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annette margetAnnette's Analysis...
Medications and Summer

     We are currently in the middle of summer and we all know it is important to remember to stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is even more important when you are on medications and it is hot outside. If you are going to be outside, be sure to wear sunscreen and drink lots of non-caffeinated liquids. Some medications also make you more sensitive to sunburn, so limit your sun exposure time and, again, be sure to wear sunscreen. The lotion sunscreens seem to be more effective than the spray on and it will also be more effective if you put it on a few minutes before you go out. This gives the lotion time to soak into your skin. Stay healthy!

~ Annette Marget, Nurse Practitioner

JMcCasslinTherapist's Corner...
Hope Beyond the Cage

     I work with people who live in cages. Yes, cages. They have surrounded themselves with walls and bars. There's a good reason behind it; usually, it's to keep them safe. It keeps others at a safe distance. It keeps them from trusting or confiding in someone too much. It keeps them from getting hurt.
     It also keeps them from healing. The walls and bars they erect prevent them from living a free and wonderful life. For them, the FEAR of what could happen if they let go of their cage is paralyzing. It's "easier" to pretend something didn't happen, to ignore and avoid memories. Yes, I work with trauma clients.
     Not long ago, I had a young girl in my office. We got out a marble tower and some Duplo Legos and started building. She followed my directions and we worked together on the project. She didn't recognize what we were building. She didn't recognize how I strategically had her on one side of the project while I was on the other. She didn't recognize, until I pointed it out to her, that she'd just built her own cage.
     The young girl reacted like a young girl would. She stepped over our little barrier. She climbed over a chair. She knocked it down. All to prove to me that she couldn't be caged. However, when I asked her to sit within the confines of our construction, she bemoaned how "boring" it was. She groaned at her lack of space. And she grumbled when I pointed out the freedom I had, and the power I had to choose what activity I wanted to do; meanwhile, she was confined to the resources within her "cage," which, needless to say, weren't very interesting to her.
     It was then that she understood. She didn't want to talk about what happened to her but she realized she was confining herself to the "safety" of her mental "cage." In other words, she assumed if she could avoid the trauma long enough, she would forget...but it doesn't work that way. On the contrary, the trauma often resurfaces. And because it gets ignored for so long, it resurfaces more intense. And because the person is adept at "wall-building," when the trauma resurfaces, the person has very few resources within their "cage."
     Not long after this session, I described the cage project to another young lady. She commented how it must have helped the child understand and talk about her trauma. Then she gave me a slim smile and commented on her own "trauma cage" and her desire to overpower the memories she has empowered.
     Feelings plays a large role in our lives. For trauma clients, fear is tangible. Embarrassment weighs on their minds. Sadness threatens to overwhelm them. I often remind them that they have already lived through the worst part - the actual trauma event - and the memories can only hold as much power over them as they are willing to give.
     At first, many clients disagree, stating the feelings and memories are too real, too strong. However, as they learn they CAN talk about the trauma and it can't presently hurt them, they begin to take the power from the memories and use it to build a positive self-image and strength. They begin to understand that the trauma happened TO them but it does not DEFINE them. There is hope. It's just a matter of being willing to look beyond their cage and to make the decision to leave their cage.

~ Jessica McCaslin, Therapist

Ryan LindaTherapist's Corner...
Anxiety Strategies


     Most people, when dealing with a conflict situation, feel anxiety that comes with some sort of physical sensation. We feel the sensation in some part of our body. Perhaps the back of our neck stiffens, or our chest tightens, or our throat constricts. These sensations signal that our nervous system is becoming stimulated and that if we don't pay attention and do something, we will probably proceed further into a deeper physical reaction.  
     In fact, we can fairly quickly and easily fall into a "fight or flight" type of reaction. We are flooded with emotion and become upset. Flooding is a natural response to stress but it is rarely helpful in personal interactions. Flooding makes it harder to think, listen, and communicate effectively. We can avoid the conflict, but then we also end up avoiding the relationship. The best alternative is to learn a ritual to calm down and cope creatively with the conflict rather than run away from it.
     Here are some tips to help you develop a ritual that works for you:
     1. Pay attention to the physical sensations in your body. Notice any tension. Notice your breathing. Is your heart beating faster? Is it hard to concentrate? You may be flooding. 
     2. You may need to learn how to take a break before you become extremely upset. As calmly as possible, say to the other person that you need a break to calm yourself. Then do exactly that. It takes about 20 minutes for your nervous system to recover from the release of the stress hormones. During that 20 minutes, start by focusing on your breathing. Inhale and exhale evenly and deeply at first until your breathing becomes easier. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, blowing softly. 
    3. Pay attention to those physical signs you noted previously. Notice the areas of tension. Tighten those specific muscle areas and hold them tense briefly, then relax those same muscle groups. Notice the difference in the way they feel when tensed or relaxed. Notice the warmth or even heaviness of the relaxed muscle group. 
    4. When your body is feeling more relaxed, visualize an image or idea that makes you feel calm. 
    5. Finally, visualize yourself going back to the conversation, and in a calm manner, identifying your feelings and assertively stating your need.

~ Linda Ryan, Therapist

HainAFrom Our EAP...
Supervisor's Role in a Respectful Workplace

     Don’t be fooled – it isn’t the economy or stress, and it isn’t “just the nature of the business.” If backbiting, name-calling, gossip, and general nastiness are the norm where you work, then you’ve got yourself a respect problem – one that you need to get a handle on yesterday, if not sooner. 

Don’t Excuse Bad Behavior
     Few things buy trouble like excusing bad behavior. Left unchecked, disrespectful interactions feed on themselves, growing into a culture of personal conflict and simmering resentment that will eventually undermine your mission. No one wants to work in this environment, and your  best employees won’t. They’ll leave and you’ll be stuck with the mess.

Model Respect on the Job 
     Respect is an institutional mind-set that must be promoted and practiced from the top down. As a manager, you’re on the frontlines in this struggle, and though it can be daunting, you have more influence and control than you might believe. Your employees take a lot of their  behavioral cues from you, but without a developed sense of self-awareness, you won’t be able to see what they’re seeing.

Try This Exercise
     Dedicate the next week to stepping outside of yourself and observing your daily interactions. Be mindful of both your words and your body language. Are you polite and patient or surly and brusque? How do you respond to letdowns or unexpected bad news?

Promote a Respectful Workplace
     No one is perfect, but being conscientious of how your behavior is amplified within the  culture will help you to start modeling the kind of behavior you’d like your employees to  demonstrate. Here are things you can do to promote a respectful work environment.

Some Dos
• Greet employees every day.
• Express genuine concern for their interests and well-being.
• Listen and make eye contact when spoken to.
• Compliment publicly.
• Recognize individual strengths, weaknesses, and points of view.

Some Don’ts
• Pile on work or criticism as soon as employees walk in the door.
• Treat employees as faceless, interchangeable cogs.
• Interrupt or raise objections until someone is finished speaking.
• Criticize publicly unless absolutely necessary.
• Make a reprimand or criticism personal.

Reinforcing Boundaries
     Changing your culture requires sending a clear signal that disrespectful behavior won't be tolerated. This means putting a stop to gossip, name-calling, rudeness, and tagging others  with unflattering nicknames. If you hear it or see it, intervene immediately with an unmistakable verbal reprimand like, "That’s unnecessary and not appreciated in this  workplace.”

Working Through Conflict
     This does not mean that everyone has to agree or that conflict can’t exist – it can and  should. Part of your role is creating an environment where employees can work through conflict in a professional manner. The more skillfully and patiently you are able to mediate, the more you’ll train your employees to attack problems, not people.

Understand Employer Liability
     Always take a proactive approach to eliminating workplace bullying. Employer liability isn’t limited to cases of sexual harassment. Any established pattern of harassment can put you or your employer at risk unless you can demonstrate reasonable care in preventing it. In recent years, bullying has overtaken sexual harassment as a more frequently experienced problem among employees. Thirteen states are currently considering laws to address the problem of  bullying in the workplace.
    Each employee should be given a copy of your harassment policy along with an appropriate avenue for complaints and resolutions. Work closely with your HR department, and be sure that you’re in compliance with internal procedures. Your diligence will almost certainly prevent headaches down the road. 

~ Anna Hain, EAP Coordinator (resource: Daniel Feerst, LISW-CP, WorkExcel.com)

TCarlson

 

Happy July anniversary to Tabitha! Tabitha is celebrating two years with Family Resources of Greater NE, P.C.! 

 

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