Tuesday, October 20, 2015

time management

Over the years I have learned several things about managing time and being more productive. Not that I do them all, but here is a list of practices that have been shown to help people improve their work performance and satisfaction:

Get a good night’s sleep. If you do not get enough sleep you are prone to be more irritable, less alert, and less productive. I see many people with insomnia and I encourage them to get on a schedule, exercise, take some time to unwind without electronic devices, and to listen to relaxation training recordings.

Have a positive attitude. Most of us have some stressful situations/people to deal with. It is easy to focus on the stress and to develop a negative attitude. For me, it takes an effort to read, listen to music, and find things for which to be thankful in order to put some positive thoughts into my head.

Get to work a little early. I hate being late (and it is frowned upon at work). Getting to work a little early helps to get the day off to a better, more relaxed start. Being rushed can start the day off in a stressful mode that can carry over to the rest of day.

Make a list. I forget things. Writing things down helps me to remember and to stay more organized. Some folks use their smartphones to keep organized, but I still prefer pen and paper.

Prioritize. This goes along with making a list. It is easy to spend time on less important tasks and then discover that more important things were neglected.

Do the most difficult task first. Putting off a difficult task just makes me dread it more. Completing a difficult task earlier in the day when you are at your best gives you a sense of accomplishment and makes the rest of the day much smoother.

Take a break. If time and the workload allow, taking a break can help you to be more efficient and productive afterwards. Similarly, taking a vacation from work occasionally helps one to be healthier, more satisfied, and more productive.

Don’t multitask. Most of us get interrupted at times. But when possible, it has been shown that it is more efficient to complete one task before moving on to another.

Schedule specific times for phone calls and emails. It is tempting to respond to an email as soon as it arrives, and occasionally it may be necessary. But, it is more efficient to schedule certain times to read and answer emails and phone calls.

Take care of yourself. Like the flight attendants on airlines say, “Put on your own oxygen mask before you try to help someone else”. There is usually another task to be done and/or someone else to help, but if you don’t take care of yourself, you will eventually not be of much help to anyone. Take the time to eat healthy, exercise, socialize, and have fun. You deserve it and you will be a better employee, coworker, and companion if you do.

Ask for help. This is one of the hardest things for many of us. We like helping others, but it sometimes feels awkward or embarrassing to ask for help. A client told me years ago, “You know how it gives you a good feeling to help someone? Well, if you never ask for help, you are being stingy and not allowing someone else to get that good feeling”. There are many resources available. If you want a free, confidential place to bounce some ideas around and/or brainstorm some possible solutions to a situation, feel free to call Tanner EAP at 770-834-8327.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

stress and the body

Stress affects our bodies in many ways. Some degree of stress can prime us for better performance. Too much or chronic stress can impact our bodies in negative ways. It is commonly estimated that 70-80% of physical complaints that lead to visits to healthcare providers are stress related.

Many causes of stress are related to the body. Having an illness or pain is stressful. And then the stress can make the illness or pain even worse which can lead to a vicious cycle of increased stress and declining health. Making some small changes or efforts to manage stress can pay off in big improvements in health and wellbeing.

Here are a few ideas of things we can do with our bodies to better manage stress and improve our health:

Exercise Even small increases in levels of physical activity can result in major reductions in risk for illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, depression, and many others. Consider increasing your activity level by using some of the wonderful resources available in our community such as the Greenbelt and exercise classes.

Nutrition Many illness are caused or worsened by inadequate nutrition. Do some research and ask your healthcare provider about dietary changes and supplementation that may improve your health. More and more healthcare providers are testing people’s vitamin D levels. Low levels of vitamin D have been shown to be associated with increased incidence of cancer, depression, heart disease, diabetes, and several other illnesses. Magnesium is a mineral in which many people are deficient. Low levels of magnesium have been associated with fibromyalgia, anxiety, insomnia, and other conditions. Some doctors recommend a bath in Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) to relax and replenish your body with magnesium.

Relaxation training I saw a physician on a news show last week who said that progressive muscle relaxation training worked better than sleeping pills to treat insomnia. It also has been shown to help with chronic pain, hypertension, heart disease and a host of other stress related conditions. Here is a link to a website where you can download some relaxation training exercises. Do not listen to these while driving – even if you get road rage. http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/units/health_ed/relax_relaxation_exercises.htm

There is a wealth of good ideas on ways to cope with stress on the internet. Don’t believe everything you read and don’t buy everything someone tries to sell you, but consider trying out some “new tricks” that you may find online. And always feel free to call Tanner EAP (770-834-8327) if you would like to talk individually.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Importance of Appreciation in the Work Place
 Appreciation is the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.  Traditional mentality argues that work interactions are more economically and financially driven than emotionally driven.  Your employer thanks you for doing your job with a paycheck and you thank him/her in turn by doing your job.  According to one study, 35% of respondents believed that expressing gratitude would lead to employees taking advantage of them. This, however, could not be further from the truth.  Gratitude can help improve not just your mind but also your body. Researchers are finding that positive behaviors like gratitude can improve the cardiovascular and immune function. One study links gratefulness with improved heart, pulse, and respiration rates as well as reduced levels of stress. The study even suggests it may help you to live longer.
Elsewhere in American life, people say “thank you” to acknowledge the good things they get from others, especially when they give out of the goodness of their hearts but not at work. According to a survey of 2,000 Americans released earlier this year by the John Templeton Foundation, people are less likely to feel or express gratitude at work than anyplace else.
It’s not that people don’t crave gratitude at work, both giving and receiving.  The majority reported that hearing “thank you” at work motivated them and made them feel good. “Thank you” doesn’t cost a dime, and it has measurably beneficial effects. In a series of four experiments, psychologists found that “thank you” from a supervisor gave people a strong sense of both self-worth and self-efficacy. This same study also reveals that the expression of gratitude has a spillover effect: Individuals become more trusting with each other, and more likely to help each other out.
But here comes the really messed up part: Almost all respondents reported that saying “thank you” to colleagues “makes me feel happier and more fulfilled” – but on a given day, only 10% act on that impulse. A stunning 60% said they “either never express gratitude at work or do so perhaps once a year”. 
In short, it is said that Americans actively suppress gratitude on the job, even to the point of robbing themselves of happiness.
Hopefully this statement is not as true at Tanner as at other work places but certainly there is room for improvement. People like being appreciated for who they are and what they do.  It costs you little to express sincere appreciation but it can make someone else happy.  Making someone else happy will make you happy.   It is truly a win/win situation.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

prescription pill abuse

The abuse of prescription medications is epidemic in our society. I see it on the news. I see it at work. I have seen it in my own family.

The CDC says that:
• Drug overdose death rates have more than tripled since 1990
• 100 people in the U.S. die every day from drug overdoses
• Many of these overdoses are accidental and involve prescription drugs

The most commonly abused prescription drugs are opioid pain relievers (Lorcet, Percocet, Vicodin, Oxycontin, et al), benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, et al), and stimulants (Ritalin, Adderal, Adipex, et al). Opioids and benzodiazepines can also impair driving ability. There has been a big increase in DUI arrests for driving under the influence of prescription pills. These substances can be valuable in the treatment of some medical conditions. But when abused or taken regularly for an extended time they can lead to tolerance (needing more of the substance to get the same effect), dependence, addiction, or death. Anyone with a family history of alcoholism or addiction is at much higher risk for developing addiction to prescription drugs.

The CDC estimates that for every death from pill abuse that there are:
• 10 hospital admissions for pill abuse
• 32 Emergency Department visits for prescription pill misuse or abuse
• 130 people who abuse or are dependent on their prescription pills
• 825 users of prescription drugs who do not have a prescription

Prescription pills are popular among teens these days. Many teens (mistakenly) believe that prescription pills are safer than street drugs. More people die from prescription drugs than from street drugs, While the rate of usage for several street drugs has decreased, the use of prescription drugs among teens has risen. Many teens report that prescription drugs are easily obtained from friends and family (sometimes without their knowing).

What can you do?
• Do not take any medication that is not prescribed for you
• Take medication as prescribed. Do not take more than is prescribed and do not stop taking a medication without asking medical advice.
• Talk with you healthcare provider. Ask questions. For how long will you take this medication? Will you build up a tolerance to it? Does it impair performance/driving? Is the medication to be taken at regular times or as needed?
• Talk with your teens and other loved ones. Educate them about the potential dangers of prescription drugs. Keep your medications safe and secure from prying eyes and fingers.
• Ask for help. Go to the Emergency Department if it is an emergency. Call the free assessment center at Willowbrooke at Tanner (770-836-9551). Utilize the great benefit that is Tanner Employee Assistance Program. Call any time to talk, ask questions, and/or schedule an appointment (770-834-8327).

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Helping Children Handle Stress

Children often struggle with the stress of everyday life. Pressures may come from a number of different sources, including expectations from parents and teachers, tension and competition in the family, difficulty making friends and finding support, identity issues and peer pressure. How can we help our children handle the stresses of everyday life? Pressure can take many forms, and children need help from parents learning how to respond to stress in healthy and adaptive ways.

Children may respond to some events perceived as stressful with relative ease. Other events may be seen as threats to their own or the family's integrity and well-being, and these events are therefore more troublesome. Whether or not a child takes up the invitation to learn from a stressful situation often has everything to do with the presence or absence of supportive adults. Children need parents, teachers, coaches, and significant others to help them interpret good stress from bad stress – opportunities to learn even when things feel difficult versus situations that are unhealthy, harmful, or even dangerous. Stressful situations can involve figuring out how to better navigate life’s challenges if children have guidance from someone with more life experience.

Children are often very sensitive to changes in their environment and relationships. They may have to cope with a bully on the playground, a move to a new neighborhood, a parent's serious illness, or the disappointment of a poor sports performance. They might feel a constant, nagging pressure to do whatever it takes to fit in at school or to pretend to be somebody they’re not in order for others to like them. Reminding children that they are loved just for who they are is an important and ongoing task for parents.

Sometimes children feel hopeless about their ability to deal with life but don’t know how to ask for help. Adults who care must watch for signs of stress and be proactive about connecting with children in a caring and supportive way.

Sometimes children feel hopeless about their ability to deal with life but don’t know how to ask for help. Adults who care must watch for signs of stress and be proactive about connecting with children in a caring and supportive way.

Some of the signs to be aware of include:

·        loss of sleep or appetite

·        oversleeping or overeating

·        irritability, negative attitude, or unpredictable moodiness

·        problems with academic performance at school

·        behavioral problems and/or aggression toward others

·        difficulty maintaining friendships or getting along with peers or siblings

·        social isolation or difficulty talking about feelings with trusted others


Not all stress is bad. Moderate amounts of pressure imposed by a teacher or a coach, for example, can motivate children to keep their grades up in school or to develop their potential in athletic activities. Successfully managing stressful situations or events enhances a child's ability to cope with life and uncertainty. Most everyone needs encouragement and affirmation sometimes, and parents need to remember how powerfully they shape their children’s self-perception. Staying relationally connected to children and providing opportunities for them to share their experience of life is one of the best approaches for supporting and encouraging them along the way.  Remember, when you need a safe place to talk about concerns regarding your kids, the counselors at Tanner EAP are available and happy to help.