Categories for Stress management

A Survival Guide for Managing Discussions about COVID at Work

Well, here we are, 18+ months into dealing with COVID-19 and, unfortunately, the challenges remain. And additional challenges have developed – not only dealing with the actual physical repercussions of the virus – but now having to manage a wide range (and varying intensities) of opinions about COVID-related issues: masks, the vaccine, mandates, safety of our children, new virus variants. The tension is thick in the air – within the culture at large, on the airwaves and internet, within families, and within workplaces.  A number of factors combine to create a significant sense of uneasiness for most of us:  ... Continue reading...

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October 5, 2021 7:00 am
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Practical Steps for Reducing the Stress of COVID-19

This blog is the second of a two-part series written primarily for those who provide services to our senior adults (but is applicable to us all). In last week’s blog we discussed that stress is the result when perceived demands are greater than perceived resources. This week we want to focus on ways to cope with and reduce stress. Steps for reducing your stress Incorporating this model of stress is vital for successfully coping with the daily demands in your life and how you lead others. This model provides four different ways to reduce the stress we experience in our lives:... Continue reading...

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August 30, 2021 9:00 am
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Navigating the Stress of the Long COVID-19 Journey

This blog is the first of a two-part series written primarily for those who provide services to our senior adults (but is applicable to us all). Given the ongoing struggles with COVID-19, we are concerned about the health and well-being of all employees, and especially those who give direct care in difficult settings (medicine, schools, long-term care, etc.). To aid in this process we have created versions of our Motivating by Appreciation Inventory for these settings – most recently for those who serve in Senior Care. The action items for each language of appreciation are tailored for the unique circumstances and demands... Continue reading...

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August 23, 2021 9:00 am
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Neutralizing Negativity in the Workplace

Negativity is one of the most common, and deeply ingrained, obstacles to a healthy work environment. When working with front-line employees, supervisors and mid-level managers in a variety of industries, a frequent question I hear is, “What can I do to create more positive interactions in my workplace? People are so negative here!” At Appreciation at Work, our focus is on building positive, healthy relationships in the workplace, and we do this primarily by helping people learn how to communicate authentic appreciation, build trusting relationships, and relate to others in a respectful way. But we also have to deal with life... Continue reading...

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June 14, 2021 9:00 am
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7 Signs You Work with a Toxic Achiever and How to Cope

Toxic achievers pose a serious dilemma for business owners, managers, and supervisors. On the one hand, they get the job done — quickly, and more successfully than their peers. So, their work production or sales numbers look great. On the other hand, they create major headaches due to the way they relate to others, their condescending attitude, and their propensity to frequently want “exceptions” to company policies and procedures. 7 Signs of a Toxic Achiever How do you know if one of your team members is a toxic achiever, or just a pretty good producer who can be irritating to... Continue reading...

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April 5, 2021 9:00 am
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What do ‘mental health’ problems actually look like?

Frequent headlines in the news report “the level of mental health” among Americans is declining or “mental health issues are a primary concern” as a long-term consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. But what do mental health problems look like practically in our daily lives?  The issue may impact us personally, as well as our family members and/or our colleagues at work. Defining ‘Mental Health Problems’ As a psychologist, I often bristle at the use of generic terms in the mainstream media (and those who comment on the topics in social media) without really defining what the terms mean. One government... Continue reading...

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February 22, 2021 8:59 am
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The 2020 Election – A Survival Guide for Talking about the Election at Work

Well, here we are, on the verge of the long anticipated (and for some, dreaded) 2020 elections. The tension is thick in the air – within the culture at large, on the airwaves and Internet, within families, and within workplaces.  A number of factors combine to create a significant sense of uneasiness for most of us:   -the unpredictability of the results   -the strong feelings many have related to the issues intertwined with the election   -fears about potential violence and destruction of property after the election   -concerns about how the results of the elections will impact our... Continue reading...

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October 29, 2020 3:10 pm
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Working From Home: How the Concerns of Employees and Managers Differ

Recently, we conducted a national survey with over 500 employees and organizational leaders. We wanted to find out the issues that remote and working from home (WFH) employees were currently most concerned about. Last week, we reported the results for the group as a whole (all of the respondents together). Two concerns were rated more highly than the rest (a total of 22 issues were offered): *The emotional and mental health of team members (75% of respondents rated this as an extreme or moderate concern) *Work / life boundaries (~70% of participants identified this as being at a moderate or... Continue reading...

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September 28, 2020 1:58 pm
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Coping with Schooling at Home While Working From Home

  “How am I supposed to get my work done while I’m also expected to oversee my children’s schoolwork?” This critical question is one of the most common concerns raised by parents who are working from home. And with the schoolyear just beginning, this challenge, facing millions is both a very real and practical one. First, some context regarding my credibility. Prior to and during my work focused on work-based relationships and workplace culture, my professional focus included evaluating students with learning challenges, and consulting with parents and schools on the best ways to help their students learn. Additionally, we... Continue reading...

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September 14, 2020 9:00 am
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Working From Home is Here to Stay: Simple Tips to Make Life Better

I often state that psychologists sometimes “discover the obvious.” Since I am a member of that prestigious group, let me make the self-evident conclusion clear: working from home (WFH) is here to stay. Working with (and leading) remote employees is a fact of life we need to accept and learn to manage. Two Key Perspectives To effectively deal with, and successfully adjust to working from home, we need to acknowledge that there are (at least) two quite different perspectives on the issue: the employees’ experience and the viewpoint from the organization’s leaders. Many articles and podcasts focus on one or... Continue reading...

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August 24, 2020 9:00 am
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Preparing for a Storm – Lessons from Tornado Alley

As a country, it appears likely we are headed for stormy times. Why do I think so?  First, as a psychologist and social scientist, I’m trained to observe patterns in social behaviors that assist us in predicting future likely behavior patterns. Secondly, because I’m from the Midwest in the heart of “tornado alley” and we are experts in being able to see the signs leading to severe weather. And the two sets of patterns and conditions are quite similar. Stormy Weather I’m not going to go through all of the different circumstances that lead up to severe weather in the... Continue reading...

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August 10, 2020 8:55 am
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Are You Running Out of Gas? How to Avoid Burning Out

Have you ever run out of gas on a trip?  From personal experience, I can tell you it’s not a fun experience. (Fortunately, the last time this happened to me was several years ago!) Similarly, experiencing burnout in life or at work is painful, as well. The two experiences are quite similar and ones you want to avoid. When your car runs out of gas, the event itself isn’t that bad – the vehicle just stops and you can’t go anywhere, but you can’t get restarted. The consequences that follow are what creates the disruptions in your life.  First, you... Continue reading...

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July 13, 2020 9:00 am
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Change Goes Better When Staff Feel Appreciated

Change in the workplace is often inevitable. Previously, changes had to be made in response to external circumstances, like marketplace forces, or they were part of a larger institutional plan to create growth and improvement. Now, with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, change seems to be the only constant in the workplace. Changes in the foundations of how we work and where we work are ever evolving and they can take their toll on employees — which leads to uncertainty, anxiety, resistance, low morale and more. The good news is, managing reactions to change can be made easier if... Continue reading...

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May 18, 2020 9:00 am
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Feeling Overwhelmed? Stressed? Emotionally worn down? Here’s why (and some tactics to help)

Are you (like me) feeling overwhelmed? You are “tired of this.” You don’t know how to make decisions because you don’t know what information to believe? Are you sick of all the “newness” in your life, and the constant adjustments you have to make as a result? Welcome to life in the USA COVID-19 2020. Stressed. Emotionally drained. Feeling unsettled. All of these reactions are normal, given what is going on around us. But they still aren’t fun. What’s Going On Let’s take a quick look at the factors that have turned our lives upside down: 1.Unpredictability and instability. In... Continue reading...

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May 11, 2020 9:00 am
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Encouragement, Support, and Staying Connected During Quarantine

Last week we conducted a small survey to see how our readers were feeling supported and encouraged, how they were supporting and encouraging others and what has helped them stay positive. We were overwhelmed by the positive answers and examples you gave us. First, we asked you: How much have you felt supported and encouraged by someone with whom you work since the COVID-19 crisis has developed? The average of all responses was a “4” (1 = Not at all; 5 = Extremely)! We were glad to learn that many of you are feeling supported and encouraged during this difficult... Continue reading...

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May 4, 2020 9:00 am
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Spring and the Importance of Newness in Our Lives

Spring is late in coming in my part of the country. The mornings have been cold; the days are often cloudy and dreary. And Spring – the vibrancy and newness of life – has been put on hold across the country due to shelter in place and social distancing policies. Being able to get out and about, get together with friends and family, and go “do something” has been essentially written out of our lives. As a result, many people feel stagnant. Bored. Unstimulated. All of which can lead to depression and irritability. These feelings, coupled with the underlying anxiety... Continue reading...

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April 20, 2020 9:00 am
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Why Relational Connection Is So Important During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the need for social distancing, quarantine and isolation so that vulnerable individuals are not exposed to the virus and healthcare systems are not overwhelmed. Collectively, we understand the goodness of “flattening the curve” by each of us doing our part to slow the spread of the virus. COVID-19 is not the only epidemic we are facing. Separating ourselves because of COVID-19 comes at a time when America and many other nations are in the midst of an epidemic of loneliness whose antidote is greater positive social connection. Our current situation—the simultaneous need... Continue reading...

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April 13, 2020 9:00 am
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Newly Remote Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Snapshot of Their Perceptions, Feelings and Concerns

We recently initiated a research project to gather information from newly remote employees to assess their current life circumstances; their perceptions, feelings and behaviors; their top concerns, as well as positive aspects of their life currently. Study Participants Eighty-five newly remote employees responded to an invitation to fill out an online questionnaire about working remotely (88% Female, 12% Male). The questionnaires were completed within two business days (ending March 30, 2020), just after “Stay In Place” orders had been put in place for several states, and just prior to the Federal CARE Act being passed by the Senate. Interestingly, 41% of the... Continue reading...

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April 9, 2020 11:00 am
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Recognizing and Coping with Discouragement

You work hard, try your best, and still, things don’t work out as you hoped. You plan, prepare, think ahead — and yet, something unforeseen comes out of nowhere and creates another obstacle you have to overcome. Life, both at work and outside of work, is difficult. This is especially true now with shelter in place rules, kids at home, and new work arrangements. What is discouragement, really?  Discouragement literally means, “without courage.” We lose that fighting edge to “go get ’em” and attack the challenges of the day. We lose heart. We are worn out. We wonder if “it”... Continue reading...

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April 6, 2020 7:54 am
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Understanding and Managing Anxiety

Life in the twenty-first century is often colored by anxiety— not major, life-crippling anxiety, but those small, little worries about daily life activities and events. And now, with the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic, anxiety has been brought front and center for many of us. If we don’t take steps to combat it, anxiety can rule our days and distract us from the things we need and want to be doing. Defining Anxiety First and foremost, anxiety is fear. We are afraid we are going to become sick. We worry about our financial future. We are concerned about what... Continue reading...

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March 30, 2020 3:11 pm
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Making Your Vacation Work for You: The 4 R’s

Labor Day is often seen as the unofficial end of summer, a last chance to spend time with family and friends before school shifts into full gear and autumn sweeps in. While the three-day weekend doesn’t afford as much time as a full summer vacation, it can still provide valuable time for a mental reset that can be beneficial to you both personally and professionally. Getting away from your home and your daily routine and responsibilities provides a needed mental break necessary to rejuvenate and re-energize. The Four R’s Rest. Try to schedule your vacation activities in a way that allows... Continue reading...

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August 26, 2019 8:55 am
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Overcoming Busyness – Our Cultural Addiction*

Busyness seems to have risen to the level of addiction within our culture, and is even considered a badge of honor. When, for example, have you heard anyone report: “I’m doing great. I’ve got lots of extra time and energy to do what I want?” What is Busyness, Really? To reduce busyness in our lives, we have to first understand what “busyness” is. Is it a set of behaviors? Is it an attitude? Or a perspective on life? Most people respond: “All three.” At a foundational level, busyness is the experience of feeling like we have more to do than... Continue reading...

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July 15, 2019 9:00 am
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7 Signs You Work with a Toxic Achiever & How to Cope

Toxic achievers pose a serious dilemma for business owners, managers, and supervisors. On the one hand, they get the job done — quickly, and more successfully than their peers. So, their work production or sales numbers look great. But, on the other hand, they create major headaches due to the way they relate to others, their negative conflictual attitude, and their propensity to frequently want “exceptions” to company policies and procedures. 7 Signs of a Toxic Achiever How do you know if one of your team members is a toxic achiever, or just a pretty good producer who can be... Continue reading...

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June 3, 2019 9:00 am
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How to Deal with Condescending Colleagues

Spend any time in the workforce, and there is a high possibility that you will be made to feel “small” by a colleague talking down to you or devaluing your input.  Taking some time, however, to understand what motivates condescension, as well as learning some strategies to combat it, can help make working with colleagues who tend to be condescending much more tolerable. What motivates condescension? A person who is condescending in their comments toward others often: 1) wants to “win” the discussion, usually by squelching any dissent 2) uses the situation to boost their own self-esteem by tearing down... Continue reading...

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February 18, 2019 8:50 am
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5 Signs of a Toxic Workplace

From negative communication patterns to low morale, five indicators that your workplace is sapping your energy and mental health. Plus a new resource to help. The 2018 Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year: TOXIC.  Not surprisingly, recent results from an anonymous survey found 52% of employees report they believe their work environment to be toxic. Is your workplace toxic? All workplaces have some challenges and negative characteristics, so it can be difficult to determine if your workplace has a normal amount of challenges, is seriously dysfunctional, or possibly really toxic. Here are five signs that will help you determine the... Continue reading...

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February 4, 2019 9:00 am
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How to Avoid Holiday Burnout: Tips for Managing Stress

“The holidays.”  Those two words are packed with memories, fleeting media images and mixed emotional reactions.  The Hannukah-Christmas-New Year’s holiday season has begun, and if you are like me, with them comes a rapid succession of excitement, anticipation, anxiety, wonder, and a sense of tiredness (and I haven’t even done anything yet). Family gatherings, shopping, managing our finances, holiday parties and concerts to attend, traveling, and so forth — the Christmas season and New Year’s tend to create more stress for us. Practical advice and some you (probably) don’t usually hear. Stress is essentially the experience of having more demands... Continue reading...

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December 17, 2018 9:00 am
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Are You Burned Out?

I see a lot of “burned out” (or “flaming out”) employees. People who are emotionally, relationally and physically worn down. Responsible individuals that have “given all they’ve got” (usually in multiple areas of their lives) and don’t have much, if anything, left to give. Being “burned out” doesn’t have much to do with what type of work you do. Burned out employees exist everywhere: medical settings, schools, law enforcement, insurance companies, long-term care facilities and hospices, financial institutions, mining companies, and intercity social service agencies just to name a few. How can I tell they’re worn out? Here are the... Continue reading...

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October 29, 2018 9:00 am
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Out of the Rut

Have you ever felt like you were in a rut or experiencing a particularly low point in your life? It’s times like these when we feel down, hopeless and stuck. This can run the spectrum of significance, such as being bored at work to grieving the death of a family member or friend, but the symptoms are the same. We become disengaged and cannot fully focus or show up with our best selves. The key to getting out of a rut is self-care, even when that feels like your lowest priority and the last thing you have time for. But... Continue reading...

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August 13, 2018 9:00 am
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Busyness & The Lack of Margin in Our Lives

One of the most common maladies in the 21st century is living lives that feel stressed and chronically overwhelmed. We are busy, tired, and we feel stretched – there always seems to be more to do than we have time or energy. When demands appear to be greater than our resources, the result in our lives is stress. We feel stressed in different areas of life: time, physical and emotional energy, relational demands and finances. Stress then displays itself in our lives in a variety of ways: irritability, anxiety, not eating well, poor sleep habits, not exercising regularly, making hasty... Continue reading...

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May 21, 2018 9:00 am
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The Intersection of Personal Life, Professional Life & Life’s Purpose

Sometimes “life” takes us different directions than we were expecting.  And sometimes life’s events illuminate the inter-relatedness of various areas of our life more vividly.  That has happened to me in the past few weeks. (This is a highly personal entry.  I feel like I need to let you know upfront that I’m not writing this to gain sympathy but just to share “where I am” and lessons I am trying to learn.) Less than four weeks ago, my older sister, Kathy, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer that was already quite advanced within her body.  A week later... Continue reading...

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November 1, 2017 4:09 pm
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