Posts Tagged Wellness

Total Wellbeing: July 2018

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Social Media, Family, and Your Intellectual Wellbeing

Welcome to the July edition of TotalWellbeing, your guide to the 8 dimensions of wellbeing. This month we are going to take a look at intellectual wellbeing with a focus on social media and your family. If you missed us last month you can catch up on our newsletters page. As we make it through the year we will continue to emphasize the concept of community and look at how our actions affect our community, country, and in some cases the rest of the world.

 

To your total wellbeing,

The MINES Team

The impact of social media on your family and intellectual wellbeing

Social media is a key part of our culture, our expression, and our connectivity. From using social media as a platform for expressing opinions to sharing pictures with family and friends, social media has many applications. Your intellectual wellbeing can be improved by social media by giving you access to information and topics of interest to you. It also allows you to look at things differently and to explore topics that pique your interest you may not have investigated otherwise. Using social media with your family allows you to connect in different ways, stay close if you are far apart, and to keep up with their new adventures or read about their experiences. It is also important to remember that Social Media can impact your intellectual wellbeing negatively. As we have been reminded in the last several months, your preferences are tracked throughout social media and the articles you choose to read may influence the other articles that show up in your news feed or advertisements in your apps. This can help shift your perspective one way or another and unless you are vigilant to check out information outside of your readily available feed to find out the whole story. It is also important to take time away from social media or using the internet to engage in good old-fashioned face to face time with your friends and family members. Don’t forget that these people in your life can engage your intellect as well. Learn new and amazing things from the children in your life. They can have a fresh perspective or may be studying something new and cool in school they can share. Or take advantage of one of the most popular knowledge sharing methods of human history and tap into the vast life experience of your older family members. It doesn’t always have to be about shares and likes!

If you would like to talk to a counselor about these topics, please call us at 1-800-873-7138 to get connected right away. Also, PersonalAdvantage has some great tools and webinars this month to improve your knowledge around dealing with stress and maximizing your life by reducing worry. For more be sure to check out our “Internet Mindfulness” infographic.

Question of the Month

When was the last time you asked a family member how they would handle a situation?

Quote of the Month

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

– Benjamin Franklin

MINES Updates/Community World View

There is so much knowledge that each culture and community has to share, from tricks to make the best pasta to how to clean off stains from clothing, to traditions around how to engage your family. Take time this month to talk to a co-worker, friend, or family member and see what you can learn from them to help improve your intellectual wellbeing and what tidbits you can impart on them as well.

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.

This Month’s Focus

Check out this month’s webinar on Harnessing the Power of Social Media

MINESblog Review:

Foster Families and Mental Health

John Oliver: Rehab, Last Week Tonight Psychology of Performance

Check out this Month’s Infographic

Important Links

Visit our BLOG

MINES and Associates

2018 Training Catalog

Balanced Living Magazine

LinkedIn

MINEs Archives

Contact Us

Email MINES

mines_logo_blue MINES does not warrant the materials (Audio, Video, Text, Applications, or any other form of media or links) included in this communication have any connection to MINES & Associates, nor does MINES seek to endorse any entity by including these materials in this communication.  MINES accepts no liability for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided herein, nor any additional content that may be made available through any third-party site. We found them helpful, and hope you do too!
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Total Wellbeing: June 2018

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Stress Management is key to your Occupational Wellbeing

 

Welcome to the June edition of TotalWellbeing, your guide to the 8 dimensions of wellbeing. This month we are going to take a look at occupational wellbeing with a focus on reducing stress in the workplace and things you can do to help yourself and your fellow employees maximize workplace satisfaction. If you missed us last month you can catch up on our newsletters page. As we make it through the year we will continue to emphasize the concept of community and look at how our actions affect our community, country, and in some cases the rest of the world.

To your total wellbeing,

The MINES Team

How Your Employer can support your Occupational Wellbeing

Occupational wellbeing is maximized by finding ways to increase your personal satisfaction and enrichment from your work. Your co-workers, supervisor, and employer are all key players that can help you increase your occupational wellbeing. The next time you talk to your supervisor whether it is during your 1:1 or during a review period, take a moment to discuss your stressors, your thoughts for improving your workplace, and what support you would like when it comes to your wellbeing. It may be as simple as finding a training for you to attend or redesigning your cubicle or it could be a more complex solution around how to reduce your scheduled meetings or giving you support from someone else to finish a task. No matter what would help improve your work-life and reduce stress, it is important to let those you work with know about how they can support you, and in turn, how you can support them. You never know when your idea might be the same thing that others have been thinking of will help improve the whole department’s wellbeing.

If you would like to talk to a counselor about these topics, please call us at 1-800-873-7138 to get connected right away. Also, PersonalAdvantage has some great tools and webinars this month to improve your knowledge around dealing with stress and maximizing your life by reducing worry. For more be sure to check out our “Stress/Health Connection” infographic.

Question of the Month

What is one thing you might be able to change that would help you do your job better and be happier doing it?

Quote of the Month

“Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one.”

– Hans Seyle

MINES Updates/Community World View

If you don’t have a wellness committee, now is a great time to start. A wellness committee is a perfect place for these ideas to come to fruition and help give you the satisfaction and enriching your work life needs. There are a lot of ways a wellness committee can work, and if you ever need some ideas, MINES would be happy to help. Additionally we invite you to outreach Health Links to have them assist you with developing your program or give you advice on how to help improve your occupational wellbeing. Also consider gathering ideas about how your own employees reduce stress and share those ideas amongst everyone. Or check out any one of the great webinars, blogs, or infographics on our site to share with your co-workers and friends. Stress is universal and it is always good to discover new ways to deal with it.

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.

This Month’s Focus

Check out this month’s webinar on Minimizing Worry to Maximize Your Life

This Month on MINESblog:

Foster Families and Mental Health

John Oliver: Rehab, Last Week Tonight Psychology of Performance

Check out this Month’s Infographic

Important Links

Visit our BLOG

MINES and Associates

2018 Training Catalog

Balanced Living Magazine

LinkedIn

MINEs Archives

Contact Us

Email MINES

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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Foster Families and Mental Health

Happy National Foster Care Month

Several important subjects are tackled in the month of May. Two of them I will be addressing here. May marks National Foster Care Month and Mental Health Awareness Month. Those that work within the foster system are well aware of the issues and concerns around mental health in this subset. Between the abandonment that the majority of these kids feel, to the oversaturation of kids in the system and lack of foster families, all parties are susceptible lack of resources, energy, resilience, and understanding about how to handle the emotional situations that are bound to happen.

Personal Perspective on Foster Care

My husband and I have been working with foster families for five years. Since we do not have kids of our own, we have found a way to work with a group of kids that are severely in need of love, understanding, patience, and support. We work with those who have their own biological kids and yet have opened their home to others in need. We have found that these foster parents lack the support and sometimes understanding of how to give themselves self-care or how to support the emotional needs of the kids in their home. The first family we started working with had a set of siblings who brought forth a lot of complications, concerns, and opened their eyes to how little they really were prepared for this change in their lives. This brought into focus various ways how we can help families traverse this experience.

Examples of Mental Health Concerns within the Foster Family

Lack of Basic Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence comes in many forms and levels of understanding. Just type in that term and thousands of articles will come up on it and how you can improve your “emotional intelligence.” Most people have some level of understanding emotions and how to differentiate how between various emotions and can recognize those emotions in others. However, most children coming into the foster care system do not understand mad, sad, glad, and the variations that come from these basic feelings. They can’t describe how they feel, and the most can’t express their feelings without throwing a tantrum as that was the only way they could get attention at home.

Foster parents often are uncertain the best way to deal with the lack of emotional understanding of the foster kids. Another dynamic happens when the foster children leave the foster home to be reunited with their biological family. Foster families aren’t often shown how to express their feelings around this with their own kids or their foster children. Teaching families that grief is natural and it is ok to feel various emotions is vital and sorely lacking in my opinion. I think that the movie, InsideOut, was a blessing as we use those characters all the time when we are teaching parents and kids how to express different emotions and talk to each other about what they are feeling in a way that the whole family can understand.

Consequences around Lack of Information

We worked with a family who was fostering 3 kids between the ages of 7-11. The oldest witnessed horrible things his younger siblings went through with trusted family members. Due to this, this child’s emotional age was stunted at 5 years old. The 11-year-old also came from another family that had placed this child on psychotropic drugs to help control their mood swings and poor sleeping habits. This medication variant added another layer that the foster family was unprepared for and was unsure the best action-whether the child should stay in the home or not. The sibling group had an unspoken history and acted as a team against the foster family. These siblings struggled to share anything in therapy and since foster parents do not generally have the rights to hear about what happens in therapy, there was a wall between these kids and the foster family.

The foster family ended up making the hard decision to have the 11-year-old leave their home, but they kept the other two. Due to the lack of knowledge of what happened and the limited access to Medicare therapists, the whole family suffered. The remaining foster kids grieved losing their sibling, and the foster parents were unsure if they made the right decision or to remove the child.

The Effects of Extreme Emotional Turmoil

Another case we have seen revolves around a 12-year-old child went to a home with other kids in it. This child had been in the foster system for 10 years and had a history of being moved around the system, along with going through the adoption process.  This child was on ten different medications and labeled as ODD, RAD, and ADHD. Although the system readily accepted these medications and diagnoses, the foster system restricted access to therapy, support at school, and tools to help this child process their past. This began a 1.5-year cycle of the child threatening suicide, attempting suicide, and threatening the other kids in the home.

Once theft and continual lying was added to the mix, the foster parents had to make the difficult decision to remove this child from the home. The bio-children in the home were devastated, angry, confused, and totally unprepared on how to handle this turmoil. The foster parents struggled with guilt, grief, and burn out between the drawn-out hospital stays, the having to drop everything, and the effort to have this not affect the other children in the home. The relief they felt when the child wasn’t in the home made them feel guilty, the emotions of seeing what he put himself through strained their relationship about how to handle it, and the destruction and stealing of property put them in a difficult situation of deciding what was best for the child and the family. Again, lack of training by the foster system or support to the whole family system around resilience, becoming trauma-informed, and how to give yourself a break as parents was all very hard to witness.

The Need for Training in Foster Families

Although the foster system has access to legal, financial, medical, educational, and mental health services, generally foster parents aren’t told how to access these. In the age of focusing on emotional resilience and work/life balance, these foster families aren’t taught how to do this within the confines of having foster kids. We need to find ways to support our foster families better and give them better access to mental healthcare for the whole family. We need to find ways to give them access to training on emotional resilience and how to do self-care.

Emotional Resiliency

You don’t get to go home and escape the stressors when you are a foster family. You don’t get to take time off when you need it to restore your energy. It is a 24/7 job and unless you have others who tell you to pace yourself or offer you resources, you will burnout as a foster parent. We see this in all the horrible stories of the poor conditions of foster homes or the additional trauma and lack of supportive care the foster children receive in some foster homes. We need to teach those who are foster families (yes the bio-children and foster children too) about resiliency and how to thrive through whatever life throws at you. Here is a great resource around resilience strategies. Also, if you are a MINES client, you have access to a great online resilience program.

Compassion Fatigue/Secondary Trauma/Vicarious Trauma/Burnout

When a child is suicidal or has severe attachment issues, it can be draining to deal with the continual manipulation or the dynamics these mental health conditions can bring into a home and it is easy for families to experience compassion fatigue. When a child finally breaks down and expresses they don’t know how to read and that is why they ditch school or when they share their story of seeing their family die in a fire, foster families need to learn how to recognize secondary or vicarious trauma as they take these stories to heart and want to help these kids out. When the school system says the child doesn’t qualify for assistance or the medical system says the child has maxed out their allotted therapy sessions and hospital stays for the year, burnout can be high. By recognizing these terms and having others close to you keep an eye out for the symptoms, foster families can prepare themselves for the inevitable.

Self-Care

The biggest thing we see lacking is self-care amongst foster parents. Respite Care is an important option for all foster families to take advantage of. Some don’t want to use the respite system as it disrupts the schedule of the foster children and family in general. Some don’t use it as then they still have their bio-children who want their undivided attention while the other children are out of the house. Some use it but don’t know what to do with their time once the children are temporarily out of the home. The web has some great resources on ways to do self-care and there are plenty of articles on it. Two of the easiest things to do is to practice mindfulness and taking time to do things for yourself/loving yourself.

What can you do?

As an Outsider

If you know someone who is a foster parent, thank them. Offer to babysit the whole crew for an evening so they can go have a night out. Offer to make them dinner one night. See if they are connected to a foster support group, and if they aren’t, offer them a list of some, and even offer to go with them. We all need to talk to someone who understands what you are going through. Or help do laundry- extra kids means extra laundry and less time for family time.

And the same goes for the foster kids. Some of these kids have been through literal hell. Some have been abused in ways they don’t even recognize. Some struggle with why they are being removed and whether or not they are loved. The best thing you can do is find ways to connect and support these kids. It isn’t their fault their parents are unable to have them. Regardless of their behaviors or struggles, there is something you can do for them- show them unconditional kindness and love. If they are involved in sports, go see their games. If they are selling chocolate for school, buy some. Find ways to give foster kids a special experience or memory. One thing we do is take them to an ethnic grocery store and let them try various fruits and foods that they have never been exposed to. If all of us can share a bit of ourselves with these kids, then these kids have a better chance of thriving wherever they end up. This website is a great resource and there are plenty of other blogs and stories how you can help those who are in the foster care system. As an outsider, be that person foster kids can come to, feel loved, and help them find good outlets for their anger, frustration, and hurt.

As a Foster Care Provider

If you have time and can become a respite provider, do. If you become a foster parent, take time for self-care, take time to do training and prepare yourself, and consider all the things that can come along with a child before you make the commitment. If you are interested in being a CASA or a GAL, do the research and use your skills. Become a Big Brother or Big Sister or with another support type groups to help kids through the trauma and struggles of growing up without a bio-family or changing home situations. In whatever function you are in, find a support group, get connected with others, and give yourself a break when you falter or struggle. Be prepared to struggle and have a good support team that you see regularly to help you recognize when you start to show signs of secondary trauma or compassion fatigue as it will happen.

Personally, even though we do make sure that we take care of ourselves and our needs so that we don’t suffer from burnout/compassion fatigue, we have found at times to have certain memories burned into our brains and have experienced secondary trauma. We have seen a child draw a dead tree because trees don’t deserve to live and a house with a danger room. We have seen babies stagnate developmentally due to what their mother did while they were pregnant. We have been with families as they received the news of what happened in the biological home and watch it tear them apart. Through it all, we have had to come up with strategies to move past these tragic events and not let those traumatic memories affect our daily lives or interactions with kids.

Final Thoughts

Not all foster care agencies falter when it comes time to prepare foster families and not all foster kids suffer severe mental health conditions. Not all stories are tragic or heartbreaking. We have seen parents truly change their lifestyle or other relatives step up and bring the family back together. Some of these stories are wonderful and heart-warming. However, not all re-unifications result in a positive outcome. Regardless of what you do or how you choose to interact with the foster care system, resiliency, training, and self-care are important.

If you are financially able to support agencies or support groups, please do. There are some great agencies out there are trying to supply the resources needed for foster children and foster families. If you are able to provide free trainings or webinars, find a group to do that for.

MINES would be happy to talk to you more about how you can support your employees who may be foster parents and how EAP services can assist them through the journey they have decided to take. If you are interested in learning more about MINES EAP and PPO program, feel free to contact us at 1-800-873-7138 or at info@minesandassociates.com.

To Your Wellbeing,

Raena Chatwin

The MINES Team

 

 

References and Suggested Reading

Joanne Riebschleger, Angelique Day & Amy Damashek (2015) Foster Care Youth Share Stories of Trauma Before, During, and After Placement: Youth Voices for Building Trauma-Informed Systems of Care, Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 24:4, 339-360, DOI: 10.1080/10926771.2015.1009603

Barbell, K., Wright, L. (2001). Family Foster Care in the Next Century. New York: Routledge. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9781351320474

Erum Nadeem, PhD, Jill Waterman, PhD, Jared Foster, PhD, Emilie Paczkowski, PhD, Thomas R. Belin, PhD, and Jeanne Miranda, PhD. (2016) Long-Term Effects of Pre-Placement Risk Factors on Children’s Psychological Symptoms and Parenting Stress Among Families Adopting Children From Foster Care . Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders 25:2, 67 – 81, https://doi.org/10.1177/1063426615621050

Moira A. Szilagyi, David S. Rosen, David Rubin, Sarah Zlotnik. Health Care Issues for Children and Adolescents in Foster Care and Kinship Care. The Council on Foster Care, Adoption, And Kinship Care, The Committee On Adolescence And The Council On Early Childhood Pediatrics, Oct 2015, 136 (4) e1142-e1166; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2015-2656 https://goo.gl/inDxcD

Great Websites to check out

http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/mental-health-and-foster-care.aspx

https://www.childwelfare.gov/fostercaremonth/resources/parents/

http://nfpaonline.org/foster

http://www.nationalfostercare.org/national-foster-care-month.html

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MINES & Associates’ Cutting-Edge Opioid Complex Case Management Program

MINES & Associates innovative opioid complex case management program helps manage treatment, control costs, and combat predatory facilities amid growing opioid crisis

MINES & Associates (MINES), a nationally recognized business psychology firm, helps self-insured organizations with its innovative Opioid Complex Case Management Program aimed at improving treatment and reducing costs of opioid abuse treatment cases. The program counters the egregious exploitation of clients by predatory treatment facilities.

MINES has been at the forefront of managed care services, providing complex case management services that produce cost-effective care in the least restrictive settings. MINES has saved its self-insured clients tens of millions of dollars while ensuring that the patient has received appropriate care.

MINES accomplishes this through an aggressive complex case management protocol designed to communicate directly with the patient and their family regarding costs, treatment, expectations for the facility regarding pre-certification, concurrent review, discharge planning, and long-term aftercare. MINES limits the number of UAs, mitigates costs to usual and customary or Medicare percentages, requires immediate discussion of discharge planning and family involvement, and re-integration into the patient’s community. These patients require long-term aftercare and support from case management.

MINES complex case management protocol functions as a patient advocate service to help patients navigate the treacherous array of predatory facilities, where, in some cases, case rates can run from $100,000 to over $1,000,000when care costs should be in the $9,000 to $30,000 range at a credible facility. The patient is often compromised by their drug use and cannot make informed choices regarding their own care. The patient’s family often does not understand the patient’s in network/out of network benefits and may just “google” treatment without precertifying care. MINES helps them cut through all the lies, misinformation, and noise to get the appropriate level of care needed.

About MINES & Associates

For over 37 years MINES & Associates has been a nationally recognized, award-winning business psychology firm that provides a variety of services to employers including employee assistance programs (EAP), managed mental healthcare, organizational development services, wellness programs, behavioral risk management, disease management, PPO services, and other behavioral health programs serving a diverse portfolio of clients nationwide.

Please visit www.minesandassociates.com for more information on MINES.

To Your Wellbeing,

The MINES Team

For full press release visit: https://goo.gl/pLMv1E

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Mental Health Awareness Month 2018

It is time once again in 2018 to refocus, converse, reevaluate, plan, and take action around mental health issues and substance abuse. While this battle rages all year, Mental Health Awareness month (every May) is a time where organizations, healthcare providers, and individuals can share their story to highlight how they fight on the front lines against these issues and for those that those who struggle with mental health issues and substance abuse every day to share their story to help spread awareness and inspire hope in those who may need it most. To look at this issue(s) objectively it is important to look at the data behind it all. Who is affected? How many are seeking care? What programs are there that exist to help those in need? These questions are not new, we ask them every day, but for those that don’t work at an organization that provides mental health services or those that may not suffer from a mental health issue themselves, the problem is a little less visible and these questions are a little more foreign. So, let’s look at, and answer, some of those questions now.

Who is affected

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.

Men:

  • 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.

Women:

  • 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.

Kids:

  • 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.

 

Sources: click the links for more stats and infographics.

How many are seeking care?

The short answer to this one is “not enough.” A recent report from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration) state that only 1 in 5 adults with a mental illness are receiving treatment. This statistic combined with an uncertain future for Medicare and mental health funding means that employers are often the only path to access help for those in need through health insurance benefits, employee assistance programs, and wellness programs.  These alarming statistics also bring to light how common it is for these issues to affect the workforce, and simultaneously its productivity. So, whether someone is directly suffering from a mental health issue or not, this is a problem that affects every last person in one way or another.

Why we do what we do

If you found the above statistics surprising, you must be new to the mental health conversation because these are nothing new. Mental health is an area that struggles to retain consistent support and funding from public and private sources. Mental health programs, care providers, facilities, non-profit organizations, and even programs like MINES’ Employee Assistance Program have to constantly justify themselves and (re)prove the value it what they/we do. A combination of the invisible nature of many mental health conditions and the stigma behind talking about these issues and seeking care makes it difficult to see just how pervasive of a problem these are in the US as well as the much of the rest of the world. In some areas of the world, mental health disorders can land you in jail or worse.  It is not a “sexy” topic so the media only really rallies around the topic when something happens like a mass shooting, celebrity rehab incident, or some other sensation worthy event. This is a tragedy in and of itself because if we as a nation could just remain committed to improving the support system, communication, and available resources around mental health, so much of this loss of life could be prevented. This is why we, MINES and every other care provider, organization, and individual fights this all too silent war every day.

The relationship between mental health and substance abuse

This month is also about a very closely related issue to mental health,  substance abuse. A large percentage of people with mental health disorders also experience issues with substance abuse, and vise versa. In fact, according to a SAMSHA study, nearly 27% of people with a mental health disorder use illicit drugs, which is over twice as much as the rate of the general population. And of the approximately 8.7 million people that suffer from both mental health issues and substance abuse, only about 7% receive treatment for both issues and a staggering 56% don’t receive treatment for either issue at all. With these numbers, it’s easy to see that there is a huge correlation that links these devastating nationwide issues. Enter prevention week.

Prevention week

This year SAMHSA is spearheading Prevention Week, May 13-19, to help spread awareness of both mental health issues, as they do year around, as well as the prevailing substance use issues that are running rampant without any sign of slowing down. We encourage you to check out their site for more information on prevention week and to see how you can support them and your community in the fight. Check out these links for information on all of the above:

Below is a list of other important resources that can help you if you or someone you care about is suffering from a mental health issue, depression, substance abuse, or if you just need someone to talk to. Many are free, community-based resources that won’t cost you anything but your time. And of course, as MINES and Associates provides Employee Assistance Programs, we encourage you to use one if your employer offers one. EAPs are a great free and confidential resource that can help you, and in many cases, your family/household members, get in touch with a counselor and start the journey to better mental wellbeing. EAPs can also help with a large variety of other work/life issues that may be affecting you like work/life balance, financial issues, fitness, nutrition, and more.

Resources

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Referral Helpline
    • 1-800-662-HELP
  • 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
    • 1-800-273-8255
  • First Responder Crisis Text Line
    • Text “Badge” to 741741
  • Military/Veterans Crisis Line/Resources
  • National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention – actionallianceforsuicideprevention.org
  • United Way- unitedway.org/local/united-states/

SAMHSA

  • Help and Treatment
    • samhsa.gov/find-help
  • Child mental health resources
    • samhsa.gov/children/awareness-day/2018/resource-list-traumatic-stress

Going forward

What can we do going forward? Stay loud. Keep talking. Keep writing congress about mental issues that affect you and those you love. Don’t let them wait for there to be a tragic event before the issues get put on their desk. Continue to vote for people that believe in what we do and what needs to be done. Continue to support organizations that are making strides in the right direction. Continue to demand benefits from employers that do more than just the bare minimum to support our mental health. Change is possible but it going to take more than an awareness month. It’s going to take people, all of us, coming together and making this an issue that’s bigger than a month, an issue that cannot be ignored or scapegoated. So, take the rest of this month help spread awareness, and then use next month keep marching, keep shouting, and continue to come together to push change forward because no one is going to do it for us.

 

To your wellbeing,

Nic Mckane

The MINES Team

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Total Wellbeing: May 2018

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The Relationship Between Self-Motivation and Emotional Wellbeing

 

Welcome to the May edition of TotalWellbeing, your guide to the 8 dimensions of wellbeing. This month we are going to take a look at emotional wellbeing, specifically how your self-motivation can help improve your emotional state of mind. If you missed us last month you can catch up on our newsletters page. As we make it through the year we will continue to emphasize the concept of community and look at how our actions affect our community, country, and in some cases the rest of the world.

To your total wellbeing,

The MINES Team

How Emotional Wellbeing is Related to Your Motivation

It is very easy to procrastinate, feel overwhelmed, and get burned out. However, if you are able to find motivation and attack each task you have on your plate, then these become less of a burden and your emotional wellbeing will be improved. It is vital to find things in your everyday life that make you happy, satisfied, and feel good. This blog has some great ways to help you be proactive about stress and some easy things you can do to help reduce it. It is also important to think of what you are grateful for, what motivates you, and how you look at your job, family, and personal wellbeing in order to figure out how to thrive in your life.

If you would like to talk to a counselor about these topics, please call us at 1-800-873-7138 to get connected right away. Also, PersonalAdvantage has some great tools and webinars this month to improve your knowledge around communication, teaching children about life changes, and resilient parenting to help support social wellbeing, and be sure to check out our “Estate Planning” infographic.

Question of the Month

What areas of your life do you lack motivation and how can you find motivation?

Quote of the Month

“The only person you are destined to become, is the person you decide to be.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

MINES Updates/Community World View

Emotional Wellbeing can encompass a lot of areas, feelings, and guidelines of how you live your life. How you perceive your emotional wellbeing also stems from your background, what you distinguish as normal, your biases, and your willingness to step outside of your comfort zone. Being able to look internally is a big step to seeing how you can improve your emotional intelligence. However, it is important to recognize that each culture has a different perspective on what being “emotionally well” really is. Patriarchal societies tend to think that showing your emotions may not be the best way to enhance your emotional wellbeing. However, that is not say that they don’t want to expand this side of wellbeing or that they don’t promote it in other ways. It is important to accept that how you express your emotions and how you deal with the various stressors in your life is unique to you. Take time to observe how others communicate about their emotional wellbeing to see how you can better support them.

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.

This Month’s Focus

Check out this month’s webinar on Estate Planning

This Month on MINESblog:

Proactive Stress Management

Check out this Month’s Infographic

Important Links

Visit our BLOG

MINES and Associates

2018 Training Catalog

Balanced Living Magazine

LinkedIn

MINEs Archives

Contact Us

Email MINES

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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Stress Awareness: How to be proactive with your stress management

The Importance of Stress Awareness

For those of you that did not know, April is stress awareness month. While stress awareness month is an important opportunity to highlight and talk about data, resources, and services around stress, anxiety, and related issues, stress is not something any of us can afford to think about only once a year. For many of us, stress is something that affects us day to day, maybe even hour by hour. Stress can be caused by so many things and sometimes nothing at all. Likewise, symptoms of stress can manifest themselves in a variety of ways including both physically and non-physically. Because of these oftentimes ambiguous causes/symptoms of stress, it is critical to our wellbeing that we are able to recognize and manage stress levels effectively on a day to day basis and to be proactive with stress management.

Proactive Stress Management

So, what is proactive stress management? Being proactive with stress management means taking time to learn the various sources of stress in your life. Some sources like stressful occupations, financial issues, or a significant loss are obvious. Others may not be so obvious, and it is also possible to feel stress for no reason at all, which is why the next part is crucial, recognizing the symptoms of stress and how they affect you. Once you learn to recognize how stress manifests itself in your mind and body, you can begin to figure out what the most effective ways for you to manage your stress are. Here’s where the proactive part comes in. Once you know how to manage your stress don’t wait for stress to get overwhelming to practice stress management. Instead, build these anti-stress practices into your daily life so that you are consistently practicing good habits and mindfulness to provide a constant outlet to relieve the effects of stress. It is this proactive approach that keeps stress to a minimum and helps mitigate much of the impact that stress and its various side effects have on your wellbeing. First, let’s delve a bit more into the various sources of stress that you may encounter.

Factors and Sources

There are a lot of stressors that may be very unique and personal to you though chances are, many, if not all, stressors in life can be categorized into some common buckets; environmental, social, physiological, and psychological. Let’s talk a little about these. Recognizing these categories can help you think about stress systemically to help analyze primary causes of stress in your own life.

  • Environmental stressors come from all around you and can include things like noise, traffic, pollution, bad weather, and negative or excessive media consumption. These stressors come from the world around us and there is very little we can do to change them. Some environments like our homes, and in some case our work environment, we have a little more control over. For the most part, though our best bet is to adapt to our environment rather than try and change that which we cannot.
  • Social stressors come from other people as well as pressure from roles we hold in our lives. These include job pressures and deadlines, arguments or fights, relationship issues, parenting, loss of loved ones, and demands for your time and attention. These are a very personal set of stressors and can involve those we love making them very important to navigate in a thoughtful and measured way.
  • Physiological stressors come from your own body. These can include things like adolescence, illness, aging, injuries, lack of exercise, poor nutrition, menopause in women, and inadequate sleep. Again, these stressors can be minimized by changing those we can and accepting what we cannot. Examples of this may be accepting that you are getting older but at the same time striving to eat good nutritious food, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep every night. More on this later.
  • Psychological stressors are very tricky because they come from your own mind. These come down to how your brain processes internal and external stimulus. When our minds interpret something as a threat, such as changes to our environment, job issues, or family troubles, it turns on the “flight or fight” response which not only causes stressful thoughts but releases adrenaline and other stress hormones into our systems. This response has many side effects in the body and can present itself in a few different ways such as anxiety, sleeplessness, and anxiety.

How Stress Can Present Itself

Symptoms of stress can manifest in many different ways, and a single stressor can cause multiple symptoms. The areas where stress-based symptoms can pop up include physically, emotionally, cognitively, and behaviorally. Let’s take a closer look at these areas by examining some common issues that can pop up in each area.

  • Physical symptoms can include fatigue, headaches, teeth grinding, perspiration, and digestive issues.
  • Emotional symptoms can include anxiety, guilt, fear, depression, anger and irritability, and depression.
  • Cognitive symptoms can include confusion, a decrease in attention span, memory issues, trouble making decisions, and obsessive thinking.
  • Behavioral symptoms can include changes in activities, withdrawal, decrease in appetite, insomnia, nightmares, and suppressed sex drive.

A tricky aspect to keep in mind is that almost all of these symptoms can be caused by other issues as well such as various health conditions, environmental factors, and normal biological cycles, so it’s important to be on top of things and see a doctor if are experiencing any severe or chronic issues.

Misconceptions

There are several misconceptions about stress that can lead to downplaying the effects of stress or even that you are stressed at all. Misconceptions like “people always know when they are stressed,” or “stress only affects those with high-pressure lives” can lead to not seeking help. Other misconceptions can include thoughts that emotions cannot be controlled and that the only thing that may help is medication. These are also not true and are dangerous thoughts. Medication can help in the right circumstances for certain individuals, but others may benefit greatly from some simple self-care, elimination of bad habits, or some counseling. Make sure to approach your stress, and the treatment of it, in an honest and unassuming manner.

Ways to Combat Stress

As we said earlier, the best ways to combat stress are proactive ones. The key here is to stay aware of yourself and how you are reacting to stressors in your life. Here are several areas to be aware of and techniques to help keep your stress from reaching unhealthy levels.

Be Aware of Important Factors

To help discern how you are reacting to stress pay attention to your feelings and emotions on a constant basis. A good way to do this is to stop and perform periodic self-checks by asking yourself questions. Look at your level of anxiety. Do you worry about money, or what may go wrong with certain things in your life? We all worry about these things but are they causing you more anxiety than normal? What about your anger levels? Are you getting more irritated at work or becoming impatient with people easier than usual? How is your self-confidence? Do you wonder if you are doing a good job? Do you worry a lot about what others think? How are your relationships going? Do you spend more time alone than you want to? Is it hard to get close to people? Are you too tired to devote time to your relationships? If you find that you are answering “yes” to any of these questions it may be a sign of moderate to high stress levels.

Change Bad Habits

There are stressors in our lives that we can’t change. However, there are many things that we can do to make sure that we are not contributing unnecessarily to our own stress levels. Take time to evaluate your habits both good and bad, and think about how they may impact your wellbeing for better or worse. These habits are going to be particular to each individual and their lifestyle but for the purpose of this blog let’s look at 5 critical areas where replacing bad habits with good ones can make a huge impact.

  • Exercise: Despite what some people may think, habits like smoking and drinking can increase stress on the mind and body even if it provides a temporary illusion of relief in the moment. Instead, support your body through movement and exercise. Exercise is a great stress reliever in many ways. Exercise helps regulate your hormones and neurotransmitters that may be contributing to stress if they are unbalanced and helps increase blood flow to the brain. Exercise helps mitigate stress causing diseases and conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and cancer. It helps maintain a positive body image boosting self-confidence and helps boost energy levels helping you be more productive. Also, just the physical exertion of exercise is a great outlet for stress and negative feelings. Making exercise a habit can be tough at first but if you stick with it and workout regularly for at least 90 days your mind will begin to normalize the activity and you will eventually begin to crave working out, especially if you focus on picking exercise activities that you enjoy.
  • Nutrition: This one is a big deal too. Try and replace any bad nutrition habits like eating junk food and consuming excessive amounts of alcohol with good consumption habits. Make sure to always strive to eat a variety of whole, nutritious foods and stay away from processed and surgery food. It is also important to limit caffeine intake as it can potentially induce a stress response in the body and act as a catalyst for anxiety in some people. We talked about nicotine and alcohol but remember there are many drugs, both legal and illegal, that can have a negative influence on your wellbeing and it is up to you to keep potentially hazardous substances like these in check. Or better yet stay away from them altogether unless they are medically necessary. Before making any changes be sure to talk to your doctor as they are your best source of information around your health and medical needs.
  • Relaxation and sleep: It is very easy to underestimate the importance of making time for yourself to relax. It’s critical to take it easy sometimes and occupy your mind with something you enjoy doing. This may be walking outdoors, building crafts, drawing, writing and journaling, watching a movie, playing a game, or spending time with friends or family. These types of activities allow you to get your mind off whatever may be causing you stress and provides opportunities for positive stimulus. Sleep is another prime component. Getting adequate sleep (7 to 8 hours per night) is critical to maintaining energy levels, supporting mind and body functions, regulating your bodies chemicals, and repairing your body from exercise and activity. For more information about sleep check out our recent blog for Sleep Awareness Day.
  • Time Management: Are you happy with the ways you use your time? Time management can be a huge source of frustration if you always feel like there’s never enough time in the day. Building a schedule and sticking to it can go a long way in helping you spend your time wisely. Try keeping a day calendar on paper or on your computer or mobile device. Don’t just schedule in the things you have to do, schedule things you want to do as well such as time with friends or family, hobbies, or simply free time where you have no obligations. Running late can be another huge stressor, make sure you are waking up on time in the morning, avoid distractions, and give yourself enough time to get where you need to go so you don’t have to rush.
  • Self-Talk: It’s all too easy to be hard on yourself and become negative when things are going wrong or stressful. Interrupt this habit by practicing positive self-talk. When you feel your thoughts slipping in a negative direction make a mindful effort to think constructively, not only just about yourself but others as well. Tell yourself things like “I can do this!” and “everything will be okay.” Doing this consistently will help minimize your tendency to interpret events or yourself in a negative light.

Square breathing and other ways to reduce stress

While the ultimate goal is to focus on long-term habits and thought patterns that will help you throughout your entire life, there are many things that you can do in the moment to help bring you back to center and regain composure in a stressful situation. One such exercise is a simple mindful breathing technique called “Square Breathing.” Square breathing is a simple mindful breathing technique that you can do almost anywhere and anytime. By practicing square breathing, you can slow your heart rate, focus your mind, and ease anxiety helping you to become more calm, present, and able to focus on the current moment. One of the great things about square breathing is that it is quick and easy, meaning you can do a quick session in between phone calls or other daily tasks, while you drive (or are stuck in traffic), or practice it for longer as part of a larger meditation or relaxation session. It goes something like this:

Inhale… Begin by slowing inhaling while counting slowly and steadily to 4.

Hold… Once you’ve finished inhaling, hold your breath for another steady count to 4. Seeing a pattern yet?

Exhale… Next, exhale slowly again counting to 4 as you do so.

Hold… Once you’ve exhaled you want to “hold out” your breath for another 4-count.

Repeat… Simple right? Feel free to repeat the cycle, or square, as many times as you’d like. We suggest doing the full cycle at least 4 times.

For more (25) ideas you can click here to view and download a PDF guide of 25 ways to reduce stress.

Summary

Stress Awareness Month may be over, but I hope the information presented here shows the importance of always being mindful and aware of how stressors in your life may be affecting you. I also hope that this information has equipped you with some helpful tools to use to help keep your stress levels in check and maintain a positive outlook even when life gets a little intense.

And remember if MINES is your Employee Assistance Program we are always here to help. If you need a little boost call us 24 hours a day at 1-800-873-7138 to talk to someone or hop online at www.minesandassociates.com and login to your PersonalAdvantage for helpful information on stress, resilience, fitness, nutrition, and tons of other topics and wellbeing resources.

To your wellbeing,

Nic Mckane

The MINES Team

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Total Wellbeing: April 2018

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The Relationship Between Parenting and Social Wellbeing

 

Welcome to the April edition of TotalWellbeing, your guide to the 8 dimensions of wellbeing. This month we are going to take a look at social wellbeing, specifically how parenting can affect the social skills of children and steps parents can take to enhance their children’s’ social savvy. If you missed us last month you can catch up on our newsletters page. As we make it through the year we will continue to emphasize the concept of community and look at how our actions affect our community, country, and in some cases the rest of the world.

To your total wellbeing,

The MINES Team

How Social Wellbeing is Impacted by Parenting

Social wellbeing and parenting go hand in hand. This is true because someone’s parents are more than likely the very first social connection a person will form. Furthermore, parents play a huge role in shaping how their children learn to socialize and build connections with other people. Therefore, it is crucial that parents take time to truly consider how they prepare their children for social interactions as it will impact how kids are able to connect with others, handle changes or loss, view authority figures, cooperate with colleagues, and more for the rest of their lives. At the top of the list of things to do is maintain open and honest communication with your children. The more comfortable and trusting children are talking with their parents, the more comfortable and open they are likely to be with others. This goes a long way to building trust and a solid foundation for children to build their social wellbeing on.

If you would like to talk to a family counselor about these topics please call us at 1-800-873-7138 to get connected right away. Also, PersonalAdvantage has some great tools and webinars this month to improve your knowledge around communication, teaching children about life changes, and resilient parenting to help support social wellbeing, and be sure to check out our “Raising Resilient Kids” infographic.

Question of the Month

What social habits or quirks can you think of that may have come from your parents?

Quote of the Month

“Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow.”

– Lawrence Clark Powell

MINES Updates/Community World View

Many factors that define social wellbeing are deeply ingrained in culture and thus varies from people to people and place to place. Social norms and taboos, social etiquette like greetings and manners, and even basic measurements of social happiness and sense of purpose are all examples of factors that can vary wildly around the world. How does this relate back to your own individual social wellbeing? Because exposure to other ways of life and beliefs around social interactions, identity, and wellbeing is crucial to understanding your own place in the world. The more exposure you can gain to other cultures by traveling, researching, interacting with people from other cultures, trying new traditions, sampling foreign cuisine, and so forth, the better you will understand people, including yourself. Furthermore, your mind will become more open to new ideas and ways of life. This not only makes you better educated overall, but makes socializing and finding your place in society, no matter where you are, easier and more enjoyable enhancing your own sense of social wellbeing.

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.

This Month’s Focus

Check out this month’s webinar on Thriving Families

This Month on MINESblog:

Sleep — The Luxury You Can’t Live Without

Check out this Month’s Infographic

Important Links

Visit our BLOG

MINES and Associates

2018 Training Catalog

Balanced Living Magazine

LinkedIn

MINEs Archives

Contact Us

Email MINES

mines_logo_blue MINES does not warrant the materials (Audio, Video, Text, Applications, or any other form of media or links) included in this communication have any connection to MINES & Associates, nor does MINES seek to endorse any entity by including these materials in this communication.  MINES accepts no liability for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided herein, nor any additional content that may be made available through any third-party site. We found them helpful, and hope you do too!

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Total Wellbeing: February 2018

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The Relationship Between Nutrition and Environmental Wellbeing

For 2018, we at MINES wanted to find a new way to promote the 8 areas of wellbeing. In order to do this, we decided to switch up our monthly communication into areas that you can copy and send out to your employees or give you suggestions around trainings that relate to this wellbeing topic. We also want to continue on from last year’s emphasis on the community and look at how what we do can affect those around us and that affects your community, your state, and even other countries.

To your total wellbeing,

The MINES Team

How Nutrition Affects Your Environmental Wellbeing

Your environment involves everything around you. This includes your home environment from what food you have around your home to the expectations you have for those you live with. What better time than now to look at how you can improve your environmental wellbeing by looking at your food habits and how that impacts your family, your health, and your overall wellbeing. Take this month to examine how to incorporate healthy foods into your family dinners, look up great recipes on PersonalAdvantage if you have it, or use your wellness sessions through MINES to speak to a coach. If you surround yourself with unhealthy food and temptations, it only makes it harder to help your whole family stay healthy.

MINES also offers Wellness Sessions if you have EAP benefits with us so call us and see how you can access these. Personal Advantage has some great tools and webinars this month to improve your Nutrition Know How and Environmental Wellbeing or check out our “Nutrition Tune-up” infographic.

Question of the Month

What “toxins” (unhealthy temptations) can you remove from your environment to help support your nutrition goals?

Quote of the Month

“Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture your heart.”

– American Indian Proverb

MINES Updates/Community World View

Nutrition can cover a lot of ground – from eating healthy and what type of processed products are ok, to what your individual body needs or, on the flip side, can’t tolerate. If you have knowledge around a certain area of nutrition, why not share that knowledge in a community group or help those who may be dealing with the same health concerns? Take this month to share your knowledge around nutrition with someone else and see what you can learn from them as well. You might find a new favorite, healthier recipe, or you might learn why you are not feeling great after you eat a certain food. Each community has a vast array of cultures and backgrounds so this is a great time to look at other culture’s food prep and choice ingredients to see what you can learn about how others may look at nutrition.

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.

This Month’s Focus

Check out this month’s webinar on Nutrition

MINES blogs last month:

Don’t Feed the Trolls

Check out this Month’s Infographic

Important Links

Visit our BLOG

MINES and Associates

2018 Training Catalog

Balanced Living Magazine

LinkedIn

MINEs Archives

Contact Us

Email MINES

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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Don’t Feed the Trolls: Why You Should Ignore Those That Just Want to Get on Your Nerves

This morning…

As I am sure a big a percentage of us do, I began this morning by perusing the headlines and reading a few articles while I prepared for the day. Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but depending on the content of the article sometimes, especially in our current political climate, I find it irresistible to scroll down to the comment section to see what people are posting and saying. Why do I do this? Is it because I want to see what intelligent discord is happening without me? Maybe. It is because I feel I will gain some sort of invaluable insight into what I’ve read through the opinions of others? Probably not. Or is it because I have some sort of morbid curiosity with the inevitable flame war that I know will no doubt be taking place? Yeah, that must be it. However, in my comment scanning tendencies lays an element of self-sabotage to my emotional wellbeing as it relates to my harmony with the online community because within the mild-mannered comments of reasonable people lay Trolls waiting to sow their special brand of discord amongst the exchanges.

But what is a troll? And why is it important to be aware of what they do so that you don’t take the bait? Because falling into a “conversation” with an online troll is not only a waste of time, but can also negatively affect your mood and overall wellbeing. So, what can we do to counter these on-line fire starters? Easy, ignore them and never, ever under any circumstances, attempt to feed them.

What is a Troll?

First, let’s discuss what exactly an online troll is. Wikipedia defines a troll as “a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting quarrels or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion, often for the troll’s amusement.” That’s right, these trolls are scanning the same articles and getting involved in the same comment sections as you but with the sole purpose of ticking people off. Trolls are fairly obvious most of the time. With over the top comments, or completely ridiculous rhetoric it should be easy to see them coming. However, when certain lines are crossed and certain topics are tread upon, it can be extremely difficult to ignore them.

There is not just one type of troll either. They come many forms including trolls that specialize in insults, name-calling, profanity and racism, and anything offensive that they can think of. These guys border on the edge of cyberbullies and are probably the worst of the bunch. Next, you can have trolls that love to argue and just never seem to let something go until they are satisfied they have had the last word. The list goes on including trolls that are offended by anything and everything and will paint you as the bad guy no matter what you say; trolls that think they know it all and can’t help but correct you in any manner of grammar, statistics, or anything you think you know better than they do; and trolls that will simply say a single enraging comment and then recede into un-breaking silence to watch the enraged responses pour in. Regardless of the type of troll you’re up against it, your best defense is, again, DON’T FEED THEM!

Don’t Feed Them!

Now that we know what a troll is, let’s talk about why we shouldn’t ever feed them. To feed a troll is to take their bait, usually an inflammatory comment, and reply to them. This can be irresistible. They can’t truly believe what they wrote, can they? Maybe if I can just reason with them or give them some facts I can change their mind… No! This is exactly what they want.

Typically, a troll’s comments have no real reason behind them other than to get on your nerves or offend you in some way. For this reason, ignoring them can be tricky, however, especially if they make you angry. It’s like when someone tailgates you or cuts you off in traffic. It can be very hard not to get angry at the person who just disregarded your safety to gain a few seconds of time in traffic. But as tempting as it is to yell and scream out your car window at them, or use less than kind hand gestures, it goes without saying the safest and most reasonable course of action is to let them pass, take a deep breath, and be on your way without escalating the situation. Just as it’s natural to be angry when someone puts you in danger while in traffic, it’s natural to want to argue your point of view when you disagree with someone especially on a fundamental level. However, it’s impossible to win an argument with someone who’s only goal is to oppose your own.

Why Do They Get on Our Nerves Anyway?

So even if we know what a troll is and what their objective is, why is it that we still allow these nasty little things to affect us? One reason is that we tend to take even anonymous criticism personally. I mentioned cyberbullying earlier, and like bullies do, it can feel like we’re being picked on and being singled out in front of the rest of the comment section. In this case, it is important to remember that it is nothing personal, you simply happened to be the one that took the bait and subsequently suffered the obnoxious wrath of the would-be troll. We also tend to be defensive about things we believe in and often you are probably reading an article or browsing content about issues or topics you are interested in, care about, and are passionate about. And when someone comes along and starts spewing negativity in the face of these things you care about, it is hard not to get defensive. Counter this by keeping in mind that the troll does not know who you are, where you come from, or what kind of person you are. They only know what you type back to them, so the less you give them the better.

Another reason Trolls’ comments can bother us is that we forget that what they are saying is just their opinion, or fabricated all together with the goal of pushing our buttons. If we let ourselves think that an online comment is a broad opinion or fact and not just the misguided thoughts on one individual, it can lead to putting more weight into the hurtful comment/content then it merits. This concept has broader implications as well, especially relevant to the increasingly polar appearance of the US population. Often, the loudest voices online are coming from the smallest sources leading us to think that these small extremes make up a bigger percentage of the population than they really do. This is critical to remember if you are bothered by things you read online as you need to keep in mind that the most vocal people are often on the far ends of the spectrum, the most pleased or most outraged, the “extremes”. The people in the middle rarely make as much noise even though they make up the majority. This concept can be seen in anything from online comments to political rallies to restaurant reviews.

You’ll be better off, trust me!

The only true way to counter a troll is to ignore them. By doing the digital equivalent of walking away from a confrontation, you not only prevent them the satisfaction of letting them know they got to you, you also limit any affect the would-be troll may have on your mood or day. Avoid the knee-jerk reaction to respond, take a deep breath, and move on. It will allow you to get the negativity out of your mind and out of your day as soon as possible and allow you to focus on more important things, like the interactions and relationships that you have in real life such as friends, family, and co-workers. These are the people you care about and that care about you. You value their opinions and they value yours. Don’t waste time thinking about the trolls that like nothing more than to undermine anything you would express to them.

I wish you happy web-surfing, enjoy what you read, enjoy your exchanges with reasonable users online, and if you come across a Troll, whatever you do, don’t feed it.

To your wellbeing,

Nic Mckane

The MINES Team

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