Holiday Well-being and depression

Stress, Holidays & the Pandemic: A Trifecta for Resiliency Building!

Managing Stress & Doing The Work We Do-Leads To Growth

For many of us working in the ‘field’ of human services we have been inundated with ‘self-help’ articles, books, videos and even the dreaded “w” or webinars. I thought a different approach would be more enjoyable and effective. The holiday season and the soon wrap-up of the year. How about looking back since 2019 and take a quick moment to just sit with your feeling or feelings. When looking back it seems that a switch was flicked and life as we knew it ended. We began working from home, using that “w” word again and boundaries began to blur. Home become work, for those with kids it also became school, many of us became ‘tech-savvy’ as the weeks, months, and years began to pass.

So, how is this blog is going to take a different? It is beginning to read like the others…well here is the shift. When you looked back since the start of the pandemic what did you feel? Did you feel like you really accomplished so much? Feel like you handled it better than you give yourself credit? How about actually ‘laughing’ when you think of all those meetings you attended where shorts, sweatpants, no-shoes only socks? Sounds like you handled the stress, even though this was something no-one expected or was prepared ever prepared to experience.

Stress…Naming It, So That We Can Tame It!

However, many of us have had years of experience with stress, connected with our work, families, and finances. If we really give it some thought, we have been preparing for and becoming more apt to deal with stress since entered into the adult-realm.  Did you know that the terms stress has only been officially around since the 1940s which makes it about 80 years old. How do you feel knowing that Dr. Hans Selye, a pioneering Hungarian-Canadian endocrinologist gave this term a name? Remember if you can name-it, you cannot tame-it!

The relationship between stress and disease has been well established, but if often overlooked without recognition. Did you know that the word ‘stress’ is used in physics? It is used to refer to the interaction between a force and the resistance to counter that force? Hans Selye was the first to apply this term into medical realm, specifically describing the nonspecific response of the body to any demand. So when you really think about it, stress is not always bad. Stress is common because we often have demands put on us every day-at during different life-events (holidays), work and even in our family-life. The challenge then becomes how to manage or deal with stress effectively and consistently. Since we know that stress wreaks havoc on our immune systems, specifically with the release of cortisol in our bodies we can take steps to manage stress levels daily and throughout the year.

So how have you been managing stress these days? Some people have been exercising, others listening or playing music, some painting or crafting, there are even some who have been writing or bloging. Another way to look at this is to ask yourself what do I like to do and/or what am I good at doing? And how often do you make time to do those things? You may want to take stock of all of the things you are good at, want to be better at and even things you would like to try. It may surprise you when you see how talented you are, which becomes the essence of resilience.

Family & The Roles We Play-Destiny vs. Choice

There are many definitions of what a family is and what constitutes a family. However, the underlying theme or common thread revolves around people who you love & care for and who love & care for you back. It seems the stress connected with belonging to a family are the roles we fulfill within them. Many times, the role or roles are given to us or we step into them when someone else vacates them. Take a moment and think about the role or roles you hold. Where did them come from? Who assigned them to me? Can I edit the roles to better fit the strengths & needs I have?

The roles we fulfill within our families are often seen as demands, which can be in competition with our jobs and/or careers. During the time of the pandemic, we may have seen typical boundaries blurred especially as we work remotely from our homes. However, I am wondering if we took a moment to think of positives of not having to commute into the office throughout the week. Many of us were about to slow down not having to wake up early to beat the traffic or catch a bus/train or even struggle to find a parking space. Some of us were able to have a meal with our families and even a snack or two throughout the day.

We must remember that the most critical function of families, especially experiencing a world-wide pandemic is the emotional support of loved ones. Just to offer a simplified example- caregivers/parents provide and teach love, guidance, comfort, reassurance, and forgiveness. All of these can be accomplished with a reassuring smile or hug, kind and sincere words of encouragement and just being present and listening to each other. So whatever role you are fulfilling maybe it would help to simplify things starting from this point.

Holiday Stress

Resilience By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

It will be interesting this year with the Holiday Season beginning and 2021 coming to end. Many of us are just beginning to understand the need for a balance when it comes to home, work and family life. The creation of small, silent spaces in between things. The same balance can and needs to be applied this time of year. We all tend to look back and question things, especially around decision-making. If we objectively created a ‘balance sheet’ of every decision made given the circumstances and point in time, it made be surprising to see our resourcefulness. Taking it one step further, resourcefulness is often resiliency applied in the real-world setting.

Now I am not expecting everyone who is reading this blog (or hopefully still reading this far along) will agree with the statement- ‘We are all resilient in our resourcefulness.’ My hope is that you will see it as a starting point from which we can all build upon.

So, what is resilience? According to psychologists resilience is defined as the process of adapting well during times of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress, including such events as family and relationship challenges, serious health issues, or workplace and financial stressors. Interestingly, as much as resilience involves a “bouncing back” from these challenging times, it can also include a uniquely profound period of personal growth.

Perceptions Are Our Realities-So Good Data Is Always Better

Since we now know that many of us have experienced resilience or personal growth because of the pandemic. Therefore, our mindset can be one of applying this growth and maintaining a balance when the holidays arrive. A dear friend of mine, Dr. Kenneth Silvestri is a systemic psychotherapist, certified homeopathic practitioner and active black-belt in Aikido. Dr. Silvestri wrote a blog in October, Holograms, Acorns, and Self-Fulfillment: How our brain seeks relationships” whereby he beautifully describes how we have the ability to reimagine our world, including seeing our realities through a unique relational or holistic lens.

Basically, Dr. Silvestri has learned over his years that we are architects to our own reality via the input over a lifetime within our brains. However, we know that perceptions can be skewed and distorted over time, especially if we are feeling overwhelmed given a pandemic which has continued over 2 years! So, would it not makes sense for all us to ascertain accurate data about ourselves? More so, since we all strive to be effective practitioners of mental health and models for wellbeing.

Opeeka has become the leader in whole person utilizing technology in ‘real-time’ sharing of information or data which improves all aspects of decision-making process. Opeeka’s mission is to promote well-being for all, including our workforce. We provide technology that enables building and retaining a healthy and resilient workforce. Our Person-Centered Intelligence Solutions or P-CIS|aptly pronounced pieces supports connecting around compassion and having open & honest communication.

Like a physical doctor might start with taking a person’s pulse, P-CIS can do a similar check-in with ‘Pulse-Surveys.’ What is a Pulse Survey? It is a simple & efficient mechanism for “taking the pulse” of person on just a few topics at a time. Unlike a traditional survey, which is often bound to measuring specific topics or content, pulse surveys’ content should be adjusted to meet real-time and specific goals. Pulse surveys should measure recent status over the last week or up to 90 days. There are 3 Important Pulse Survey Elements including ‘Real-Time’ Responses: Tracking Actionable Data: and ‘Real Understanding’ Through Engagement.

Resilience is Now & Powerful Tool

Michael Ungar, Ph.D. is the founder and Director of the Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie University. Dr. Ungar’s ground-breaking work as a family therapist and resilience researcher is recognized around the world, with much of that work focused on the resilience of marginalized children and families, and adult populations experiencing mental health challenges at home and in the workplace.

After much reading of Dr. Ungar’s work, I can summarize resilience as a navigation within our world finding opportunities to what we need to be a more effective version of ourselves. We can discover these new ideas and possibilities with the help of individuals or from a belonging to a group. Resiliency is not necessarily something within us but outside in the context of living. It is an active process we all must navigate constantly, negotiating and renegotiating through our decision making. It is never a ‘one and done’ event to achieve or become resilient. It is powerful to know that we all can evolve through life because of events (stressors) and resilience.

So, as we all begin to our journey each day, let’s try to stay focused on meeting the challenges of life by taking care of ourselves, our families and each other. Resilience can be the gift we all can share as we journey through life on this planet together. On behalf of everyone here at Opeeka, we wish you, your family and everyone you serve a happy, healthy Holiday Season, filled with Hope, Resiliency and Peace!

I personally invite you to participate in A Collaborative Discussion: Workforce Well-Being, Post-COVID Challenges & Opportunities This is a unique opportunity to share ideas around cultivating resilience as we return to our physical work environments and begin preparing for a new work year.