Category: <span>Mental Health</span>

Why Mental Health Plays a Role in the Success of Your Business

Mental Health is a workplace issue

Mental illnesses from a macro viewpoint are associated with higher rates of disability, absenteeism, and unemployment. Emotional experiences like depression and anxiety often interfere with a person’s ability to focus and complete tasks and have even been reported to reduce cognitive performance about 35% of the time. While the impact may not rise to the level of a clinical diagnosis for most workers, they are still susceptible to stress and burnout, seriously affecting their ability to contribute meaningfully in their personal and professional lives.

 

Data from several countries worldwide indicate that mental health problems are behind a considerable number of employees dropping out of work, particularly as we navigate returning to work post-pandemic. It’s the elephant in the room that can no longer be avoided, with Covid-19 having a lasting impact on the workforce. It was hard before, it’s a crisis now, and we are at a juncture that requires us individually and collectively to shift our work culture and prioritize mental health. 

Mental health was a massive issue in the workplace before the pandemic. It was hard before, and it’s a crisis now. 

 

Workplace Well-being

Mental health is something we all possess. When it is good, we have a sense of purpose and direction and feel that we can cope with whatever life (and work) throws at us. But just as our physical health fluctuates, so too our mental health. This is even true for solopreneurs or entrepreneurs, with one study out of the University of California finding that out 49% of entrepreneurs surveyed had at least one mental illness, and about one-third struggled with two or more conditions like depression and anxiety.   

Emotional challenges at work can contribute to: 

  •   Decreased productivity and performance
  •   Reduced engagement with one’s work
  •   Decreased physical capability 
  •   Poor communication with coworkers
  •   Increase in employer mental health spending with behavioral health claims responsible for a 20% increase in that area.

At any one time, at least one in six workers are experiencing common mental health problems (some studies have it as one in five), and it’s no surprise that these adults are tasked with dealing with their mental health in the workplace. Depression contributes to about 400 million lost workdays annually. Poor mental health costs US employers up to $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year, and within the UK, mental health problems in the workplace cost the economy approximately £70 billion annually. 

Good mental health enables not just the individual to thrive but the business. The WHO has estimated that for every $1 invested into the treatment and support of mental health disorders, business see a return of $4 in improved health and productivity.

 

Tips for Managers, Leaders & Colleagues

Some common signs that can surface in colleagues who are struggling with their emotional well-being:

 

1. They exhibit (or often talk about) physical symptoms, such as tiredness related to disrupted sleep or persistent headaches. 

2. Withdrawal from the team, more isolative.

3. Loss of interest in work, sadness, or constant worry

4. Noticeable irritability or conversely complacent 

5. Reference to increased alcohol consumption

6. Procrastination, indecisiveness, slowed productivity (missing deadlines and deliverables).

7. Absence may increase, or alternatively, they start to work much longer hours, starting early or staying late.

 

Employers are uniquely positioned to encourage employees to get help if they are experiencing issues with their mental health. Not only that, most workers want their employers to champion mental health and well-being in the workplace.

 

Employee/Self Care is Key to A Thriving Workplace 

Five small changes that can be made with little effort and improve employee well-being: 

1. Flexible hours. Discuss with your staff a reasonable plan to reduce their stress while navigating return post-pandemic. One size does not fit all.  

2. Enforce working hours. This can be done by limiting out-of-hours work and encouraging reduced email access outside of office hours

3. Increase supervision and team support: If possible, avoid employees working in a solely isolated way. If they are working from home extensively, make sure there are regular check-ins not just on work but also on challenges that impact the work.  

4. Share resources: Provide support services, share available resources like EAP information, child care options, and how to access staff members or consultants who have training in mental health and workplace stress. Make sure support is widely and regularly communicated. 

5. Promote self-care breaks: That may include reminders to eat healthy, group walks, or quiet time at the end of meetings. 

 

Other ways companies are investing in corporate wellness:

1. Changing company cultures – Get intentional about creating a culture of understanding and openness around mental health. This can mean HR programs taking steps to prevent burnout and build employee resiliency. It could also mean supervisors being mindful of and allowing employees to speak openly about mental health challenges or even implementing mandatory self-care time. Some companies have even implemented paid or unpaid mental health days from work, and staff is encouraged to utilize it before they feel overwhelmed or emotionally unwell. 

 

2. Incorporate a Wellness Menu – If wellness is not a regular part of the culture, invest in it. Progressive agencies are mandating self-care, and a part of that is providing options for staff to pick from during the workweek, such as the 30 mindful mornings or wellness workshops I recently facilitated at a Law Firm in NY. Other options include training on topics such as overthinking and productivity, stress and the body, or trauma-informed care. 

When the agency prioritizes care, it sends a message to the employee that your wellness matters, and that is often reciprocated back with increased productivity and a reduction in turnover. 

 

It will take all of us to help alleviate the impact of COVID-19 related stress and the emotional impact it continues to have on ourselves, colleagues, and communities. Our Mental Health Consultant Team can support you in your journey to promote workplace well-being and raise mental health awareness in the workplace or to personally develop yourselfGet in touch to find out more.

You can find additional resources from The American Psychiatric Association (APA)  here or when emotions are significantly impacting functioning refer colleagues to therapy here: Psychologytoday.com, Cliniciansofcolor.com, Therapyforblackmen.org, and Openpathcollective.com.

 

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R, Psychotherapist and Corporate Mental Health Consultant

Why Letting Go of these 3 Kinds of Worry Will Help You Have an Awesome New Year

2020 has been an unexpected year and the uncertainty of it has thrown everyone into a whirlwind of anxiety, sadness, doubt, or a different kind of tired- Covid tired. A new year is approaching and it’s important to let go of any baggage that’s weighing you down and make space for what’s to come. As long as you have breath in your body you can create, dream, make room for joy, and live with intention despite uncertainty.

COVID-19 is like that unwanted house guest that you want to leave, but you can’t seem to get rid off.

For a lot of people – children and adults alike, this pandemic is kicking up worries, and making it difficult to get things done. What most people don’t realize is that the time you spend OVERTHINKING about a situatin instead of doing something actually feeds your stress and drains your motivation. The key to navigating stress, anxiety, worry, and overwhelm is getting a handle on WHAT you are thinking and that is what we’re going to get into- the importance of letting go of worries and it’s on your life.

Let’s do a quick exercise that will help you reduce that baggage of stress and worries you’re carrying right away. Ready? Grab a pen and paper and write down all your worries for a minute. Write down whatever you think about during the day, the thoughts on your mind now, what you feel, thoughts related to your business, your family, relationships, whatever is on your mind. Transfer all that pain, worry and negative energy to that piece of paper.

Now, take a look at what you wrote on the paper, and crumple that paper up and throw it away OR rip up the paper as dramatic as you can, shred it to bits!

How do you feel? I hope you feel a little better. Although this will not get rid of your problems completely, this simple exercise is a proven method to calm a person who is constantly in their head and at the mercy of their worries. It’s an exercise that teaches you the value of letting go. Whenever you feel worried again, write it all down, take a deep breath, tear it up, throw it away and let go.

Drop the worries that no longer serve you 

  1. Fear of the future

A lot of us get excited about the whole new year, new me and are motivated about new goals, but let’s get real, new goals (or the ones that didn’t happen this year) and dreams can be scary. A lot of my work is coaching women to from fear to success in their business and fear is the number one thing that paralyzes progress.  Fear is what is behind anxiety, but often our fears are a bit exaggerated. A quick tip: Ask yourself how bad is this really? Start to tackle what overwhelms you by breaking it into smaller steps or chunks of time. With a little bit of practice you can let go of fear and the unhelpful thoughts that drives it.

  1. The Need to be busy

Covid-19 shut us down- actually for safety, and mentally because it put a pause on our need to do as much as we can in a 24 hour period. Busyness has become the new normal.  If having back to back appointments and being in demand equates to doing a good job, it’s easy to mistake busyness for purpose and validation. This pause has given us time to tune in and realign our lives through things that matter to us, like classes to develop our skillsets, fixing up the house, to getting some needed rest. Rest and relaxation is probably the antidote to worry, as well as prioritizing your time. It is the key to reducing stress, improving your emotional health AND resting is productive. Yet, it is hard for some of us who are used to filling every moment of time to simply take a break.  A break gives you a moment to take in things like the satisfactin of your accomplishments, quality relationships, and the other details of life that can refuel your energy, support internal validation, and propel you forward.

To tackle your new need for intentional time, block it out!  Fill your schedule with tasks and activities you want to do, it’s harder for others to steal your time if you’ve already blocked off key tasks for yourself, and it makes it easier to say “nope, not today”.  Schedule key tasks of the day in chunks of time, as well as breaks and time off (vacation time isn’t optional). The key here is to be realistic about what needs to be accomplished for the day, with flexibility to be responsive to changes instead of reactive. Let go of the need to be busy.

  1. The need to be in control

Anxiety and stress happen when you feel like you’re not in control and spend too much time trying to force things to work out the way you see it in you head. The hard truth is that you’re not in control of most things in your life. You can rarely predict how the next chapter of your life will play out or the weather for that matter. Avoid wasting your energy trying to control everything. I know, easier said then done. It might help to take a step back and think about how control plays out in your life, the purpose it serves, and where this need for control comes form. [Take a breath] Accept that you cannot control the circumstances of your life, but you CAN control your reactions and what you do with what’s handed to you.  That means you have a lot of power yourself- don’t believe me? Make a list of all the things that belong to you- your health, your decisions, your emotional wellbeing, etcetera, etcetera. Refocus your energies there and take notes on how it creates change for you and in your environment.

Choose an Affirmation that Fits You

A few mantra’s to reinforce shifting control back to you- see which one best suits you and make sure to write it down on a sticky, put it up on your bathroom mirror or computer or even try scheduling it on your phone as a reminder. The goal is to recite it at least once a day until it becomes a new way of doing.

I release all fears of not being perfect. I am good enough

I live my life without restraints

I let go of the need to control others

I’m 100% in control of my life

I let go of my need to be in control

Worrying and stress will impede your productivity and create chasms between you and your goals for the new year, holding your happiness hostage. As counterintuitive as it seems, letting go of your fear of the future, the idea that you constantly need to be busy and the urge to be in control of everything will actually open up great opportunities for you. Not only will it improve your productivity and performance, but it creates a healthy mindset that will serve you right if you treat it well.

 

I’d love to hear what your goals are for next year and what you plan to let go of before January 1 rolls around. Leave a comment below with your thoughts.

 

~Amanda Fludd, Psychotherapist & Mindset Coach for Women in Business and Entrepreneurs

Not My Circus: How To Support Remote Work Parents

Leading your remote work(ing parent) team

 

Supporting Remote Working Parents

It appears our conversation will not be changing for quite some time. COVID-19 will forever be in our vocabularies. For working parents it put a full stop on stability as the school year frantically ended forcing major adjustments to accommodate work and our remote families. Just as we settled into that rhythm, summer came to a screeching halt and it’s time to get back to school across the country and every region seems to have a different plan. Parents are now back to the circus, forcing them to flex their juggling skills while putting strain on the ring master, work.

One thing that is universal for all parents working remotely is that balance is the key to success. In speaking with several parents, their collective concern is the impact of this sudden change in structure on their children, and what it means for their emotional and academic well-being. They also expressed concern with their own job stability, stress levels and productivity. For their kids, they are grappling with missing their friends, lost attention from teachers in the classroom, organized sports, yearly milestones like prom, social learning opportunities, widening education gaps and a reason to get out of their pajamas in the morning.

While there are no easy answers to the side effects to this pandemic, here is how to support your child and family while working from home:

  1. Check in with your child regularly. Ask them how they are doing and what they are struggling with when it comes to staying home or returning to school.
  2. Filter media exposure, especially for young children. Have discussions about key issues at age appropriate levels.
  3. Maintain social connections even while social distancing. Children are the most resilient when embedded in a network of social supports: a relative, a caring parent figure, teacher, etc.
  4. Seize the opportunity and make an effort to eat lunch or dinner together often as a family.

    Given some basic support and protection, our children have remarkable strength and hardiness.
  5. Get out and get active. You or your child may be struggling with anxiety and stress, which can affect memory, attention, and mood. Movement naturally helps us regulate our mood.
  6. Let’s face it, school was an escape for all of us. Make sure that everyone has the necessary time to disconnect and have alone time.  For stressed parents caring for children and trying to work: Put on your own oxygen mask first. Your self-care is essential. Being intentional with your own needs is vital to you, your children and your work.

How can employers support parents that have to work remotely  while still maintaining their work responsibilities?

We all struggle with work life balance, and just like children need frequent communication, flexibility and support, so do remote work parents! During this pandemic it is important that employers show extra care and patience for their very human employees as they try to navigate the right balance for themselves. For front line managers and administrators this may look like:

  1. Frequent check in’s and providing employees a safe space to offer feedback. This is key for leaders to get a clear understanding of what employees actually need and to demonstrate a culture of empathy and concern.
  2. Allowing employees to schedule around their children’s school schedule  (or offering  remote  work  options  and  flexible  schedules  for  the  entire  team).
  3. Being lenient with children walking across the screen or yelling to mom or dad for help during that 11am critical meeting.
  4. Acknowledging the tremendous strain of being present for work and your child.
  5. Implementing mental wellness opportunities and resources onsite or virtually to support the resilience of your remote team. Worker bees with tools to manage stress and overwhelm are more likely to exhibit resilience in the workplace and hit productivity goals.
  6. That said, modify your expectations.

The latest assumption that was communicated by Dr. Fauci is that we will not have a good handle on this pandemic until the end of 2021, so in other words, we are in this for a while.  Now is the time for all of us to show a lot more patience and understanding because this impacts all of us. We all have key roles and responsibilities in the well-being of our greatest assets.

 

Free Resources for Kids + Adults

Check out the following free resources to support your school and work efforts at home.

Khan Academy: Free resources for parents, families, and educators including daily schedule templates for different ages and grades.

Cosmic Kids Yoga: Fun videos on mindfulness, yoga, and relaxation for kids

Free Wi-Fi with Comcast: Struggling to access school or work remotely? Comcast announced it will offer free wi-fi hotspots around the country, plus other accommodations and discounts for low-income families. Check out their service page for more information.

Need tips from teachers at home? Parents can get insight straight from the professionals with curated resources such as webinars on remote instruction and practical advice.

Free Live & Online – Daily Meditation & Support Groups from Mindful Leader: Thirty-minute sessions held Monday through Friday from March 23 to May 1, including 15 minutes of silent meditation and 15 minutes of reflection and discussion.

Anxiety and stress: If its impacting your sleep and ability to focus and complete tasks, check out our psychotherapy services. 

For more information on how to promote work and life balance, reduce stress and support the mental well being of your team, connect with us.

 

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R is a passionate advocate for positive workplace culture, ambitious mindsets and mental health. Her programs focus on trauma, depression and anxiety, both on the couch and in the workplace.

A Milestone in Grief and Loss

Covid 19 has reached new milestones not just in mass casualties, but in consequential losses as we grapple with epic rates of change.  From grieving the loss of a loved one, or tangible losses like graduations, friendships within classrooms,  being furloughed from work, the ability to go anywhere as we continue to shelter in place, or even a loss of safety in the context of recent community issues. Grief is a response to loss to which a bond or affection was formed. Simply put, grief is love. A love that exists across multiple dimensions including spiritual, philosophical, and social dimensions. It’s an experience we will all have just because we exist. 

Grief brings with it many different emotions like sadness, guilt, disbelief, confusion, shock and anger. The emotions have often been described as a rollercoaster and can quickly leave its mark emotionally and physically, whether or not you realize it. Unfortunately, loss and change have always been a part of our history and always will be, but we have learned some fundamental ways to deal with it. 

Here are some tips to help you embrace your grief and loss:

  1. Take your time. Don’t allow anyone to make you feel as though you’re taking too long to process your loss or that you have to get over it and “move on”. There is no time frame on how you experience grief.  Some people may grieve for weeks and months, while others may describe their grief lasting for years. With all the emotions that you experience, acknowledge and feel it as much as you may want to hide from it or make it go away. We can’t get around the  pain, but can work our way through it and begin to create new  meaning and experiences that work around your loss. 
  2. Give yourself credit. Don’t beat yourself up for the way you feel about the loss. Acknowledge your growth as you progress through your healing process. Allow this to happen naturally. (For example, if you cried all day for two days straight and on the 3rd day you only cried twice, acknowledge that and try to look for other signs that there is life outside of sadness).
  3. Get out and get active. Be sure to do something physical even if it is just going for a walk outside. Grief and you can coexist together. Remember to take time to care for your body, mind and soul. Physical movement will help with those difficult feelings. 
  4. The language of grief. Grief wants to be heard, validated and supported. It needs to pour out.  Talk about your unique losses with loved ones, a friend or maybe even seek out a support group or community events like a grief circle. Pour it on to the pages of a journal or through music or art. While grief is an inevitable part of life, navigating it can be challenging and it’s ok to ask for help if you get stuck.  A therapist can help you find a way to pick up the pieces and move through this process if you are struggling to find your way. For some, its easier to be fully open with a non judgmental stranger. 

The 5 stages of grief, according to psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Although these are the common stages, there is no guarantee that you experience them all or in any order. For the most part, most of us will go through a loss and never need a therapist, but it is also ok to seek professional support to assist you in coping if you are having a hard time on your own and the grief seems more persistent with feelings of hopelessness, despair, trouble with daily tasks and difficulty feeling pleasure or joy.  

Additional resources: 

Reminders when coping with grief: https://omh.ny.gov/omhweb/covid-19-resources/coping-with-grief-reminders.pdf

For families dealing with the loss of a child: www.copefoundation.org

To find a GriefShare support group or event near you: https://www.griefshare.org/

Connect with Suffolk/Nassau NABSW for upcoming grief circles: on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/nassausuffolkabsw

For the loss and hurt related to social injustice embrace healing habits through the 21 day challenge: https://www.eddiemoorejr.com/21daychallenge

 

Kensho Psychotherapy Services is here to offer you support and help through your difficult time. For more information visit our site:  http://www.amandafludd.com.

Revamping Self Care. The Pandemic Edition

Pandemic Coping Skills

 

If you weren’t exercising your self-worth before this apocalyptic level crisis by balancing daily demands with our natural need to say “no”, “rest” and “recharge”, well for sure, the time has come to indulge and nurture what you’ve neglected. Don’t presume that one takes a back seat while navigating the new demands of remote work, google classroom or a looming recession. Regardless of your evolving role, pausing to engage in self-care may be one of the key tools to protect your energy so we can survive and thrive through this pandemic.

Let’s call out this thing for what it is, insane! It’s a profound loss of control that has shown up in every aspect of our lives and that is exactly what trauma is. Adding on to this ordeal is the physical and mental strain on our health. This shows up differently for everyone depending on several factors like emotional support, ability to self-care and skills to cope. It may look like irritability, restlessness, constant worry, a decrease in productivity, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, loneliness, increased flashbacks, self-doubt, depression and more.

Why self-care? We all need to take time out to decompress and let some of the steam off. This lessens the impact of stress and worry that is building in the background.

Raise your hand if you aren’t stressed and worried. . .crickets.

Pausing means taking time to nurture your needs and for some, some untreated emotional wounds.

How to get started– Take a minute (actually get out a piece of paper and a timer and set it for one minute) and jot down all the things you love to do or maybe wanted to do but just didn’t have the time to do. Now push yourself a little bit further for the next five minutes and think deeper about what you really need to nurture right now. Now take a look at your loves list and consider what you can add to further nurture your needs. For example, going to church is one way I recharge but I don’t have access to this form of reconnecting right now, at least not in the same way. Nevertheless, I can listen to a YouTube worship service or dynamic inspirational song at my desk while at work daily. I can add devotionals to my nurture list or learning a bible based affirmation. My strength comes from the Lord.

Once you have your list ready, the next part just requires regular and consistent action on your part. Take a few things from your list, especially the ones you can do now considering the circumstances and build it into your daily schedule. That’s it.

Your Pandemic Edition Plan might look like this:

  1. Pausing daily to check in with what you need emotionally, physically and spiritually. Notice it and nurture it. Maybe incorporate some meditation or mindfulness practices. Check out the calm.com app, Headspace or Stop Breathe Think. A colleague and I are also hosting a Virtual Wellness Summit on 4.25.20 to help you pause, reconnect and recharge. You should come, it’s free. Register on Eventbrite: https://bit.ly/34OuTOT. Or consider other similar events.
  2. Figure out your daily routine to incorporate the items you love and to make sure you are creating things to look forward to during your day. Without goal directed action it’s easier to lose track of time and procrastinate as days blend together. Read, write, take a drawing class or enroll in a free course at Yale (yup, that’s happening).
  3. Take time to connect: Call, text, or even write to a loved one or a friend to not just see how they are doing, but to chat about live, practice being social, and maybe as a byproduct find inspiration to you. Of course its ok to set limits on this. If you just don’t feel like talking, that’s ok. Another great option is joining some online groups with friends or finding events like the one mentioned above through Eventbrite or maybe even link up with a charitable group to be of service to others and foster a sense of connection while supporting your community.
  1. Move your body. Your body is craving to be noticed and to move. There is freedom and healing in our bodies, especially when we connect it to silence or the rhythm of our ancestors. Try a free yoga application like Down Dogg in the App store or free online workouts being offered by YMCA. You can also join in on the IG DJ Battles and dance it off, or maybe even join your kids for a “Just Dance” session in the Livingroom. 
  2. Get outside. Walk, run or just sit outside and get some fresh air and sun. Kick off your shoes and feel the earth beneath you- we call this type of grounding “earthing”. As you ground yourself use that time to think about a few reasons to be grateful.

Continue to ground yourself in the one thing that you have control over: Simple acts of self-care and nourishment of one’s mind. Taking it in step by step each day. I am grateful for you, proud of you for doing the best you can, and wish you endless days of self-love, care, compassion, phenomenal health and healing.

Author: Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R  4.24.2020

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