Reposted with permission from Eileen Pease, Dynamic Learning.
Reposted with permission from Eileen Pease, Dynamic Learning.
Adapted from the HBR article written by Kelly Greenwod: https://hbr.org/2021/07/how-to-talk-about-your-mental-health-with-your-employer
By the time I disclosed my generalized anxiety disorder at work, it was too late. It had spiraled into debilitating depression and I could no longer even craft a basic email, much less do the rigorous job I was hired for. My previously high performance had very noticeably suffered, compelling me to nervously share the truth and ultimately forcing me out on a leave of absence.
In retrospect, a simple accommodation early on likely could’ve prevented all of that, saving me tremendous personal turmoil and my organization the extra workload.
What I didn’t know then is that up to 80% of people will experience a diagnosable mental health condition over the course of their lifetime, whether they know it or not. The prevalence of symptoms is the same from the C-suite to individual contributors, but almost 60% of employees have never spoken to anyone at work about their mental health status. Many high performers, including anxious achievers like myself, have strengths that often result from these challenges. I was not nearly as alone as I thought.
Mental health is a spectrum that we all go back and forth on, just like physical health. Most of us fluctuate between stress, burnout, and diagnosable conditions like depression or anxiety depending on what’s happening in our lives. While it may feel harder to disclose bipolar disorder than burnout, everyone should be able to relate on some level.
This has never been more true than it has been over the last 18 months, between the stressors of the pandemic, racial trauma, and more. Managers, direct reports, and colleagues have been more vulnerable and authentic than ever due to shared societal challenges and the blurring of the personal and professional with remote work.
That said, the effects of stigma can still loom large. My self-stigma told me that I was weak and should be ashamed of my anxiety and depression. Societal stigma told me that I would be judged and that professional repercussions would follow if I disclosed. However, since I widely disclosed my condition in recent years, none of those things have happened. As a result of my experiences, I founded Mind Share Partners, a nonprofit that focuses on changing the culture of workplace mental health. Here’s what we recommend if you’re considering disclosing a mental health challenge at work.
Read on to learn more about:
(At Dalhousie University, contact email@example.com to explore your workplace options.)
[Reposted with permission from Eileen Pease at Dynamic Learning]
I have just finished reading Daniel Pink’s book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing and, I would like to share with you the insights he has given me.
As with all his books, Daniel Pink did meticulous research over several years to uncover his information. For example, one study used all the words from 500 million Tweets of 2.4 million users, from 84 countries, over a period of 2 years to measure the emotional content of those words matched to the time of day.
The Time of Day
What they found was a pattern of everyday life where most people’s positive mood rises in the morning, dips in the afternoon and rises again in the evening. This pattern remains true whether you live in a large, diverse country like the USA, or a small more homogenous country like the United Arab Emirates.
You probably already know whether you are a lark, an owl or, as Pink says, a third bird. If you want to know how much of a lark or an owl you are, you can take the Horne-Ostberg Morning-Eveningness Questionnaire at https://www.danpink.com/MCTQ
This world-wide “peak, trough, and rebound” of daily life has led to many more research studies. And some interesting implications for our brains and our minds.
If you are a lark or a third bird (as 75% of us are), do your most demanding, difficult or analytical work early in the morning. This is also a good time to take exams. Expect a trough in your mood and productivity about 7 hours from the time you usually awaken in the morning. This works for owls, as well, who, if they had a choice would go to sleep closer to midnight and wake later in the morning than most people.
Taking a break after each hour of concentrated work – where you move, chat, at least look outside but, even better, go outside – will help you be happier and more productive, according to the scientists.
Napping at least once a day is also recommended, so long as you do it properly. Pink recommends that you drink a strong cup of coffee first (the caffeine takes about 25 minutes to actually get into your bloodstream). Then find a quiet, comfortable place to sleep with a timer to wake you 20 minutes later. You will awaken refreshed and, as the caffeine kicks in, you will be full of energy.
By the way, Pink recommends that you schedule doctor, dentist and other therapist appointments as early in the morning as you can. Not only is your health professional more alert and in a better mood, but you will be more focused and will absorb advice more deeply.
A study done by some New York scientists is of particular interest to me. They studied the emotional content of corporate executives’ earnings report calls to stock exchange analysts. They surveyed 26,000 calls from 2,100 companies over a period of 6.5 years. This is what they found: Afternoon calls “were more negative, irritable, and combative . . . leading to temporary stock mispricing for the firms hosting earnings calls later in the day.”
As an important part of my business is to talk to my clients about their training needs, I think I will arrange those discussions for mornings in the future.
Give Your Kids a Break
“In Finland, a nation with one of the world’s highest-performing school systems, students get a 15-minute break every hour.” (page 85) Let your children choose their own activities during their breaks, so long as it is away from their screens and their desks.
Find ways to encourage your children to get outside, preferably several times a day. Running, climbing and jumping in the sunshine (and even in the rain or snow) gives their eyes, their bodies, and their brains a health-promoting break. Even better if you go outside with them.
As any parent knows, young children are larks and teenagers are owls. “Considerable research finds that delaying school starting times (for teenagers and young college students) improves motivation, boosts emotional well-being, reduces depression, and lessens impulsivity. . . . .the optimal time for most college classes is after 11.00 am.” (page 91)
As we prepare to go back to working in the office, things might not go back to how they used to be. Managing a hybrid team might be a little bit challenging for team leaders. Read about some tips to help you out.
When someone you care about abuses drugs or alcohol
Full post available HERE.
If you have a relative or friend who may have a drug or an alcohol problem, it’s important to know the warning signs of substance abuse. You’ll also need to understand how to approach the situation and learn about the resources available to the substance abuser, to you, and to any others who are affected by the problem.
Substance abuse is a very serious problem. When someone abuses drugs or alcohol, it can create serious impairment and lead to dependency on the substance, making it very difficult to stop using. The right kind of help can enable people to limit the harmful consequences, including health problems and damage to personal relationships.
Learn more about:
Talking to teens about drugs and alcohol
Full post available HERE.
Learn more about:
Watch and share this VIDEO on helping a loved one on the road to recovery.
Reach out to our Employee and Family Assistance Program for confidential information and support: 1-800-387-4765; workhealthlife.com.
Excerpted from https://www.calm.com/business/blog/how-self-talk-affects-your-workday?utm_source=Iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=campaign_2537886&utm_medium=email&utm_source=lifecycle&utm_content=nonsub_lamarod_b2b
Words are powerful. That’s particularly true at work: the language we use can make someone’s day—or send it spiraling into a downslope.
If we’re giving a colleague feedback, we choose our words with great care, acutely aware of the fine line between constructive feedback and harsh criticism (and how easy it is to step over it without even meaning to). But what about the feedback we give ourselves? Why are we so eager to call out our own perceived shortcomings? And why do we talk to ourselves in a way we’d never dream of speaking to someone else?
Listening to your inner voice
We all have an inner voice. As you read these words right now, you’re hearing them “spoken” in your “mind’s ear.” At other times, you talk to yourself inside your head—reacting to what happens, reacting to other people’s words, reminding yourself of your to-dos, or reminiscing about the past.
“She said that. Why did she say that? Must remember to pick up milk. What time can I finish today? I finished at 4:30 pm yesterday. Anyway, what did she mean when she said that?” This internal monologue runs through your head all day. And precisely because it’s ever-present, you may have stopped noticing it at all.
That’s OK if your inner voice is just giving you a nudge to swing by the store. But when it becomes your harshest critic, it’s time to make a change.
Why self-talk matters
Your self-talk influences your perceptions, which in turn shapes your reality. It’s like having a “mini-you” perched on your shoulder, whispering in your ear all day. Even if you don’t notice the words unfolding in your mind, they can change how you see yourself, your day-to-day work, your company, your colleagues, and the whole story of your working life and career.
If self-talk turns negative, it can undermine your self-esteem and your estimation of others. Over time, that affects your work performance, team relationships, and influence at work. Even worse, this negative self-talk easily becomes a self-reinforcing habit: you criticize yourself because you’re feeling down, and you feel down because you’re constantly criticizing yourself.
Ask yourself if any of these statements sound familiar:
They’re all taken from a self-assessment scale developed for a study of the forms that self-criticism can take. If these resonate, you might want to think about whether negative self-talk is an issue for you. If it is, this post suggests some ways to think about that.
Read the full article and learn more about:
· Where self-criticism comes from, and why it doesn’t work
· Constructive criticism, and how it helps
· Noticing your self-talk
· How positive self-talk can help
· Four ways to tune up your self-talk
Visit the HealingandCancer,org website to learn more about their healing program, view videos on healing skills and inspiring stories, and read blog posts on all the aspects of treatment, recovery and longevity.
Healing and Cancer is a registered charity lead by an Oncologist and a Psychotherapist/Teacher. We empower people affected by cancer with a practical and integrated healing approach which combines the best care from the medical system with scientific and wisdom-based healing techniques.
Watch Dr. Rutledge give you an overview of the plan and advice available to cancer patients and their loved ones.
Like many people over 60, I sometimes lose my keys or forget the names of favorite films. When I do, it makes me wonder: Is this the beginning of cognitive decline? Or, worse, am I fated to follow in the footsteps of my mother, who died of Lewy-body dementia in her 70s?
“You can affect your brain’s thinking and memory far more than you realize or appreciate, and the vast majority of people haven’t even begun to try,” he writes.According to neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta, CNN medical correspondent and author of the new book Keep Sharp: Building a Better Brain at Any Age, the answer is no. Forgetfulness is normal at all ages, and your genes don’t doom you to dementia. What’s important is taking care of your brain in the best way possible, he argues.
Gupta distills results from hundreds of research studies to help readers understand what’s known (and not known) about keeping your brain healthy. Along the way, he busts common myths—for example, that doing puzzles is a good way to ward off dementia—and replaces them with science-based advice on how to live a longer, healthier life with a more functional brain. He also distinguishes typical memory lapses (like forgetting an acquaintance’s name) from more troublesome ones (like not remembering the way home from a frequent destination)—a distinction I found quite reassuring.
While he’s quick to hail the cognitive strengths of older people (they tend to have better vocabulary skills, for example), he also points out that our cognitive capacities can start to decline much earlier in life than we think, even in early adulthood. That’s why he recommends making lifestyle changes now to improve brainpower at every age—not just when you hit your 60s.
Keep Sharp includes a questionnaire assessing risk for cognitive decline—with some surprising questions, like “Do you sit for most of the day?” or “Do you have a history of depression?” Understanding your risk can inspire you to take corrective action. To that end, here are Gupta’s five keys to a healthier brain.
“When people ask me what’s the single most important thing they can do to enhance their brain’s function and resiliency to disease, I answer with one word: exercise,” writes Gupta. Being inactive is probably the most significant risk factor in dementia, while staying fit can help stave it off. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much movement to make a difference: Even walking for two minutes every day counts.
Exercise provides many benefits overall, including better stamina, strength, stress management, and immune function. But the main reason movement helps the brain is that it reduces inflammation while stimulating growth factors that promote the function and growth of neural cells. That’s why aerobic exercise (more than stationary exercise, like weightlifting) confers cognitive benefits—though weightlifting can build muscle.
“Sleeping well is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your brain functions, as well as your ability to learn and remember new knowledge,” writes Gupta. That’s because sleep seems to clear the brain of debris that might otherwise build up and create problems.
Of course, some people have trouble getting good sleep; so, Gupta’s book reminds them of sleep hygiene principles that can help. He also points to the importance of resting, in general, and suggests replacing daytime naps with stress-reducing walks in nature or meditations.
To reduce stress and rumination (those troublesome thoughts that keep us up at night), he recommends that people add a gratitude practice to their day—which, he writes, “acts like a big reset button.” You can also think about community volunteering, taking regular breaks from email and social media, and avoiding multitasking.
While puzzles may not be the answer to cognitive decline, we do need to stimulate our brains with learning and discovery, writes Gupta. Learning creates new neural pathways and promotes brain resiliency—something that may help stave off the outward symptoms of dementia (like memory loss) even if you develop the telltale brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s.
“Think of it as a big backup system in the brain that results from enriched life experiences such as education and occupation,” he writes.
Building cognitive reserve doesn’t happen overnight, he warns—it results from a lifetime of challenging your brain through education, work, social relationships, and other activities. However, just because you don’t have a college education doesn’t mean you will experience greater cognitive decline, either. Aiming to challenge your mind throughout your life is more protective than a formal degree.
Gupta warns that the majority of commercial “brain games” are not effective at staving off dementia, though they may improve memory, because they don’t train problem solving or reasoning—keys to cognitive reserve. People would be better off taking a traditional class or learning a second language, he says, because these activities offer more complex challenges and social contact, too—also important for brain health.
Finding purpose in life can be good for the brain, especially if it involves contact with people of different generations or personal learning and challenge. Research suggests that people with a sense of purpose have reduced risk of suffering the deleterious effects of dementia—even if their brain contains Alzheimer’s plaques—probably because having purpose inspires them to take better care of themselves.
“What’s good for the heart is good for the brain,” writes Gupta. Still, there is so much conflicting information out there about diets and dietary supplements, it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff (pun intended).
Gupta takes pains to dispel myths around gluten and so-called “superfoods” (like kale and fish oil). There is no evidence to suggest gluten affects people’s brain function, he says, and kale and fish oil, while good for you, are not going to stop cognitive decline.
While it’s hard to recommend a perfect brain diet based on research, Gupta cites Martha Clare Morris’s work. An epidemiologist and founding member of the Global Council on Brain Health, Morris recommends a Mediterranean-like diet—one rich in vegetables, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, and olive oil.
That diet may not be palatable or available for everyone, though. So, Gupta provides more general diet advice, too (using the acronym SHARP):
Having close relationships with others you can count on is important to a happy, healthy life, and may help you live longer. It’s important for brain health, too, as research suggests its opposite, loneliness, seems to be a factor in developing Alzheimer’s.
Gupta suggests combining socializing with other activities designed to get you moving or learning. That could mean taking a walk or class with a friend, joining a team sport, or volunteering. Socializing with more diverse people or people of different generations can also be a plus. And staying connected virtually, while less than ideal, may be helpful when one lives in a remote place without many social supports. An added bonus: Learning how to use social media for the first time may help boost memory.
While it’s true each of these lifestyle factors are good for preventing cognitive decline, Gupta has advice for people already experiencing cognitive decline, too. Part of his book is devoted to helping readers experiencing decline to assess where they’re at and figure out how to move forward from there.
For the rest of us, his book is a useful and highly readable primer for sharpening your brain at any age—not just to stave off dementia, but to simply enjoy your life more fully.
“The brain can be continuously and consistently enriched throughout our life no matter your age or access to resources,” he writes. If you change your lifestyle, even a little, he promises, “Your brain—no, your whole body—will love it.”
Jill Suttie, Psy.D., is Greater Good’s former book review editor and now serves as a staff writer and contributing editor for the magazine. She received her doctorate of psychology from the University of San Francisco in 1998 and was a psychologist in private practice before coming to Greater Good.
This column is an opinion by Dr. Heather Keizer, a clinical psychiatrist and faculty member with the Department of Psychiatry at Dalhousie University.
We’re a year into COVID-19 restrictions and many are fighting a sense of loss, sadness and low energy that can be described as pandemic fatigue.
For some, it has the intensity of grief.
In the wake of these challenging feelings comes a unique opportunity to increase personal resilience, compassion and empathy.
Before COVID-19, those who struggled in social isolation with fears of financial and food insecurity were often the disenfranchised and mentally ill of our communities.
The feeling of existing in a strange new environment without a clear understanding of what to expect was somewhat unique to refugees and new immigrants to our country.
But today, a year into COVID-19, everyone has experienced disorientation, isolation, and uncertainty to some degree. Some have experienced multiple losses not only with the severe death or illness of loved ones, but with loss of employment, educational opportunities and predictable daily routines.
For the first time, many have confronted their mortality, with a deep sense of helplessness and anxiety.
As we confront our distress, whether large or small, we may apply the classic stages of grief to better understand where we are on the spectrum of response.
Once we have named our distress, a positive and hopeful path forward is to embrace the concept of increasing our personal resilience.
Resilience is defined as an individual’s ability to adapt and persevere through challenging circumstances. In part, personal resilience is the product of genetics and secure, healthy attachments in childhood — predictable and compassionate parenting. But, regardless of early experiences, individuals can enhance their capacities to cope.
Based upon decades of resilience research with survivors of trauma, the following elements can potentially help each of us improve our management of distress through the uncertain times of COVID-19:
As masks, handwashing and social distancing protect us physically, personal resilience, kindness and compassion protect us emotionally.
If, in the journey to adapt to the new pandemic world, daily sadness never lifts and intensifies to the point of an inability to eat, sleep and work, it is time to seek professional help.
Thoughts about mortality and the purpose and priorities in life are normal and even healthy at this time; making plans to terminate one’s life or getting drunk or high daily to avoid feeling distressed are not.
Dr. Heather Keizer is a clinical psychiatrist and on faculty with the Department of Psychiatry at Dalhousie University. She has pursued post-doctoral training at Harvard University including Master courses in psychopharmacology, psychotherapy, the Harvard Refugee Trauma Program and a program entitled “Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy” with the Dalai Lama. Dr. Keizer has an abiding interest in public education, social justice and workplace safety.
Taking care of yourself is not selfish. And self-care goes way beyond taking a bubble bath or meditating.
This 1-minute video explores effective ways of reaching out for help.