Posts Tagged children

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

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

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

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

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

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

Warning Signs

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

Self-Care Tips

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

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

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

 

 

To Your Wellbeing,

James D. Redigan, LPC

The MINES Team

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Psychology of Performance #53: Back to School – Adults as Lifelong Learners

It is that time of year when schools start up again, students are excited to go back to school, parents may be relieved, and educators are gearing up for a new round of teaching.  For adult learners and workers — even those retired — leaning is no longer a seasonal event. We all get to keep learning and adapting as we go through life. Warren Buffet’s partner, Charlie Munger, was a lifelong learning advocate. He said, “Develop into a lifelong self-learner through voracious reading, cultivate curiosity, and strive to become a little wiser every day.”

Why is this so important? The rate of new knowledge used to double every 100 years in 1900, by the end of WW2, it doubled every 25 years, then it was every five, now in an article by David Schilling, August 13, 2013, (Knowledge Doubling Every 12 Months, Soon to be Every 12 Hours) it is every 12 months and estimates are that soon it will be every 12 hours! This is a pace that is only attainable through technology. From a human processing point of view, it is daunting. Think about how much technology has evolved in your lifetime. How much of your job today is contingent/dependent on technology and new information compared to five years ago? What about when you started your career?

Keeping up with changes in your field of work, the technology, and changes in everyday living requires self-directed learning.  It requires you to think about where you will find the information, how to learn it so it can be useful, and how to apply it. In your work, you may also need to develop more advanced thinking skills in areas of analysis, evaluation, and synthesis of information.

With the pace of change, how do you even keep up? Regular and systematic reading, self-study schedules, looking at small amounts at a time so it is not overwhelming can all be useful strategies for making incremental progress. Some cognitive beliefs that can be helpful in your aim to become better with your lifelong learning goals are:

  • 10% of something is better than 90% of nothing
  • Do your best and forget the rest
  • Don’t give up because you can’t learn it all, keep up with it all, or be perfect at it all.

Set yourself up for success. There is no race, just perseverance. Be curious about topics and areas of knowledge. Search for the best sources of information synthesis, the best theories, the best models that allow you to succeed.

 

Here is to your wisdom! May it continue to grow.

Robert Mines, Ph.D.

CEO & Psychologist

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Have a Happy, Healthy, Reasonable Stress Holiday from BizPsych

Happy Holidays from BizPsych! We typically have several requests this time of year to present our “Thriving with the Holidays” seminar for client companies. Surprisingly, this year we have had only one request, from our sister division in Las Vegas. Is it possible that there may be less acute stress this year in many organizations? Is there still much stress, but no time? Perhaps our past years’ efforts have cured all holiday stress (Nice fantasy…)? The holidays are a wonderful time for so many of us. Yet, for many people, the holidays bring an increased stress level that can take away from that delight. For some it’s actually a depressing time of year for a variety of reasons.

The cornerstone of our recommendation about coping or thriving with holiday stress has to do with setting balanced and reasonable expectations of ourselves and of others. There are cultural expectations that can lead to stress and disillusionment, i.e. “we should all be blissfully happy, have beautiful and significant presents for all, and be ever cheerful.” This probably does not work for all of us 100%. We can, however make meaning, be grateful, have authentic interactions, and celebrate what we believe in. One of the ways we can accomplish this is to set meaningful and realistic expectations for the holidays.

A number of years ago I worked out an optimal holiday stress management strategy formula called “Holiday Stress Math.” It is not rocket science, so please enjoy:

Holiday Stress Math
Holiday Stress is a function of: Expectations (E) vs. What Really Happens (WRH)

If E are H (High)    and    >   WRH   =   HS (High Stress Holiday)
If E are L (Low)     and    <   WRH   =   LS but DOL (Low Stress) (Depends on Luck)
If E are L (Low)     and    =   WRH   =   LS but NGT! (Low Stress) (Negative Good Time)
If E are H (High)    and    =   WRH   =   MS, PGT but HRI(Medium Stress) (Positive Good Time) (High Risk Investment)

BPRE (Best Possible, Realistic Expectation)     =     WRH(What Really Happens)     =     GRE (Good, Realistic Holiday)

Have a meaningful and reasonable stress holiday.
Peace and Joy,
Patrick Hiester
Vice President, BizPsych

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Daylight Savings Time

In the past, I have had a hard time remembering how daylight savings worked. Why? Because I would always recall the time I insisted on wearing my tennis shoes to go bowling and I flew down the alley and landed flat on my face. In my mind, falling was forever synonymous with falling forward and making face plants. Hence, the reason why I‘ve had such a hard time learning (and remembering) that it was fall backward and spring forward.

Then, I finally came up with an easy way to make the distinction clear. The word “fall” has four letters in it and so does the word “back.” Ever since I discovered this handy-dandy way to remember, I’ve been able to get it right!

Now that we’re into daylight savings time, I’ve had to ask myself:

Are there any other areas of my life that could benefit from a slight recalibration?

Am I getting a less than desirable outcome than I would prefer? And if so, is it because I am perpetually stuck in thinking the same way in a given situation?

Do I need to change my perspective and see things in a different light?

Is there a better way for me to think about things that would make my life easier and create less heart burn? Am I still making unnecessary “face plants” because of my stubbornness?

Daylight savings creates a slight shift. The nights become longer and the days become shorter. We’re reminded that the holidays are just around the corner. We start to notice that the mornings are a little chillier while the grass and car windows show slight signs of frost.  We grab our sweat shirts and start looking for our favorite sweaters. We even begin to notice the displays in the grocery store are different.  There are multiple signs and signals shouting: “change is in the air!”

So, I ask, “Why wait until the New Year comes to make resolutions that promote positive change and wellbeing?” Daylight savings is a great reminder that we can always make recalibrations and adjustments and, there is always time to make a slight shift to get a more desirable outcome. How often do you feel as if you’ve just won the lottery because you’ve been given the luxurious “gift of time?” Even though it’s just a slight move on the clock’s hand that creates the change, I encourage you to think of it as an invitation; an invitation to stir things up a little, create a shift in your thinking, change your rhythms, and challenge your beliefs. Then, during the long hours of the night, as you watch the hands on the clock go by, you can celebrate all of your successes that will make it easier to spring forward into action the next time we change the hands of time.

Just remember, if your organization needs a few recalibrations or you want support with making a few refinements the professionals at BizPsych are here to support you with executive coaching, training, and organizational development.

Marcia Kent, MS
President, BizPsych

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Emotional Resilience in the Face of Tragedy

We have all been touched in one way or another by the recent rash of violence in our communities. One tragedy seems like an anomaly and we tend to be able to put it in context as such. But when another occurs we start experiencing it as out of control and as a new norm. We start to carry a pervasive ill-ease. The experience of these tragedies may trigger a variety of stress reactions for different individuals. Some of these could be profound and require the need for professional help, be it medical or psychological. At the least, the general ill-ease most of us are experiencing may also compound the numerous other external stressors we encounter in our work and personal lives.

These stressors especially compounded by the senseless violence of recent shootings cannot help but affect us, in many ways, as well they should. In our modern world, stress is here to stay. We can learn to set more effective boundaries, we can better manage our time, we can shut out the painful images, but in most of our work and personal lives we will continue to be barraged by external demands and stressors. By focusing on stress, we often invite stress.

We offer a new approach. As we have learned in the Critical Incident Support Services (CISS) field, promoting emotional resilience gives those experiencing a specific trauma a more positive response than focusing on the trauma and stress. Emotional Resilience is our ability to “bounce back” from adversity and challenge. This does not mean we can remain unaffected by stress and setbacks. What it means is by strengthening our resilience we improve our ability to cope with set backs and recover more quickly. Emotional resilience traits can be learned and practiced. We would like to share some of the characteristics of emotionally resilient people as an invitation to practice – especially at this time of shared sorrow and tragedy. Some of the characteristics of emotionally resilient people are:

  • Emotional and Physical Awareness: They understand what they’re feeling and why. They understand how their emotions are affecting their behavior and performance. They understand the absolute connection between mind and body – emotions and physical health. They support physical health by practices such as exercise, relaxation, healthy nutrition, and increased mindfulness in the moment – awareness of emotional and physical states.
  • Perseverance: Whether they’re working toward outward goals or on inner coping strategies, they’re action-oriented – they trust in the process and don’t give up. They carry on in the face of setbacks and obstacles.
  • Internal Locus of Control: They believe that they, rather than outside forces, are in control of their own lives. They know the limits of control and focus on the areas of life they can control.
  • Optimism: They see the positives in most situations and believe in their own strength. They are able to view events as time-limited versus permanent. They are able to view events as specific and not pervasive. i.e. “all or none.” They are able to not personalize negative events by defining themselves by these negative events.
  • Support: While they tend to be strong individuals, they know the value of social support and are able to surround themselves with supportive friends and family.
  • Sense of Humor: They’re able to laugh in spite of life’s difficulties. They are able to respond to serious situations with appropriate seriousness, but not take themselves so seriously that they get in their own way.
  • Perspective: Resilient people are able to learn from their mistakes (rather than deny them), see obstacles as challenges, and allow adversity to make them stronger. They can also find meaning in life’s challenges rather than seeing themselves as victims.
  • Sense of Mission: Being connected to your spiritual side has been connected with stronger emotional resilience. This has to do with being connected to a higher purpose than oneself, and could be a sense of purpose or mission.

 This is not an absolute list of Emotional Resilience traits. However, focusing on one or all of these traits and developing ways to practice them may be a positive way to help cope with the recent trauma that we all have experienced, as well as the common and extraordinary stresses we experience regularly. It may prove more effective to focus on strengthening one’s positive resilience than “combating” stress. Over the past couple years, BizPsych has offered emotional resilience programs in a large variety of settings and situations with very positive results and response. Please consider what you might need to enhance and exercise your resilience at this time.

Patrick Hiester MA, LPC,
Vice President of BizPsych
www.BizPsych.com
A division of MINES and Associates.

 

 

 

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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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Saving for Your Child’s Education

 
 

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Saving for Your Child’s Education
September 6, 2011
 

This Labor Day weekend one of my best friends was surprised with the arrival of her first child. My husband and I had been on vacation in Pennsylvania when the baby arrived, but as soon as the plane landed yesterday we drove straight to the hospital to welcome him into the world. As we were walking down to her room, I found myself getting choked up and as soon as I saw him I began to cry.

Later that night, I finally pinpointed why I was so emotional. Looking at my friend and her new miracle, I could see how much her world had changed in one day. My friend and I experienced it all together: college, break-ups, new jobs, and all of the joys and regrets that your 20’s can offer. We are so much alike and in a second her world became all about this 6lb. 14 oz. human being. I wasn’t crying because I felt like I lost her as a friend, I cried because I saw how much her life was about to change as a mother. It was a beautiful moment.

Maybe I am more affected by these moments because having a child is closer to becoming a reality in my life, but in that moment at the hospital, I felt the magnitude of the decision to start a family. I am not even sure we could afford all the hospital bills, diapers, and formula, let alone putting money away for his or her college tuition. This week’s communication is a quick guide to all those parents who have experienced the miracle of parenthood and are ready to start saving for their future!

Please join us this September for our monthly theme, Education Excellence.


Read more on this topic here…
Britney Kirsch
Account Manager

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Childhood Immunizations: Get the Facts

 

 

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Past Newsletters

Childhood Immunizations: Get the Facts
August 8, 2011
 

Social media has an increasing presence in our lives. I remember thinking, “this Twitter rage will never stick.” But now it’s everywhere. Still, I have yet to succumb to the madness, but then again I said that about a few of the social networking sites. I learn of many things that you would consider breaking news through social networking sites. I will admit that I had strong opinions about people displaying their lives over the internet but now I also see some of the benefits. Reading people’s arguments has raised a new level of tolerance and understanding within me, for opinions I may not have previously agreed with. One of those controversial topics is whether or not we should get our children immunized.

It may be a controversial topic, but as Dr. Holiday says, it’s important to make an informed decision. Consider the sources that you read from and try to gather as much information as you can from as many credible sources as you can.


Read more on this topic here…
Britney Kirsch
Account Manager

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Psychology of Performance – 23 Shanti Bhavan

As many of you know I am functioning as an ambassador of the firm doing volunteer consultation at Shanti Bhavan, a school for very poor children in India who would have very few opportunities in life had they not been admitted to Shanti Bhavan.

I will provide some video/audio of the piano recital put on by the students of our former colleague Allegra Boggess and photos of the first ever Shanti Bhavan chess tournament, plus the two daily martial arts classes.

We had 97 children participate in the chess tournament. The chess boards range from those purchased at local stores to paper boards and pieces that were homemade. In addition, there are some pictures of the tae kwon do and jujitsu classes I am teaching. The classes are taught in the grass for falls and throws and on the clay/rock soccer fields – no mats, no air conditioning, and Frisbees for kicking pads.

From a performance stand point two important elements are represented in these examples.  First, high levels of performance can be achieved with few resources and making the best of those available. Second, enthusiasm, passion, and persistence, along with appreciation for the opportunity, can carry one to heights one may not have dreamed of.

www.shantibhavanonline.org

Namaste,

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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