Tag: lifeworks

LifeWorks October Feature: Work-Life Balance and Productivity

October Feature: Work-Life Balance and Productivity Ten Tips for Fitting Work and Life Together Would you like to move beyond feeling stressed or overwhelmed by your personal and work responsibilities? Or learn how to achieve personal and professional success on your own terms? “Knowing how to manage the way work and life fit together is…

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Confidential support for AAA member organizations

Confidential support for employees of AAA member organizations As first responders, you regularly bear witness to traumatic events, and you directly experience loss, sadness, and sometimes even frightening violence outside the norm of the human experience. Exposure to trauma can cause emotional reactions for weeks or even months following. If you’re struggling to cope with…

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LifeWorks: Get Involved

LifeWorks: Get Involved. Choosing Volunteer Work. Helping others can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. You can plant trees in a park, coach youth sports, stuff envelopes for a political campaign, help an adult learn to read, raise money for the arts, visit hospice patients, and more – there’s almost no…

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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…

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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 were too afraid to use the services for confidentiality concerns.

As a profession, we need enhance our efforts to remove the negative stigmatism connected to mental health issues in EMS.  As part of our efforts over the next month and beyond, be sure to make mental health part of the daily conversation. Regularly broadcast the mental health services that are available through your employer sponsored health plan or as part of your Employee Assistance Program (EAP). If your ambulance service does not currently offer EAP, the AAA provides free access EAP from Ceridian LifeWorks as part of your AAA membership.

Last year the EEOC published a guidance reminding employers of their obligation to not discriminate against individuals with mental health issues. In addition, it is important to remember that an employee’s mental health condition can meet the definition of a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In those instances, an employer will have an obligation to enter into the interactive process to determine if they can reasonably accommodate the employee’s mental health condition. Examples of possible accommodations include altered break and work schedules (e.g., scheduling work around therapy appointments), quiet work space or devices that create a quiet work environment, changes in supervisory methods (e.g., written instructions from a supervisor who usually does not provide them), and specific shift assignments. Employers are not required to accommodate any requested work accommodations, just reasonable requests.

There are many resources available for individuals and employers that highlight resources available to anyone who may need mental health assistance for themselves or a loved one. The Action Alliance, Code Green, and NAEMT, are organizations working to raise awareness for public safety and EMS professionals. We are all looking forward to the day when PTSD, Suicide, and other mental health issues are caught early, treated appropriately, and someday prevented by regular and ongoing mental health wellness programs. Until that time, please step up your efforts during the month of September and beyond.

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…

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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 you’re assigned a project that you know will be very challenging, start looking for help and for solutions before you feel overwhelmed by a task.
  • Review your responsibilities. Has your job changed recently? If you have greater responsibility, you may still be adjusting to new demands.
  • Decide if your workload is likely to ease. Is some of your overload caused by a temporary situation, such as a co-worker on leave? It may help to know there’s relief in sight.
  • Talk about the workload. Rather than complaining to co-workers, talk with a mentor or trusted friend who understands and sympathizes with the pressures you face.
  • Explore solutions to personal concerns that are contributing to your stress. If you have a partner, get his or her ideas on this. Could you hire a house-cleaning service or could your partner take over some of your household chores for a while? If you’re caring for an aging parent, consider using short-term respite care for occasional relief.
  • Consider meeting with your manager or human resources (HR). Your manager or HR may suggest ways to handle the situation or tell you about helpful resources.

Other ways to reduce overload

  • Cut back on other commitments until your workload eases. When you’re overloaded, a good rule of thumb is to drop one old commitment when you take on a new one.
  • Set aside time each day to do something you enjoy. This will help you avoid becoming burned out at work. Make time for friends, family, relaxation, exercise, or spiritual activities that have meaning for you.
  • Focus on leaving work on time. If you tend to work late, start with leaving on time just one or two days a week. A little less time at work may lead to increased focus, energy, and productivity when you’re there.
  • Take vacations. Getting away provides more than a way to relax and unwind. It also gives you psychological distance from your workplace helping you to recharge and return to your job with a new outlook. Employees who don’t take vacations because of work pressures feel even more overworked. And yet, many Americans have days of paid vacation left over at the end of the year.

We all want to feel challenged and excited about our work, and we want to know that it’s manageable and under control. With the right tools and support, you can achieve this goal.

Call LifeWorks at 888-267-8126 or visit www.lifeworks.com (username: theaaa; password: lifeworks).

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.
• Reframe a difficult experience. Instead of saying “I will never get through this,” try, “I will get through this by using the techniques that have helped when I’ve had difficult experiences in the past.”
• Remember that stressful events usually provide opportunities to learn and grow.

Build your emotional resilience.
• Learn from others who are role models of resilience.
• “This too shall pass.” Try to see your situation as temporary, no matter how difficult.
• Try to avoid catastrophic thinking. While it is good to be prepared, it is rare that worst-case scenarios come true.

Give yourself a break from media. Many media-worthy events can be presented in an exaggerated or false manner to attract attention. Unplug for part of each day from all your sources of media and news.

Keep your life simple. Simplifying your life is especially important during stressful times.
• Simplify your routines and set limits to protect your time.
• Make time for simple pleasures.

Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness, and yoga — four widely used relaxation techniques that can help improve mental and physical well-being.

The LifeWorks program also provides a network of counselors who can offer you in-person support. The service is free and available 24/7, whenever you need it, and it’s confidential. No one at work or at home will be told that you’re using the service. You can also find online resources at www.lifeworks.com including

Call LifeWorks at 888-267-8126 or visit www.lifeworks.com (AAA members have login access).

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 aware of the moment.

Practice mindfulness when you’re with others. Listen closely to people, whether they are new acquaintances, close friends, or relatives, and try not to interrupt. Focus on what others are saying — not on what you want to say next.

Unplug your devices. Turn off your television, cell phone, tablet, or laptop so they won’t distract you from your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Or keep your gadgets in a room where you can’t see or hear them.

Use all five of your senses. Let yourself see, hear, touch, taste, and smell your world. Take a few moments to sniff an orange, notice its color, and feel its texture before you peel it. Eat it slowly. Observe your reactions. Does the orange have a different taste or bring more pleasure when you take time to savor it? Or sit outdoors with your eyes closed. Notice the sigh and sounds of birds, the scent of the flowers, the feel of the breeze on your skin. Using all of your senses will make you more aware of your surroundings and may make you appreciate them more.

Try progressive muscle relaxation. This technique may help if physical tension makes it hard for you to practice mindfulness. Sit or lie down in a quiet place. Then tense and relax different muscle groups one at a time. Start by holding out your right arm, making a fist, and tensing your arm and fist for a slow count of 10. Then relax your arm and fist for a slow count of 10. Repeat with your left arm. Then, with your legs, stomach, and other muscle groups.

Be patient with yourself. Avoid judging or criticizing yourself if practicing mindfulness is difficult for you at first. If you’re like most people, it can be a challenge to stay in the moment if you’re used to multitasking. Stick with the process, if only for a few minutes a day. With regular practice it will get easier over time.

Look into books, DVDs, and other resources on mindfulness. Explore a variety of approaches to mindfulness if you don’t find one that works for you right away. You can find many good books and DVDs on mindfulness at bookstores, libraries, and online.

The LifeWorks program also provides a network of counselors who can offer you in-person support. The service is free and available 24/7, whenever you need it, and it’s completely confidential. No one at work or at home will be told that you’re using the service. You can also find online resources at www.lifeworks.com including the infographic, Brief Mindfulness Exercises.

Call LifeWorks at 888-267-8126 or visit www.lifeworks.com (AAA members have login access).

Also learn about:

How to Be Present This Holiday Season
Holiday Health and Safety Tips
Adopting a Positive Mindset at Work

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 them, and one of your challenges as a couple is learning to live with your differences. You may also have some disappointments along the way. At every stage of your relationship, it’s important for both of you to know that you’ll love and cherish each other even if things don’t always work out as expected.

See yourselves as equal partners. In successful relationships, two people may have very different roles, but they see themselves as equal partners. One of the best ways to foster this kind of equality is to ask for the other person’s opinion frequently and show that you value it. Also, try to make joint decisions on big issues and learn to find creative solutions or make compromises when you can’t agree.

Pay attention to how you communicate. One study found that couples can stay close by spending as little as 20 minutes a day simply talking with each other. The quality of your conversation also matters. Researchers have found that couples who stay together are much more likely to give each other praise, support, or encouragement than those who break up.

Handle disagreements constructively. Because it’s impossible to avoid all arguments, it is important to know how to resolve conflicts and deal constructively with your differences. This means never making personal attacks, which can destroy your trust in each other or chip away at your feelings of being loved and valued. It also means saying “I’m sorry” if you said or did something you regret.

Make sure each of you has some privacy and independence. This means that each member of the couple needs time to be alone, time alone with friends, and time to pursue personal interests. Giving each other time for individual pursuits may also strengthen you as a couple by bringing new experiences and new friends into your life.

Have fun. No matter how hard they work, couples who stay together usually make time for fun. What you do isn’t important; what’s important is that you spend time together having fun.

 

The LifeWorks program also provides a network of counselors who can offer you in-person support. The service is free and available 24/7, whenever you need it, and it’s completely confidential. No one at work or at home will be told that you’re using the service. You can also find online resources at www.lifeworks.com including articles like: Communicating as a Couple and Keeping Relationships Strong as we Age.

 

Call LifeWorks at 888-267-8126 or visit www.lifeworks.com.

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 also offer support and resources on coping with stress at work.

• Control what you can in your environment and try to become better organized. Reduce the clutter at your desk or workstation. Use headphones or take other steps to reduce noises that bother you. Develop a better system for responding to calls and emails and managing other daily tasks that are adding to your stress. Even small changes can make you feel more in control at work. Focus on what you are able to accomplish each day rather than on what else needs to be done.

• Picture yourself staying calm. Close your eyes and visualize yourself staying calm before you start work each day. You can put up a calming screensaver or a photo on your desk to help you relax.

• Breathe deeply. Inhale slowly through your nose, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Try to do this 10 times once or twice a day at work. This can help to reduce stress all day. Practice deep-breathing exercises at home, too.

The LifeWorks program also provides a network of counselors who can offer you in-person support. The service is free and available 24/7, whenever you need it, and it’s completely confidential. No one at work or at home will be told that you’re using the service. You can also find online resources at www.lifeworks.com including
• a new podcast, Getting Help for Depression
• Brief, online self-assessments like Are You Depressed?, Are Life Changes Causing You Stress?, and Do You Have a Drinking Problem?
• a library of helpful articles including Anxiety Disorders, Choosing a Counselor or Therapist, Recognizing a Substance Abuse Problem and What To Do, or Recognizing and Dealing with Depression in the Workplace.
• a Mindfulness Toolkit, featuring brief guided audio exercises led by well-known experts to help you manage and reduce feelings of worry and stress.
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Call LifeWorks at 888-267-8126 or visit www.lifeworks.com

Share With Your Team: Building Resilience

(from the AAA Employee Assistance Program powered by Ceridean LifeWorks)

All of us face unexpected changes, challenges, and set-backs at some point throughout our lives. How can you learn to keep up a positive attitude and stay strong through life’s unwanted changes and challenges? Here are a few resilience techniques to practice and to help you get through challenging times:

  • Choose to have a positive attitude. There are many things over which you have no control — for example, you can’t control whether the company gets sold and you lose your job. You can’t control whether your child is faced with a serious illness. But you can choose how you respond to the difficulties and setbacks you face.
  • Take care of yourself. The stronger and fitter you are physically, the more resources you will have to face the challenges that life brings you. Practice healthy habits. Make sure you get enough rest, eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise, get out and walk alone or with a friend, and manage feelings of stress. The more you do for yourself, the more resilient you’ll feel during times of challenge and change.
  • Use “traffic light coping.” This exercise, developed by Dr. Williams, works like this: When you start to feel worried, panicked, or angry — when you start to “see red” — stop and relax. Pause. Take some time to breathe deeply to help calm your body and mind. Soften your shoulders. Let your muscles soften slightly. When you feel calmer, you’re ready to move forward.
  • Trust your inner strength. Experts agree that we have strengths we never knew we had until we have to use them. You’ll be amazed at how many personal resources you have that you never even knew about. Remember that change can lead to personal growth.
  • Start with a single step. If you are faced with a challenge that feels big or overwhelming, start with the simplest thing you can do that takes you in the direction you want to be. Ask yourself, “What’s the smallest thing I can do to get started?” Once you’ve thought about it, do it.
  • Let go of your anger. A difficult challenge can cause us to feel angry and upset. These feelings are normal, but they won’t help us move forward. Work through your anger by writing about it, or talking about it with a trusted friend. Try to let go of negative feelings. It’s not easy to do. It takes practice and work. But try. You’ll be amazed at the results.
  • Focus on solutions, not problems. Instead of focusing on what you feel you may be losing, consider what you may gain because of the change. For example, if your job is changing, this may be the opportunity you were waiting for to reassess your work and find new direction.
  • Laugh. Even when things seem to be falling apart around you, try to find time to smile and laugh. It’s very healing and it will help you forget your worries for a few moments. Rent a movie that makes you laugh or spend time with a friend with a good sense of humor.
  • Focus on the things that are good in your life. Count your blessings. Try to appreciate the day-to-day good things in your life now. The more time you spend doing that, the more energy you will have to deal with the problems that you face. A sense of gratitude helps put things in perspective.

For more ideas on staying resilient during times of change, get in touch with LifeWorks—call to speak with a caring, professional consultant anytime, 24/7. You can also go to www.lifeworks.com to explore our online resources including an award-winning booklet, Bouncing Back: Staying resilient through the challenges of life , a recording, Navigating Workplace Change featuring stories and ideas on how to thrive in turbulent times. You can also check out helpful articles like Ten Ways to Bounce Back and Finding Strength in Family and Community, or a podcast, Adjusting to Changes in Your Personal Life. LifeWorks is completely confidential and it’s provided to you at no cost through your organization’s AAA membership.

Call LifeWorks at 800-929-0068 or visit www.lifeworks.com (username: theaaa; password: lifeworks). 

LifeWorks: Helping AAA Member Employees Make Life Work Better

Enhance employee health and engagement by making sure your workforce is aware of the LifeWorks Employee Assistance and Wellness Program. The LifeWorks program is centered around helping your employees achieve work-life balance, improving their productivity and well-being. We all face challenges in life. From finding answers to parenting questions or managing personal finances, to getting…

This content is available only to AAA members.
Log In or Register

LifeWorks: Helping AAA Member Employees Make Life Work Better

Enhance employee health and engagement by making sure your workforce is aware of the LifeWorks Employee Assistance and Wellness Program. The LifeWorks program is centered around helping your employees achieve work-life balance, improving their productivity and well-being.

We all face challenges in life. From finding answers to parenting questions or managing personal finances, to getting help with a relationship or taking care of health issues, LifeWorks offers around the clock fast, free, confidential help.

AAA understands that your people are your most valuable asset. Make sure your employees are aware of this resource for fast, confidential help with family, work, money, health and work-life balance issues. Share AAA’s EAP with your team.