According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the drug overdose death rate has more than doubled from 1999 through 2013. However, what may be even more alarming is that this statistic probably won’t surprise the millions of family members and friends of addicts throughout the United States.
“Living with someone who is struggling with an addiction can be a very difficult and traumatic experience,” expresses Dr. Patricia Postanowicz, a Core Faculty member for NCU’s School of Marriage and Family Sciences and an expert in the areas of substance abuse, chronic mental illness and sexual trauma. “It can cause stress, anxiety, depression and put [the family] at risk for substance abuse issues to cope with their feelings.”
For many, the natural reaction is to attempt to “cure” at all costs. While helping your addicted friend or family member get help may be an initial concern, you should also remember to take care of yourself. It is okay – and recommended – to help yourself and the rest of your family cope, even if the addict is not willing to take steps toward recovery.
Wondering where to start? We asked Dr. Postanowicz for a few tips to help guide you in the right direction.
Start Attending Meetings
Whether you choose a nationwide group such as Al-Anon, Nar-Anon or another addictions group specific to your community, you should start attending now. The idea is to learn more through listening to others and talking about your own concerns. And hopefully you’ll learn how to emotionally separate from the addiction to take care of yourself and your family even if the person is still using.
Be sure to set boundaries that prevent your addicted friend or family member from negatively affecting your life as much as possible. For example, a mother may set a boundary for a father who is actively using by not allowing him to drive with their children in the car. She may even need to take the car seats out of his car if necessary. This boundary takes away stress and allows her to continue with everyday activities without worrying about the safety of her children.
Stop Making Excuses
Remember to clearly state that you will not make excuses for the addict, no matter who it may be. This includes instances such as missing work or family events, bailing them out financially for issues related to their addiction, and enabling the addict by allowing your plans to be altered because of their addiction. While it will take resolve and steadfast support from the rest of your friends and family, be sure to stand firm.
Give Family Therapy a Try
Addiction is a family disease. Often, families with addicts begin to operate in a manner that protects the addiction, even allowing it to define the family. Don’t be afraid to seek therapy as a family, even if the addict chooses to work toward becoming sober. Family therapy can offer you the opportunity to work through underlying issues regarding addiction, feelings and how to move forward as a family unit.
Commit to Making the Change
Sometimes, when the addiction disappears it can cause the family to sabotage the recovery of the addict in an effort to return to “normal.” Learning new ways to communicate and interact with one another (often through family therapy sessions) once the addiction is no longer present can help you and your family avoid falling back into old, “normal” patterns of behavior.
Ultimately, the best way to treat addiction is through prevention, and nobody understands that better than families like yours. That’s why the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) promotes the Family Checkup program developed by the Child and Family Center at the University of Oregon. The Family Checkup: Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse program serves to help you become more proactive by providing the information and support you need to stop addiction before it starts.
Are you passionate about helping addicts and looking for ways to make an impact? With the rise in drug use and drug-related deaths, formal education in these areas is becoming even more important. If you’re looking for educational opportunities, programs such as NCU’s certificates in Addictions and Addictions and Rehabilitation could be a great first step.
If you know someone struggling with addition, take the time to learn more about the resources available via the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Please remember to share with those close to you.
Call: 800.622.HELP (4357)Blog Categories: family-relationshipsmarriage-and-family-therapypsychologytips-to-improve-your-lifeyour-life-your-healthBlog Tags: Addictions; Family; Recovery; Coping with Addiction
Who among us hasn’t heard the buzz about mentoring? It has even coined a new word, the “mentee,” or the recipient of mentoring, formerly known as a protégé or mentoree. The good news is that whatever it’s called, being mentored has significant benefits. Perhaps more surprisingly, being a mentor also provides amazing benefits, for the mentor and for their organization. Read on and you’ll discover the potential benefits afforded to everyone involved.
But what is mentoring precisely? For that answer, we turn to the experts.
Per Michael Page, an international staffing firm, “The role of a mentor is to encourage the personal and professional development of a mentoree through the sharing of knowledge, expertise and experience.” In other words, it is when an experienced person in an organization directly imparts knowledge and secondhand experience through relationship to someone with lesser experience or education. It also might be viewed as personal education gained in a one-to-one environment, not unlike the online education provided by Northcentral University (NCU).
We invited NCU’s Dr. Georgia Grantham, Associate Director, Faculty Support and Development, School of Business and Technology Management, to weigh in. She offered, “We know that success rarely occurs without the knowledge and support of others. And mentoring definitely makes a positive difference.”
Grantham went on to say, “One-to-one mentoring at Northcentral University is about building relationships of trust, providing academic support and exposing students to real-world experiences. Because every student is unique at NCU, our mentors provide quality feedback that inspires, teaches, and challenges students to achieve their personal and professional goals.”Mentoring Means… Upward Mobility
What’s more, a research study by Sun Microsystems tracked the careers of 1,000 Sun employees, and concluded that both mentors and mentees get “promoted faster, and enjoy more salary increases.” More specifically, mentees were promoted five times more often than those without mentors! And those who mentored others did even better, being promoted six times as often as those who did not mentor others.The Benefits of Mentoring for the Mentor
• Provides an opportunity to hone interpersonal skills.
• Increases one’s own personal satisfaction.
• Passes one’s own experience to another.
• Requires consideration of one’s own business practices, as well as those of the organization.
• Improves one’s own job satisfaction; there is an inherent personal satisfaction that comes from helping the mentee and seeing how it impacts everyone else.
• Develops a supportive relationship.
• Offers professional development; as mentors communicate their experience on many levels to their mentees it serves as cost-free professional seminars.
• Increases scope of understanding regarding the organization.
• Improves self-confidence.
• Facilitates critical feedback in key areas, such as communications, technical abilities, and leadership skills.
• Provides relevant skills and knowledge.
• Fosters retention; mentees have someone they can turn to whom when they hit inevitable rough patches during their employment.
• Improves team efficiency; the personal element of mentoring can improve process implementation.
• Empowers personal development.
• Improves communication; this, again, is a function of the depth of personal relationship formed by mentoring.
• Safe haven for freer exchange of new ideas; mentors and mentees can bounce ideas off one another without fear of embarrassment or loss of the ideas.
In the end, as NCU’s own Dr. Grantham shared, together mentors and mentees build “relationships of trust.” And we believe that is a big part of why students at NCU gain so much from our one-to-one, mentoring approach to education.
Have you been mentored? Have you ever been a mentor? How have those experiences shaped your career path?Blog Categories: career-advice
President John F. Kennedy famously said, “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” And like it or not, the evidence is clear: Although negotiating may make us feel uncomfortable, those who are willing to negotiate have higher incomes and better positions.
As reported in the Harvard Business Review, for fear of being labeled as difficult or demanding, the majority of people do not negotiate in the workplace. According to Linda Babcock, Professor of Economics at the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management of Carnegie Mellon University, while 32 percent of us negotiate for matters such as higher pay, 68 percent of us do not. Babcock recounts the study more fully in her book and recounts that those who negotiate for larger salaries tend to receive them. Her conclusion: Those who are unwilling to negotiate actually pay a heavy price.
So, what does it take to negotiate successfully?Overcome Your Own Expectations
According to negotiation expert Victoria Pynchon, what drives most people’s fears and what frustrates them is actually fairly common, which she characterizes as “self-fulfilling prophecies.” In effect, people get what they expect.
Susan Adams of Forbes Magazine says the first step in changing is to decide to defy your own expectations. In other words, women and men should choose to negotiate for what they want and choose to break free from their own self-fulfilling prophecies — whatever they may identify them to be.Defy Expectations: 5 Keys to Negotiating
1. DO NOT FEAR. According to Babcock, men and women who do not negotiate typically do so for fear of recriminations and fear of gaining a negative reputation on the job. But, as Pynchon asserts, for those who are able to overcome these fears and choose to negotiate, it can pay big dividends, including in quality of life benefits.
2. KNOW YOUR WORTH. Again according to Babcock, preparation must be done before entering into negotiations. She asserts that women who do choose to negotiate typically enter into negotiations less prepared than do men, according to her research. If preparation is key, one essential component of preparation is to know what others at your level, with your education, and with your resume, make in the market. If you do not know what the range of salary and typical benefits is for your position, it will be hard to argue factually for what you want. There are many resources available online to aid researching wages in a particular market, such as Salary.com and GlassDoor.com.
3. TAKE THE “LET ME HELP YOU” APPROACH. This tip is particularly important for women in negotiations. While Babcock asserts that men are generally able to boast of their competencies without creating a negative perception, for women, that approach can unfortunately yield an unwanted perception. Babcock suggests to frame your request communally from the perspective of how your competencies will benefit the organization. Heed the words of JFK and ask not what the company should do for you, but explain to the one you’re negotiating with what you can do for the company.
4. BE REASONABLE. This tip is actually tied to tip#2 above. If the best people in your position earn $75,000 a year, but you are unaware and ask for $100,000, you could come off as ill-prepared. So, know your facts and figures about every aspect of the job title and make sure to account for salary variances based on location. Even with the same position responsibilities, a marketing manager working in Savannah, Georgia, will likely have a much different salary than someone with the same job in New York City.
5. DON’T FORGET THE PERKS. Should you come to an impasse regarding the level of income you’ve requested, don’t overlook the value of other benefits as points of negotiation. A good benefit package can actually exceed the value, in dollars and cents, of a higher salary. A better insurance package, more vacation time, virtual commutes, flex-time, company car, frequency of job review, should be considered as part of the negotiation process.
In the end, remember that negotiations are usually not personal. The most successful negotiators are able to overcome the feelings of fear and being labeled as demanding. Successful negotiators are able to articulate their requests respectfully and professionally.
While negotiating shouldn’t be approached as a fight, it is a battle, first, to overcome your own fears of making your requests known. So, as you choose to enter into negotiations to get what you want, remember this: You won’t always get what you want. But, then again, as Lauren Bacall once said, “You don’t always win your battles, but it’s good to know you fought.”
What have you negotiated in your career? What was the outcome? Were the benefits worth the risks? How did you feel explaining what you wanted?Blog Categories: career-adviceBlog Tags: NegiotiationsNegotiatingHow to Negotiate
In response to requests from students and faculty, and in conjunction with our ongoing efforts to make the best resources available at Northcentral University, we are pleased to announce that The Chronicle of Higher Education is now available to our student and faculty family at the NCU online Library.
As NCU Director of Library Services Ed Salazar describes this fantastic resource, “The Chronicle of Higher Education is the number one source of news, information, and jobs for people in academe. Published every weekday, The Chronicle's website features the complete contents of the latest issue, now available to NCU students and faculty.”
While The Chronicle has its own online version of the newspaper, it is only available in its full form to paid subscribers. Published every weekday, The Chronicle online features the complete contents of the latest issue; daily news and advice columns; hundreds of current job listings; vibrant discussion forums; and career-building tools such as online curriculum vitae management, salary databases, and more.
When you log on with your NCU ID, you will even find an archive of previously published content!A Taste of Chronicle Fare…
Recent examples of articles and features that can be found in this well-respected daily publication include:
• “Fulbright Pitches International Exchanges to 2-Year Colleges,” an article that examines how the Fulbright Program aims to help faculty members of community colleges benefit and bring more international perspectives to these institutions.
• “Colleges Ponder Their Options When Racism Is Set in Stone,” which explores the conundrum that colleges and universities find themselves in when the involvement of their founders or early patrons who are associated with racism and/or bigotry are enshrined in artwork and masonry on campus.
• “It’s Time to Review Your Adjunct Employment Policies,” is an article that takes a look at the challenges colleges face when adjunct faculty involve Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in their contract negotiations.
• “The Plague of tl;dr,” is found in The Chronicle’s regular insert, The Chronicle Review, a free-standing B-section, and discusses the trend of less and less reading being done by both faculty and students, with a title that refers to the online shorthand for “too long; didn’t read.”
• “Only Writers Left Alive,” comes from the “Careers” section, a regular feature of The Chronicle, and advises on the importance of students identifying for themselves whether they prefer being educators or being researchers as soon as they can “before you waste your time and money, and some of your best professional years.”
• “Isolated Scholars: Making Bricks, Not Shaping Policy,” is an opinion piece by the University of Michigan’s Andrew J. Hoffman, a professor and director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise from The Chronicle’s daily “Point of View” column.
And, each issue of The Chronicle carries an extensive "Careers" section posting position openings from universities and institutions that are hiring faculty and other personnel, with posters as diverse as Harvard University and Fingerlakes Community College.
Were you aware of The Chronicle of Higher Education? Is this a feature of enrollment in NCU something that you will utilize?
Buying a home is a huge decision, but did you know that being satisfied with your purchase is about more than just location, location, location?
Dr. Susan Petroshius, in conjunction with three other researchers, investigated the role of buyer sophistication as it relates to buyer satisfaction and the overall shopping experience when buying a new home. The results of the investigation were published in their study titled, "The Role of Shopping Sophistication in Creating Satisfying Purchase Outcomes."
About Dr. Petroshius
As an adjunct faculty member in the School of Business and Technology Management at Northcentral University, Dr. Petroshius shares her expertise in marketing, business and consumer behavior. She earned her Master of Science in Behavioral Sciences at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and her PhD in Marketing from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Purpose of the Study
If you've ever made a large purchase, you know it pays to do your homework before you buy. The more knowledge you have, the more comfortable you likely are when making your purchasing decisions. But to what extent do these factors influence overall customer satisfaction?
Dr. Petroshius and her colleagues made the following hypotheses concerning shopping sophistication as it relates to customer/purchase satisfaction:
- Customer perceptions of shopping sophistication will be positively related to overall feelings of purchase satisfaction.
- Customer perceptions of shopping sophistication will be positively related to their feelings of control.
- Customer perceptions of control will be positively related to their feelings of purchase satisfaction.
- Customer perceptions of shopping sophistication will be positively related to their perceptions of fairness.
- Consumer perceptions of fairness will be positively related to their overall feelings of purchase satisfaction.
- Consumer perceptions of shopping sophistication will be negatively related to feelings of cognitive dissonance (second-guessing their decision).
- Consumer feelings of dissonance will be negatively related to their overall feelings of purchase satisfaction.
They conducted a study to test their hypotheses. The methodology they used for the study is outlined below.
Buying a home is the largest purchase that most people make in their lifetime. Dr. Petroshius and her colleagues focused on this purchase for that reason when testing their hypotheses. The team mailed out surveys to 900 households that had been purchased in the last 12 months. The team received back 670 usable surveys completed by participants living in more than 400 zip codes.
The surveys consisted of questions from previously validated surveys. These quantitative surveys were based on an itemized scale, and focused on five different areas related to satisfaction in purchase outcomes:
- Perceived control
- Perceived fairness
- Cognitive dissonance
- Purchase satisfaction
- Shopping sophistication
After analyzing the surveys, Dr. Petroshius and her colleagues found that a well-informed shopper is a sophisticated shopper, and a sophisticated shopper is more likely to be a satisfied shopper.
In addition, shopper sophistication is so instrumental in positive purchase outcomes that it can also affect perceptions of control, fairness and cognitive dissonance during the shopping experience. If you are prepared going into your purchase decision making, especially a big purchase like a house or maybe a car, you are more likely to feel confident and have a good shopping experience. You don't have many (if any) misconceptions about the process or what you're going to get for your money, and at the end of the day, you are more likely to feel satisfied with your purchase decision.
Join the Discussion
Based on these results, how do you think that organizations, especially their marketing departments, can more effectively promote customer satisfaction at the basic consumer level (such as buying a new appliance, electronics or even apparel)?Blog Categories: lifestyleBlog Tags: Satisfied ShopperHome buyingwell-informed shopping
Are you having trouble finding ways to effectively communicate in your relationships? Don't worry, you're not alone. Many couples, families, coworkers, and even friends struggle with finding the right way to express their feelings in a positive, productive manner.
Perfecting communication in relationships is tough, but if you're anything like us, you're not ready to give up just yet! So for a little help in the right direction, we sought advice from Dr. Darren Adamson, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Assistant Dean of Northcentral University's School of Marriage and Family Sciences.
Dr. Adamson explains that "communication is like any skill, it takes practice." In order to start perfecting your communication skills, he suggests that "as objectively as possible, you analyze the causes of the poor communication – are they individual in the partners or interactional in the couple?" And he is sure to point out that "the need and the ability to create improvement usually lies in each individual AND in the relationship interaction."
Once you've successfully determined the underlying cause of your poor communication, Dr. Adamson suggests you keep these 10 tips in mind when taking the time to talk it out.
1. Make sure the conversation is appropriately arranged.
This means picking a proper setting, having a clear intent behind the conversation, and spelling out the desired outcome before you sit down to talk.
2. Prepare yourself with the right attitude.
Remember to point the finger in the right direction – at yourself, because you have the power to communicate well! In addition, make sure to come in to the conversation calm and open rather than upset and closed off.
3. Avoid unloading your list of stored up issues.
You already have a clear intent and desired outcome, so don't get steered off course by bringing up issues from the past that were already resolved.
4. Take your emotions out of it (at first).
This is a hard one to achieve. If you're having trouble, it may help you to keep your comments short and simple in the beginning of the conversation.
5. Mind your manners.
Remember that this is supposed to be a positive, respectful conversation. Try to use the tips your elders gave you years ago and mind those manners!
6. Stick to the facts.
Make sure your issues or complaints are described using data and not just emotions.
7. Remember the good stuff.
It's not all bad! Tell your partner something you appreciate about her or him – this keeps the conversation balanced. This also communicates that “it’s not just about an issue, it’s about our relationship”.
8. Own your emotions.
When talking about your emotions, try using "I" statements such as "I feel hurt, when ____ happens," and avoid the use of “you."
9. Ask questions instead of making statements.
Remember, your goal is to understand your partner, not to make sure that she or he understands you.
10. Celebrate communication success.
When it works, it works! Take the time to acknowledge and celebrate it – together!
In the end, remember that striving to perfect the art of effective communication in relationships is a process. You won't get it perfect the first time, and you may not even get close – just keep trying until you get there!
Have you ever used any of these tips before? What works for you and your partner?Blog Categories: couples-therapyBlog Tags: communicationRelationshipsCommunication in Relationships
By Rick Rapier
She claims she had their permission and thought they would be grateful for the exposure, but, according to Ultra Records, fashion video blogger Michelle Phan was sadly mistaken.
In fact for using copyrighted music in her informational YouTube fashion videos, Phan is facing $150,000 in fines for each incident of misuse, with penalties adding into the millions. Such incidents of copyright violation are increasing, both by casual users and intentional abusers of copyrighted material – and by litigation instituted by wronged copyright holders.
Most of Phan’s legal trouble hinges on something you may have heard of before: fair use. And evidently cries of “Fair use!” – commonly invoked by users of social media sites, independent blogs and websites – offer little to no legal protection.Does Fair Use Make It Fair Game?
Unlike cases early in the development of social media, like Napster, which is now infamous for allowing subscribers to download copyrighted music for free in the Net’s early days, and was deemed to be involved in a clear case of theft and copyright infringement, “fair use” is a little more in the gray area of the law.
The Fair Use Doctrine, frequently and often incorrectly invoked throughout the web, is borne of Section 107 of Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Law, according to the U.S. Copyright Office. While Section 106 affords all rights of use to the copyright holder, Section 107 offers some leeway to others, including allowing for use of copyrighted material for educational purposes. And as the Copyright Office itself says, “The distinction between what is fair use and what is infringement in a particular case will not always be clear or easily defined.”
Still, the Copyright Office goes on to suggest that the answer to the question is: No, fair use does not make copyrighted content fair game. The Copyright Office explains, “Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.”Unintentional Violations
Much of the confusion can be attributed to the proliferation of social media. Whether YouTube, Facebook, Tumblr, Spotify, Pinterest, or personal blogs of various types, billions of online users are sharing, linking, embedding, and cutting and pasting as common practice. But that’s where copyright holders tend to be the most litigious. That is, lawsuits tend to arise when there is business being transacted and therefore money being made or – for the original creators – lost through “borrowing” or “sharing” media without permission, whether music, video, photographs, or infographics.
Thanks to the vague laws governing copyright and the use of copyrighted media, Phan is far from alone. According to one Internet and fair use expert, Sarah Bird, there have been hundreds of lawsuits filed and myriad rulings in the last several years on the matter of fair use versus copyright infringement, leading to legal precedents that often stand at odds with one another.
Bird is an SEO and social analytics expert and CEO of Moz, a provider of search engine optimization (SEO) optimization software. She asserts that due to fast-changing technologies and delivery platforms, copyright laws are intentionally vague. On her website, she is often asked about the topic of copyright, and an entire website, PlagiarismToday.com, has been dedicated to addressing and tracking the growing problem of Internet plagiarism.
“’Fair use is an important, controversial, and evolving concept”
—Sarah Bird, SEO and social analytics expert and CEO of Moz
Even the experts, including the U.S. Copyright office, say the subject is confusing. But in addition to being a gray area of the law, it can sometimes do harm to both copyright holders who lose income and to those who unknowingly violate copyright law and face penalties under the law.
In Phan’s case, while her YouTube videos are educational for those interested in fashion, Phan also makes a considerable profit – $5 million last year alone – generated by her channel’s online advertisers. And that is business generated, in part, by using copyrighted works.
Another infamous case of using social media as both educational tool and cottage industry is that of self-proclaimed “Food Babe” Vani Hari. While Hari has been heralded as noble by such renowned news organizations as CNN and New York Times for her efforts to make the ingredients in Subway’s bread and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese more healthy, she has many detractors as reported ScienceBasedMedicine.org and NPR.org. And one has apparently come at her for purported plagiarism for lifting the online content of others from various blogs and websites, no small charge to make against a woman whose whole career is based on her credibility.The Virtual Damage Is Done
Hari has decried the charges as unfounded “ad hominem attacks,” however, in a certain sense, the suspicion of plagiarism will follow her for years – and many Google search results – to come. Still, the pair of Internet vlog entrepreneurs can serve as lessons for the rest of us. The risks of utilizing content produced by others, especially if for personal gain, can be costly. Not only can the penalties result in financial loss, but it can also damage credibility. This affirms that social media is not the free-for-all many believe it to be. Social media users must be mindful of these laws when it comes to sharing content.
To mitigate the risks of recrimination, Bird suggests that offering attribution and providing links back to the original source can often help reduce the risk of inciting the content’s originator, especially if a blog or social site is not intended for profit. But where the devil is in the details truly comes when there is money being made by the “fair user.”
In a case of making lemons out of lemonade, Phan has learned from her experience with Ultra Records and copyright law, founding a new venture: She’s launching her own music label.
Have you used content produced by others on your blog, YouTube, or other social media channels? What are your thoughts on the “Fair Use” doctrine?*/ Blog Categories: social-mediaBlog Tags: social media
Scavenger hunts, cooking classes and inflatable sumo wrestling. What do they all have in common? They could be the key to greater productivity and profit for you or your business.
National Fun at Work Day (January 30) is today. And with this unofficial holiday comes an opportunity for your company to have fun while improving employee engagement.
Here’s how it works. Fun is a great way to build staff relationships. Staff relationships have been identified as the most critical component of employee engagement. And companies with engaged employees show dramatically higher levels of performance and revenue. In fact, according to the management consulting firm Hay Group, “organizations in the top quartile on engagement demonstrate revenue growth 2.5 times that of those in the bottom quartile.”
So how can your company improve employee engagement? In their 2013 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Survey, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) identified the top five conditions for engaging employees:Top 5 Conditions for Engaging Employees 1. Relationship with co-workers (73%) 2. Opportunities to use skills and abilities (70%) 3. Relationship with immediate supervisor (70%) 4. The work itself (68%) 5. Contribution of work to organization’s business goals (66%)
As you can see, the first and third conditions regard relationships among co-workers and supervisors. In all, the SHRM study identified 18 factors that foster engagement in a variety of areas, but clearly one of the most important is relationships.
The study surveyed 600 U.S. employees of all ages. Interestingly, when the findings were analyzed by gender and age, they did not change. This suggests that when it comes to engagement, employees of all ages are more alike than different.
Even though Baby Boomers, Gen X and the Millennials have quite different motivations and opinions about the workplace, they tend to agree about what engages them—and relationships are top of the list.
This means anything you can do to encourage staff interaction, collaboration, teamwork, and friendship can contribute to better engagement. Long term, this might include:
- Mentorship programs
- Employee self-recognition programs
- Group classes
- Regular team meetings
- Volunteer projects
- Ongoing competitions
- Job switching
Of course, in the short-term, a great start could be a simple team-building exercise to celebrate National Fun at Work Day. The Internet is overflowing with good team-building ideas and most of them have the added benefit of being fun!
From Pictionary, paintball and potluck lunches to karaoke, card games and double-kayaking, there are numerous activities that can bring your company closer. But be careful, one company’s outstanding outing could be another company’s dysfunctional function. The Internet is also rife with team-building horror stories, like “Group Insult Sessions,” “Bathing with Your Managers,” and “Fake Terrorist Kidnappers.”
Don’t choose activities that might compromise someone’s dignity, privacy or personal space. Realize that what’s motivation for some people is misery for others, especially activities like athletic competitions, risky adventures or public performances.
A good first step might be to conduct your own survey and ask your employees what they would like to do. You should be able to find consensus on what’s fun for everyone in some capacity. The very act of surveying everyone or taking a vote can get people talking and having fun. And as long as they’re having fun, the rest will take care of itself.Blog Categories: career-adviceBlog Tags: businessemployee engagement
Watching movies? Using special software? Hanging out with fluent speaker? What about text chat?
In her study titled, "Prior knowledge and second language task production in text chat," published in Technology-mediated TBLT: Researching Technology and Tasks, Dr. Rebecca Adams took a closer look at how text-based chat can help people who are interested in learning a second language and which variables can help make it more successful.About Dr. Adams
Dr. Adams is the associate director of the Faculty Resource Center at Northcentral University. She has a passion for language and earned her PhD in Linguistics from Georgetown University. She earned her Master of Arts degree in Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from Brigham Young University, where she also completed her undergraduate education with a double major in Linguistics and German. Her areas of expertise include educational research, online teaching and learning, and English as a second language.Purpose of the Study
Computer-mediated communication, or any communication done with the help of a computer, such as text-based chat in becoming increasingly important in today's diverse global environment. Skype, Facebook chat, Lync and Google Hangouts are just a few examples of popular text-based chat applications that allow people to communicate over a network or the Internet. In addition to allowing individuals to communicate, text-based chat can also aid in the actual learning and refining of second language skills.
With her background in TESOL, Dr. Adams desired to take a closer look at the efficiency of text-based chat is aiding second language learning. She believed that using text chat in task-based language learning, especially when it comes to tasks where students have prior knowledge, would be beneficial to students and could influence the accuracy, complexity and quantity of language production.Specifically, she desired to answer the following questions:
- • Does prior knowledge increase the accuracy of learner text chat task-based production?
- • Does prior knowledge increase the complexity of learner text chat task-based production?
- • Does prior knowledge increase the quantity of learner text chat task-based production?
Dr. Adams used a mixed methods approach to answering the proposed research questions. Her study sample included 48 random, second-year engineering students (some electrical engineering students and some chemical engineering students) with intermediate-level English proficiency. The study was conducted at a technical university in Malaysia in a course on English for Professional Communication these students were all experienced users of text-based chat in their native language and familiar with Skype.
Inspired by Dr. Peter Robinson, who determined that completing a task can influence second language learning through increased language production and task engagement, Dr. Adams devised a task using the Cognition Hypothesis for students to complete using text-based chat. Cognitive Hypothesis predicts how the different features of a task design can influence second language learning.
In order to isolate the prior knowledge variable in her study, Dr. Adams chose a task that would be familiar to the electrical engineering students, but not to the chemical engineering students. The task required students to role play the part of an engineer in a multinational company meeting online who must decide what type of electrical engineering software (familiar to electrical engineering students) the company should adopt.
For the quantitative portion of her study, Dr. Adams analyzed the students' chat transcripts following the task to calculate scores for accuracy, complexity and quantity of language production. She completed MANOVA tests to determine the significance of the data. Following the task, Adams also held a voluntary face-to-face group discussion using open ended questions (qualitative research) to learn more about the students' perception of the activity and using text-based chat to accomplish the task.Findings
Dr. Adams predicted that that the complexity of the assigned task (based on whether or not the student had prior knowledge of the subject) would influence the complexity, accuracy and fluency of speech production. Interestingly, her prediction was partly right and partly wrong.
The study indicated that increasing task complexity (no prior knowledge) was related to increased complexity and accuracy of students' language production. On the other hand, decreasing task complexity seemed to positively affect the students' fluency by increasing the quantity of language used during the task.Join the Discussion
Text-based chat gives second language learners the unique ability to draft and edit their speech before posting, which is different than speaking face-to-face. How do you think this influenced the results of the study?Blog Categories: researchBlog Tags: faculty publications
By Mark Lange
This is your digital intervention. No, your family isn’t gathered in the living room. You won’t be whisked off to a dude ranch. And no one is going to “love” you through this. We just need you to turn off your digital devices for a while—after you read this article, of course.
The fact is, if you use a smartphone, tablet, computer or video game on a regular basis, you’re probably hooked to some extent. But, like most of us, you may be in denial. Because, ironically, this addiction started off by making you more productive, socially connected and mentally engaged.
Don’t worry. You don’t have to give up all of your technology; just enough to see the control it has over you and how moderation can improve your quality of life.What are the signs of digital addiction?
How do you know if you’re addicted to technology? Review the signs and symptoms below:Using technology like a drug:
Do you turn to your smartphone or computer when you’re bored, lonely or depressed? You may be using it like a drug to control your mood or emotions. Ironically, studies show that a lack of close relationships, social activities and physical exercise—the type you can’t get online—can cause depression.Using technology more often:
A recent study reported that most people check their cellphone 150 times a day. Is checking your phone the last thing you do at night and the first thing you do in the morning? Do you monitor your texts, email, tweets, and social media so often that nothing has changed since the last time you looked? These are signs that your habit is escalating despite diminishing returns.Withdrawing from friends and family:
Do you find yourself sneaking a peek at your phone in the middle of a conversation? During meals, parties or meetings? How about at movies, your kid’s recital, or in bed? Aside from being rude, it robs you of real-life interaction and the ability to focus on the real-world experience.Mental health issues:
If you’re experiencing stress, depression or sleep disorders, it may be digitally induced. A recent study linked those mental health problems to heavy use of technology. Another study found that watching a computer monitor for just two hours can substantially lower levels of the sleep hormone serotonin, which can cause sleep disorders. Yet another study showed that one out of three Facebook visitors felt loneliness, envy, anger and frustration when comparing themselves socially to their digital peers.Stress
A growing body of data suggests that constant smartphone use will stress you out. One university study linked the stress to our “relentless need to immediately review and respond to every incoming message, alert or bing.” It further found that the most stressed users experienced ‘phantom’ vibrations when there were no alerts.Driving under the influence of technology
If you use a cellphone while driving, you’re driving impaired. Cellphone talkers are 5.36 times more likely to get in an accident than undistracted drivers. And hands-free devices are not any safer. Studies show the risk is the same as driving with a 0.08 blood-alcohol level. If you’re texting while driving, you are 23 times more likely to crash.
If any of the above behavior sounds like you, you are digitally addicted to some degree. And while this isn’t a real intervention, there is a simple five-step treatment program you should check into:How to detox from digital addiction 1. No phone while driving.
Obviously, you should not be texting while driving. But also try not making or answering any phone calls. They can wait. Pay attention to the road.2. No phones with other people.
Don’t look at your phone when talking with other people. This includes friends, family, co-workers, cashiers, waiters, you name it. Make live people a priority and give them your undivided attention.3. No phones at functions.
While participating in a social event or business function, turn your phone off. Not even vibrate mode, just off. Again, fully focus and experience the activity at hand.4. No digital devices in bed or before bedtime
No more staying up past bedtime to surf the Web, and no more falling asleep staring at your phone. Shut your phone off at night. Get a good night’s sleep.5. Reserve more time for real life.
Here’s the big challenge. Get out and do more in the real world. Visit with friends and family, exercise, play with your kids, take in a ball game, have date night with your spouse, walk the dog at the park—all without using your phone. Integrate new hobbies, people and patterns into your day. If it causes you a great deal of discomfort or anxiety, you weren’t in control.
If you’re bored or depressed, you may need to develop more life offline. Of course, if you find this detox to be a pleasant, relaxing and enjoyable experience, you’ll know how much better your life could be if you set limits on your digital devices.Blog Categories: lifestyle
By Rick Rapier
With the new year right around the corner, many people are considering or have made definitive resolutions for 2015. Most of us look at the new year as a clean slate and have every intention of sticking to the personal or professional changes we vow to make, so why is the idea of a resolution inspiring yet hellish at the same time? As Samuel Johnson (ca. 1775) said, “Hell is paved with good intentions.” So what is it about human nature that we make promises to ourselves to change, promises that we want to keep – but suspect we won’t?
Is there something immutable about our natural resistance to change? Or are there things that we can do to increase our chances of following through on resolutions and of making lasting changes?Why People Fail at Resolutions
According to one study by the University of Scranton, 62 percent of all Americans set New Year’s resolutions at one time or another – and, according to researcher and psychologist Richard Wiseman, 88 percent of those who do make resolutions will fail. But according to a study done by Wiseman, there is a physiological reason for this common shortcoming: our brains.
Research by Stanford University, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, has shown that our prefrontal cortex, positioned at the fore of our brains, is responsible for providing self-control over our urges. But the downside is that this part of our brains is also responsible for handling short-term memory and abstract reasoning – all at the same time. It’s why you couldn’t resist those holiday chocolates while worrying about how to pay for those holiday gifts!
So, when we’re challenged by multitasking, overwhelmed by information, and assaulted by the daily stresses of life, that is when we are most likely to set aside self-control. We default to our strongest urges and existing patterns – and abandon our decision to resist those patterns.
Might as well stop before you start, right? Not so fast. According to Dr. Wiseman, the good news is that his studies show that the prefrontal cortex can be exercised like a muscle to strengthen by challenging ourselves to do multiple mental tasks more and more, over time. Thus, it would appear that we are not bound by our present limitations.Additionally, how you approach your resolutions makes a positive difference as well. 4 Ways to Keep Your Resolutions
As suggested by Ramit Sethi, entrepreneur and author of New York Times bestseller I Will Teach You to Be Rich in his article “Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail” and also by the work of Dr. Wiseman, there are four general ways to improve your chances for a happier new year, one in which you succeed at achieving personal positive change.1. Make Your Resolutions SPECIFIC
Instead of resolving to be a “better person,” be more specific. If being a better person to you means donating to charity, for example, earmark a percentage of your income to charity or make plans to volunteer for an hour each week. If part of becoming a better person means improving your health, be specific and resolve to run five miles or hit the gym three days a week. Whatever your version of being a better person is, specific actions and behaviors are strongly recommended to enable you to achieve your resolution goals.2. Make Your Resolutions REALISTIC
Maybe weight has crept up on you and you’ve found yourself 20 pounds overweight, a daunting amount you’ve wanted to shed for years. What if you resolve instead to shedding 10 pounds? Or what about five pounds? Perhaps you’ve resolved to get free of credit card debt. Instead of resolving to pay off all of your debt, why not resolve to clear that card with the lowest balance first or highest interest rate. Setting small goals is a more realistic or manageable tactic to ensure accomplishing your overarching resolution.3. Instead of Willpower Alone, Use METHODS
Implement a system or method for achieving your goals. This is similar to the suggestion of being specific: Instead of determining to lose 10 pounds, it is better to focus on the “how” such as resolving to run 10 miles a week or stop eating fast food. Additionally, telling people in your circle – family, friends, co-workers – about your resolutions also provides a degree of accountability for your to follow through on your resolution. People who explicitly make resolutions in writing are “10 times more likely to attain their goals” than people who don’t, according to the University of Scranton study.4. Make Your Resolutions FEW
As reported in the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Wiseman advises that if you want to succeed at a resolution, don’t tax your brain with the competing interests of other resolutions. Want to devote five more hours per week to your dissertation in the new year? Then don’t also decide to stop smoking, lose 10 pounds, and find a mate. Prioritize your goals, and focus on achieving them one by one, not simultaneously.
Finally, according to Ramit Sethi, you need to find a way to succeed with this year’s resolutions. As he put it, “Failing at our resolutions has implications…we start to distrust ourselves. If you’ve set the same resolutions for five years, and you never follow through, what makes you think you’ll be different this year?”
What are your resolutions for 2015? What methods are you using to achieve them?
Here’s to 2015 being your year to succeed at achieving the goals set out in your resolutions!Blog Categories: psychologyBlog Tags: psychology
That is the question Dr. Annabelle Goodwin, core faculty member of Northcentral University's School of Marriage and Family Sciences, wanted to answer in her study, "An Exploration of Feminist Family Therapists' Resistance to and Collusion with Oppression," published in the Journal of Feminist Family Therapy.About Dr. Goodwin
In addition to her role as a core faculty member at NCU, Dr. Goodwin is a practicing individual, couple and family therapist with a passion for serving clients from diverse backgrounds. Dr. Goodwin earned her PhD from Virginia Tech and her Bachelor of Science and Master of Education degrees from the University of Oregon. She also serves on the board of the Oregon Association for Marriage and Family TherapyPurpose of the Study
Back in 1970, Brazilian educator Dr. Paulo Freire, wrote about the likelihood of oppressed people to turn around and oppress others in their struggle to gain more respect and power in society. Dr. Goodwin wanted to discover more about how feminist family therapists deal with oppression.
Marriage and family therapists as a whole, receive significant social training as they prepare for their careers. In addition to clinical training, they explore gender diversity, family systems, historical and multicultural influences, and ethics. This deep understanding of social dynamics helps them better relate to the challenges of their diverse clientele. Knowing that, Dr. Goodwin set out to explore how well-educated feminist family therapists view oppression and their experiences with it, both in their personal and professional lives
Specifically, Dr. Goodwin desired to answer the following research questions:
1. How do highly informed family therapists who identify as feminist describe how their feminist identities and ideas about feminism have evolved over time?
2. How do highly informed feminist family therapists report stories of their own resistance to gender-based oppression?
3. How do highly informed feminist family therapists report stories of their own collusion with the oppression of others?
4. How do highly informed feminist family therapists encourage clients to examine oppression and collusion of oppression of others?
Dr. Goodwin conducted a qualitative grounded theory study in her exploration of feminist family therapists and their resistance to and collusion with oppression. A grounded theory study relies on the analysis of data to develop a theory that explains similar processes or actions (e.g. why something happened).
By interviewing pioneers in the field of feminist family therapy over the phone, who have explored the topic of oppression from a personal and clinical perspective, Dr. Goodwin was able to identify their shared experiences. Analyzing these shared experiences, and the different perspectives from which they came (data), provided insight into potential theories of behavior of feminist family therapists.
The 10 participants in the study met the following characteristics:
• Have at least five years of clinical MFT experience
• Hold master's degree or higher in a mental health discipline
• Meet at least three of the four following criteria:
o Published at least two articles on gender or feminism related to MFT
o Have at least three years of experience in the field of feminist family therapy
o Cited in the book, Feminist Family Therapy: empowerment in Social Context, a handbook of feminist family therapy
The study uncovered multiple related themes, including resisting [oppression], strategies of feminist family therapists, recognizing oppression and injustice, and the development of a feminist identify.
For example, Dr. Goodwin learned that while feminist family therapists' identities often had political foundations, these identities expanded to include a desire for justice for all types of oppressed people (not just women). Additionally, a feminist identity is not something that one can turn off and on at whim—it very much influences every part of their personal and professional lives.
Dr. Goodwin also discovered that feminist family therapists must understand oppression and potential barriers to resistance in order to better help clients in their oppressive situations. This understanding can develop from education, research, and personal experience – both as the oppressed and the oppressor.Join the Discussion
Can you think of instances when you have been oppressed? How about when you were the oppressor (can be as simple as laughing at a racist joke)? What would be your advice, based on your experiences, to help someone take steps towards eliminating oppression in their lives?Blog Categories: faculty-spotlightBlog Tags: therapy
By Rick Rapier
“Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you,” explained billionaire Warren Buffett, one of the world’s most successful business leaders
Without a doubt, great employees with all three traits are the lifeblood of an organization. However, what happens when managers don’t have teams with these characteristics? If a manager is new to the organization or role, he could likely inherit a department comprised of low and high performing individuals.
Knowing how to motivate the entire department to perform at their best requires a strategy. Here are six ways managers can cultivate a team of rock stars!More Than Make Do… Motivate
As professional trainer and life coach Beth Ramsay puts it, “A bad attitude from a chronic complaining employee is like a cancer; it will only spread and infect others.” Consequently, discouraged or unmotivated employees are not something a manager can ignore. The scenarios touched on by Buffet and Ramsay can add up to an uncomfortable and unstable situation and, if left unaddressed, destructive, according to stats compiled by Entrepreneur Magazine under the title “The Real Cost of Unhappy Employees.”
A study performed by Dashburst has estimated that keeping employees happy would cut labor costs by $2.3 billion each year in the United States. Another estimate has it that unhappy employees can actually cost $200 billion a year in lost productivity – in the U.S. alone!
Because of this, it is critical for a manager to implement methods for encouraging and guiding direct reports - even the ones who make the job difficult. The good news is that there are a number of steps a wise manager can take to motivate even the most obstinate employee.1. Keep Your Cool
Disrespect from an employee can push the buttons of even the most cool-headed manager, but it pays big dividends to maintain a professional demeanor. Open anger only serves to escalate conflict and upset the morale of other employees who might feel caught in the crossfire – or caught up in the heat of the moment.2. Don’t Be Coldblooded
Especially in times of stress or transition within your department, it is best to avoid being aloof with problematic employees. Maintain a friendly, approachable demeanor, and be sure to respond to and check in with your employees as if they were your customers.3. Shoot Straight
Most people can identify when a manager is “blowing smoke.” Being dishonest with your team erodes trust. Being sensitive to confidentiality around certain aspects of the business, managers should keep their employees in the loop as much as possible. Transparency and clear communication go a long way with teams.4. There is no ‘I’ in team
There is a reason the adage, “There is no ‘I’ in team” is so popular. A manager who seems to be primarily out for himself can quickly demoralize and demotivate a department.. Teams work harder for a leader who gives them credit where credit is due. A major culprit for diminishing team motivation is a manager who singularly takes credit for work that’s been done by a group.5. Do Your Homework Before Reacting
Always fact-find and fact-check before assessing a situation and before taking action. Ask questions and actively listen. And if the one who is responsible for a problem or error happens to be you, then admit your mistakes. You’ll be surprised by the amount of respect and commitment this move will garner from employees.6. Lighten Their Load
Direct reports who feel you have their back, will work harder for you. Offering to pitch in to help them with tasks can show you’re supportive. But there is more to work than getting the work done: You can lighten the mood. Keep an eye out for the cues that someone is having a rough day. Offer a smile, a genuine laugh, or an openly voiced compliment – while withholding criticisms until they can be offered in private.
There can be a high price to pay, both in dollars and organizational morale, when employees do not feel appreciated. While money is a significant motivating factor for employee satisfaction, it isn’t the sole way to make an employee feel appreciated.
A study done by Ronald F. Piccolo and Timothy A. Judge, which considered more than 100 academic papers on the subject of employee satisfaction, concluded that pay has very little to do with keeping employees happy. To most employers’ surprise (and perhaps delight), while money can motivate employees, it is not the most important factor in worker satisfaction.
“Money can buy many things. Happiness at work just isn’t one of them” —Ronald F. Piccolo and Timothy A. Judge
That’s where the savvy manager comes in. People will simply work harder when they feel appreciated, understood, and engaged by their boss. While financial compensation is a well-known motivator, dollars alone are not the end-all-be-all.
How have you been motivated by a leader, or how do you motivate your own team?Blog Categories: career-adviceBlog Tags: business
By Rick Rapier
The words “leadership” and “management” are often used interchangeably.
Sam Walton, founder of the retail empires Walmart and Sam’s Club said, “Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish.”
One might think that his success points the way for all managers; however, not all managers face the same challenges. The Harvard Business Review published an article exploring several distinct leadership and management styles. The article examined the areas of leadership and management and focused on a study conducted by Dr. Daniel Goleman, author of bestseller Emotional Intelligence, with the aid of international consulting firm Hay/McBer.
With his colleagues, Dr. Goleman conducted in-depth interviews and took a random sampling of opinions of nearly 4,000 managers from a database of more than 20,000 executives worldwide. The study involved in depth questions and interviews of those sampled.Six Styles of Leadership: Pros & Cons 1. COERCIVE
This style of leadership sounds threating, and it can be. But it can also be very beneficial in limited situations and used sparingly. At their core, the coercive manager demands immediate compliance: no ifs, ands or buts. According to the study, the coercive approach has the most corrosive impact on an organization.
Pros: Very beneficial during a crisis or in turn-around situations. To be implemented only when necessary.
Cons: Tends to destroy morale, independent thought, risk-taking and erodes motivation.2. AUTHORITATIVE
Both quantitatively and qualitatively, this style of management is, overall, the most effective style for most situations, as concluded by the study. Authoritative leaders are visionaries who move people toward a common vision and help them to see how they fit into long-term plans.
Pros: Employees know their purpose, which increases buy-in of the organization’s goals and strategies. Standards and rewards are known to all and the approach affords leeway to achieving individual goals.
Cons: Ill-suited to teams where subordinates are more experienced; leaders of this type can seem “pompous or out-of-touch”3. AFFILIATIVE
The affiliative leader beckons the team to follow and is all about mandates. This style seeks to create harmony amongst employees and during stressful periods focuses on teamwork in order to motivate them. In short, people, not organizational goals, come first.
Pros: A good “all-weather” approach that is particularly useful for building team morale, improving communication, and repairing broken trust.
Cons: Should not be implemented without employing a different style simultaneously. Can lead to erosion of productivity and quality of work. Can also leave teammates feeling cut adrift.4. DEMOCRATIC
Unlike styles that reply on unilateral decision-making, this style works to gain employee input, buy-in, and consensus if possible. This is often useful in phases of management change or dramatic business redirects.
Pros: Builds trust, commitment, and respect.
Cons: Inefficient especially in times of crisis. Can actually escalate conflict and give the impression of leaderlessness.5. PACE-SETTING
To be used infrequently, this is when the leader sets a personal best as the standard, and expectation, for the entire team or organization. Those she leads are expected to follow and perform at their level best.
Pros: Works well with personnel who are as competent and motivated as their leader. Should be used in conjunction with another leadership approach.
Cons: Can lead to micromanaging and can cause employees to feel overwhelmed by unreasonable demands.6. COACHING
This approach helps leaders identify their talents and shows them how to tie these strengths to their private and professional goals. Rarely used in most organizations, according to Dr. Goleman, this approach champions and empowers individual employees to achieve.
Pros: Helps employees identify strengths and weaknesses. Short-term failures tolerated with an eye to long-term successes.
Cons: An ill fit when employees are resistant to changing. Motivational efforts can be perceived with fear or disregard.
The study concluded there are six distinct leadership types – and they are most definitely not created equal. And, while this study presents six styles, Dr. Peter Bemski, Dean of the School of Business and Technology Management at Northcentral University, suggests there is a seventh style.
“The idea that we can adopt whatever leadership style is most appropriate is popular, but perhaps unrealistic,” explained Bemski. The key to being an effective leader is to have a broad repertoire of styles and to use them appropriately.”
While some hold to the notion that leaders are born not made, the evidence of the study shows us something different: Leaders are made not born. Still, as Dr. Goleman noted in agreement with the notion that leaders are made, managers can “work assiduously to increase” their ability to expand their repertoire and learn to practice styles that might not come naturally.
Consider your own management style. What kind of manager would you categorize yourself or your boss as?. Do you think you should stick with one style or adopt several?
By Christia Gibbons
Are we more stressed out than our ancestors? Research shows that over the years, stress levels have grown along with the evolution of technology. Long-term stress can lead to inflated levels of cortisol, which for many translates into such mental debilitations as insomnia, depression and anxiety, and such physical infirmities as high blood pressure, stroke or cancer.
Cortisol is the hormone that jumps into action to kick-start the adrenalin that provides much-needed energy during a crisis situation. It provides better blood flow, sharper eyesight and mental acuity. But the stresses of life in the 21 century often don’t allow cortisol to return to normal levels. When stress levels are too high, it can have major implications for our bodies.Fight-or-Flight
“We are consistently and constantly under fight-or-flight,” says Dr. Jennifer King, who works at Scottsdale, Arizona-based LifeScape Medical Associates, a concierge practice. Phoenix Magazine named King a 2014 Top Doctor in the family practice category.
While everyone is able to tolerate a certain amount of fight-or-flight experience, the dynamics of life are keeping many people in a perpetual stressed state that “continues to build because we don’t have the ability to run away. We used to run away from animals,” King says.
“Distress, or free floating anxiety, doesn't provide an outlet for the cortisol and causes the fight-or-flight mechanism to backfire. Ironically, our own biology—which was designed to insure our survival as hunters and gatherers—is sabotaging our bodies and minds in a sedentary, digital age,” explains Christopher Bergland in a January 2013 Psychology Today article titled “Cortisol: Why ‘The Stress Hormone’ is Public Enemy No. 1.”Mental Effect of Stress
A Mayo Clinic publication points out that when the people are constantly under stress the hypothalamus, a tiny region at the base of the brain, sets off an alarm system: “Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, located atop your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.”
When cortisol levels aren’t allowed to return to normal levels, “the body knows,” King says. According to an article in pyschcentral.com, the cognitive, emotional signs and behavioral ramifications of stress include: mental slowness, confusion, negative thoughts, concentration problems, forgetfulness, lack of a sense of humor, irritation, sense of helplessness, feeling overwhelmed, decreased sex drive, poor family and work relations, and a sense of loneliness.Physical Impact
Uncontrolled stress hits the body through and through, according to The American Stress Institute, affecting the nervous, musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal and reproductive systems.
People can experience high blood pressure, headaches, panic attacks, compromised liver functions, heart attack, diarrhea, irregular menstrual cycles, and impotence. People don’t digest food properly, may have constipation and urination issues, and can gain or lose too much weight and can feel fatigued. Month after month of not having any down time – cortisol levels promoting physiological unintended affects – translates into stress that can lead to exhaustion, stroke, hospitalized depression and cancer, King points out. And, “Cortisol ages you,” she says.Combating stress
Find a break in the action.
““Change is hard, it is. No doubt. And, it’s not comfortable. When [the effect of stress] gets painful enough, you’ll change,”
—Dr. Jennifer King, Scottsdale, Arizona-based LifeScape Medical Associates
“It’s not always the circumstance, but how you handle it,” she says. Find what works for you. Maybe it’s reading a book, being in a book club, watching a TV show, going to a museum, talking to a friend, or getting in some exercise.
King suggests her patients change one thing at a time for 30 days. Perhaps add a day of 15 to 20 minutes of exercise a week – pick any day. “It’s more than you did before. I don’t want it to feel like a job.”
Maybe it’s removing one pre-packaged food from one’s diet for a month to get started. King advocates a “clean” diet of nonprocessed food: nuts, seeds, protein without antibiotics. “Avoid anything that comes out of a bag,” she says. It’s OK to have brownies, just make them from scratch instead of a mix. Consider adding flaxseed and hemp parts to help with cholesterol and pump some vitamin A and C into your recipes.
King suggests an easy way to eat better. “I would definitely recommend not putting anything in your body or in your mouth that has a long list of ingredients, in other words, the fewer the ingredients the better both internally and externally.”
Or, perhaps it’s adding meditation to your day. King says many people have a misconception of what it takes to meditate and what it takes to clear one’s mind. It doesn’t have to be stressful just to try to relax. She currently is participating in the free 21-day meditation experience promoted by Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey.
King also suggests the 4-7-8 breathing technique practiced by Dr. Andrew Weil, founder of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.
And, King says, “Don’t forget that everything counts, including taking the stairs, parking in the most distant spot so you walk more before you get into the store, walking in the airport if you have a layover, walking or bicycling to work if possible.”
King encourages people in their 20s to get going on making changes to avoid what can be the devastating effects of stress in later years. The very best defense against stress, though, is sleep.
“Sleep is key in every medical condition,” King says. “When you sleep you heal, repair, and when you sleep you think better.”
People deal with stress in different ways. The key is dealing with stressors in a positive way.
What are some of the ways you’ve found that are helpful for stress management?