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Sep 22

Proven Psychological Strategies that Corporations Should Use to Maximize Peak Performance Among Employees!

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Workplace Wellness

I have written extensively about how more and more companies are recognizing that putting health and wellness programs on board ultimately helps their bottom line by maximizing peak performance in employees.  Do you wonder why such programs are directly related to profits?

Nearly One Million Employees Miss Work Each Day Because of Overwhelming Stress

Lost hours due to absenteeism, reduced productivity, turnover, medical, legal, and insurance costs have been estimated to cost $300 billion per year, or $7500 per worker.

A ton of research has now proven definitively that stress is linked to six leading causes of death, including:

  • heart disease
  • cancer
  • suicide

According to the American Institute of Health & Productivity Management, which phrased the term, “Presenteeism,”

There is also a major cost each year due to employees who are at work but not working up to their potential, because of the stressors they encounter.

In our 24/7 global society, stressors abound, both on and off the job. I-phones, instant messaging, and e-mail all are designed to make life more convenient and easier, but they effectively leash us to work and other obligations.  We have become a society of people with OCD as it pertains to looking for information and instant feedback.  This adds even more stress as we constantly fight to keep up with our competition.

Add to this family demands, our pervasive fear of terror striking close to home, and worrying about the future of our Country, constant stress surrounds us.

[Tweet “Learn how to maximize #employee performance by creating a #healthy #workplace.”]

The Emotional Well-Being of Employees has Been Shown to Positively Impact Performance, Absenteeism, Lower Health Insurance Claims, and Enhance Quality Control

Where the workplace can really help is to focus on programs that enhance the well-being of their employees.  Here you have a captive audience, where their company can show a genuine interest in enhancing their emotional well-being.

The American Psychological Association launched their annual Psychologically Healthy Workplace award several years ago in order to give corporations an incentive to develop programs that will help workers to thrive emotionally.  Examples of programs that enhance the psychological health of employees in the workplace are:

  • offering growth and development opportunities
  • innovative employee recognition programs
  • encouraging work-life balance opportunities
  • participative decision-making opportunities
  • enhanced communications and respect between managers and workers
  • offering confidential counseling to employees from well-trained mental health professionals

Companies whose employees achieve peak performance understand that the emotional well-being of their employees is the key to such performance.

To learn more about how to develop a psychologically healthy workplace for your employees, contact me for more information.

Jul 07

Healthcare Professionals: 3 Keys to Preventing Burnout

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Stress , Stress Management

We don’t often think about the extreme stress that medical practitioners endure while shouldering the tremendous responsibility for the lives of their patients. Burnout and early career termination are frequent occurrences among these professionals, whether they are doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, trauma first responders, EMS professionals or emergency room staff.

Some of these medical professionals work with a population of clients whose needs are dramatic and immediate—victims of catastrophic injuries and/or those who are in overwhelming pain. As any family whose life has been turned upside down by a catastrophic injury will attest, navigating the healthcare system and coordinating the multiple aspects of care is a monumental and overwhelming undertaking. In the split second that it takes for the accident to take place, the family’s lives change dramatically and often permanently.

Dealing with catastrophic injuries and complex pain conditions necessitate a complex approach that supports not only the victim but everyone connected to the victim, every step of the way.  Successful outcomes require an extremely dedicated and professional case management team, with a laser focus on optimal medical recovery.

I am honored to be invited to keynote the 2016 Summit for a company that has taken on these challenges and has done so with an amazing track record of success.  This company, filled with unsung heroes, is Paradigm Outcomes.  Like all companies charged with taking on dramatic and often life-threatening cases, Paradigm’s teams are extremely vulnerable to burnout. Attaining optimal outcomes can have burnout side effects.  Of course, burnout is no stranger to any occupation, so the tips below apply to any industry where stress occurs simultaneously with job performance.

3 Keys to Preventing Burnout

1. Make Stress Resilience Practice a Part of Every Day

Healthcare professionals, especially those working with urgent, catastrophic cases, rarely afford themselves the time to develop stress resiliency skills.  They are so focused on the task at hand that they concentrate on providing their skills to others, neglecting themselves in the process.  Such activities as taking a brisk walk during breaks and after meals can go a long way toward calming and rebuilding mental strength.

The new rage in mental health is “mindfulness.”  You can obtain free mindfulness apps on your phone, and these relaxing exercises can attain powerful results in literally minutes.

Having a break room with relaxing chairs, calming music and pictures/posters of island paradises, pristine mountain scenes, etc., can help to melt away stress.  Being able to discuss the difficult cases with colleagues in such places can eliminate feelings of helplessness that often undermine burnout.

[Tweet “Tips for #healthcare professionals: 3 keys to preventing #burnout.”]

2. Have Realistic Expectations

Many healthcare professionals are hard-wired with Type A personality traits.  Among those traits is the need to be perfect in everything one sets out to do.  You can imagine how such a need is self-destructive.

Healthcare professionals often go into this career field with the admirable desire to help people recover and save lives, but they will never be able to solve every issue and save every life.  You need to recognize that you can diligently diagnose, design treatment plans, consult with colleagues and treat your patients, but you will not always save them…no one can.  Moreover, a large part of “saving” patients depends on the patient being compliant with the treatment plan.  Sadly, that important ingredient is often missing.

Change your expectations to doing the best you can with the available technology and medicine, rather than feeling like a failure when patients do not recover.  Self-acceptance without judgment is an important trait for everyone to embrace.

3. Embrace SELF-Compassion

Self-acceptance involves self-compassion. Healthcare professionals are hard-wired with empathy and compassion for their patients, but all too often self-acceptance and self-compassion are missing.  Simply put, if your best friend was suffering from the stress in which you find yourself, what advice would you give to her/him?  I’m certain you would be empathic and make a myriad of healthy suggestions, but, do you ever follow the same stress-reducing prescriptions for yourself?

Treat yourself like you would advise your best friend or close relative.  Understand that it’s natural to be stressed under these circumstances.  Give yourself a break!

Another powerful suggestion is to recover your balance through the balance of others.  During the devastating bombing of Britain in WWII, the population was able to maintain their balance by identifying with the calm, not-to-worry demeanor of their leader, Winston Churchill.

Make sure there is at least one person in your life who faces and reacts to stressors very calmly.  Reach out to that person to discuss the stressors you face, and resonate with her/his calmness.  This is the essence of giving yourself permission to have self-compassion.  Our bodies have evolved to mobilize to stressors, which can be exhausting.  Absorbing the calmness of others enduring the same stressors can serve to de-activate your stress.

These are the important keys to resilience that I will share with the catastrophic event teams attending the Paradigm Outcomes Summit in October. They are some of the key ways that healthcare professionals – and indeed anyone in a stressful career – can use to prevent burnout.

Jun 23

2016 APA Work and Well-Being Survey: Still a Long Way to Go in Workplace Wellness

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Stress , Workplace Wellness

Every year the American Psychological Association conducts a survey to study stress, workplace wellness, and other critical factors among America’s workers. The 2016 survey was conducted in March and findings were released in June, so it’s time once again to examine the results of the APA Work and Well-Being Survey. The results show key areas where employers can improve their respective workplaces.

My overall thoughts on the 2016 APA Work and Well-Being Survey? The results are both surprising and disappointing.

Main Findings of the APA Work and Well-Being Survey

Overall, the findings show that after all of these years of consistent research findings by professional industrial/organizational psychologists, many companies are still failing in several critical areas.

Some of the most disappointing findings I read:

  • Only about half of those surveyed feel valued by their employer.
  • About half of workers still do not believe that their employer provides opportunities to participate in decision-making, solving problems, or setting goals.
  • The main sources of worker job stress are low salaries and insufficient opportunities for development and advancement

Feeling valued and having the opportunity to challenge yourself, reach goals, and grow as a worker are basic needs that every company must address. These crucial elements help employers nurture their most valued assets—their employees.

Workplace Wellness Findings

In addition to job stress, the APA Work and Well-Being Survey also examined workplace wellness, a topic that I have covered in recent blog posts.

Despite the research and anecdotal documentation of the wonderful benefits of workplace wellness programs, the survey found that only one-third of American workers regularly participates in such health-promoting programs, when provided by their employers.

Secondly, despite the plethora of research proving that workplace wellness programs promote health (for example, by proactively teaching employees how to manage stress), more than half of those surveyed believe that their work climate does not support employee wellness and a third still complain of chronic stress in their jobs!

There is evidence that more than half of the companies in the U.S. still do not see the benefits of promoting worker and job site wellness initiatives.

Much more education regarding the health and bottom line benefits for employees and their companies, respectively, must be provided for HR professionals.

[Tweet “2016 @APA #Work and #WellBeing Survey – still a long way to go in workplace #wellness.”]

What Key Element Differentiates Companies that Embrace Wellness Initiatives from Those that Do Not?

From the survey results, it seems that the key determinant of whether a company embraces workplace health and wellness programs is whether senior leadership supports and encourages wellness.  A whopping seventy-three percent of employees who have senior managers who show support and commitment to well-being initiatives said their companies encouraged and nurtured healthy workplace and healthy lifestyle plans.

There are also other significant, positive outcomes for employees with senior leadership that supports and encourages wellness. These employees:

  • Feel motivated to do their best.
  • Have higher job satisfaction.
  • Have positive relationships with their supervisors and co-workers.

Eighty-nine percent of these employees also recommended their company as a “good place to work” and were less likely to leave their job the next year.

Using the Findings to Create Better Workplaces

Results of the APA Work and Well-Being Survey demonstrate that the presence of senior leadership that embraces wellness programs is linked to many far-ranging outcomes. As David W. Ballard, director of APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence, concludes, “When supervisors’ actions match their words, employees notice.” 

The take-home message from the APA Work and Well-Being Survey is that employers must focus training on their senior leaders and be sure they understand the critical need for workplace health and well-being initiatives.  Ballard puts it succinctly: “Employers who truly embrace well-being as part of how they do business create a workplace where both employees and the organization thrive.”

May 05

How Corporate Wellness Programs Boost Employees AND Companies

By Dr. Jack Singer | Self Improvement , Stress , Stress Management , Workplace Wellness

Corporate wellness is a current buzz word, but the fact is, some businesses have been offering corporate wellness programs for years or even decades. New research on corporate wellness and the physical effects of stress is making more and more corporations interested in implementing their own wellness programs, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes the norm in the future.

Arguably the most convincing study on corporate wellness was recently published by the American Psychological Association (APA). It tackles the argument that some companies have for not enacting wellness programs – more specifically, some argue that although these programs benefit employees, they are costly and don’t help the business’s bottom line. As it turns out, this thinking is wrong.

APA Study Shows the Financial Benefits of Corporate Wellness Programs

This study looked at stock portfolios from two different groups of publically-traded companies. The first group had established wellness programs for their employees – robust wellness programs that had won industry awards. The second group was composed of traditional publicly-traded companies that had no wellness programs.

The researchers then compared the performance of each groups’ stock portfolios over a period of 14 years. In the end, they found that companies with wellness programs outperformed the S&P by more than 200 percent.

This study demonstrates that not only do corporate wellness programs benefit individual employees – they also impact a company’s profit. This shows that it is financially and fiscally smart to implement wellness programs in order to increase revenue and profitability.

How Corporate Wellness Works on the Individual Level

Obviously, this study took a macro-level view of corporate wellness, examining performance at the company level. So how does corporate wellness work at the individual level to produce these astounding results on corporate profit?

On the individual level, corporate wellness programs work to raise the health of your workers. By focusing on physical health, mental health, diet, and exercise, your employees stay healthy and strong. They get sick less often, which means fewer insurance claims and fewer missed days of work. And their work improves because they are alert, confident and perceptive. They make fewer mistakes, their productivity improves and so does their morale. These individual effects then add up to company-wide improvements which fuel profit growth.

Corporate wellness programs contain a range of elements related to physical health, exercise, diet and mental health. Although all of these components are important to a well-rounded corporate wellness program, I argue that mental health is a crucial concern for any business starting a corporate wellness program.

This is because mental health impacts other forms of health and there are proven ways you CAN change the amount of stress in your life. This is done by understanding how stress forms – that it isn’t a result of events but rather your interpretation of those events – and then taking steps to change your interpretations. Doing so not only improves your mental health, but your physical health as well.

Apr 21

How Stress Impacts Physical Health: Fight or Flight in the 21st Century

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Stress , Stress Management

In my last blog post over at Advising the Advisors, I talked about how stress forms. Although most people view stress as the result of specific negative events in their lives, stress is actually not formed by these events but rather how you interpret them. A negative event can trigger a series of negative thought patterns, and when you get caught in these tangents you, yourself, create your own stress.

Fortunately, we are capable of changing our thought patterns. With every event we encounter we make choices about how we interpret the event (whether we realize it or not). By becoming mentally aware of how we interpret events, we can reduce and even eliminate stress in our lives. Saying goodbye to stress means living a happier, more productive and fulfilling life.

However, a focus on mental health does more than just reduce stress. Actually, this reduction in stress will improve your physical health as well. Let me explain how stress impacts physical health by first taking a look at fight or flight in the 21st century.

Fight or Flight in the 21st Century

Think back to the last biology class you took and you might remember an idea called the fight or flight response. This is a biological system that originated back in early human history when physical threats were abundant. A sudden noise, for example, would trigger the fight or flight alarm system to go off in your brain. This stress response would make us more vigilant so we could protect our own lives. If a hungry tiger was lurking around the corner, we were primed to process that information quickly and make the right choice (fight or flight) so we wouldn’t end up as dinner.

Our fight or flight response still works in the 21st century, but the things we respond to are a lot different than when the system was first developed. Many of us live in safe environments, so we don’t have to worry about being devoured by a predator. However, events in our lives can still trigger the fight or flight alarm system. Our subconscious mind doesn’t know if this is a life-threatening event or not, but it is not going to take any chances. If we interpret the event as a threat, we create stress and flip the switch that turns on the fight or flight nervous system.

[Tweet “#Stress is making you sick! Learn how stress impacts physical #health here.”]

How Stress Impacts Physical Health

The fight or flight response has not changed much from our early days. Our body physically tenses up as we prepare to flee or to battle. We become hyper-vigilant and on edge.  And our other systems shut down or become minimized so we can expend our energy in fight or flight mode.

All of these things impact our physical health:

  • Anxiety and tension can raise blood pressure and make you susceptible to heart disease and other illnesses.
  • Our hyper-vigilant state means it is hard to sleep and can bring about insomnia.
  • Our immune system is minimized during the fight or flight response, making us more receptive to illness with a decreased ability to fight that illness off.

This demonstrates how stress can have a physical impact on our bodies, and how reducing stress can improve our physical health. In fact, the American Medical Association has admitted that ‘gatekeepers’ in the medical community (such as family practice doctors and internists) say that 2 out of 3 of their clients don’t have a physical disease. They do have real symptoms, but these symptoms are caused by some kind of stress. They run busy practices so the most efficient procedure is to treat the symptoms. However, what we really need to do is deal with the original cause of these symptoms – stress and our ability to manage it.

Knowing how stress impacts physical health, every individual who wants to live a happier and healthier life should focus on their mental well-being. Not only is it possible to reduce your stress by changing how you interpret events, but in doing so you can also improve your physical health.

Apr 01

Solutions for the Stress of Wealth Management

By Dr. Jack Singer | Advising the Advisors

Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent annually because of stress: stress-related medical insurance claims; workers’ compensation benefits; reduced productivity and so on.

UNDERSTAND THE SOURCE

Feelings of stress, including the symptoms mentioned above, are not directly caused by the necessity to make cold calls or generate referrals, by market fluctuations and disgruntled clients or by fiduciary and compliance hassles. These situations may invite you to feel stressed, but they do not cause stress.

Here is an example: I was booked to be the opening general session speaker for an important financial advisor’s conference. After landing at the first airport for a transfer, a storm moved into the area, grounding all flights for the remainder of the day. It became clear that I would be able to get to the conference in time to open the next morning.

When I learned the flight was cancelled (the negative event), I had a choice regarding what I could say to myself. One option was: “Oh, that’s just great…now I won’t make the meeting, everyone is there expecting a rousing keynote, they’ll be disappointed and the meeting planner for the conference will be so angry at me that she’ll never book me to conduct a program again.”

Such a negative, self-defeating statement would immediately activate the nervous system necessary to deal with life-threatening situations. My brain would conclude that I was in an emergency and my body would react accordingly. My blood pressure would rise, my anxiety spike, and my behavior might become irrational…all resulting from my worried perception of a situation over which I had no control.

POSITIVE ‘SELF-TALK’

It is important to remember that you do have control over your self-talk. Although we are creatures of habit, we can learn to change any habit that causes stress for us.

Suppose that when I learned that the flight was cancelled, I told myself the following: “It is what it is! This is really unfortunate and I feel badly that I will not be there on time, but it is absolutely beyond my control. I will phone the meeting planner right away and see if she would like me to find a substitute speaker who is based in the city where the conference is being held.”

I could also have suggested postponing my keynote until the last day of the conference or even doing the keynote via Skype.

Consider this possibly stressful situation: You get a message from your assistant that your least favorite client is angry about how poorly the last product/equity you recommended is doing in the current, downward market and he wants you to call him as soon as possible.

This potentially negative event does not have to be stressful, depending on the self-talk in which you engage. If say to yourself: “I hate it when this client gets angry whenever the market dips and he blames me. I would like to dump him and suggest he find another advisor.” Just imagine how your stress and anxiety will spike.

But, you have choices. You could tell yourself that you will use active listening skills to allow the client to vent, you will empathize with his frustration, and once he is calm, you will remind him how you went over the risks with him when he purchased the product/equity and that this dip in the market is like all past dips–temporary. You’ll explain to him that your overall strategy in helping him manage and expand his wealth takes these unpredictable market dips into account and the strategy is still viable. Gently point out to him that patience will prove to be his most valuable learned skill, etc.

Using this technique you can convince yourself that, although you still wish that you didn’t have to deal with this client, you have dealt successfully with him before and you will so once again.

Ulitmately, the amount of stress you feel is up to you, isn’t it? Will you listen to the rational, positive voice in your head, or will you fall prey to the irrational, negative, “Internal Critic”? The choice determines your stress level and the choice is always yours!

Mar 18

Do Advisors, Clients Suffer From PTSD?

By Dr. Jack Singer | Advising the Advisors , Stress Management

When we think about post-traumatic stress disorder, we typically envision combat, tornadoes, and hurricanes. But PTSD is not limited to life-threatening events. Events threatening financial security (and even career-security) can be very traumatic.

A recent study reported in Health & Social Work examined the risk of PTSD associated with sudden and dramatic personal financial loss. The authors conducted a survey of 173 Madoff victims and found that 58% met the criteria for the PTSD diagnosis, 61% acknowledged high levels of anxiety, 58% were depressed and 34% had health-related issues. Moreover, 90% of these victims felt a substantial loss of confidence in any financial institutions.

In short, severe economic trauma can lead to PTSD.

We know from Dr. Abraham Maslow that when people have their security threatened through any event, all of their confidence and self-esteem can be destroyed, and they then focus all of their attention on searching for recovery. Certainly, this holds for both clients and financial advisors, when their financial security is undermined.

A study of the emotional well-being of financial advisors during the 2008 financial crisis (documented in the May, 2013 Journal of Financial Therapy), showed that 93% reported medium to high stress levels and 39% of the advisors reported stress symptoms at levels considered to be diagnostic of PTSD. In the case of advisors, it was not only the threat to the security of their careers, but the threat to their own portfolios, as well. After all, in an ideal world, advisors basically make the same financial decisions and use the same strategies with regard to their own portfolios, as they would make for their clients’.

So, many advisors suffered the double whammy of major losses in both their clients’ portfolios and in their own portfolios. Added to this stress, is getting bombarded with calls from frightened, disgruntled and hostile clients, who blame the advisor for not having seen this coming.

Diagnosing PTSD

The manual for diagnosing emotional and mental syndromes is the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual IV-TR. Diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder include being confronted with an event, where ones’ response involves intense fear and helplessness. In addition, recurrent and obsessively distressing thoughts about the event persist and can become all consuming. It is easy to understand advisor’s fearing the collapse and the domino effects, and feeling helpless since they obviously have no control over such events.

People suffering from PTSD feel as if the traumatic event is still occurring or will reoccur and the psychological distress intensifies at exposure to external cues that resemble any aspect of the traumatic event. So, the traumatized advisor comes to the office each day, dreading watching the market fluctuations and even hearing their phone ring.

In order to reach the specific clinical criteria of PTSD, the symptoms must persist for at least one month, and at least two of the following specific symptoms must be present:

  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Irritability and angry outbursts
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Exaggerated startle response

It is common for PTSD sufferers to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollection of the trauma, so avoiding the office and looking for a career change is a common outcome of PTSD. In addition, the traumatized advisor may avoid contacting clients, anticipating a negative, hostile conversation. I have spoken to many advisors, who, when they are stressed, simply avoid coming into the office or call in sick.

In Australia, for example, when the government imposed fee-for-service demands on advisors, removing the traditional commission based services, a large percentage of advisors panicked and looked for new careers. If the thought of telling clients that they were moving to a fee-for-service status frightened advisors, imagine the huge impact of the economic collapse of 2008 and the anticipation of future collapses. Many advisors began to question whether they could continue to work in a profession where they have the huge fiduciary responsibility of safeguarding their clients’ family savings; moreover, making midlife career changes is also traumatic, so many advisors facing these decisions felt trapped.

Sep 18

Seven Surefire Strategies for Success Over Stress: How to Build Lasting Resilience!

By Dr. Jack Singer | Self Improvement , Stress , Stress Management

By Jack N. Singer, Ph.D.

Susan has been suffering a series of medical conditions, which her doctors have not been able to diagnose or treat effectively. On and off pain in her stomach, achiness in her neck and back and headaches have become a regular part of her life. Susan fears that she may have cancer or another dreaded disease that has been missed by her doctors. After a series of negative tests, the doctors concluded that there is no disease present and that her symptoms are the result of the stresses in her life. Stress can and does cause medical symptoms with no disease present. In fact, it has been estimated by medical practitioners that up to 75% of the patients they treat have real symptoms, but these symptoms are caused by stress alone, not by a disease. Everyone knows about relaxation, exercise and proper diet, but what other powerful strategies can Susan use to continually master the stresses in her life?

  • Understand the warning signs of your “Internal Critic” at work. Your self-talk will either keep you well or make you sick. Negative, pessimistic messages that you allow to pass through your mind immediately leads to muscle tightening throughout the body. This tightening is accompanied by more rapid breathing and often high blood pressure. You can practice catching yourself when these types of negative thoughts go through your mind and make a fist, which is a reminder to STOP thinking that way. Next, take a few, deep breaths, release the fist, relax and proceed to think positively and optimistically.

There is an old saying that “What you believe, you can achieve.” Internal self-talk leads to beliefs (either positive or negative) and beliefs lead to the body’s reactions. So looking at stressful situations in a positive, optimistic way, calms the body and mind. Example: “My boss may be angry because of something else happening in his life today. I have no evidence that he is really angry at me.”

  • Give yourself positive affirmations each day. Positive affirmations are positive, optimistic thoughts about your future as if you have already gotten there as of today. Since your subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between something real or imagined (for example, visualize yourself biting into a tart lemon and see what your mind tells your salivary glands to do), when you give yourself positive affirmations and imagine these things are actually happening right now, your subconscious mind wants to make them happen for you. Example: “I will remain calm and relaxed even when my teenager tries to push my buttons. It is so wonderful to have control over my emotions.”

Make a list of at least seven positive affirmations to say each morning upon arising and each evening when retiring. Say each one 10 times in the morning and 10 times in the evening, breathing slowly and imagine yourself accomplishing each affirmation as you recite it.

  • Choose to make optimistic interpretations of events in your life. Recent research depicts the positive physical health consequences of finding a silver lining in every dark cloud that comes your way. When you view unfortunate, bothersome events in your life as temporary and not permanent indicators of you having a weakness or a flaw, you can continually ward off the stresses of events that take place in your life. In fact, research shows that maintaining an optimistic interpretation of events leads to remission of disease and the generation of T-cells, which are critical components of your immune systems! More importantly, Example: “Just because I haven’t found the right partner in life so far does not discourage me. I am particular and that’s good. It’s only a matter of time until I find my sole mate.”

The key here is choice. You always have the choice in how you will see a situation and deal with it. As someone once said, “You can find yourself in the middle of nowhere…or, in the middle of nowhere, YOU can find yourself!”

  • Set realistic goals. When you set attainable, healthy goals and write them down, you will stay focused and have a high probability of accomplishing them. People are 11 times more likely to reach a goal when they write it down, as opposed to simply thinking about the goal. Put these goals into your computer to flash reminders to you on a regular basis. Visualize attaining these goals each night as you fall asleep and you will maximize your ability to achieve them! Write down short and long-term goals that are specific and action-oriented. Example: “I will have a pad of paper printed with the words, ‘Things to do Today’ across the top and lines with check off boxes on each page. This will help me stay focused on what I have to do each day and I will have a nice sense of accomplishment.”

A key question to ask yourself is “What behaviors could I engage in to be sure I’ll sabotage myself from meeting my goals?” If you are honest with yourself, you’ll see exactly why you haven’t reached your goals before and you’ll realize what you need to do to change those behaviors today.

  • Stay close to positive people and positive influences. Unfortunately, many of you are married to, related to, or work for negative, pessimistic people. These are folks who have their own fears of change, do not take risks, and wallow in their own misery. These members of the “negativity club” want you to join them, because that helps them to justify their own behavior and ideas. Become a “Teflon” person by letting the comments of these folks bounce off you. Assert yourself and politely tell them to keep their negative opinions about you or your ideas to themselves.

Find positive, optimistic, supportive and non-judgmental people to get close to, who will encourage and reinforce you. What a breath of fresh air that will feel like!

  • Find healthy ways to defuse frustration and anger. Schedule regular visits to a gym, take dancing lessons, get involved in church activities, volunteer and scream to your heart’s content at a sporting event. All of these activities have been shown to melt away angry emotions.
  • Search for opportunities for fun and laughter. Research has shown the immense power of fun and laughter on both our emotions and our bodies. Sadly, the average youngster laughs more than 100 times a day, while the average adult laughs only about 15 times.We now know that a primary antidote for stress is fun, laughter and engaging your sense of humor. Whether it is reading a joke book, watching a funny movie or sitcom, or using your creativity to lighten up your workplace, bringing fun into your life is immensely important for your health. Endorphins, which override stress hormones and produce a sense of release and calm, are released by the brain every time you laugh or engage in a fun activity. In fact, the immune system is impacted in a powerful way by fun and laughter.

    Someone once said the “people don’t stop laughing and having fun because they get old…they get old because they stop laughing and having fun!” So, by making sure that your life includes frequent episodes of laughing and looking at the funny side of events that take place in the world…you will surely add life to your years and years to your life!

 

Jan 09

5 Tips For Balancing Work and Home Life

By Dr. Jack Singer | Stress Management

In a world that seems to be ever more frantic it is more important by the day to find a sustainable balance in your work and home life. Without balance we become over stressed, which is not healthy. So it’s important to find balance between work and home life. Let’s look at 5 tips for balancing work and home life by being on the look out for the following:.

  1. Look at your work schedule. Are you working too many hours? Are your shifts to sporadic or not scheduled properly? Look at how it’s working with your home life. Then consider if you can make changes at your current place of employment or perhaps you need to think about changing employment.
  2. Look at the time spent on chores around home. You might be surprised at how much time you have to dedicate to menial tasks. Now look at see if it might be worth your time to hire someone to do these tasks. That will free up important time, which can help to create balance.
  3. Look for time that’s wasted. Most of us actually waste a couple of hours a day on things like Facebook, TV, or being disorganized. Be honest. Really analyze where your time goes and see if you can gain some of it back.
  4. Look to see if you are organized and if you have a system that works? Sometimes we get so busy running around doing errands and tasks that we forget to look and see if we can combine tasks to cut out a few trips. For example, on errand day do you do things in a systematic order? If not try to streamline things.
  5. Look at your days off and see how you use that time. Are you getting the most out of your days off and your evenings? Can you work with other parents taking turns so you aren’t all using your time to do the same thing? For example, can you take turns carpooling?

The key here is to maximize your time. You have 24 hours in a day – 8 hours at work – 8 hours to sleep – but that’s still 8 hours that you have, so make sure you are using your time to help balance work and home, leading a life that’s less stressed and much happier.

Until next time, this is Dr. Jack Singer.

 

Mar 27

Stress Mastery Rx #12

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Stress Mastery Rx Series

by Jack Singer, Ph.D.
Consulting Psychologist and Professional Speaker & Trainer

[contentbox width=”500″ borderwidth=”1″ borderstyle=”dashed” bordercolor=”000000″ dropshadow=”0″ backgroundcolor=”F5F5F5″ radius=”0″]This is Stress Mastery Rx #12 in a series of 77 proven personal prescriptions from psychologist Dr. Jack Singer. If you have any questions, please feel free to call Dr. Jack at 1-800-497-9880 or email him on the contact page.[/contentbox]

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.”  ~ Mohandas K. Gandhi

Challenge Your Negative ThoughtsDo you find yourself rushing through life so much you forget to stop and smell the flowers? When we do that, we tend to stress more, enjoy less, and possibly put ourselves at risk for burnout.  Whenever you recognize that you are upset and thinking negatively, use the quick reference guide of questions to challenge that negative thinking that we discussed in Stress Mastery Rx #11 here.

Once we recognize the distortions in our beliefs and thoughts, we can dispute or challenge them which then greatly diminishes the consequences.

The A-B-C-D-E Model

Activating event (Stress) → Beliefs (thoughts) about the event → Consequent emotions and behaviors → Disputing thoughts → Energized, revitalized emotions.
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The Teacher's Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide by Dr. Jack SingerMy book has checklists and action plans for stress mastery but you can make your own and keep track of what you are doing to better your physical health, and thereby reduce your stress levels.

All 77 tips are featured, along with easy-to-learn tools for practicing stress mastery, in Dr. Jack’s nationally acclaimed book, ‘The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide.’ You don’t have to be a teacher to change your life with this book. Dr. Jack’s tips apply to everyone, in all professions!”

Order the book here, for the limited time discounted price of $31.95

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years. Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada. He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.

Jan 11

Stress Mastery Rx #4

By Dr. Jack Singer | Stress Management , Stress Mastery Rx Series

by Jack Singer, Ph.D.
Consulting Psychologist and Professional Speaker & Trainer

[contentbox width=”500″ borderwidth=”1″ borderstyle=”dashed” bordercolor=”000000″ dropshadow=”0″ backgroundcolor=”F5F5F5″ radius=”0″]This is Stress Mastery Rx #4 in a series of 77 proven personal prescriptions from psychologist Dr. Jack Singer. If you have any questions, please feel free to call Dr. Jack at 1-800-497-9880 or email him on the contact page.[/contentbox]

Stress Mastery Rx #4 from Dr. Jack SingerChange is not necessarily a bad thing. Embrace it, and find ways to see the positive outcomes of change for you.

I suggest you sit quietly with a notepad and pen and list what coping and buffer skills you need to work with. For instance, are you experiencing burnout and recognize that you need to take time each day and/or week for yourself but just don’t manage to do it? Determine to make that change by carving out YOU time and being consistent with it. It can be that you rise early each morning and take a 30 minute walk with the dog. It can be that you have a movie date with yourself each weekend where you just go do something fun that requires nothing of you other than that you enjoy yourself for that period of time. You will see very quickly that you are feeling calmer and more relaxed when you create this healthy habit.

My book has checklists for this tip (and many others) but you can also make your own. Just be sure to check off each skill as you master it so you have a visual when things get a little upside down and you need to remember that you can and have mastered this already.

All 77 tips are featured, along with easy-to-learn tools for practicing stress mastery, in Dr. Jack’s nationally acclaimed book, ‘The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide.’ You don’t have to be a teacher to change your life with this book. Dr. Jack’s tips apply to everyone, in all professions!”

Order the book here, for the limited time discounted price of $31.95

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years. Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada. He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.

Jan 04

Stress Mastery Rx #3

By Dr. Jack Singer | Stress Mastery Rx Series

by Jack Singer, Ph.D.
Consulting Psychologist and Professional Speaker & Trainer

[contentbox width=”500″ borderwidth=”1″ borderstyle=”dashed” bordercolor=”000000″ dropshadow=”0″ backgroundcolor=”F5F5F5″ radius=”0″]This is Stress Mastery Rx #3 in a series of 77 proven personal prescriptions from psychologist Dr. Jack Singer. If you have any questions, please feel free to call Dr. Jack at 1-800-497-9880 or email him on the contact page.[/contentbox]

Stress Mastery Rx #3 from Dr. Jack SingerRecognize that you can live with a certain amount of stress in your life and that it may even be beneficial to you.

The best balance is achieved by managing the way you deal with each stressor that comes along. rather than trying to eliminate each from your life altogether. Ask yourself what calm people do to maintain their stress levels and model their behavior when possible. For instance, do they jog or walk each morning before hitting the office? Do they meditate or each lunch in the park with the squirrels as companions? Find what calms you and do more of it.

All 77 tips are featured, along with easy-to-learn tools for practicing stress mastery, in Dr. Jack’s nationally acclaimed book, ‘The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide.’ You don’t have to be a teacher to change your life with this book. Dr. Jack’s tips apply to everyone, in all professions!”

Order the book here, for the limited time discounted price of $31.95

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years.  Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada.  He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit  DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.

Dec 07

Stress Mastery Rx #1

By Dr. Jack Singer | Applied Sports Psychology , Stress Management , Stress Mastery Rx Series

by Jack Singer, Ph.D.
Consulting Psychologist and Professional Speaker & Trainer

[contentbox width=”500″ borderwidth=”1″ borderstyle=”dashed” bordercolor=”000000″ dropshadow=”0″ backgroundcolor=”F5F5F5″ radius=”0″]This is Stress Mastery Rx #1 in a series of 77 proven personal prescriptions from psychologist Dr. Jack Singer. If you have any questions, please feel free to call Dr. Jack at 1-800-497-9880 or email him on the contact page.[/contentbox]

This is Stress Mastery Rx #1 in a series of 77 proven personal prescriptions from psychologist Dr. Jack Singer. Take care of your emotional health by taking care of your physical health.

Consider visiting a licensed Naturopathic Physician to learn about foods and natural supplements that have been proven to reduce and prevent stress.

The following  are examples of physical features which been shown to directly impact moods and stress levels:

  • Keep your blood sugar low with frequent, smaller meals that include protein
  • Eat light at night
  • Get ample sleep
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and tobacco
  • Load up on anti-oxidant foods
  • Keep your weight within the normal range for your age and height

All 77 tips are featured, along with easy-to-learn tools for practicing stress mastery, in Dr. Jack’s nationally acclaimed book, ‘The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide.’ You don’t have to be a teacher to change your life with this book. Dr. Jack’s tips apply to everyone, in all professions!”

Order the book here, for the limited time discounted price of $31.95

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years.  Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada.  He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit  DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497

Jun 05

The Role of Stress Mastery in the Prevention and Remediation of Chronic Illnesses

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , General , Stress

by Dr. Jack Singer

The Role of Stress Mastery in the Prevention and Remediation of Chronic IllnessesThe American Psychological Association (APA) conducts a Stress in America Survey each year.  Results show that in 2011, the percentage of Americans feeling extreme stress dropped 10 percent. That’s the good news.

But the bad news is that a significant number of respondents reporting severe stress had no idea that it could actually impact their health. This, despite the widely publicized research for decades that shows that stress is a cause and/or a trigger of many chronic conditions, such as heart disease, allergies, chronic pain, headache syndromes, etc.

The APA cites the astounding statistic that seventy-five percent of health care costs are for chronic illnesses, and stress is often a key cause of those illnesses.  The depressed and anxious moods that are caused by stress negatively impact our immune systems and thus make us more vulnerable to physical illnesses.So…if we learn how to master our stress, we have gone a long way to preventing illnesses.

Other than medication, how can stress be minimized or even avoided altogether? My book, “The Teachers’ Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” lists 77 stress mastery tips. One that shows tremendous promise is easy to engage but often ignored:

Exercise

We know from decades of research that exercise makes one’s mood elevated, reduces anger, and helps reduce long term depression.  Moreover, exercise wards off panic and other anxiety problems.

We also know that exercise prevents or minimizes many physical disorders, such as diabetes, headaches, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, etc. So…why not kill the proverbial two birds with one stone by building a consistent exercise routine into our daily lives?  This will undoubtedly add life to your years and years to your life!

Some Recommendations

If you live in the San Diego, CA area, I highly recommend Todd Durkin’s Fitness Quest 10.

Todd Durkin, MA, CSCS, is an internationally recognized performance-enhancement coach, personal trainer, massage therapist, author, and speaker who motivates, educates and inspires people worldwide.  He is the founder and creator of Fitness Quest 10 Todd Durkin Enterprises in San Diego, CA, where his wonderful team focuses on personal training, massage therapy, Pilates, yoga, sports performance training, nutrition, physical therapy, and chiropractic to help transform the bodies, minds and spirits of a broad clientele.  He is a 2 Time Personal Trainer of the Year (IDEA & ACE) and has received numerous industry accolades.

Todd trains dozens of NFL and MLB athletes, including Super Bowl XLIV MVP Drew Brees, Super Bowl XLV Aaron Rodgers, former NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson, and athletes such as Kellen Winslow, Shawne Merriman, and a host of others.  He currently works with 9 NFL quarterbacks.  Additionally, he has trained one Olympic Gold Medalist, an MLB Champion & MVP, two X-Games Gold medalists, 2 Heisman trophy winners, and tens of thousands of other elite and amateur athletes as well as fitness enthusiasts.

Facebook

There are MANY wonderful fitness professionals on Facebook who willingly share their health and fitness tips and advice. Many of them have very active business pages where you can connect with them and other people who are interested in health and fitness. Look for people like Todd Durkin, Brett Klika, Sean Croxton,  Dave Quevedo, Doug BalzariniAshley Mahaffey and Trina Gray Fitness.

Go Online

Brett Klika and Sean Croxton created a wonderful e-book called the Underground Workout Manual, complete with videos that allows you to get in a great workout from your computer, iPad or even your mobile phone.

If you are over 40 and struggling with fitness, Shari Fitness has an excellent e-book called Transformation Over 40.

There is a wealth of free and inexpensive health and fitness information on the internet. All you have to do is go find it and then implement a program that works for your particular situation.

 

 

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author

Dr. Jack Singer is a licensed Clinical/Consulting Psychologist who works with clients in California via Skype or telephone.  Dr. Jack is also a Professional Speaker.  His keynotes and re-TREATS are enjoyed by thousands of people in multiple professions, every year.  His most popular program is:

How to Live Much Longer Than Your Kids Hoped You Would!

You can contact Dr. Jack at 1-800-497-9880 or via email at: drjack @ askdrjack.com.

Visit his websites:

DrJackSinger.com

Funspeaker.com

PsychologicallySpeaking.co

Aug 15

Kid’s Have Stress Too

By Dr. Jack Singer | Children and Family , Stress

Why Children Are More Stressed Than Ever And What You Can Do To Help

3-r-s-reading-writing-and-arithmeticChildhood has changed. Instead of pick-up baseball and basketball games on the corner lot, there are competitive travel leagues for kids as young as seven or eight. Instead of the three “R’s”; Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic,  kids are faced with standardized tests and after-school tutors. Instead of Sunday night with the Wide World of Disney, there’s questionable “family” shows such as the Family Guy, South Park, and the Simpsons. And then there’s technology!

Kids today are experiencing higher levels of stress than ever before, partly because they’re being exposed to “mature” material before they’re able to process it, partly because the demands on their time are higher than ever, and partly because they don’t have time to decompress.

Here are five ways to help the kids in your life minimize and deal with stress.

Turn off the TV

Even when carefully monitored, TV can still cause kids stress. The bright colors, advertisements, and frenetic action are all designed to pull kids in, but they’re not designed to calm them down. (Some shows have even caused seizures in epileptic children). Turn off the assault on their senses. Sit with your children and discuss the day. Discuss what is going on in their lives. Listen to them!

Help kids identify and name their stress

Kids, especially younger ones, can have a hard time recognizing and labeling their stress. They may know they feel “bad” or uneasy, but may not know that what they’re feeling is stress or anxiety. Ask questions about what the bad emotions feel like (butterflies? angry tigers? a tummy ache?) and then help your child figure out when the feelings started.  Was it when the teacher handed out the math test ? When former best friend Keeshia sat with someone else at lunch? When everyone laughed at your book report? Identifying what children are feeling can help them sort out those feelings and instill the belief they have some control over the stress they’re experiencing.

Give kids choices

One of the biggest sources of stress for anyone of any age is feeling like they don’t have control over their lives, or the events in it. By giving your child a say in what’s happening to them, you help them feel more powerful. Let’s say your fourth-grader is freaking out about her math class. You can’t let her skip math, but you can give her options. Does she want to ask the teacher for extra help, or look into tutoring? Would she like Mom or Dad or an older neighbor to help her? Would she prefer to study in the morning or right after school? Even small choices help a child feel a sense of control over the outcome of a stressful situation.

Be a good listener

Sometimes, the best thing to do is to just listen to your child, without offering advice or suggestions. Listening will allow your child to share some of the burden of their anxiety, which can help alleviate anyone’s stress. By paying attention to them, you can also gain insight into what the underlying sources of their stress may be.

Be there for your child

Just knowing that you are unquestionably available to your child can help him or her feel more secure and less stressed. After a tough day at school, to be able to come home and be surrounded by a loving, caring family can be the best stress-reliever of all. Take time to laugh and have fun, and create positive memories and events to counteract any negative occurrences in their life. It will help you relieve your own stress, too!

When we assume our kids are processing stress the same way we do, we are missing an opportunity.  We have the tools available to help ourselves through stressful situations because we’ve been around long enough to know what stress feels like and how to combat it.  Your child doesn’t have those tools.  It’s your job to observe, listen, and then help your child work through their feelings. Pass your knowledge on to your child and everyone wins.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer