Posts Tagged Mines and Associates

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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Finding Joy Amidst the Holiday Stress

Angry, Frustrated Woman --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

This month is not only packed full of holidays and events, it celebrates Weary Willie, the character played by Emmett Kelly in the mid-1900s.  Weary Willie day reminds us of the importance of laughter which is very appropriate when you think of how stressful this time of year can be with the holidays, from dealing with family to making sure you have enough money and time to buy presents for people.

Emmett who performed with Ringling Brothers and Barnum, along with other circuses, was one of the few clowns who were depicted as being sad. He was classified as a hobo clown who couldn’t do much right. However, he knew how to make people laugh but also evoked sympathy from the audience. By celebrating Weary Willie and the art of clowning this month, it reminds us to find fun and enjoyment during life’s struggles and the hardships that may happen during this time of year. Whether it is just finding ways to alleviate stress or taking time to learn to juggle or ride a unicycle, remember this season will pass and it is important to find ways to smile every day. To learn more about Weary Willie and the impact he had on the world of clowns, check out this article: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Emmett-Kelly

Don’t neglect your total wellbeing. Remember all 8 dimensions of your wellness are important to keep in focus during this season to help reduce stress and be able to enjoy this time of year. You need time to replenish so make sure you do! Take time to evaluate how you can make your Physical, Emotional, Spiritual, Financial, Intellectual, Occupational, Social, and Environmental wellbeing be fulfilled so you can alleviate stress around these areas.

Here are some great tips while preparing yourself for this Holiday Season:

  1. Maintain your health. Watch what you eat and drink, get enough sleep, and don’t neglect doing your exercise program. By focusing your energy towards your wellness goals, you will feel better and be able to accomplish more.
  2. Be easy on yourself. It is ok to feel sad or grieve the loss of someone who isn’t here to enjoy the holidays with you. Acknowledge those feelings and express these normal feelings. It is natural during the holidays to feel blue sometimes. However, remember if your workplace offers an EAP they are there to help if you do want to talk to a professional about what you are feeling and if you want help processing those emotions.
  3. Carefully choose the events to attend that will bring the most joy to you. Focus on what the true meaning of the holidays are for you so your celebrations are the most meaningful. Celebrate each event you do this season so you can look back on this time as a good time verses something you have to do. This includes baking, decorating, writing a meaningful letter to someone, or choosing the perfect gift.
  4. Shop within your budget and plan in advance when, how, and where you will shop. Don’t let money worries add any stress. Giving from the heart is more important that giving an expensive gift.
  5. Be more realistic about holiday expectations – both yours and the ones others may have of you. Whether it is managing your time wisely and figuring out what you can cut out to reduce the stress or being reasonable about what you can accomplish by limiting your baking, decorating, and gift-giving. Make sure to give yourself and others a break if things don’t go according to plan.
  6. Find ways to experience happiness this season at work and at home. No matter what happens around you or who is a “Grinch”, don’t get ruffled by others’ behaviors and keep that smile on your face. Consider including your co-workers in your plans if they don’t have any or helping out in a soup kitchen, sharing something funny with someone every day, or buying yourself a gift no one will think of getting you to help make this season the best yet.
  7. Recognize that family differences won’t disappear just because it is the holidays. Work on building a relationship by finding common ground or starting a new tradition. Share fun stories and start to heal those past hurts through forgiveness and love.
  8. Take time to sit, enjoy your surroundings, and relax. Take in the weather, your home, and focus on finding a moment each day to enjoy the activities happening around you whether it is going snowboarding or sitting by the fireplace reading a good book.

We hope this list will help you have a successful, joyous, and wonderful holiday season that is stress-free!

 

To Your Wellbeing,

Raena Chatwin

Happy Holidays from the MINES Team

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Colorado Gives Day

MINES is a big fan of non-profits that do good work that benefit the community so it comes as no surprise that we are also big supporters of Colorado Gives Day. What is that you ask? For the last 7 years Community First Foundation and Firstbank has presented Colorado Gives Day, which is a 24-hour statewide donating extravaganza event. Together with the sponsored $1 Million Incentive Fund, this day represents one of the largest donation initiatives in the country, and is aimed at helping non-profit organizations right here in Colorado.

Not only is this a great effort to support community resources in Colorado, but the people and organizations involved are doing important work that wouldn’t be possible without public help and donations. Some of these great organizations are companies that MINES serves and works with every day. In fact, some of our great partners include:

We know that not everyone has the means to donate, but if you are willing and able to help we ask that you please consider giving during Colorado Gives Day either to one of the organizations listed above or to one of the many other important causes from Colorado non-profits. At Coloradogives.org you can search by location, company, or cause so that you can find a cause that you’re passionate about and make sure it gets the support it needs to keep serving the Colorado community.

Thank you to all that can donate or support these great causes in your own way. Our thriving community is only possible with the help of people like you.

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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Total Wellbeing: March 2016

 

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March 2016: Emotional Wellbeing

Get Involved!

Welcome to the March issue of TotalWellbeing! This month we are bringing you resources to support your Emotional Wellbeing. As you nurture your Emotional Wellbeing remember that it is important to look at the bright side. The interplay between our perception and our emotions is a powerful connection that is important to be aware of. Put simply, depending on your outlook, your mind can perceive a situation in a positive light or a negative one, in turn making the situation either better or worse than it may actually be. It is important to remember that you have the power to influence your perception and to take steps to make sure you maintain a positive outlook as you navigate life’s day-to-day challenges. 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. If you missed it you’re sure to want to check out our examination of the leadership and culture of the Denver Broncos as they headed towards their Super Bowl 50 victory. Next our Leap day post may have explored what you can do with a little extra time on your hands, but don’t worry you don’t have to wait another 4 years to take advantage of it, seize the day now!

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: Emotional Wellbeing and Perspective

This month we’d like to talk about the relationship perspective has with our emotional wellbeing. It’s the old metaphor of looking at a glass as half full rather than half empty. Keeping your mind on the positive side of a situation can be a very powerful tool in your wellbeing repertoire. For instance if you try and perceive a typically anxiety-inducing situation as a challenge that you can overcome, rather than an insurmountable obstacle, you can begin to turn your anxiety into excitement as you strive to triumph over whatever is in your path. So if you need an emotional boost try changing your perspective, you can accomplish this by doing something that will put your mind into a different mode of thought. Try listening to some music you love, doing something creative like painting or writing, going outdoors for some fresh air, or try going somewhere new such as a new restaurant. You’ll find that a change in perspective may help you see things in a more positive light!

Tips for you:

Taking care of your emotional health is as important as taking care of your physical body. If your emotional health is out of balance, you may experience high blood pressure, ulcers, chest pain, or a host of other physical symptoms. Check out 10 ways that you can boost your own emotional wellbeing.

Read tips 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 the going gets tough even the tough can get emotional. Everyone needs support sometimes and there is nothing at all wrong with that. In fact it is very healthy to seek support when you need it. Friends and family are a great source for this type of support, however, sometimes you need to talk to people that can better relate with the situation. That’s where support groups come in. They can be a great way to connect with people that are going through the same thing you are. Check out Mental Health America’s database of support groups to find local support over a wide variety of topics.

Check out this great resource!

 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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Suicide in the Workplace

The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 1 million people die each year from suicide. Consider that number for a moment.  Imagine someone asked you to count 1 million toothpicks.  How long would it take?  Most Americans have been impacted by suicide.  The topic of suicide and the workplace is not frequently talked about and often gets overlooked.

A colleague or employee contemplating suicide can be overwhelming for HR representatives, supervisors, and managers.  You may not know what your role is or how to offer support without overstepping professional and personal boundaries.  One of the most difficult questions has to do with assessment.  How does one determine if a person is really at risk for suicide, and if a risk is detected what is the most effective way to intervene?

This blog provides a brief reference, or starting point, for developing strategies to manage suicide in the work place.   It addresses warning signs, prevention tips, and postvention tips.  It also offers suggestions for what you can do to support those who have lost an employee or co-worker to suicide.

When a person is contemplating taking their own life, they often will not voluntarily tell anybody.  They may, however, reach out in non-direct ways.  Below are some warning signs that someone may be contemplating suicide:

  1. Talking, writing about suicide/death. The phrases, “I wish I were dead” or “the world would be better off without me” are common examples of things suicidal people might say.
  2. Someone might be suicidal if they begin actively seeking access to guns or other weapons, pills, etc.
  3. They begin putting their affairs in order. Things like making a will, or tying up loose ends as not to be a further burden on friends and family might be a sign that they are contemplating leaving for good.
  4. A person who appears down, depressed, or hopeless.
  5. Isolating themselves from others. Somebody who normally engages socially might become isolated or start to withdraw from co-workers, work engagements and other social obligations might be suffering from major depression.
  6. Increase in risky behavior. If a person significantly increases alcohol, or drug use, incidents of unsafe sex, calling into work, reckless driving, or a host of other harmful activities, they are demonstrating unsafe behaviors and may have given up.

If you witness one or more of the above behaviors the next step is to determine their risk.  It is helpful to consider multiple factors that could increase ones risk.  The brief list below is a place to start.

  1. Biopsychosocial factors: The individual is at higher risk if they have a history of trauma or abuse, alcohol or drug addiction, or mental health issues–especially those that have gone undiagnosed or untreated.  If there have been previous attempts and/or a family history of suicide then this would increase the likelihood that someone would seriously complete suicide.
  2. Sociocultural factors: Being part of a stigmatized, non-dominate group in society like LBGTQ can cause a person to feel isolated especially if they do not have the support of friends and family.  The person may have been in a social environment where suicide is normalized, they may have had friends or family complete suicide which makes suicide contemplative.  Barriers to mental healthcare associated with socioeconomic issues prevent individuals obtaining the help and early intervention they need.
  3. Environmental factors: These might include a recent job loss, dropping out of school, or loss of a loved one or relationship.  The person may live in an environment where access to guns or pills is readily available increasing their means–subsequently increasing risk.
  4. Does the person have a plan, intent or means to commit suicide? If somebody discloses that they have a specific plan to harm themselves, high motivation to do so, and a way to do it, they are at high risk for committing suicide.

If you have seen the warning signs in someone and determine that they are at high risk and you feel they are in imminent danger you should get them to a mental health professional, call 911, or take them to the nearest emergency room.  For long-term suicide prevention tips in the workplace see the ideas below.

Prevention tips:

  1. Make help accessible by posting suicide prevention hotlines in lunchrooms, break rooms, and bathrooms.
  2. Raise awareness regarding resources; make sure employees know that they have an employee assistance program (EAP) and that using the benefit is confidential. Post flyers with numbers to the EAP so that number is accessible to everyone. Oftentimes EAP programs are accessible to human resource representatives, mangers, and supervisors; take advantage and seek advice.  Have a list of community resources that offer mental health services.  Let employees know that they can also talk with their human resources representative.
  3. Educate employees by destigmatizing mental health and substance abuse issues by offering lunch and learns or trainings on various topics such as suicide, healthy coping skills for managing stress, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse issues.
  4. Create a balanced work environment by allowing for “mental health” days or offering work from home days if it’s possible. Managers and supervisors can help by assisting in resolving work problems as they arise and managing conflict effectively between co-workers, managers, and supervisors.

If your company has experienced a suicide, the loss of a colleague or employee can be shocking and traumatic. Below are a series postvention tips that might be helpful in the event of a workplace suicide.

Postvention tips:

  1. Acknowledge that your employees may have strong emotions surrounding the suicide and will need opportunities to express their feelings.
  2. Supervisors and managers should be on alert for PTSD symptoms. A drastic change in behavior may be a sign that a person is having a hard time dealing with the incident.
  3. Encourage healthy grieving by providing a basic understanding of the stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.  The stages of grief affect individuals differently at various rates.   Some employees may express their grief as sadness or anger over a long period of time, while others may get back to their normal lives rather quickly.
  4. Offering empathetic and compassionate listening will give employees permission to talk openly with their supervisors and managers and will give them the opportunity to ask for what they might need in their grief. Being accessible to employees lets them know that they are not alone and that they are supported
  5. Become a role model for healthy grieving by being open with your feelings surrounding the suicide.

The purpose of this blog is not only to help employers notice the warning signs of suicide and help them assess their employee’s risk for suicide, it also serves as a basic framework on how to instill awareness regarding suicide, prevention and postvention tips in the workplace.  It is likely that if there is early recognition and intervention of a person who is contemplating suicide, that there can be a positive outcome.  In honor of suicide prevention month remember, asking someone “how are you doing” or “are you ok” should reach farther than the project they’re working on.  By asking and being open to talk, you can save a person’s life.

Helpful resources:

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

http://www.crisischat.org/

http://www.suicide.org/suicide-hotlines.html

http://actionallianceforsuicideprevention.org/sites/actionallianceforsuicideprevention.org/files/Managers-Guidebook-To-Suicide-Postvention-Web.pdf

Crisis Lines:

1-800-273-TALK (8255):  This number will connect you with a mental health professional who will be able to assist you.

Apps:

Ask:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ask-prevent-suicide/id419595716?mt=8

The Jason Foundation:  http://jasonfoundation.com/get-involved/student/a-friend-asks-app/

MY3:  http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/gethelp/my3-app.aspx

Alea Makley, MA
Case Manager
MINES & Associates

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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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Health inSite: Decisions and Privacy

Originally posted on xchangehealth:

There is a shift in healthcare related to our concept of privacy that is sorely needed – and it’s probably a little different than what you’ve heard from a lot of groups/people around the web.

We need to stop thinking about healthcare as a private thing.

As far as information about us, it’s simply no longer acceptable to consider our lives as private.  Not in a time where we actually understand our social network to such a degree that we can accurately and effectively map our connections in the social network (not like Facebook but friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and the ‘guy at the gym’) and understand how we consciously and unconsciously make decisions about how we behave.  These behavioral changes manifest in health outcomes and as we move to a healthcare system (rather than a sickcare system) what you do is what you are – or more precisely what you are going to become.  Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t be protected from abuse or discrimination or anything like that, but functionally, your decisions every single day are going to have an impact on more than just you; you owe some accountability to your social network (and they to you) as to what your decisions are doing every day, because Community is the Key to Health.

You may not know it yet, but what you decided to eat for lunch today (if you ate lunch today – and for some of you that might not even be the case) was decided long before you actually ate your lunch.  Here’s a non-exhaustive list of the ways in which this decision was made before you actually ate it:

Schedule: The structure of your day had an impact on what you ate for lunch.  Did you have a co-occurring meeting and therefore ate a “bagged lunch?” Did you have a meal prepared ahead of time – and if not did you have to throw a lunch together this morning before leaving, or did it force you to “forage” for a lunch?

Environment: Consider how the environment surrounding your lunch impacts your lunch decision. Did you run out for lunch because you needed some fresh air or a break from the office?  Do you have a place where you regularly eat lunch and therefore have a system for preparing for that meal each day – conversely, did that get interrupted for this particular lunch by environmental impacts like bad weather or the space itself was occupied in a way that prevented you from following that regular schedule?

Social Impact: For some, eating lunch is a social activity.  Do you have a regularly scheduled lunch partner? Was that true today?

Resources: Money and time as resources have an impact on the structure of lunch.  How do you use these resources in an intentional way related to your lunch habit? Do you spend money at a restaurant / court / vending machine each day or bring your lunch?  Do you have the resources of time and money to prepare ahead or use those resources to forgo preparing ahead?

And let me tell ya’, this isn’t even the beginning of the ways that this could be further expanded.  Think about all of the ways that a single meal is planned and replicate that process for each decision you make today.  Exercise, nutrition, social activities, occupational activities, mindfulness activities, financial decisions, personal intellectual development, etc. etc. etc.

Now think about this: why did you make those decisions?  Consciously or not, you may have made those decisions because of someone else.  Did your partner pack your lunch and therefore help to make the decision of what you’re eating – or was shopping not prepared in a way to pack that lunch in the preferred way?  How much of your diet is based on someone else’s decision?  Maybe your doctor suggested a change in your diet?  Maybe you or a family member has a dietary restriction that changes your diet on a daily basis.  In the case of a family member’s restriction, maybe your lunch is the time when that restriction doesn’t apply to your personal diet?

Lastly consider this: Can you push yourself to make a given decision either by limiting or adding options?  Can you change the options you have available at the point of decision-making with a little bit of foresight?  Try to find one example of a way that you can “pre-decide” by removing the alternative option.  Maybe one of the questions above can be flipped to help you make a “pre-decision” that will help you make a single, healthier decision this week – even if it’s only once.  You might find it’s pretty easy to do and may be a powerful way to change your behavior in a positive way.  And then consider the flip-side of this.  How can you help someone else through a “pre-decision” that helps someone in your social network make a decision that is healthier for them?

Here’s what I’m saying, and to slightly alter a quote from Cloud Atlas:

Our health is not our own. We are bound to others, near and far, and by each decision and every sharing of those decisions, we birth our health.

It’s time for us to stop thinking that we are fully separate members of society that don’t have an impact on others and start being accountable to one another for how the decisions we make impact others – and vice versa.  Yes, even in health.

To our health,

Ryan Lucas
Manager, Engagement & Development
Follow me on twitter: @dz45tr

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Total Wellbeing: January 2014

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January 2014: Occupational and Financial Wellbeing

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Happy New Year!

Welcome to the January issue of TotalWellbeing! This month we want to help you kick off the New Year the right way. Plus, what better time than now to introduce what’s new for this year?

Our theme for 2014, TotalWellbeing, has been designed to help bridge the gap between your potential, and actual, wellbeing.  By keeping employees informed, we will supply the knowledge necessary to support healthy lifestyles in order to be well in both body and mind.  With this idea of the mind-body relationship at the forefront, our topics will focus on the 8 dimensions of wellness: Physical, Occupational, Intellectual, Environmental, Financial, Social, Spiritual, and Emotional Wellness. Each month we will explore how different aspects of wellness are connected to each other and more importantly how they apply to you so you can achieve balance and promote your own Total Wellbeing.

These will also be posted on our blog each month.  So, if one of the topics appeals to you or you have interest in joining a conversation with others about the topics in each monthly communication, feel free to comment or rate these on our blog!  We look forward to hearing from you!

To your total wellbeing,

The MINES Team

The Connection: Occupational & Financial Wellbeing

If you’re getting this email, it’s because you have a job since we send these out through your employer.  How are you approaching your work?  If you’re working there, hopefully you enjoy your job or career, but how does that job or career help you achieve your own financial goals?  What is the next step for you with your current employer?  What professional goals should you set to be a better or more effective employee?  What would it mean to take that next step in your career?

Occupational Wellbeing

Financial Wellbeing

Creating Job Satisfaction

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Financial Wellbeing Tips

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Job satisfaction doesn’t just come from how much you make or how exciting your job is. The mindset in which you approach your job and your day to day attitude can make the difference between loving your job and dreading it. Learn how to get the most out of your job and enhance your job satisfaction.To read the full article, click here. Whether you have short term or long term goals, these simple tips from MyKitto.com will teach you new ways to protect your financial investments and help you worry less and save more.To read the full article, click here.
 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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Psychology of Performance – 41: Impact of Alcohol, Sleep, and Obesity

It may be self-evident to many of you reading this blog that alcohol use, sleep deprivation, and obesity can negatively affect performance at work or at home.  If this is a correct assumption and you have all three of these areas under control, thank you.  On the other hand, after 39 years of working with people and organizations on these issues it is clear to me that our society continues to miss the boat on them.

This week alone, I had client organizations call about each of these concerns.  In one case a senior executive was observed to drink one bottle of wine at a company function, plus cocktails before dinner. Her behavior became problematic when she propositioned a male colleague, angrily denied she had drank too much and proceeded to accuse others on her executive team of “being out to get her.”  To make this situation even sadder, the executive had done something similar three years earlier at the same company function.  This became a performance issue at a number of levels.  First, upon investigation, it turned out she had a number of days in the last few months where her secretary reported she left early for lunch and never returned resulting in significant loss of individual productivity. Second, she created liability for her company when she propositioned a colleague. This created a potentially hostile work environment/sexual harassment lawsuit. In addition, there was lost time for human resources, management, and legal to review the situation and interview all parties. Third, when confronted with her behavior and the company’s requirement to go to the employee assistance program for an evaluation and potential referral for treatment if indicated, she refused and resigned. This resulted in additional loss of intellectual capital and the personal long term health costs to her. This reminder for everyone in supervisor, management, or executive functions is that alcohol and other substance use disorders have not diminished despite policies, procedures,’ and education interventions. It is important to stay alert to your employees’ and colleagues’ behavior and act in a timely and compassionate manner similar to the company discussed in this paragraph.

The research on sleep deprivation is well documented. Sleep deprived individuals do not function well cognitively and their reaction times are diminished. This finding was significant enough for one researcher to say that sleep deprived drivers were more dangerous than alcohol impaired drivers. What are the costs to your organization related to sleep deprivation? We know that individuals who are sleep deprived eat more, make poorer food and exercise decisions, are more irritable with others, and make poor decisions. Many companies recognize the dangers of sleep deprivation and provide nap rooms, meditation classes, and other options so that employees can refresh themselves and perform better at work.

Obesity, wellness, and financial impact discussions are ubiquitous on the internet and in the professional literature. Our workforces are getting fatter and fatter. Recent research suggested that obesity not only has downstream health costs for the employer, there is some evidence that cognitive functions can be influenced as well. This research needs to be replicated. Then there is the subgroup of morbidly obese individuals who also have co-morbid depression. Depression affects performance in terms of diminished problem solving skills, concentration problems, social withdrawal, lowered energy which is compounded by the lower energy associated with morbid obesity, as well as other symptoms such as memory impairment. Any of these symptoms will negatively affect performance in most jobs. As an employer it will become an even heavier burden going forward to manage the workforce as the obesity incidence continues to grow. What is becoming more apparent is that the typical wellness program is unsuccessful in helping the morbidly obese. A major component that is missing is the psychological aspects of performance related to weight loss and weight gain. The research in this area has been well established for over 25 years.  Coors Brewing in 1988 was one of the first companies to incorporate an intensive outpatient obesity program as part of its wellness program. It was a highly successful program. Unfortunately during that time there were many fasting programs and one of the unintended side effects of these programs was an increase in gall bladder surgeries and the corresponding cost. Due to a variety of factors beyond the scope of this blog, all weight loss programs were discontinued a few years later. There are best practice examples of successful interventions with the morbidly obese employee population which apply the psychological elements needed to lose and sustain weight loss.

Contact us if you would like to learn more:

info@minesandassociates.com

Have a day filled with loving kindness and compassion,

Bob

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

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