Posts Tagged Health

ADA Breakfast and MINES Health Champion Designation

MINES Team receiving ADA HEalth Champion designation.

American Diabetes Association 2017 State of Diabetes Breakfast

Last week, MINES attended the annual American Diabetes Association 2017 State of Diabetes Breakfast. While we were there, a few exciting things were happening. One of the best things that was going on was the conversation between local and national companies discussing the state of diabetes, wellness initiatives, employee support programs, and next steps in the fight against diabetes. After a bit of networking, the breakfast opened with a great talk from both the State of Diabetes Committee Chair, Joel Krzan, and the Colorado Lt. Governor, Donna Lynne. HUGE thanks to them and the ADA for all the critical work they do in helping fight Diabetes and fostering awareness and support across the country, not to mention hosting the event!

Lt. Governor Donna Lynne at 2017 ADA Breakfast

ADA

As you all probably are familiar with, the American Diabetes Association is the 2nd largest employer in Colorado, second only to the federal government. They lead initiatives across the state ranging from awareness campaigns, fundraising events, community service delivery, research funding, and advocacy for those suffering from the disease. You can find out more about the ADA and how you can support their efforts on their website, www.diabetes.org.

Health Champion

MINES Health Champion Award

MINES was also one of a few companies this year to receive the designation of Health Champion from the ADA. This designation recognizes that MINES as a company has met the ADA’s “Healthy Living Criteria.” These criteria cover three distinct but interconnected areas of healthy living including Nutrition and Weight Management, Physical Activity, and Organizational Wellbeing.

MINES is very proud of this designation and recognition of our efforts as we strive to practice what we preach. As an Employee Assistance provider, we are constantly working with our clients to help support the wellbeing of their employees so it was only natural that we strive to create the same focus of employee and organizational wellbeing within our company. Some ways we support these areas include:

Nutrition and Weight Management

  • Access to nutrition coaches
  • Healthy employee culture encouraging healthy habits and eating
  • Access to on-site exercise room

Physical Activity

  • Healthy MINES employee events including rock climbing and hiking
  • Healthy Lunch events such as Yoga and Zumba activities
  • Access to fitness coaches

Organizational Wellbeing

  • Wellbeing and resilience training
  • Corporate culture focused on work/life balance
  • Employee check-ins to gauge stress levels and other issues

The Mind/Body Connection

Patrick Heister talking about the high cost of mental illness and diabetes in the workplace

While we were there our very own COO, Patrick Hiester, had the opportunity to speak. He talked about the often co-occurrence of diabetes and mental health issues including depression and anxiety. He then went on to explain how these conditions can often have a huge cost for individual and an employer in terms of health care costs, lower productivity and work/life imbalance. The key takeaway from Patrick’s presentation was that employers can go a long way in supporting their employees that may have a co-morbid condition by approaching their healthcare in a fully integrated modality and support the physical and mental wellbeing of their employees equally. This could mean having wellbeing programs in place as well as an EAP to help support behavioral wellbeing and also identify systemic issues that may be magnifying any issues that employees may be dealing with in their lives.

Next Steps

Where do we go from here? MINES plans to continue to support both the physical and mental wellbeing of our employees just like we coach our clients to do. We will also continue to support the efforts of the ADA and other great companies and initiatives that mirror our own core wellbeing values.

If you would like to learn more about what you can do to support the ADA, take a look at two of the ADA’s current initiatives; Wellness Lives Here and the upcoming fundraising/awareness event, Tour de Cure.

Wellness Lives Here

As the ADA’s website states “This powerful initiative is designed to inspire and fuel our nation’s healthful habits at work and beyond. With year-round opportunities, Wellness Lives Here™ helps companies, organizations and communities educate and motivate people to adopt healthful habits to reduce the impact of type 2 diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses. For some, it means fewer sick days and higher productivity. For others, it means looking and feeling better. For everyone, the result is empowerment—Americans who are better able to control, delay or prevent Diabetes and related health problems.”

Find out more here: www.wellnessliveshere.org

Tour de Cure

This is a run, ride, walk, or be an “Xtreme Ninja” (obstacle course) event designed to raise awareness in the community, provide research support, and increase advocacy for those suffering from diabetes that may be discriminated against.

Find out more here: http://www.diabetes.org/coloradotourdecure

Thank you!

Finally, another huge thank you to the ADA and everyone that made this event possible. Together we can continue to fight the good fight and spread awareness of these critical wellbeing initiatives to help millions of people across the US and the world. And if you are a company that is looking for a way to support your own employees, please call MINES at 1-800-873-7138 and see how we can work together to make your workforce happier, healthier and more productive.

 

 

To your wellbeing,

The MINES Team

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Total Wellbeing: April 2017

 

 Total Wellbeing Icon

April 2017: Physical Wellbeing and Grief/Loss

Get Involved!

Welcome to the April issue of TotalWellbeing! If you have been following TotalWellbeing you know that every month we focus on one of the 8 Dimensions of Wellbeing. This month we will discuss the effects that grief and loss have on your physical wellbeing. At the same time, we will look at how your physical wellbeing can be a crucial step in successfully working through the stages of grief. Everyone experiences loss and grief differently, but regardless of how you process your loss, keeping up with your physical wellbeing is important.

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 new infographic here!

Next, make sure to catch up on your MINESblog reading because we covered a few important topics over the last month.  Our founder, Dr. Robert Mines provided his perspective around eating disorder awareness week which was February 26 – March 4th. Next, our team member Raena Chatwin explored how you can use imagination and exploration to find joy at work and in all that you do. And finally, to get primed for our talks about grief this month we put the spotlight on grief and the difference between healthy and unhealthy grieving.

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: from your Emotional Wellbeing to Managing change

When you are feeling down, it can be hard to take the time to exercise or eat properly. However, it is even more important during this time to eat healthily and work out the stress so you can feel better. During exercise, you are given an opportunity process what you are going through and work through the emotions that come along. By focusing on your physical wellbeing during a time of grief and loss, you can ensure that you are not staying in bed and are sticking to your routine, which will actively lead you to be around others who can help you cope with the pain and suffering that comes with grieving a loss. Even if you don’t feel like doing much, try to exercise each day. Take care of your personal needs and eat healthy so that you have the strength to deal with your loss and your other daily responsibilities.

This month check out this link to see some easy exercises you can do.

Tips for you:

Focus on your physical wellbeing and use that as a tool and motivator while you are navigating the stages of grief. Choose to use your exercise time to reflect about your loss and what you can take away from this loss.  Check out this webinar for more about grief and loss.

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:

You probably know a co-worker, friend, or family member that is dealing with some type of grief. Take a moment to connect with them to see how you can support them through this time. Maybe even suggest taking the time to walk or work out with them to help their physical wellbeing at the same time. Or you consider running or walking in a marathon to support a cause and be around others who have or are struggling with their own grief and loss.

Click here to find an activity near you!

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

Check Out PersonalAdvantage Here!

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

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National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

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

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

The Facts

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

My Own Battle

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

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

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

To Those Struggling

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

Resources

NEDA Helpline: 1-800-931-2237

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-223-5001

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

 

 

With wishes of happiness & health,

Amy Babich

Final thoughts from MINES

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

Sources:

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

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

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

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

What is the groundhog scared of anyway?

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

Look at the bright side

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Run from Your Own Shadow

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

 

To Your Wellbeing,

Nic Mckane

The MINES Team

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Total Wellbeing: February 2017

 

 Total Wellbeing Icon

February 2017: Financial Wellbeing and Internet Safety

Get Involved!

8-ux-pitfalls-to-avoid-in-mobile-app-designWelcome to the February issue of TotalWellbeing! If you have been following TotalWellbeing you know that every month we focus on one of the 8 Dimensions of Wellbeing. This month we will review how internet safety can affect your financial wellbeing. These two topics intersect and influence each other on many levels and it is important to occasionally review where they may conflict and what you can do to protect yourself. For a closer look at this month’s topic and helpful resources please check out The Path and The Connection below.

Speaking of internet safety, did you know last Saturday was National Data Privacy Day? If you have been keeping an eye on MINESblog you may have seen our own ideas around data security and the importance of being diligent with your information written by MINES’ own security officer and CIO, Ryan Lucas.

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

To your total wellbeing,

The MINES Team

The Path: How Internet Safety Influences Your Financial Wellbeing

Whether you do all your shopping online, are a nominal internet user, or are a parent, internet safety is important. Not only is it important to take note of when you give out your personal information, it is important to take time to reflect how you spend your money online. With less and less people balancing a checkbook, it has become much easier to lose track of where your money is going and to catch mistakes when they happen. Whether you allow things to be paid automatically online or you allow websites that save your credit card information, it has become easier to spend more money without realizing it. You also need to be careful about what websites you allow to have your information so that your information isn’t stolen, which can severely impact your financial wellbeing. If you are a parent, you need to be aware of how your child is spending their time online and how much information they are sharing. A teenager may not think it is a big deal to share that your family is leaving town but if the wrong person finds out, you may be robbed while you are gone.

There is good news! By using websites and Wifi networks that are secured, it is possible to have stronger and safer financial wellbeing. By having quick access to your financial statements, being able to autopay or receive instant reminders to pay your bills, you can feel more confident in your financial status and reduce stress when it comes to trying to keep track of your financial wellbeing. If you are confident in your internet safety and do everything you can to protect yourself, the financial freedom the internet provides you is exhilarating and freeing.

 Check out these resources to help you hone your internet safety skills.

Tips for you:

Did you know the “S” in the URL stands for secure? Next time you are online, look at the URL (web address) to see if the site you are visiting is secured before you put your personal information in. You will know the URL is secured if the URL starts with “https://”. If the site you are visiting just says “http://” it is not a secured site and you should be careful about giving any personal information on there.

The Connection: Get Involved

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

Community Wellbeing Resources:

This month, think about helping out a third world entrepreneur start their business by providing capital for their business even if it is a small amount. Just remember to be careful anytime you give your financial information out over the internet. Check out this website and look for ways you can help in your community https://www.lendwithcare.org/.

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

Check Out PersonalAdvantage Here!

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

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Important Event: A Man’s Journey: Learning, Loving and Living through Life’s Challenges Nov. 5th

Hi everyone,

We just wanted to share information concerning an important event that friends of the MINES team are hosting on November 5th here in Denver.

Suicide is a bleak topic and one that has touched many of our lives in one way or another. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death, additionally men die from suicide 3.5 times more often than women. What are the underlying reasons for this? What can be done to help this situation? The upcoming event is designed to address these very questions and more.

Entitled, “A Man’s Journey: Learning, Loving and Living through Life’s Challenges” hosted by the Carson J Spencer Foundation on November 5th from 12:00-5:00 PM at Mountain States Employers Council in Denver. The goal of the forum is to help men overcome life stressors and cope with mental health challenges like depression, anxiety, anger and substance abuse. Tickets are only $10. Men and women are encouraged to attend. Info and Registration here: http://bit.ly/2efbewC

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To Your Wellbeing,

The MINES Team

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Psychology of Performance #57: 2016 Olympics

The Olympics have officially opened! This is a wonderful opportunity to get an in-depth look at a number of psychology of performance variables and factors in addition to the sheer joy of seeing individuals and teams at their peak performance. Who could ever forget the USA Dream Team’s performance to win the gold in basketball? Rulon Garner’s gold medal win over Alexander Karelin in wrestling. Larelin was the defending gold medalist and had not lost in 13 years. Michael Phelps winning 18 gold medals and 22 medals over his Olympic career and coming back again this year. Historic moments such as Jesse Owens winning four gold medals in the 1936 games in Berlin. This was when Nazi Germany saw him as a lesser human being because of the color of his skin. Ethiopian runner, Abebe Bikila, won the marathon gold in 1960, barefoot. Emil Zatopek’s winning the 5,000 meter 10,000 meter, and marathon in the 1952 Helsinki games after being told not to compete due to a gland infection. He had never run a marathon before. Jim Thorpe winning the pentathlon and decathlon in the 1912 Stockholm games. The first female Olympians in the 1900 Paris games.

The actual list of mind boggling performances is almost endless. Over the next few weeks, we will get to observe upsets when the favorites were viewed as unbeatable, persistence in the face of pain from injury, and compassion and generosity of spirit. A great example of compassion in the moment of competition came when Canadian sailor, Lawrence Lemieux was in position to medal and stopped to help capsized competitors who were injured. We will see records broken and participants happy just to be there.

All will get to face the stress of competing on a world stage where terrorism threats are a constant worry, Zika virus looms in the background, and personal health and safety may be compromised due to water sanitation or local crime.

How they respond will be related to a number of psychology of performance variables and factors such as their mental preparation and resilience (beliefs, visualization, problem solving), their training (finding that fine balance to peak in their events at this time versus burning out before), their social support network (how their coaches, teammates, friends, family, and loved ones add positive (support, encouragement, role modeling winning behavior and attitudes, affection)versus negative energy ( distractions and nonproductive criticism), how their nutrition holds up, and what is driving them to succeed.

The stories will be unfolding! I hope you get a chance to watch and learn.

Have a day filled with equanimity  and extend loving kindness, compassion and sympathetic joy to everyone you meet today.

Bob

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

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HEALTH INSITE: #POKEMONGO AND HEALTH

Intro

I know there are a TON of articles and posts that have surfaced in these 6 days since PokemonGO was released in the United States. The sheer volume of discussion around this just-short-of-a-phenomenon app is certainly surprising in many ways, though another very popular app that just recently was eclipsed in downloads, Tinder, also got a ton of press at the beginning – mostly for the questionable intentions of its users. In this case, you might be able to make a case for the questionable intent of the creators, but I’ll stay away from either of those as the crux of this post and use it as a jumping off point for what I see as valuable technology for the future of health intervention.

What is PokemonGO

pokemongo3

From NianticLabs.com

Loosely based on “Ingress,” PokemonGO is a marriage between Google spin-off Niantic and Nintendo’s Pokemon company. Both companies have, on their own, somewhat of a cult following at this point. While the platform that enabled Pokemon to flourish, Nintendo, has wider reception, both at this point, are not particularly popular on their own. I was actually never a big fan of either. There may have been Pokemon Pogs when I was growing up, but aside from that, I’m not intimately familiar with either. But this combination of geolocation technology and fantasy are not new at all. In fact, if you check out ARGNet, you will find a number of times when games have moved beyond their stated fantasy world and brought them into the real world. Even Cards Against Humanity’s 12 Days of Holiday Bullshit involved very real things IRL (In Real Life) that helped to solve a massive puzzle by contributing members.

But why is it so dang popular!?!

Simply put: it’s fun to play. In Jane McGonigal’s book Reality is Broken and in her TED talk Gaming can make a better world, she covers why gaming can be so much fun and how it can be used for more than just checking out from reality. For those that don’t know what makes a game, there are 4 rules for game-making:

  1. It has to be fun
  2. There are rules
  3. There has to be feedback
  4. It has to be voluntary

And PokemonGO handles these splendidly. If you are able to suspend seriousness and simply play the game, you get the cute characters of Pokemon as if they are in your own world. And then you have to interact with them. There are rules and while you don’t necessarily know them as a newbie, you pick them up rather quickly because there is a lot of feedback as you fail. And voluntary? At over 50Mb to download, significant battery management, dedication of time to the task, and a VERY serious draw on device memory, you’re making a conscious decision to volunteer your time to the goal “gotta catch ’em all.”

How does it work?

Relying on Niantic’s successful incorporation of layering fantasy graphics on Google’s mapping technology, your movement within the real world is translated to the world of PokemonGO. With real world locations acting as stops, real world walking moving you toward Pokemon, and real world feedback as you navigate around obstacles to find these critters, the technology is immersive while being a bit of a “screen suck.” You swipe and click the screen throughout the game to engage different activities (preferably once you’ve stopped moving!) and try to level up through the game.

A word on design

Despite the fact that there are no real instructions on how to use the game, it is incredibly easy to use and intuit as to the next thing you need to do in the game. In the case that you get jammed up, you can always talk to a friend about what they have experienced. And that conversation results in extended conversations about what you’ve seen, done, and enjoyed; even sharing what your highs and lows have been.

Laying the fantasy world on top of the real world allows for the interaction between real and false worlds to transcend the experience of the individual. While it is not necessarily a new technology, it certainly hasn’t been used to this level across a population of people. Look no further than the people walking around parks to see how pervasive this game has become.

Security

Besides the clear security issues that one might expect with an app that logs one’s location, we’ve seen articles that highlight a number of, sometimes false, security concerns that may or not may reveal private details about someone. For example, Instagram’s geotagging feature might reveal that the user is nowhere near home; meanwhile, there have been users that have been vandalized by their Uber driver because they were recently driven to the airport.

While there is only one clear security issue derived by the PokemonGO app, other than the iOS opening that created access to Niantic for the complete control of the users’ Google account (which was quickly remedied within the first five days of operation) PokemonGO does not have the hallmarks of issues, inherent to the app, that many others have had. The one condition to this that I would offer is the use of Lures at Pokestops, which allow for control over the fantasy world for other players as well. This is intended to allow you to attract Pokemon and potentially meet other people, but as you can imagine, that might cause a problem if someone wanted to maliciously use that tech to lure users more than Pokemon. You can’t see other users. You can’t lure those users (unless it’s discovered that incense works beyond the user – which, as of yet, it hasn’t). And until you can hack the database, which, as far as I, know never happened with Niantic, the users are relatively safe.

Health hazard or opportunity

So what are the real opportunities or hazards for this app. Truth is that we’ll likely see more and more stories about the extreme situations like a robbing in O’Fallon, IL that used the technology to target individuals (disproved in this case but could have been a Lure) and a young woman finding a dead body near a stream near her home. But truth is that this has created an engaged population, regardless of age, that is regularly walking through areas that they don’t regularly. And is that bad? We live in a country that is SO LARGE that we don’t inhabit more than 90% of the mass, and yet we have SO many opportunities for exploration for a nation of explorers.

Maybe it is. There are maybe some places that we don’t go and that’s okay. But for the large majority of people playing this game, it seems that it runs through the normal course of daily activity, or just slightly more.

What can it potentially do?

Gamification

Without going too deep into what the values of using gamification are here (feel free to read more here), it is certainly becoming more commonplace to bring this theory into regular technology for deeper interaction with users. The reason that gamification can be such a powerful tool in the capture of behavior change is that it seemingly separates the activity’s goal from the activity’s work by creating an intervening level of excitement with the user. This is done by initiating what is known in psychology as Flow.

figure1

From Gamasutra.com, link below

Flow is the state where the skill meets the difficulty that the user is presented with in a maximally optimal position to engage.

Augmented Reality

One of the best arguments for, and against, augmented reality that I’ve seen is nicely packaged in the form of this short film:

While there are many opportunities that augmented reality potentially brings to the table with regard to the mundane (paying your tab at a restaurant, preparing food, even exercising like PokemonGO has been credited with) there are also potential dangers to these augmentations. With regard to PokemonGO in its current version there’s certainly no actual human interface except through the handheld device. While it can influence behavior by incenting the user to do one thing or another, it cannot override human decision making. Yet.

But let’s set aside the potential for danger for a moment to consider how immersive PokemonGO has become for its users and how another user interface might have a significantly decreased reliance on the “phone” to play the game might actually allow for it to become more of a background activity, rather than what one is actively doing. In PokemonGO, the user is staring at a screen trying to find where the leaves are moving and that’s partly because of the limited amount of time most devices can actively “play” the game. But if, say with a device like Google Glass, you could be hunting Pokemon all day long? What if, rather than having to seek out Pokemon in a thirty minute “hunt,” you were hunting all day? Tracking steps all day to incubate eggs? Regularly checking into PokeStops and learning about those locations?

There are certainly risks, and those need to be mitigated. But there’s definitely a lot more opportunity too.

Teams

When you are strong enough to actually do battle at a gym, you pick one of three teams to join. These have their own internal meanings to the game and once you’ve joined a team, you can rely on those other team members for support in controlling gyms and help with training your Pokemon.

One thing that is currently lacking in this first version of the game is the ability to bring in one’s pre-existing social network. Because you must log into the game with your Gmail account or a Pokemon.com account, the audience is potentially limited when it comes to mining the available social network data that might be available with, say, a Facebook login. Then you could invite your friends to join your team in the search for Pokemon. You could actually provide each other with tactical and strategic support in quests as well as provide emotional and physical support in reaching goals. Our social networks are significant in our health decisions, and forcing users into only having the option of the three team options in the game – which are highly contrived and not very useful on their own, so far as I can tell – there are additional opportunities for increasing the effectiveness of the platform for health behavior generation.

Socio-environmental disturbance

One thing that is for sure: there are a lot of people I’ve watched over the past few days playing this game. Will it last? I’m not sure. But watching two people who are running around a park together while staring at their phone certainly acts as a pattern interrupt for me. I’ve watched as someone stared at their phone and walked around corners, and down streets, trying to engage the PokemonGO world largely oblivious to their surroundings except for what is represented on the screen. And when you see someone doing that, it definitely has a similar impact to the way that we all responded when Bluetooth headsets and wireless earphones became popular for holding mobile phone calls in the public.

Yes, it’s a pattern interrupt. And yes, it was extremely annoying when phone calls made it out into the general public, seemingly creating dialogue that only existed in the speaker’s head. But that has become so normalized now, I can’t imagine there won’t be a possibility of a similar normalization of that activity. And once normal, adoption will likely go up, not down.

Why is this important?

BmsB9w6 - ImgurThese are not the Pokemon you seek

While the PokemonGO craze has blown away the expectations of the game-makers, and frankly any Ingress user is probably also doing the, “I was geocaching before it was cool” thing right now, this does start a discussion about how we can better leverage the technology that is already available to us to change our behaviors in small, although ultimately significant, ways.

Just the beginning…

…but an important one. Critical events like this are rare in helping to shape how we want our world to look. Each of us has the capacity to impact the way that we want to engage with our communities and our technology. What do you want your world to look like? Or, more precisely, what do you want which of your worlds to look like?

To our health,

Ryan Lucas
To stay ahead on topics related to this, follow me on Twitter @dz45tr

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Total Wellbeing: July 2016

 

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July 2016: Financial Wellbeing

Get Involved!

 

piggy bank brownWelcome to the July issue of TotalWellbeing! This month it’s time for everyone’s favorite topic, Financial Wellbeing. Smart, informed decisions are the key to building a financial foundation that you can grow from. Spend, save, and invest in smart ways. Be critical of information sources and be sure people you talk to have your best interest in mind. Be patient, save where you can and we promise small steps now will add up down the road. To help we have provided a retirement calculator and links to a community-based service-trading site to help you leverage your skills and save a buck while you’re at it. For a closer look at this month’s topic and helpful resources please check out The Path and The Connection below.

Much more information on a variety of topics is available on MINESblog. Here you can expect blogs, articles, and tips provided by members of the MINES Team. Last month was Pride Month and we had a great article on how employers can support their transgender employees and make sure they are providing a safe and accommodating environment. We will continue to post regular and relevant material here so follow us if you’re not already.

As always, for more information please check out the links to the left or hit the share button to send us a message. See you next month!

To your total wellbeing,

The MINES Team

The Path: FinancialWellbeing and the Future

Financial Wellbeing is about making informed choices and building a foundation that you can grow from. It is important to consistently make the best decision possible with the information you have. That said, you also must make sure the information that you are basing your choices on is quality information and not coming from somewhere that does not have your best interest in mind. Even financial advisors can sometimes give poor advice or have ulterior motives, so take anything you hear with a grain of salt until you can do your research. Be smart, be patient, and don’t outspend your means.  Over time you will slowly but surely put in place a financial foundation that you can further build upon and use to perpetuate your life.

Tips for you:

Financial planning is unique for everyone. Different income, circumstances, and goals mean everyone needs something a little different. There are self-help tools and calculators all over the place to help you analyze and plan. Charles Schwab offers one such tool on their website to help plan for retirement and offers financial planning if needed.

Check It Out 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:

When we think of buying power, most people think of tangible assets such as money and items of value. But what about skills, knowledge, and expertise? Are these not valuable too? What if we could trade these things to others in exchange for their skills, knowledge, and expertise? Well you can! Simbi.com hosts a whole community of thousands of people doing just that. Think you have something to offer? Check it out!

See What Simbi Offers Here!

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

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Total Wellbeing: April 2016

 

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April 2016: Intellectual Wellbeing

Get Involved!

Death_to_stock_photography_weekend_work (7 of 10)

Welcome to the April issue of TotalWellbeing! This month we are bringing you resources to support your Intellectual Wellbeing. This time around we ask that you take a look at how technology impacts your life, specifically your intellect. Like many things, technology is a tool that can be used or abused. In a world of mobile apps, reality TV shows, and video games, the key is making smart choices. Choose a puzzle game that will work your mind rather than a mindless shooting game. Choose a video to watch that aims to educate rather than the latest celebrity fail video. Today’s technology and flow of information allow us to transfer knowledge and learn faster than any generation of human beings before us. Make sure to take advantage of this fact and make your next Internet search one that will teach you something you’ve always wanted to know, and then keep going. For a closer look at this month’s topic and helpful resources please check out The Path and The Connection below.

We hope you saw our posts on MINESblog last month. In the spirit of March’s turbulent weather our first post looked at weathering conflict in the workplace where we presented some of our workplace conflict stories and analyzed how management may have been able to achieve a resolution. Then towards the end of the week we turned our attention to Role of ADA, FMLA, Mental Health Accommodations and Employee Performance, which provided a good overview of one of this year’s hottest Human Resources concerns.

As always, for more information please check out the links to the left or hit the share button to send us a message. See you next month!

 

To your total wellbeing,

The MINES Team

The Path: Intellectual Wellbeing and Technology

A popular criticism of technology is that it is helping make us lazy. Is this true or does it really all come down to how we choose to utilize technology? Sure, our reliance on tech devices such as “smart” phones may mean people remember fewer phone numbers by heart and spend too much time in front of a screen, but at the same time our access to the internet anytime, anywhere means we have more information at the tips of our fingers at any given time than ever before. Please use this to your advantage and learn whereever and whenever you can. Don’t get lost in the sea of information flowing around, use it to find new and exciting things and expand your mind as you navigate a landscape of capabilities never before possible thanks to technology. Or just go play level 214 on Candy Crush, it’s up to you.

Tips for you:

As MINES has consistently stated, you need to nurture your brain and engage in lifelong learning as much as possible to get the most from your intellect. To help, why not utilize a device most of use every day, our phones, and find games that challenge your intellect. While some mobile games help you tune out and shut off your mind, the right game can help you engage your brain and practice things like memory, hand eye coordination, and more. Check out what tomsguide.com thinks are some of the best brain games out for mobile devices.

See list 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:

Intellectual wellbeing on a community level has been the concern of the public library system for decades. People often associate libraries only with books, but as technology has evolved so have they. Libraries are now a major source of electronic media and internet access for thousands of people. This access is an important public resource for research, job searching, private study, and entertainment. Help support your libraries through donations or volunteering and support your communities’ oldest intellectual resource.

See how you can help!

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

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