Posts Tagged wellbeing
International Day of Persons with Disabilities and the ADA: The Legal Side of Psychological Wellbeing at Work
December 3rd is International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and this year’s theme is “Transformation towards a sustainable and resilient society for all”. Transforming workplaces so that they foster resilience among all employees is a worthy goal – one that both MINES and I share with real passion.
Fortunately, most employers now generally understand the links between employee mental health, productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. This is real progress. Unfortunately, only 15% of supervisors and managers are actually trained in how to recognize and respond to employees who may be struggling. This is a problem that MINES and I are taking steps to remedy through our work with our clients and by offering training and consultations to supporters of campaigns like Colorado Mental Wellness Network’s Mental Health Equality at Work.
Employers do not generally associate the Americans with Disabilities Act and Family Medical Leave Act with psychological or mood-related conditions. This knowledge deficit can be problematic because more often than not an employee will reach a point of crisis before exploring potential job accommodations. By that time, it is often too late to save the employment relationship and everybody loses.
This common pattern of “waiting until a crisis” may partly explain the recent surge in depression-related employment discrimination claims filed with the EEOC. These filings increased by 56% between 2003 and 2013, and the EEOC issued written guidance for employees with mental health conditions, as well as their health care providers, for the first time in December 2016.2016
I train supervisors, managers, and HR staff in how to create psychologically healthy workplaces, how to use accommodations as everyday management tools, and how to comply with the ADA and FMLA. Managers are always happy to learn about low- or no-cost accommodation tools they can use right away, instead of making their employees wait for a crisis to occur before requesting them. And, they are relieved to learn that the ADA does not require the elimination of essential functions – a common yet erroneous assumption.
One of the areas I partner with MINES on is training supervisors how to have the early conversation with employees who may be struggling. This is a skill that does not come naturally to most of us – managers don’t want to pry, say the wrong thing, violate an employee’s privacy, play the role of therapist, or step over a legal line of which they’re unaware. MINES personnel have truly mastered this skill over the years.
Another exciting area of partnership with MINES is providing highly specialized mediation and case management services for the toughest ADA and/or FMLA cases involving mental health conditions. Most ADA requests are not challenging to manage. However, some cases are so complex they require the expertise of seasoned psychologists to provide case management guidance and support. Examples include rare diagnoses, some types of personality disorders, and difficulty in finding the right medication or treatment plan. MINES plays an indispensable role in guiding these cases to a sustainable path forward for both the employee and employer.
Lastly, MINES and I collaborate in providing outsourced disability and absence management services nationwide. When we take on this role for our clients, we are truly in the best position to transform workplaces to foster resilience among all employees.
In closing, I hope everyone will celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities with us, by taking proactive steps to accommodate employees at all levels of cognitive, emotional, and social functioning.
To Your Wellbeing,
Judge (Ret.) Mary McClatchey
December 2017: Physical Wellbeing and Stress
Welcome to the December issue of TotalWellbeing! If you have been following TotalWellbeing you know that every month we focus on one of the 8 Dimensions of Wellbeing. As we come to the end of the year, stress can increase and your attention to your physical wellbeing may decrease. As the holidays bring forth stress around money for gift giving and around family gatherings, and the many holiday parties you may attend certainly don’t help your nutrition commitments. Please take this time focus on what matters, use your emotional resilience skills to de-stress, and focus on eating healthy.
For a closer look at this month’s topic and helpful resources please check out The Path and The Connection below or check out our newest infographic on Stress for some helpful information around stress in the US and how to managed a stressful situation in a healthy way.
In case you missed it, November was a great month on MINESblog! We started off with a great post from our affiliate and Alzheimer’s/Dementia expert JJ Jordan for Alzheimer’s Awareness month. Next, we celebrated World Kindness Day with a post talking about how to use kindness to improve your life and the lives of those around you. And finally, we posted about the interplay between stress and physical wellbeing as a tee up to this month’s focus. Be sure to check all of these out for great information and practical resources.
As always, for more information please check out the links to the left or hit the share button to send us a message. To be notified when we post more resources and articles make sure to subscribe to MINESblog. See you next month!
To your total wellbeing,
The MINES Team
The Path: Health, Holidays, and Stress
Physical Wellbeing can encompass a lot of things from exercising regularly, eating healthy, taking time to make sure your stress is worked out through physical activity, and getting enough sleep. Stress can exasperate many medical and mental health conditions. This month is a perfect time to work on your stress by focusing on your physical wellbeing which will help resolve the side effects of stress. The blog on stress and physical wellbeing has some great tips and thoughts on this subject. As the holidays approach it is easy to put aside eating healthy and exercising. However, this is the best time to focus on doing this as it can actually improve your holiday experience and your overall wellbeing.
|Tips for you:
Emotions are a healthy part of the human experience. Acknowledging emotions and understanding your personal stress style is the first step in beginning to control them. In this session, we will discuss a selection of customary stressors as well as techniques for exercising control over them.
The Connection: Get Involved
Wellbeing does not simply start and stop at the individual. Our community is connected to each of our own individual wellbeing in a huge way. When we are well we can better function within our community. We can help our fellow humans thrive, and in turn, when our community is prospering, it helps each of us reach our goals as individuals. So why not help our community so we can all thrive together? Each month we will strive to bring you resources that can help you enhance the wellbeing of those around you or get involved with important causes.
|Community Wellbeing Resources:
This month look at how you can expand your knowledge and skills within your community in regards to physical activities. Check out your local community’s website for senior centers where you could volunteer to help take people on a hike or to do yoga. Or look for other ways you can improve your, and others, physical wellbeing.
If your organization has access to PersonalAdvantage make sure to check out this customizable online benefit available through MINES. It has tons of the same great resources for all the dimensions of wellbeing that we discuss here, along with some articles and a whole section on having a stress free holiday season! If you haven’t checked it out yet, or want to see what resources they have for this month’s topic check out the link below. You’ll need your company login, so make sure to get that from your employer or email us and we’ll be happy to provide that to you.
|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 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!|
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), being mindful of your physical wellbeing means recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy foods, and sleep in order to maintain a healthy mind and body. Physical wellbeing is an important concept on many levels as your level of physical health has a huge influence on other parts of your life such stress levels, optimal hormone production, and energy levels to name a few. In this blog, my intention is to look at how stress and physical wellbeing interact with each other on a day-to-day basis and explore some things that we can all do to boost our physical wellbeing and lower our stress levels at the same time.
What does Physical Wellbeing Look Like?
The choice to maintain your overall physical wellbeing is one of balance. It doesn’t mean that you need to eat a super strict diet and exercise every day. It is more about creating healthy habits that you do on a consistent basis. If you are mindful of what you eat and how much you exercise, you will naturally start to move towards the healthier path. The more you repeat the behavior, the more you will begin to see the effects and the easier it will become to develop a routine. As you choose the healthier path more often than not, the good habits will grow and soon you won’t have to think about it, eating healthy foods will become the norm and a day where you don’t exercise or do some type of physical activity will feel strange and unproductive.
Before we get ahead of ourselves it is important to remember that physical wellbeing is just as much about making good decisions as it is about avoiding bad ones. For example, excessive drinking and drugs will impact your physical wellbeing in a huge way, as will eating junk food or never exercising, so remain vigilant and avoid the dangerous stuff just as much as you seek out the healthy. If we learn to moderate and balance ourselves it can go a long way in managing the impact of one of the biggest health hazards around, stress.
What is Stress?
Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. While the definition is pretty broad, how each of us experience stress, and the circumstances that may be responsible for our stress, can be very specific and personal. This is one of the reasons there is no “cure-all” or universal way to eliminate stress from your life. The important thing is to monitor yourself for signs of stress and manage any stress in a proactive way to minimize any effects on your wellbeing.
So, what happens when we don’t manage our stress in a healthy and proactive manner? Well, stress can lead to numerous negative effects that can impact our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Some signs of unmanaged stress include fatigue, nausea, muscle tremors, twitches, headaches, anxiety, guilt, grief, fear, depression, irritability, inability to rest, memory and attention problems, trouble sleeping, and more. Again, since each of us has our own unique sources of stress, it is important to understand how you as an individual react to stress and monitor yourself for signs.
How Physical Wellbeing Interacts with Stress
The good news is that there are things that we can do to manage and reduce the stress that we experience. For the purpose of this blog, I will focus on the physical wellbeing side, which includes physical activity, good nutrition, and sleep. Focusing on your physical wellbeing can both manage current stress as well as prevent future stressors such as disease and health conditions caused by poor physical wellbeing, so it really is a win/win situation!
First, as a proactive management tool, exercise is one of the best and healthiest ways to manage the stressors of our daily lives. Exercise helps your muscles get rid of stress-induced tension and acids that build up, while also helping your body release feel-good endorphins that will help you relax. It will be important to develop an exercise routine that is aerobic, so you get all the heart-healthy benefits and make it fun so you’ll continue to enjoy doing it.
In addition to higher energy levels and relaxation benefits, another “pro” of regular exercise is a higher quantity and better quality of sleep. Now we will talk about sleep more in a bit, but for now I just wanted to note that it is important to stick to your exercise routine when you are stressed or tired. One of the reasons for this is that while we sleep our body uses this time to regulate chemicals in our body including neurotransmitters and hormones. When we don’t get enough sleep, those chemicals can be out of balance, but when we exercise it helps to balance out those same chemicals, meaning that when you don’t get enough sleep it becomes more important to exercise in order to keep your body in stasis.
Some exercise tips include:
- Get a workout buddy. When you have a reliable partner to workout with, it makes exercise more fun. You can encourage and hold each other to the commitments that you have both made.
- Talk to your doctor. A doctor can help gauge where your physical wellbeing is at now and help set healthy goals to strive for. This will also help you approach your goals in a safe and calculated way specific to your individual needs.
- Avoid Boredom. Don’t set yourself up for failure by selecting activities you know you hate. If you can’t stand running in place on a treadmill, run outside or bike instead. Working out in solitary not your thing? Try group classes to shake things up.
Next up is nutrition. Good eating habits centered around eating regular, nutritious meals will further help your body stay chemically balanced, improve energy levels, and reduce the chances of stress causing disease caused from poor nutrition including obesity and diabetes.
When developing your nutritional goals, it will be important to focus on foods low in fat, sodium, and refined sugars. Look for foods containing complex and complete carbohydrates such as whole wheat breads and flours. When purchasing meat, think about using leaner options such as turkey bacon and chicken over fat-heavy pork. Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine and limit alcohol consumption.
It can also be important how you eat. As much as you can help it, eating should not be a rushed or stressed endeavor. Try to set aside enough time that you don’t need to rush through your food. Not only will this lead to easier digestion, but mindful eating can be a time for relaxation and contemplation. For instance, try this mindful eating exercise next time you are having dinner. Begin by taking the time to look at your food and notice how it looks, if it’s a hot meal pay attention to how the steam rises from the dish, and how the colors of the various food items look. Take a single bite and focus on how the food tastes, what the texture is like, and what you enjoy about each bite. If you are eating with family members have them describe their own thoughts about the food and the eating experience. Mindful eating not only helps you appreciate the food and the overall experience of eating, it also has physical benefits such as easier digestion from the slower eating pace. Eating slower also means your body will have more time to tell you it’s full before you take those few extra bites. Of course, this is just one example of using a simple everyday activity as a mindfulness exercise, but it should get you thinking about other activities in your own day-to-day life that have mindful potential. Leveraging these small “mindful moments” can go a long way in helping you maintain perspective and stay present among all the external stressors in your life.
Some other nutrition tips include:
- Do not go to the store hungry and stock only healthy foods at home. Not going to the store hungry and making sure to only buy healthy food means that when you are hungry and craving the junk food you will simply not have access to it. Over time you will begin to truly enjoy and crave the good, healthier options.
- Make simple swaps for a leaner diet. Rather than eliminating foods you love, try simply making them healthier with a few substitutions. Prepare veggies without sauces or butter, reduce your fatty meat portions, grill instead of fry, dip food in sauce rather than smother it, and choose whole-grain, low-salt, and low-fat options when shopping.
- Make a meal log. Keeping a list of the meals you eat can help you visualize your eating habits, identify patterns, and find opportunities for improvement. Sometimes you just don’t realize that you had 3 cheeseburgers already this week, but if you keep a list it becomes easier to find those bad habits you may not think about otherwise.
Sleep can be a huge issue for many people, and the frustrating thing about the sleep/stress cycle is that stress can often be the cause of sleepless nights and in turn being tired makes you less resilient to the effects of stress. This can cause an exhausting spiral that can quickly take its toll on your wellbeing and other good habits such as your exercise routine, even though as I mentioned above, it’s even more important to exercise when you have had poor sleep.
In addition to magnifying the effects of stress, not getting enough sleep causes all sorts of negative effects and can be dangerous. Drowsiness can cause delayed reaction time, impaired judgement, poor vision quality, decreased motivation, irritability, and lack of focus. All of these side effects are bad by themselves but when combined with activities like driving or operating machinery, the risk factor goes way up. To combat these risks, you need to be mindful and purposeful of your sleeping routine. Make it a goal to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night, and build your bedtime routine around this effort. Begin by building a bedtime ritual that you start at the same time every night. Pick relaxing activities that help you wind down. This could be reading a book, meditating, taking a warm bath, journaling, or something else you find enjoyable and relaxing. Try to avoid any activities that involve a screen like a TV, computer, or mobile device as these screens can emit light within a specific spectrum that can interfere with, and alter, your sleep/wake cycle.
Some sleep tips include:
- Keep to the same bedtime and wake time schedule, even on weekends.
- Eliminate noise and light from your sleep environment (use eye masks and earplugs).
- Avoid caffeinated beverages and foods close to bedtime.
- Avoid alcohol; although it may seem to improve sleep initially, tolerance develops quickly and it will soon disturb sleep.
By now you should have at least some idea around how stress and physical wellbeing interact with each other and may even have an idea of how you’re going to use your physical activities to help reduce stress. No matter what your physical and nutrition plan is, balance and moderation will be important. Don’t exercise yourself into exhaustion and don’t diet yourself into a nutrient deficiency. In fact, we would advise that you talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen or diet. Find out what path works for your unique set of needs and proceed slowly. Start developing those good habits while you scale back the bad ones and before you know it these changes you make will become habitual and most importantly, sustainable.
It is practically impossible to avoid stress in our daily lives, and we must accept that many things are outside our control. However, by maintaining the facets of our lives we do have control over, we can be infinitely better prepared to handle the stressors that inevitably come our way. It is crucial that we maintain healthy habits that will build “positive spirals” in our lifestyle and overall health. The journey is not always an easy one but the good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. Reach out to your social network of friends and family and see who wants to take the journey with you or is at least willing to encourage you and help you stick to your convictions. Read self-help books on topics your struggling with, talk to others that may have experience, and try out local support groups.
If your employer offers one, you can also reach out to your Employee Assistance Program to see what resources they can offer to help such as MINES’ wellness programs or online portal, PersonalAdvantage, that provides articles, assessments, tips, trainings, and other resources on fitness, nutrition, stress, and much more. Call us at 1-800-873-7138 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
To your wellbeing,
The MINES Team
According to the Oxford dictionary, kindness is “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate”. But it goes beyond just being friendly or considerate. It is the act of stepping outside your norm and doing something for someone else just for the sake of being nice. Today try celebrating #WorldKindessDay by finding unique ways to help those around you and yourself. You may be surprised at how much happier you will be and may even notice a permanent change in your environmental wellbeing at home and at work by simply celebrating this day in a new way.
Ways to be Kind at Work
Some days it can be tough to be kind at work, especially if there are hurt feelings, frustration around responsibilities, or if you are just plain busy. However, those are the best days to take a couple of moments out and force yourself to do something kind for those around you.
Here are 10 simple things you could do at work today to celebrate this important concept.
- Take a co-worker out to lunch or coffee who may be going through a stressful time (or bring them in a cup of their favorite beverage).
- Ask a co-worker who is struggling with caregiving or is having a hard time, what you can do to help or offer to babysit one night for them.
- Write a thank you note or bring in a treat for your janitorial staff who are rarely seen but do a ton of work to make sure your office is clean and ready to go for you.
- Say thank you to your receptionist for their hard work making sure your office runs smoothly.
- Send an encouragement note out to a co-worker.
- Smile at everyone you see in the hallway. This will encourage you and your co-workers!
- Don’t wait to be asked, but stay late or come in early and help a co-worker out on a big project.
- Stop and say “good morning” to a co-worker that you don’t normally interact with.
- Bring in a big crock pot of soup to share with everyone who wants some.
- Publicly recognize someone’s strengths and thank them for a job well done.
And remember, if you see someone struggling that needs help or should talk to someone, the EAP is a great resource and MINES and Associates has counselors available 24/7 to talk. Please give them our number at 1-800-873-7138 and offer to help them call.
Ways to be Kind at Home
We all know about random acts of kindness as there are countless stories of people buying coffee for the person behind them or passing along the good holiday cheer to strangers. This is an important aspect of what this day is all about. However, it is also important to bring this home to your family and friends.
- Offer to help a family member or friend work on their weekend to-do list.
- Take someone a meal so they don’t have to cook dinner for a day.
- Have everyone in your home (whether it is just you, your significant other, and/or your kids) write a thank you note to each person in the house.
- Do a chore for someone that you know they don’t like to do.
- Try writing up a list of random acts of kindness that someone could do for others in the house. Then every week draw from that list and do that action.
- Send a gift to someone who is having a hard day.
- Leave a treat for your mailman in your mailbox.
- Clean your kids’ room for them, without grumbling.
- Thank someone for their everyday contribution.
- Set time aside to have that lengthy conversation with your relative that likes to talk.
Ways to be Kind to Yourself
There are plenty of acts you can do that are selfless and helpful to those around you. However, have you considered that you need to be kind to yourself? Those times you feel guilty, stressed by your actions, or unsure about yourself, take this day to look inward at how you can build your personal wellbeing and improve yourself. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Treat yourself to something special. Most nutrition experts will agree that having a cheat day built into your healthy food schedule allows for habits to solidify and for you to enjoy life and those special occasions. So, take this time to examine what makes you happy and what you can do to support your needs. And take the time to tell a friend, co-worker, or family member your needs so they can support you in the future. Communication is key and we are all in this crazy world together trying to make the best of each day.
And it is always a good idea to talk to a counselor if you feel you need help or want to find ways to improve your wellbeing. MINES is happy to talk with you and help you set goals around this. Or you can check out our monthly communication that dives deeper into all 8 areas of wellbeing to see how you can support your needs.
Celebrate Kindness Every Day!
Use this day to start finding ways to incorporate kindness into your life. As you do this, you will be amazed at how satisfied you feel, how helpful you feel, and how much you can influence those around you. Smile, give generously, be helpful in small ways.
Here’s to your continued journey to total wellbeing,
MINES and Associates
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!
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.
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
- Healthy MINES employee events including rock climbing and hiking
- Healthy Lunch events such as Yoga and Zumba activities
- Access to fitness coaches
- 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
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.
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
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
Celebrating National Father Daughter Take A Walk Day
Tomorrow we celebrate the special bond between fathers and daughters and making the effort to spend quality time together by taking a walk. Although this idea can be easily applied to parents spending time with their kids, this is a unique day evokes memories and reminds me of the important role my father has played in my life. So, if you are a father or a daughter, try to find time this week to take a walk together in some fashion. Check out https://www.nationaldaycalendar.com/national-father-daughter-take-a-walk-day-july-7/ for more information.
The Gift of Time
Time is so valuable, especially when you are a child. You observe those around you to see how they spend their time and there is nothing better than to have someone give you their undivided attention and time. No matter what age you are, the time you have with your parents can be both valuable and enjoyable. And the time you take out of your busy schedule to be with your children can only help your overall wellbeing as there is much we can take away from our children and the younger generations as a whole. In today’s society, it is common to have the father out of touch with his kids as he works long hours to provide for the family. It has changed a bit over the years, but this day is a great reminder of the importance for not only fathers to spend time with their daughters but every parent out there to mindfully spend time with their children. It can be as simple as taking a walk around the block or laying in the yard finding animals in the clouds, or it can be taking the time to do a craft or go to the zoo together. The important thing is to give your undivided, focused attention and is something that is mutually beneficial and enjoyed by both parties (i.e. not going to the grocery store because you have to).
Walking and Wellbeing
As mentioned in one MINES’ previous blogs, walking is healthy and a great way to exercise. Walking reduces various health risks and is fairly easy to do. Walking can be a great excuse to get outdoors and enjoy your environment. Our world is an amazing place to be in and there are so many things you can observe while you are walking outdoors. Walking also lends itself to help you be mindful of your surroundings and gives you a quieter time away from your computer to think things through. Whether it is a short walk to the grocery store, or a longer hike to see the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, walking is a great exercise to do with the whole family.
Walking and Defining My Identity
One of my favorite memories growing up was taking walks with my dad. Whether it was walking the dog around the block, walking to the nearby lake to go fishing, or hiking while camping, my dad and I always had a great time talking and learning from each other. I learned the importance of integrity through his stories of his business successes and failures. I learned the importance of understanding your history and background through his storytelling of my ancestors’ adventures and how they persevered through the Depression and helped everyone they knew. I learned the importance of failing and hardships in order to ultimately succeed through his descriptions of his misspent teenage adventures and losing his father. I learned all about love and sacrifice through listening about how he and my mom met, dated, and the struggles of their marriage. Most importantly, I learned how to forgive and be positive, especially when it is hard, through our conversations about family relationships and the wrong that has been done to him and seeing how he dealt with those situations.
Walking and Developing New Relationships
My dad opened my eyes to a lot of things through our walks and talks and it has shaped me to strive to be all those things. I loved when I could make my dad’s eyes dance with mirth as I told him stories of my struggles at school or with friends, and I loved when I asked him questions and he would become serious as he considered the best way to answer. He never ducked behind the “because I said so” excuse and always treated me as a whole person. When I first introduced my husband, then boyfriend, to him, the walks became faster and longer as he tried to decipher how his little girl was growing up and liked this “boy”. His questions were good and brought lots of discussions between my husband and me, but in the end discussing those things, allowed us to build a strong, lasting relationship. Throughout the time my husband and I were dating, we would go on long walks around the city to talk things out and learn about each other. That time away from distractions was an amazing bonding time. In fact, to this day, I love going on walks with my dad or my husband to talk and figure things out.
Walking with the One’s You Love
This day celebrates Fathers and Daughters joining each other for a walk. However, the spirit of the day is to share a healthy lifestyle and spending time with your family. Whether you are a dad with a daughter or a friend of a busy family, dedicate some time today to take a walk with someone you care about. Take a deep breath of the fresh air, appreciate the woodland creatures that you see in the trees around you or in the sky, and just talk. Enjoy your social connection with those you love and let someone see a different side of you by sharing stories about yourself.
Whether it is a brisk walk or a leisurely stroll, enjoy the company of someone you love. If you are a parent, you only have 18 summers, unless you are a parent of a millennial then you could have 36 summers before your child could be gone from your daily life. Take advantage of this time and look for a way to connect and listen to what your kids have to say. And if you are unable to walk with your father or daughter, take a walk and think of all the wonderful memories of each other.
Happy National Father-Daughter Take a Walk Day!
To Your Wellbeing,
MINES and Associates
I was told the birth of my daughter would have significant effects on my sleep schedule, social schedule, and life in general. One can never truly understand what that means until one is in that situation. Needless to say, our newborn baby, while we love her dearly, has caused my wife and I to change some things in our lives, if only temporarily. One of those things that have changed is our sleep (or lack of) schedule. I’ve always thought I was quite efficient at functioning with little to no sleep. Having certain sets of life circumstances… think long nights in Vegas, middle of the night hiking trips, and overnight flights across the globe… I always saw myself as someone who can manage without sleep, and still have the ability to be aware of not only my needs but other people’s as well. With this new experience of fatherhood, I’m learning that long nights in Vegas and long nights with a crying baby are two drastically different experiences. Being a new father has also made me realize how unaware I can be of my own mental health. I find myself thinking mostly about my new baby and my wife, and what their needs are, and by the time I realize what I’m needing, it’s too late and I’m in a crabby mood.
Thinking more about this made me realize how easy it is for us to lose track of what we’re needing, as well as other people’s mental health needs. As a therapist, I like to think that I am usually good at being aware of others’ needs, understanding what kind of support they are seeking, and encouraging them to pay attention to their mental health. However, when a big, life-changing event happens, or when we get wrapped up in our day to day lives, it’s easy to lose focus of what we may be lacking emotionally, and what we need to “fill up our tank”.
Because of how easy it has become for me to lose awareness, particularly on days after a very long sleepless night, I’ve started a new habit. Every day on my way home from work, after I exit on to a certain street, I use that time to check in with myself and ask myself how things are going. That exit is my signal to make myself aware of anything I may be needing. As I work to cement this new habit into a daily ritual, I will also start to look at what strategies I can employ and how I can adjust my perspective so I won’t be burnt out or be frustrated at my darling daughter.
What is your “exit” on the way home from work? What is needed to keep your “tank” full? I encourage you to take a moment and make yourself aware of what you may be needing and how you’re doing. It doesn’t take much time and it sure beats waiting until you’re emotionally exhausted to realize you’re struggling. Once you find your “exit” and know what you need to do so you don’t get burnt out, take the necessary time to find what strategies you can employ and how you can make this a new habit.
Here are some identifiable warning signs that you be close to burning out to watch for along with some self-care tips.
- Increased illness
- Loss of appetite
- Your mind feels fuzzy
- You feel stressed all the time, along with increased anxiety
- Loss of enjoyment or pleasure for working, successful completion of projects, or even being with friends and family.
- You are crabby, grouchy, or just not in a good mood
- You forget appointments, due dates, and possibly even social events.
- You have chronic fatigue
- Just say “No”- It is ok to decline a new project if you are feeling overwhelmed.
- Take time to relax. If you need assistance with this try guided meditation, massage, or even yoga.
- Make sure you take the time to fulfill all 8 areas of your wellbeing on a regular basis to help you overcome burnout and eliminate some stressors.
- Physical- sleep, eat, exercise enough.
- Spiritual- keep an eye on what you value and what your purpose is and make sure you do that activity often.
- Intellectual- Find an activity that is interesting to do- something to stretch your imagination, creativity, and make you use your brain in a different way than you do every day.
- Financial- Try using a financial calculator or meet with a financial advisor to discuss your personal situation. Talking about your finances and knowing what you need to accomplish to be financially stable is a good starting point to feeling less stressed, overwhelmed, and burnt out.
- Social- Even if you don’t feel like you have time, make time to be with friends and family so they can support you in your goals, or babysit your child so you can be with your partner alone.
- Emotional- Stay positive. Find something positive each day to focus on- your daughter is healthy, you have a job etc. If you struggle with this, look up how to reframe negative thoughts into positive ones.
- Environmental- Your environment includes your social, natural outdoor, and built environment. Take time look at your surroundings and maybe check out that store or museum you always drive by because you are too busy.
- Occupational- Take 5 minutes of your day to talk to a co-worker to learn from them, connect with them, and see how you can support each other at work.
We all have these areas that we need to fulfill in order to be successful, less stressed, and energized to face the next day and adventure. I hope with these tips and reminders, you can quickly recognize when and how to fill your “tank” and be able to handle late nights and responsibilities that we all have. And don’t forget to find that “exit” so you are reminded to take the time to do these things and be mentally aware.
As always if you need help with any of this or just need to talk, please use the resources that are available to you. If you have an Employee Assistance Program at work don’t hesitate to call them. If MINES is your EAP give us a call anytime. It’s free, confidential, and available 24 hours a day. You can reach us at 1-800-873-7138.
To Your Wellbeing,
James D. Redigan, LPC
The MINES Team
As you may or may not know, May is National Mental Health Awareness month in the United States. Here at MINES improving services, knowledge, and awareness around mental health issues, and providing solutions to these issues is our business, our specialty, and our passion. Therefore, it’s safe to say that Mental Health Awareness Month is important to us as it allows us an opportunity to jump into the national conversation around critical behavioral health topics on a national level and help the fight to increase awareness and decrease stigma around mental health.
To shed some light on why this is so critical, consider the following statistics:
US General Stats:
- 1 in 25 adults are currently diagnosed with a serious mental illness; 1 in 5 are currently diagnosed with some sort mental illness
- There are a wide variety of anxiety disorders, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and specific phobias to name a few. Collectively they are among the most common mental disorders experienced by Americans.
- Approximately 10.2 million adults in the U.S. have co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders.
- Serious mental health illnesses cost people $193.2 billion in lost earnings every year in the U.S.
- Nearly 60% of adults with a mental illness did not receive care in the previous year.
- 3% are currently diagnosed with a serious mental illness; 14.3% are currently diagnosed with some sort mental illness.
- Men die from suicide at twice the rate as women.
- 6 milling men are affected by depression per year in the U.S.
- The Top 5 major mental health problems affecting men in the U.S. include: Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Psychosis and Schizophrenia, and Eating Disorders.
- Men are significantly less likely to seek help for mental health issues than women. Causes for this include reluctance to talk, social norms, and downplaying symptoms.
- 5% are currently diagnosed with a serious mental illness; 21.2% are currently diagnosed with some sort mental illness.
- 12 million women in the U.S. experience clinical depression each year. Roughly twice the rate of men.
- Although men are more likely than women to die by suicide, women report attempting suicide approximately twice as often as men.
- Many factors in women may contribute to depression, such as developmental, reproductive, hormonal, genetic and other biological differences (e.g. premenstrual syndrome, childbirth, infertility, and menopause).
- Fewer than half of the women who experience clinical depression will ever seek care. And Depression in women is misdiagnosed approximately 30 to 50 percent of the time.
- 50% of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14; 75% by the age of 24.
- 20% of 8 to 13 year of age in the U.S. will be diagnosed with some sort of mental illness in their lifetime.
- Girls 14-18 years of age have consistently higher rates of depression than boys in this age group.
- Nearly 50% of kids with a mental illness did not receive care in the previous year.
- LGBTQ adolescents are twice as likely to attempt suicide than non-LGBTQ youths.
- More than 90% of children who die by suicide have a mental health condition.
This month from MINES
All throughout this Mental Health Awareness Month, MINES will be tweeting out stats to stoke the conversation and resources to help those that may not know where to go. We will also be sharing thoughts, resources, and insight from different members of the MINES team around some of today’s important behavioral health issues right here on MINESblog. So please follow if you are not already, and feel free to share with anyone you think may benefit from the information. And if you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health issue, please encourage them to reach out to one of the resources above to find the help they need. And as always, if MINES is your Employee Assistance Program and you need help, information or just need to talk, call us 24 hours a day at 1-800-873-7138.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Referral Helpline –
- National Institute for Mental Health – nimh.nih.gov
- NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) – nami.org
- Mental Health America – mentalhealthamerica.net
- Mental Health America of Colorado http://www.mhacolorado.org/gethelp
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America – adaa.org
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance – dbsalliance.org
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – suicidepreventionlifeline.org
- Veterans Crisis Line – veteranscrisisline.net
- National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention – actionallianceforsuicideprevention.org
- United Way- unitedway.org/local/united-states/
Keep the conversation going
As always we ask that you don’t let the conversation end with the end of the month. We don’t have to wait until next year to keep talking about Mental Health especially when there are so many people out there in need of help and information. Keep good track of your own health and wellbeing, don’t be afraid to seek help if you need to, and assist others by talking to them and sharing information and directing them towards care providers that can help them.
To your wellbeing,
The MINES Team
“National ‘All Is Our’s Day’ can be looked at as a time to reflect on all of the beauty of nature and all the wonderful things in life. All the natural wonders of the world are there for all to enjoy. Become aware of all of the beauty in your surroundings. All of these spectacular gifts we have been given are shared by all.” http://www.nationaldaycalendar.com/days-2/national-all-is-ours-day-april-8/
This is a great time to reflect on the psychological and health benefits of being in nature. The benefits extend to our performance in all areas of life. There is research that suggests that walking in nature reduces stress, reduces the risk of cancer and chronic illnesses such as diabetes, reduces anxiety and depression symptoms, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, and is linked to longevity. (Source: https://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/about/programs/gsv/pdfs/health_and_wellness.pdf )
Furthermore, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation listed the following benefits:
- Boosts immune system
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces stress
- Improves mood
- Increases ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
- Accelerates recovery from surgery or illness
- Increases energy level
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves sleep (Source: dec.ny.gov/lands/90720.html )
These studies mentioned are focused on trees and forests. However, many of the benefits accrue being outside regardless of environment or climate, including parks in urban areas (assuming air pollution is at a minimum).
To enhance your experience outside, there are several mindfulness exercises that you can practice while being outdoors. Thich Nhat Hanh, or Thay as people know him, and many others have written about these exercises. I have provided a partial list for you to try.
- Mindful Walking: This is a wonderful meditation for moving and mindfulness in nature.
- Thich Nhat Hanh mindfulness video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ms6EylTW-2o This is literally a video of one of his talks, so be patient and allow a couple of hours to watch it. Also, remember this is about mindfulness, not religion, just in case you have an initial reaction to it.
- ‘The interdependence of all of us and the earth’ meditation. Thay suggests we can meditate on the interconnections of ourselves and the earth through mindfulness. (https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/zen-thich-naht-hanh-buddhidm-business-values ) “Breathe in, be aware of your body and look deeply into it, realize you are the Earth and your consciousness is also the consciousness of the Earth.” (https://creativesystemsthinking.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/realize-you-are-the-earth-thich-nhat-hanh/ )
- Nature Meditations: These meditations focus on the experience of nature, sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. (http://www.meditationoasis.com/how-to-meditate/simple-meditations/nature-meditations/ )
- Mindful Eating Meditation: This meditation focuses on eating, food, and the interconnection of all required in nature and our lives for us to be able to practice the mindful experience of eating. http://www.gaiam.com/discover/412/article/zen-your-diet/
Mindfulness can enhance our experience of nature, which can enhance our health, which can enhance our performance in all areas of our daily lives. We only have this moment, be present with it…mindfully.
Have a day filled with mindfulness, the benefits of nature and extend kindness to all you meet.
Robert A. Mines, Ph.D. Chairman, and Psychologist
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.
- 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.
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,
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.