Posts Tagged Anxiety

Psychology of Performance – 34: Spark!

The book, Spark, by John J. Ratey, M.D. is the holy grail of research applications related to the interaction of exercise, neuroplasticity, and performance. The information on brain chemistry changes in the areas of learning, addictions, anxiety, depression, women’s issues, ADHD, and aging is priceless. The essence of the book is that the data indicated the brain is able to create new neuronal connections, grow new nerve cells throughout life, manage major psychological conditions, pain conditions, and learning is significantly enhanced through exercise. Ratey stated that “exercise is the single most powerful tool you have to optimize your brain function”- based on hundreds of research studies (p.245). Ratey suggested that the more fit you get (regardless of where you start), the “ more resilient your brain becomes and the better it functions both cognitively and psychologically. If you get your body in shape, your mind will follow” (p. 247).

How much is enough? Ratey stated that walking is enough. Low-intensity exercise is at 55 to 65% of maximum heart rate, moderate is 65-75% and high intensity is 75-90%. “The process of getting fit is all about building up your aerobic base” (p.251). Ratey goes on to discuss the role of strength training and flexibility as important elements of optimizing your brain chemistry and hormone levels.

What does this have to do with optimizing your performance at work and in all areas of your life? Everything! Get started today and stick with it.

Have a day filled with optimal brain chemistry,

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.
CEO & Psychologist

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Psychology of Performance – 20 – Early Attachment and Adult Performance Implications

Our early attachments to our primary caregivers may have significant implications for our ability to perform throughout our lives. The good news is that there are mindfulness techniques that can help integrate the information and energy associated with the various attachment categories so that as adults our performance does not have to be limited by the early learning associated with these attachments.

Siegel &  Hartzell, M.Ed., (2003, p.102-112) in their book, Parenting from the Inside Out, describe four patterns of attachment derived from the work of researchers such as Mary Ainsworth, Mary Main, and Erik Hesse, among others. As infants we most likely have one of the following patterns (which can vary by caregiver): Secure, Insecure-Avoidant, Insecure-Anxious/Ambivalent, or Insecure-Disorganized.

Secure attachments are described as having a parental interactive pattern characterized by the parent being emotionally available, perceptive, and responsive. The child sees the parent as being a source of comfort during times of distress, a safe haven, being available, and a secure base. This creates a sense of well being from which the child can go into the world to “explore and make new connections with others” (p.104).

Insecure-Avoidant patterns are associated with parents who are emotionally unavailable, imperceptive, unresponsive, and rejecting. These children avoid closeness and emotional connections to the parent (p.104).

Insecure-Ambivalent patterns are described as having parents who are inconsistently available, perceptive, and responsive and intrusive. The child cannot depend on the parent for attunement and connection. The child develops a sense of anxiety and uncertainty about whether they can depend on their parents (p.105).

Insecure-Disorganization patterns are created by parents who are frightening, frightened, chaotic, disorienting, and alarming to the child. This pattern is often associated with abuse. This creates a situation in which abuse is incompatible with a sense of security. The child develops coping responses that lead to difficulties in regulating emotions, trouble in social communication, difficulties with academic reasoning tasks, a tendency toward interpersonal violence, and a predisposition to dissociation – a process in which normally integrated cognition becomes fragmented (p. 106).

The good news is that for those with insecure attachments there are mindfulness techniques described in Siegel’s book, Mindsight, that can help the individual integrate the insecure attachment memories, patterns, and information in a manner that frees them up from “automatically or habitually” engaging in the pattern in their adult relationships.

The implications of early attachment for the psychology of performance are significant. Secure attachments allow for a base of security which in adulthood can manifest in collaborative interactions in the business environment, for example. The social psychology of group performance is enhanced when members can communicate directly and problem solve from a position of trust. Contrast this with an avoidant attachment pattern in which a team member has a fundamental approach to relationships that is one of distrust and self-reliance. This team member is there in name only and will be perceived as not cooperating, being a maverick, and “not playing well in the sand box.” The anxious attachment style may show up as an accommodating or pleasing style. This person sacrifices their own opinions so as to fit in, may frequently be checking in with the “boss” for approval and reassurance. The group loses this person’s gifts as the person may give in rather than be proactive on a decision point. The disorganized attachment style may contribute to significant disruption in a work group or team’s performance because the person will become overwhelmed during a conflict with either a chaotic or rigid response, either of which can disrupt the flow of energy and information needed for higher performance.

The culture of an organization often is set by the leader of the organization. Part of the definition of culture is the shared set of assumptions as to how we do business. From this, it is possible to see how the impact of the leader’s attachment could influence the culture of the organization. For example, if the leader has an anxious attachment, the organization may have a strong press to accommodate customers, resulting in a high emphasis on customer service which could range from being useful to problematic if taken to a dysfunctional level.

Have a day filled with mindful integration,

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.
CEO & Psychologist

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Winter is Coming

As the snow falls on the Colorado Rockies, my wife and I get excited for the upcoming ski season. MINES and Associates is headquartered in the foothills of Denver, Colorado which provides those of us who are skiers and snowboarders a 60-90 minute drive to some of the best skiing in the world. We are heading up for opening day and look forward to a fun and exciting season.

For many people the coming of winter is very depressing. It is cold, gloomy, and snowy, which creates hardship for many people. Heating costs go up and many people can’t afford to keep the house temperature as comfortable as they’d like. Driving to work is challenging and practically impossible on heavy snow days, leading to anxiety and frustration.

Winter comes down to whether you are mentally prepared for the change from warm to cold. If winter typically gets you down, try something new this year. Talk to your Human Resources Department at work and ask about your EAP (Employee Assistance Program). Assuming your company has such a program for employees, make the confidential call to one of the counselors and ask for some advice and ideas on how to make it through the winter with more ease than in the past.

Best wishes for a good winter and happy holiday season!

Allan Benson
Senior Sales Executive

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School’s out for the Summer

Summer is Here!

Even though Alice Cooper’s 70’s hit “School’s Out for Summer” was released almost 40 years ago, it never seems to get old. I have heard it numerous times in recent weeks on the radio. Even iTunes downloads are up as schools close for the summer and kids celebrate.

Summer
means the fun begins for millions of children across America. Swimming, rec centers, movies, amusement parks, concerts, restaurants, and shopping malls are just some of the many areas that will get very busy. Parents have just completed frustrating and time-consuming searches for special daycare arrangements for children who normally are at school. If you are still having challenges finding help, don’t forget that many EAP’s (Employee Assistance Programs) such as MINES’ EAP offer a childcare concierge service. This service provides assistance in finding the help that is needed. EAPs are typically provided as a benefit through your employer.

Summer
also means graduations; kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school, trade schools, community colleges and universities. All children and young adults are going through transitions in their lives. While one would suspect there is more pressure on the high school student moving out and going to a university in a distant state, don’t forget the 5 yr old who is going off in the BIG Yellow bus to a school outside of Mom’s sight, for the WHOLE day.  These children, as well as their Moms, can have some anxiety dealing with these changes. It is not uncommon for a mother and child to speak with a therapist who can talk to them about dealing with the anxiety of these great new opportunities. MINES has a number of workshops and programs that are available through parent’s workplaces that will take the edge off of this anxiety before it becomes depression. MINES counselors, therapists and professionals can help to resolve these issues now before school starts again in the fall.

Summer
can also be a challenge financially. The children want to “do something” that costs extra money. Family budgets aren’t prepared for these extra costs. Family vacations are typically taken; and who hasn’t been on a vacation that didn’t cost more than budgeted?  And most importantly, many parents are unemployed or under employed due to these challenging economic times. MINES also has financial and legal assistance programs that can help resolve many types of financial challenges.
MINES is here to help make your summer less stressful, more meaningful, and most importantly, fun. Check out our website http://www.minesandassociates.com to learn more about what we can offer.

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Healthcare Consumption

Today, Sunday, will be a day for history regarding the Healthcare Reform Bill. Our elected officials are to vote on the bill later today. The good news, most people agree something needs to be done to provide all people with quality medical and behavioral health care. The bad news is that the Republicans and the Democrats can not see eye to eye on how to get it done. It is all going to come down to a very close vote this afternoon.

While this blog is not meant to pick sides or say who is right and who is wrong, it is simply meant to say that something has to be done sooner rather than later. I have friends and family on both sides of the debate and on both sides of the need.

The Parity Act went into effect this past January to help people with behavioral issues. It was designed to make sure that people received the same behavioral care insurance coverage as someone with a medical issue. MINES & Associates provides several different types of behavioral care programs through employee benefit plans. Our Managed Behavioral Care Program provides high quality service to employees and at typically reduced rates to the employer.

Behavioral health is a part of the health care reform bill.

Some statistics from AARP magazine note the following:
– 1% of our population accounts for 24% of medical costs
– 5% of our population accounts for 49% of medical costs
– 10% of our population accounts for 64% of medical costs
– 50% of our population accounts for 97% of medical costs
– The remaining 50% of the population,
is the healthiest group and accounts for just 3% of medical costs

In 2006, health care costs for the +/- 300 million people living in the US was a staggering $2.1 Trillion.

Many Americans are stressed and worried about healthcare and MINES & Associates can help. Through our EAP (Employee Assistance Program) available to employees by their employers we can help. Whether you feel depressed about a medical condition, are worried about loved ones with no insurances, feel anxiety about what changes may effect you, or need financial assistance our trained counselors and therapists can help. We encourage you to check with your HR department for the name and contacts information of your EAP provider. Whether it is MINES & Associates or someone else, just know there are people ready to help you.

MINES & Associates is a 30 year old national business psychology firm providing EAPS, Managed Behavioral Care, Prescription Drug cost reduction plans, and BizPsych consulting. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me. Allan Benson 720-979-8046
Have a good day!

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Psychology of Performance – 7

I have the opportunity to observe and participate with businesses and organizations going through growth and contraction. In either scenario, execution is essential. What makes it so interesting from a psychological perspective is the role beliefs and assumptions play in the analysis, planning and execution. The beliefs and assumptions are often associated with a variety of emotional states that the leaders, managers, supervisors and employee experience under either scenario. Yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend who said he wished he did not worry as much as he did during his very successful career. I had a colleague who is a risk manager and is worries about executing on a very aggressive growth plan. I have other colleagues who have laid off significant numbers of their staff due to the impact on the recession and experience depression and anxiety. In each case, the negative emotional states can can contribute to inefficiencies or delays in the execution of the plan. As one cognitive perspective says “Suffering comes from attachment”. One needs to present and nonattached while performing and executing on a plan. Look deeply into this and see if you are limiting your execution in some way.

Have a day filled with equanimity,

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.

CEO & Psychologist

Mines and Associates

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