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Health Consciousness and Resilience Training is More Than "Check the Box"

Posted By NWI, Friday, October 5, 2018
Updated: Friday, October 5, 2018

A course in resilience and stress management will not help your staff if they return to a toxic work environment. Empowered Health Consciousness is a route to addressing resiliency work in a conscious, mindful way to stimulate growth and health in the work culture, the work climate, and the work environment. Health consciousness and resilience work together.

 

The Roles of Resilience and Empowered Health Consciousness

Resilience is operable in a window of time; it is the “bounce back” from adversity. Health consciousness is an ongoing process. It comes before resilience, is at play during resilience, and continues after the resilience. If you are not conscious of what’s happening during the stress-inducing event, you are not going to be resilient. Being present and aware during an adverse experience enables you to learn from the difficulty, promoting a resilient response. Resilience and health consciousness work together to create a culture of awareness and learning in which people respond more positively to adversity.

Resilience vs. Health Consciousness

 

Resilience is about preparing for and learning from adversity.

Most of life’s problems are not sudden and overt. They are small daily irritations, or triggers, that over time cause strain and exhaustion. Most adverse incidents that occur are proceeded by these triggers.

 

Health Consciousness enables us to be proactively empowered to recognize the triggers before they accumulate.

Health consciousness helps us to be alert to our tolerance for the problems that arise in life, as well as when we “relapse” into unhealthy behaviors that may cause adversity, or in response to adverse circumstances. Having health consciousness skills enables us to create an environment that fosters resilience, making it far more likely that we’ll be resilient when difficulties arise.

Training for both areas reinforces the skills we can acquire for each, which supports ongoing learning, consciousness and a culture of learning and growing together. 

You can empower people in their own health consciousness, so they can make healthier choices for themselves!

 

Empower health consciousness in others. Register by October 24 for the next online course. Learn More at NationalWellness.org/WellnessAlternative

 

Register Now

Tags:  Facilitator  Health Consciousness  Mental Health  Resiliency  Stress  Training 

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Why Is America’s Suicide Rate Rising?

Posted By Trevor McDonald, Wednesday, October 3, 2018
Updated: Monday, October 1, 2018

According to the Center for Disease Control, the suicide rate in the United States has increased 30% since 1999. This trend is across all social classes, genders, and ages. Sociologists and mental health professionals have wondered for nearly twenty years: why is America's suicide rate rising?

The suicide rate in the United States has increased 30% since 1999.

There are many factors at play when considering this question, but experts believe that the main reasons why we’re seeing more suicides in our country is because of increased stress, a stigma surrounding mental health disorders, increased drug and alcohol addiction, and various life crises.

Increased Stress

We are living with more stress today than ever before. The Great Recession that happened 10 years ago caused hundreds of thousands of people to lose their homes, their businesses, and their income. This caused increased stress and a marginal increase in the suicide rate at the time. But in addition, we need to look at everyday stress. We put ourselves through stressful situations both in our professional and personal relationships, which can really take a toll on our well-being.

If you feel overworked or anxious, seek help from a professional therapist, or figure out the stressors in your life and, if possible, rid yourself of them. For example, if your job has you working 60 hour weeks with work you hate, you might want to find a new job. No pay is worth your well-being and, potentially, your life. Below are also some ways to de-stress after a long day:

Stay in tune with your mind and know your limit with stress, anxiety, and responsibilities. Don’t be afraid to speak up and get help if needed.

 

Mental Health Disorder Stigma

It’s unclear how many reported suicide victims suffer from mental illness, but the number is likely high. It’s hard to determine this information because many people are afraid to get help or they have an undiagnosed mental health disorder, which can then exacerbate suicidal thoughts.

It’s unclear how many reported suicide victims suffer from mental illness, but the number is likely high.Although mental health is being more recognized in our society, there is still a stigma surrounding things like depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and many others. Some people think that if they have a mental health disorder, there’s “something wrong with them” or that it can be changed. For example, someone with depression might just be seen as sad and may even be told things like “just get over it.” But instead of this view, we should approach mental illness as any other physical illness. If you break your arm, you go to the doctor. No one will say “just get over it.” We know where to get the help we need for our physical ailments. But what about our mental health? Therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists are professionally trained to help address these mental health concerns. By changing this stigma surrounding mental health, we may be able to slow suicide rates and share the message that it’s okay to get help when you need it, and it’s okay to put your mental health first.

 

Increased Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Addiction and suicide have a very scary link. Many people who struggle with addiction also have a dual diagnosis of a mental health condition, and as we discussed above, people with mental health conditions may be more likely to commit suicide. The three are intertwined, and the stats prove it. For example, the National Alliance on Mental Health shares that “substance abuse increases the likelihood that a person will commit suicide and drugs and alcohol are the common means for committing the act of suicide.”

The National Alliance on Mental Health shares that “substance abuse increases the likelihood that a person will commit suicide and drugs and alcohol are the common means for committing the act of suicide.”There are key signs to look for if you suspect that you or someone you love is struggling with a mental illness, substance abuse, or both. Below are some red flags:

  • Distancing themselves from others or hobbies that they enjoy
  • Lack of ability to complete everyday tasks
  • Constant alcohol or drug use
  • Statements like “I don’t want to do this anymore”
  • Sudden aggressive behavior
  • Prolonged stress
  • A history of abuse

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and takes way too many lives with it. But if we understand the factors that may increase suicide rates, we can do everything possible to prevent it. We can start by removing the stigma surrounding mental illness, limiting our stress or stressful situations, and getting ourselves or our loved ones help if they are facing substance abuse.


Trevor McDonaldTrevor McDonald is a freelance writer and recovering addict and alcoholic who's been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.

Tags:  addiction  Mental Health  Stress  Suicide 

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Identifying Mental Health Issues and Taking Proper Measures for Better Productivity

Posted By Toby Dean, Thursday, September 20, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Mental health as per the definition of World Health Organization is “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. (WHO, 2007).”  Mental health is vital for any workplace around the world to function properly. It is believed as a workplace asset. However, the stressful work environment has been drastically affecting the productivity of the staff all over the world. In the UK one out of four employees are looking to leave their job, and many frequently are bound to take sick days due to stress, anxiety, and depression. Mental health is causing the UK 70 billion pounds per year, so this is not something that can be taken lightly.

This infographic from Maximillions hows the official government statistics that discloses the impact the employees’ mental health has on productivity and the loss that the companies are suffering because of this. These statistics will help you gain knowledge about the importance of proactive team building is for a better workforce mental health. The infographic also provides some important recommendations for managing mental health in the workplace.


Toby Dean works on behalf of Maximillion in content creation and marketing. He creates engaging graphics and content that help businesses stand out from the crowd. Over the past 7 years has worked with dozens of SME's in both an agency and freelance capacity.

With 25 years of event management experience, Maximillion has delivered over 5000 corporate events and hosted more than a quarter of a million guests across the spectrum of Team Building, Event Management, Learning & Development and Challenge Events.


Tags:  Coping  Mental Health  Productivity  stress  workplace wellness 

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Mindfulness: As a Way to Optimize The Functioning of the Human Brain

Posted By Elisa Laconich, Friday, July 27, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Currently, advances in medicine, using technologies and scientific progresses in the treatment of diseases, have achieved an increase in the world population life expectancy. Nonetheless, mental health is still a pending task, screaming for our attention, especially considering that an altered mind is the main cause of death and incapacity; murders, suicide, car accidents, and psychiatric illness are daily news. In this scenario, practicing a lifestyle that promotes a healthy mind and that increases one's quality of life is more than justified.


In this matter, the mindfulness is the pathway of mental training, tranquility, compassion, connection with oneself and one’s surroundings. However, as everything we want to achieve, learning awareness also implies a degree of effort.  At the beginning of this training, it is not unusual to be distracted by such frustrating thoughts as  “I can't focus”, “I need to have a perfect outcomes”, “I can't stay still”, “I don't have enough time”, “I'm not doing it right”, etc... We should understand that there is no wrong way to focus; the correct way is the one that suits you. There is no correct way of living other than that which adapts the best to us, similar to “My Way” from Frank Sinatra, about a man who looks back on his life with full awareness and without judgment, and is especially proud of having lived his life enjoying every step of the way.

Therefore, despite that the awake meditation may sound difficult; for certain we have all already done it at some point. For example, if you have hung out just thinking about something, if you have prayed, if you have observed nature or someone for a few minutes, then you have awareness moments linked to the present.

In the last decades, neuroscientists have been keen to verify the effectiveness and brain changes that mindfulness can cause. This has lent greater robustness and reliability to this practice, which in turn has contributed to greater diffusion of this practice among society.

The truth is that science increasingly gathers more evidence that small changes in the mind lead to big changes in the brain and therefore into life experience. What flows through the mind sculpts the brain, especially if it is constant, lending credibility to the phrase: “The main activity of the brain is changing themselves,” Marvin L. Minsky.

The main changes in the brain result in neurophysiological modifications translated by the presence of certain brain waves and frequencies denoting synchronicity in the functioning, which means more coherence between connections and areas. According to brain scans, meditation can strengthen synaptic connections, as well as producing more cortical sulcus and gyrus, processes associated with increasing the speed of information processing, decision-making, better memory, and attention.

In addition, the effects of meditation practice are associated with morphologic changes, such as more density in the gray matter, which have a positive effect by improving cognitive, emotional, and immune responses, as well as better self-control, breathing, and heart rate. Moreover, other studies suggest that meditation increases the size of the hippocampus and frontal lobe, resulting in more positive emotions, more emotional stability, and more conscious behavior in day-to-day life. When we talk about more conscious behavior, we come to taste and therefore value manifestations from ourselves and from others, helping to free ourselves from the slavery of automatism—“stolen lives”—in which we live immersed every day.

In consequence, a quiet mind will always be more productive cognitively, and this will facilitate adaptation to change, reducing everyday stress and the impulsive reactions that tarnish our welfare.

 

“I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me”

- Albert Einstein

 


Elisa Laconich is a Ph.D. in Psychology with orientation in Cognitive Neuroscience. Partner of the ONG the world peace foundation. She works in the development of the neurosciences and the application of the neuropsychology in Paraguay. She has experience in the application of the neuropsychology to improve the quality of life in people who had brain damage through neurocognitive techniques and mindfulness. She was President of the First Congress of Research in Neurosciences Paraguay in 2015 and President of the Neurosciences Association of Paraguay. Member of the American Clinical Neurophysiology Society.


Tags:  Meditation  Mental Health  Mindfulness  Neuroscience 

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Wellness Strategies to Support Mental Health in the Workplace

Posted By Will Williams, Friday, May 11, 2018

In the USA, approximately one in five adults experience mental illness in any given year. The personal impact, from emotional distress to stymied career development, is a significant consequence for those affected, and the broader economic burden is similarly profound. Serious mental illness costs the USA $193.2 billion in lost earnings each year, and employers are increasingly required to navigate this difficult issue in a professional, supportive and consistent way.

wellness strategyIt can be difficult to set in place an effective framework for dealing with mental health issues in the workplace, but having a coherent wellness strategy in place can make a big difference, both for the bottom line and the experiences of employees. In this, businesses and other institutions have a big responsibility.

While the monetary burden is something employers have to consider, more important is their influence on the recovery and wellbeing of their staff when they are facing difficulties; inappropriate pressure, unfair dismissal and (even inadvertent) discrimination could have far-reaching consequences for the individuals involved. Anybody which employs staff has a responsibility to assist them as far as is possible when they become unwell, and to take great care in avoiding any action that may exacerbate the issue.

So what kind of wellness strategies should employers put in place?

Understanding Mental Health Issues

The first step in any wellness strategy that focuses on mental health is creating an atmosphere of openness and compassion within the workplace. Mental health issues have been widely misunderstood for many years, and are often also an “invisible illness” which might not be immediately obvious to a casual observer. For instance, someone with anxiety may appear to be coping well while secretly struggling, or an employee who performs brilliantly one day can find they are unable to leave their bed the next.

There’s also a societal perception that people suffering from mental health issues will be more volatile, less reliable, and less capable of competently fulfilling their role. Even if this belief doesn’t actually apply within a workplace, people who have become mentally unwell may be concerned that they’ll be perceived this way, and therefore nervous about coming back to work or being open about their symptoms. There may also be situations in which a person’s mental health issues manifest themselves in overwork and perfectionism.

Employers should endeavor to understand the mental health issues they may encounter in their workforce, using resources such as the charity Mind, WebMD, and the National Wellness Institute to familiarize themselves with the symptoms, personal experiences, and challenges associated with problems like depression. Issues such as grief, stress, and burnout — which can affect anyone — are also important to consider, even if they are more the result of circumstances than a diagnosable mental illness.

Creating information packs for employees can also be extremely helpful. Firstly, it makes anyone who struggles with mental health issues aware that an organization is sympathetic and knowledgeable about mental health, and therefore more able to talk directly about the subject. Secondly, it makes other employees more understanding and less likely to place pressure on their unwell colleagues — as well as cutting down on any insensitive or misguided remarks.

Workplace flexibilityEmbracing Flexibility

Having a flexible approach to working practices can make a huge difference in the lives of people living with chronic mental health problems, and supports those who are experiencing other emotional difficulties, such as bereavement. For example, someone who suffers from anxiety may have trouble sleeping, or their medication may make them drowsy in the mornings. Shifting or temporarily shortening their hours could help to keep them in work, and retain the skills, knowledge, and input which make them so valuable to the organization.

Flexibility benefits both staff and companies in a variety of ways. It allows staff to return to work more quickly, saving organizations the money they would have spent employing cover and dealing with the shortfall in work. By supporting people back into work, the employer also saves the funds it would require to pay redundancy, as well as recruiting and training a new member of staff. Finally, they won’t miss out on the value that particular employee brings to the role — the reason why they were hired in the first place.

From an employee perspective, when organizations collaborate with them to make returning to work as seamless as possible, they can benefit from a faster recovery and reintegration into the workplace. Returning to work often improves people’s mental health, boosts their confidence, eases financial concerns and provides a social outlet. If an employer can make reasonable adjustments, such as...

  • Creating a phased return to work after a period of absence, where the employee works gradually back up to full-time hours over a few weeks or months;
  • Being mindful of an employee’s particular needs, such as those with social anxiety being excused from meetings and allowed a private workstation;
  • Having the option to work from home if facing other people feels overwhelming - for example after losing a family member;
  • Allowing employees to see their doctor or therapist within work hours and as often as needed.
  • Providing frequent breaks and the option to leave the workplace without prior notice if the employee is experiencing symptom flare-ups, like panic attacks.

...then it makes the working lives of those with mental health issues easier to cope with, and ultimately assists them in regaining their health.

Considering The Impact of Stress

Stress in itself is very damaging, but when combined with poor mental health its impact can be profound - worsening and even triggering mental illnesses in many people. All workplaces should be aware of stress levels amongst their staff, especially as too much stress directly impedes most people’s ability to perform. This lost productivity is an expensive consequence for organizations, and if they become known as a particularly stressful place to work then their reputation may also be damaged.

MeditationPeople tend to work at their optimum in demanding, yet calm, working environments - places where they are challenged, engaged and focused but still generally relaxed, enjoying the “flow” of work. This quickly disintegrates when too much stress is applied: whether that’s through aggressive management, unmanageable workloads, or systematic problems that mean they can’t effectively do their job. People also become stressed if they are constantly interrupted, micromanaged, or pressured into situations they aren’t comfortable with - such as being given sole accountability on a project they aren’t au fait with or told they have to present a pitch.

A stressful and chaotic working environment will impact the mental health of the majority of people who work within it, as burnout and panic begin to wear everyone down. Much of the solution to this lies in working practices and company policy, which will vary from organization to organization depending on the particular demands of their service or industry. However, they are other strategies which most organizations can apply which will help prevent damaging levels of stress:

  • Encouraging a good work/life balance. Organizations should make it clear that no one is expected to work outside of office hours, and that work emails shouldn’t be read or answered in an employee’s time off.
  • Pay fairly and include good employee benefits. This is something that may be easier said than done, especially in small businesses, but low wages, not enough holiday time and poor sickness pay can be hugely stressful parts of any job.
  • Providing opportunities for employees to discuss any issues they have confidentially while ensuring that their concerns are addressed and resolved.
  • Implementing a workplace well-being program where employees are supported in living happily and healthily; through meditation classes, the appointment of a wellbeing officer and distributing advice.

Providing meditation classes — as Google and Nike have done — and if possible a calming space where employees can go to meditate, is one way to help people de-stress. Studies from Harvard neuroscientists have demonstrated physical changes in the brains of meditators, where the “stress center” (known as the amygdala) decreases in volume — convincing physical evidence of meditation’s positive impact on the experience of stress.

This has further implications for mental health problems like anxiety (https://www.willwilliamsmeditation.co.uk/why-meditate/mind/anxiety/), where sufferers feel a constant sense of danger because their amygdala is in high alert, even if there is no real threat. In teaching techniques like meditation, and allowing time in the day for people to practice them, employers will be providing those who experience poor mental health with a coping mechanism that will help them to better manage their symptoms.


Will WilliamsWill Williams is one of Europe’s leading Vedic meditation experts, and a wellbeing advisor to the OECD working group on Education. He has worked with the BBC, American Express, Spotify, Uber and many others in implementing corporate wellbeing programs, and his first book, The Effortless Mind, is available on Amazon.
You can contact him at willwilliamsmeditation.co.uk.

Tags:  Meditation  Mental Health  Stress  Worksite Wellness 

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