll, whatever you do, don’t feed it.

To your wellbeing,

Nic Mckane

The MINES Team


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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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Total Wellbeing: December 2017


 Total Wellbeing Icon

December 2017: Physical Wellbeing and Stress

Get Involved!

Welcome to the December issue of TotalWellbeing! If you have been following TotalWellbeing you know that every month we focus on one of the 8 Dimensions of Wellbeing. As we come to the end of the year, stress can increase and your attention to your physical wellbeing may decrease. As the holidays bring forth stress around money for gift giving and around family gatherings, and the many holiday parties you may attend certainly don’t help your nutrition commitments. Please take this time focus on what matters, use your emotional resilience skills to de-stress, and focus on eating healthy.

For a closer look at this month’s topic and helpful resources please check out The Path and The Connection below or check out our newest infographic on Stress for some helpful information around stress in the US and how to managed a stressful situation in  a healthy way.

In case you missed it, November was a great month on MINESblog! We started off with a great post from our affiliate and Alzheimer’s/Dementia expert JJ Jordan for Alzheimer’s Awareness month. Next, we celebrated World Kindness Day with a post talking about how to use kindness to improve your life and the lives of those around you. And finally, we posted about the interplay between stress and physical wellbeing as a tee up to this month’s focus. Be sure to check all of these out for great information and practical resources.

As always, for more information please check out the links to the left or hit the share button to send us a message. 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: Health, Holidays, and Stress

Physical Wellbeing can encompass a lot of things from exercising regularly, eating healthy, taking time to make sure your stress is worked out through physical activity, and getting enough sleep. Stress can exasperate many medical and mental health conditions. This month is a perfect time to work on your stress by focusing on your physical wellbeing which will help resolve the side effects of stress. The blog on stress and physical wellbeing has some great tips and thoughts on this subject. As the holidays approach it is easy to put aside eating healthy and exercising. However, this is the best time to focus on doing this as it can actually improve your holiday experience and your overall wellbeing.

Check out these tips to incorporate healthy habits during the holidays!

Tips for you:

Emotions are a healthy part of the human experience. Acknowledging emotions and understanding your personal stress style is the first step in beginning to control them. In this session, we will discuss a selection of customary stressors as well as techniques for exercising control over them.

Check out the webinar here!

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 look at how you can expand your knowledge and skills within your community in regards to physical activities. Check out your local community’s website for senior centers where you could volunteer to help take people on a hike or to do yoga. Or look for other ways you can improve your, and others, physical wellbeing.

Click here to find a place to use your skills near you!

If your organization has access to PersonalAdvantage make sure to check out this customizable online benefit available through MINES. It has tons of the same great resources for all the dimensions of wellbeing that we discuss here, along with some articles and a whole section on having a stress free holiday season! 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.

Important Links

Visit our BLOG

MINES and Associates


2017 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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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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