LifeWorks Adapting to Change: Growing Stronger Through Change

Illness. Divorce. Financial difficulties. Job loss. We face unexpected changes and challenges throughout our lives. How can you learn to keep up a positive attitude and stay strong through life’s unwanted changes and challenges? The first step in coping with a crisis or challenge in your personal or work life is to put on your “reality glasses.” Reality glasses, a concept developed by Stephen Williams, an organizational psychologist from the U.K., are the glasses you use to look at and understand what’s going on in your world. When you put on your reality glasses, you stop, step back, and ask yourself: “Am I seeing this as it really is? “How big is this problem, really?” Or “Have I got this out of proportion?” When you assess the situation, you may discover that the problem or challenge you are facing isn’t as serious as you had thought. Or you may discover that it is serious indeed. But facing your problems with your reality glasses on helps you gain a sense of control. “You’ve moved into the driving seat,” says Dr. Williams. And that’s the first step in growing stronger through change. Once you’ve got your reality glasses on, here are two...

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September Is Suicide Awareness Month

This past year, nearly every EMS conference featured one or more sessions related to the mental health of EMS professionals. This November in Las Vegas, the American Ambulance Association Annual Conference & Trade Show will feature several sessions that will perform a reverse case analysis of PTSD and other mental health conditions affecting members of our profession. It is wonderful to see this issue being brought to the forefront given how many years the culture was to “toughen up”. This Friday begins Suicide Awareness Month. Awareness for mental health issues is at an all-time high in EMS but we still have a long way to go. Just two weeks ago we lost yet another Paramedic in my community to suicide and the numbers are rising. According to a study conducted by Fitch & Associates as part of the Ambulance Service Managers Program, mental health struggles and depression among fire and EMS professionals are widespread, more than 10 times that of the average American. However, a survey conducted by the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) revealed that the majority of respondents stated that they were dissatisfied with the mental health services available through their employer and that most respondents (more…)

Mental Health Support: Getting Help for Depression

Many of us struggle to tell the difference between depression and sadness because the primary symptom of depression is pervasive sadness. But it’s important to know that there is a significant difference. Sadness is a normal emotion that is usually triggered by a hurtful, challenging, or disappointing experience, event, or situation. We tend to feel sad about something. When that something changes or when we adjust or accept it, our emotional hurt tends to fade. With depression it’s not the same. Depression is a mental illness that affects our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a pervasive manner. We feel sad about everything. With depression, sometimes that sadness is present despite the fact that, from the outside looking in, everything is going well. Depression doesn’t require a specific event, situation, or experience as a trigger. Depression infiltrates all aspects of our lives making everything less enjoyable and less important. Depression can be debilitating and significantly impact our daily life function. The most common symptoms include a persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood; feelings of hopelessness or pessimism; feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness; a loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and once enjoyable activities; sleeping difficulties, including trouble falling asleep...

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Lifeworks: Overload at Work

You aren’t alone if you often feel overloaded at work. More than two-thirds of US workers suffer from work overload, according to Kelton Research/Cornerstone. Overload can increase your stress and make you feel out of control even if you enjoy your job. Stress and overload can also affect your productivity, work relationships, and performance. If you are working longer hours or feel overwhelmed by all that you have to do, you may be experiencing overload at work. If the fast pace that was once challenging starts instead to leave you feeling drained, that may be a sign of overload. Learning to cope with your workload can reduce your stress and help you stay productive and valuable to your organization. Gaining understanding and control of your workload Here are ways to gain control of your workload: Realize that you can reduce overload. There may be parts of your job that you can’t control, such as seasonal variations in workload. But you can control how you prepare for the peak season. Focus on what you can change, not what you can’t. Know your limits. Some people thrive on a heavy workload, while others feel stressed by small increases in their responsibilities. If (more…)

Lifeworks: Building Your Resilience With Self-Care

Building Your Resilience With Self-Care Resilience is the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity, such as when you may be experiencing personal or family issues, a serious health concern, work stress, money worries, or other challenges. One of the key ways to build resilience is to focus on self-care. “Taking care of yourself,” writes the American Psychological Association, “helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.” Here are some ways to take care of yourself to help build your resilience. Make meaningful connections. Strong ties — to family, friends, co-workers, and community groups — help you find the social and emotional support you need to bounce back from setbacks or disappointments. • Make time for your closest relationships. • Talk about what you are going through with others. • Spend time with like-minded people. Pay attention to your physical self-care. • Make exercise a priority. • Follow a healthy diet. • Follow good sleep practices. Reframe how you view problems and challenges. A key element of resilience is your perception of an event, according to the Columbia University psychologist George Bonanno, who has been studying resilience for 25 years. • (more…)

LifeWorks: Tips on Mindfulness

Mindfulness Tips Give yourself a gift this month. Practice mindfulness. Focusing your attention and awareness on the present moment—which is what mindfulness is—can help you manage everything from holiday stress to family stress to pressure at work. It can help you experience more satisfaction and joy in life, this month and every month. Here are some ways to get started: Limit multitasking. As much as you can, do one thing at a time and give it your full attention. Avoid switching back and forth between tasks. Keep in mind the words of the psychologist Mary Pipher, who says in her book Seeking Peace: “A very simple definition of mindfulness is doing one thing at a time.” Spend some time each day alone in mindful meditation. Sit quietly in a place where people, tasks, and noises won’t distract you. Focus on your breathing, inhaling and exhaling evenly. Thoughts will inevitably arise, but simply observe your thoughts without judging them. You may want to consider choosing a “mantra,” a word that you associate with feeling relaxed, such “calm” or “peace,” and say the word you’ve chosen when you exhale. Breathing evenly while repeating your mantra can help you eliminate distractions and stay (more…)

LifeWorks: Tips for Building a Strong Relationship

When you hear about couples who maintain a strong relationship through all of life’s challenges, you may wonder how they do it. Every couple is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for a good relationship. But people who’ve stayed together for a long time tend to have some of the same things in common. Here are a some tips: Have a strong commitment to making your relationship work. Most couples start out with a strong commitment to their relationship, but after a while, they begin to give it less attention. Staying committed begins with accepting that having a good relationship takes work. It’s important to accept some “rough patches” as normal and inevitable. Instead of trying to pretend that they don’t happen, make a commitment to solving your problems together. Think of yourselves as friends, not just as a couple. Couples who stay together see themselves as good friends. They share a variety of activities, enjoy each other’s company, show respect and trust in each other, provide support in good times and bad, and don’t take each other for granted. Accept your differences and disappointments. You and your partner may share many interests, but you probably won’t share all of (more…)

LifeWorks: Coping with Pressure at Work

A study conducted by the Northwestern National Life Insurance Company and reported on the CDC website, found that one-fourth of all employees view their work as the number one source of stress in their lives. The following tips can help you cope: • Deal with the situation directly. Avoid complaining to co-workers, customers, or others who can’t help you solve the problem. Instead, talk with a trusted mentor or friend to come up with a solution strategy. • Talk with your manager if he or she has shown concern for employee stress. If you feel overwhelmed, let your manager know. Bring up work obstacles, but propose solutions instead of just griping. Let your manager know if you might benefit from more training, a new software program, or having a more flexible schedule. • Consider meeting confidentially with human resources (HR) if you think your manager is a source of your stress or if a problem remains unresolved after you have discussed it with your manager. HR may be able to suggest ways to handle the situation or tell you about helpful resources your manager hasn’t already suggested. Your employee assistance program (EAP) or the program that provided this publication can (more…)