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"Perfect" New Year's Resolutions
last updated:
Wed, 1/05/2011 3:50 PM

A New Year: The “Perfect” Time to Consider Too Much of a Good Thing

Most of us strive to do our best in our work and personal lives. We set goals and are pleased when we reach those goals. Sometimes we don’t reach them, and we’re okay with that too. Perfectionists, however, often set unrealistic or unreachable goals then become depressed or frustrated when things don’t proceed “perfectly.”

Give yourself and those around you a break! Accept that we all have limitations and strengths, then begin to change your perspective.  Try some of these techniques to tame those tendencies:

Set realistic goals. By setting attainable goals, ones which have a good chance of being met, you can learn to celebrate your successes instead of cataloging your mistakes.

Avoid “all or nothing” thinking. The sun will rise tomorrow if you’re not perfect. Completing two of the three things on your to-do list is still progress toward your goal.

Be aware of the difference between high standards and perfectionism. Concentrate on personal success instead of avoiding failure.  You may be surprised by the opportunities that arise when seen from a new vantage point.

Take notice of ways in which your perfectionist, critical attitude affects those around you. Others may feel unappreciated for their efforts or feel unable to meet your expectations.

Accept your mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. This is what makes you part of the human race. Others may see you as more approachable and likable when viewed as human. Plus, the added bonus for you is a reduction of anxiety.

Think positively. Change your thoughts from critical to reasonable ones. Get rid of your “ANTS” (automatic negative thoughts) by changing them into affirmations. Give yourself credit for what goes well in a less than perfect world.

The Memphis EAP team wishes you a healthy and positive New Year. As always, we are here to help you work towards your goal of avoiding the pitfalls of perfectionism or any other New Year’s resolution.

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Author: Colleen Bonadio, LPC, CEAP is a Licensed Professional Counselor and has been in the field of behavioral health at Methodist Healthcare for over 20 years. She has been with the Methodist Healthcare EAP as a counselor since 1997 and received her Masters in Counseling from the University of Memphis.

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Grown Up Gratitude
last updated:
Thu, 11/11/2010 9:22 AM

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. 

- G.K. Chesterton

Happy Thanksgiving! What are you most thankful for today: your family, your health, your faith, your right to vote, your job? Last month a billion people across the globe were filled with gratitude and joy as we watched 33 men emerge from nearly a half mile underground (after enduring 69 days of dark separation) to the light and comfort of their loved ones! Can you imagine how happy they were to see their families, to be able to walk on the earth, to breathe fresh air...so many ordinary activities we often take for granted?

Research shows that the more a person is inclined to gratitude, the less likely he or she is to be depressed, anxious, lonely or jealous of others. You simply cannot be grateful and fearful at the same time.

There are at least three ways to grow in gratitude, the quickest way to grow in happiness:

  • notice the people and events in your daily life that cause you to be thankful
  • express your gratitude to everyone who makes a positive difference
  • notice the many ways you also give to others

When you count your blessings—from seeing a beautiful sunset, to having eyes that can see—your gratitude and joy will increase.

Having a thankful attitude can help you cope with stress and loss, as well as help you build stronger bonds with others. EAP counselors can help you find practical ways to increase your positive relationships with others and learn more about your own unique gifts and abilities. Call today to make an appointment. You will be on your way to truly celebrate the wonderful holiday called Thanksgiving.

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, 'thank you,' that would suffice. 

- Meister Eckhart

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Susan Erdman, LCSW, CEAP, is an EAP counselor for Methodist Employee Assistance Program. All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and not of their employer. Information provided here is for medical education only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. Call 888.777.5959 for more information.

A Season of Permanence & Change
last updated:
Mon, 10/04/2010 10:40 AM

"October is a symphony of permanence and change."

—Bonaro W. Overstreet, author, poet, psychologist

This is my favorite quote about October and the fall season! What a true representation of the world around us and the world within us.

Some examples of permanence and change during the fall season include:

  • School is well underway. Students of all ages understand the routine as they are traveling a road of possibilities.
  • We hear the familiar sounds of cheering from countless soccer and football fans as they renew their love of the game while hoping their favorite team makes the play-offs.
  • The weather begins its’ slow inevitable move towards winter while we enjoy the cooler nights and colorful foliage.
  • TV watchers settle down with anticipation to enjoy their familiar shows with new episodes.

This tends to be the time of year when people take inventory of their personal and professional lives. What is going well, what needs to change, what can be better? We refocus our energies in order to finish the year strong.

The Methodist Healthcare EAP along with the dedicated Methodist Healthcare Web Services team have brought permanence and change to the Methodist EAP Web site. There is great content for employees and employers as well as valuable resources for you and your family.

We invite you to explore the new Web site and see the same EAP you have come to rely upon and the wonderful additions that will serve you more effectively in the future. Let us know what you think in the comments section. We'd love to hear your feedback!

It turns out that the Methodist EAP also has a story to tell. We are in this together—with our clients, our businesses, our families and our community. Thank you for being such an important part of our story of permanence and change.

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Donna Tosches, is the Director of the Methodist Healthcare EAP in Memphis, Tenn. To contact Donna or another EAP counselor, call 901.683.5658 or 800.880.5658. All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and not of their employer. Information provided here is for medical education only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice.

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Effective Communication
last updated:
Tue, 9/07/2010 1:20 PM

“Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of a witness.” Margaret Miller

Have you been in settings when one person dominates the conversation? How about on a date with a person who enjoys talking about their interests but never asks about yours? Have you presented in front of a group of people when it seems their eyes have glazed over? These scenarios all have one thing in common – someone is talking and someone isn’t listening. It has been said that there is all the difference in the world between having something to say and having to say something.

The goal of effective communication is two fold – to clearly convey your message and to receive information from others with as little distortion as possible. Tuning in to what you and others are thinking, feeling and saying takes effort. This process can be fraught with miscommunication and confusion. Communication is only successful when both the sender and the receiver understand the same information from the communicated message.

There are several steps to maximize the likelihood that your message comes across as intended. Understand the audience – whether it is your spouse, child or department – it is helpful to know their diverse backgrounds, attitudes and expectations. For example, your spouse may have given you numerous clues that they prefer concise information. They do not want the back story – just the conclusion. It does no good to continue to communicate the whole story because they stopped listening by the time you reached the third sentence!

  • Decide what method is best to convey the message. It can be a memo, an email, face to face meeting, presentation, hand-written note or a private chat on facebook. Knowing your audience and the complexity of the message will help determine the method.
  • Welcome and seek verbal and non-verbal feedback. This will help to understand if the message was heard as intended as well as give opportunity for back and forth, productive conversation.

You can increase your communication skills in your personal or professional life, call the Methodist Healthcare Employee Assistance Program in Memphis, Tennessee and make an appointment today.

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Donna Tosches, is the Director of the Methodist Healthcare EAP. To contact Donna or another EAP counselor, call 901.683.5658 or 800.880.5658. All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and not of their employer. Information provided here is for medical education only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice.

Remaining Resilient During Change
last updated:
Tue, 8/03/2010 10:41 AM

Change in our personal and professional lives can take its toll. There are many events that can increase stress in our lives; even positive events such as marriage, the birth of a child, starting a new job, and having a child leave home. It’s not uncommon for people to become anxious during these times, but if we learn how to build our resilience we can minimize the negative physical and emotional effects. A diversified approach to increasing resilience uses different strategies

Before

  • Develop a supportive network of family and friends
  • Practice relaxation techniques regularly
  • Give yourself permission to have fun and be creative
  • Take care of yourself with proper nutrition, regular exercise and adequate rest
  • Acknowledge the fact that stress is a normal part of life

During

  • Challenge stress-inducing beliefs
  • Stop before your thoughts escalate into worst case scenarios
  • Identify irrational thoughts, dispute them and reflect objectively on the cause of the stress
  • Establish a plan of action
  • Use positive self-talk

After

  • Continue to take good care of you
  • Congratulate yourself for being resilient

We’ve all heard the phrase, “the only thing constant is change,” so start preparing today. You can talk to a counselor about increasing your resilience or any other life challenge, by calling the Methodist Healthcare Employee Assistance Program in Memphis, Tennessee.

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Karole Blake-Shorter, LCSW is a counselor at the Methodist Healthcare Employee Assistance Program. To contact Karole or another EAP counselor, call 901.683.5658 or 800.880.5658. All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and not of their employer. Information provided here is for medical education only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice.

Handling and Expressing Anger
last updated:
Tue, 7/06/2010 10:23 AM

Anger is an emotion that we experience in a variety of situations and sometimes when we least expect it. Learning how to express anger appropriately starts in childhood. However, we have many opportunities along the journey of life to learn how to handle anger.

The Fence
author unknown

There was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, to hammer a nail in the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. As each day went by, the number began to gradually dwindle down. He discovered that it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like these scars.”

What is said in seconds can take years to heal from. Protect your relationships by using a kinder language such as “I” talk. (“I wish you wouldn’t do that.”) Avoid name calling and put downs. Apologize sincerely if you do make communication blunders. Verbal wounds will heal over time if new behavior and language patterns are developed and practiced. Never quit trying to treat others better.

If you have difficulty managing your anger, please consider contacting the Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare Employee Assistance Program at 901.683.5658 or 800.880.5658.

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Brian Long is a Liscensed Professional Counselor with the Methodist Employee Assistance Program. All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and not of their employer. Information provided here is for medical education only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. Counselors are available to you at 901.683.5658.

EAP: A Rest Stop for Life's Journey
last updated:
Mon, 6/07/2010 3:28 PM

Recently, I read a story from African folklore about a caravan of traders traveling on foot through Africa. After several days, their African assistants stopped and took a break. When the traders asked why, the Africans explained, “We have been traveling so long and so
fast that we need to wait for our souls to catch up with our bodies.”

In this fast-paced world we live in, there are times when we all feel mentally, physically and spiritually exhausted. We may have lost our
sense of balance in our work and personal lives. At these times, we need to stop and allow our bodies and souls time to repair.
According to the World Health Organization, “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being.” When any one of
these components is out of balance, we are at risk for emotional conflict, burnout and disease.

Studies show that there is a relationship between the mind and emotions to a person’s overall state of health. Dr. Candace Pert’s research draws a direct correlation between the immune system and the health of body/mind/spirit. Talking to an EAP professional is an opportunity to experience a rest stop in life’s stressful journey. It is a place to refresh your soul, gain new awareness about your overall
health, rediscover your strengths, and create a plan of positive action for your life.

If you have been pushing too hard, moving too fast or traveling life’s journey too long without taking a break, call the Employee Assistance Program and make an appointment today. It could change your health.

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Myra Bennett is a Licensed Clinical Pastoral Therapist, a Board Certified Chaplain, and a Certified Employee Assistance Professional. All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and not of their employer. Information provided here is for medical education only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. Counselors are available to you at 901.683.5658 or 800.880.5658.

Good Grief Support - How Can I Help?
last updated:
Thu, 5/20/2010 12:47 PM

Most of us have experienced personal loss, but when we are the comforters instead of the mourners, we may be uncertain how to help. We worry that we will say or do the wrong thing. But, what can we do to help a grieving friend?

Show your support. Sending cards, making food and honoring the loved one with donations to their favorite charity are all ways to let the bereaved know you care.

Be available. Allow the mourner to talk—listen 80% of the time; talk 20% of the time.

Avoid clichés. Although well intentioned, phrases such as “I know how you feel” or “it was her time” negate the person’s strong feelings and may make the bereaved feel you do not care enough to hear his/her true feelings.

Realize that the grief process takes time. After the initial activity in the first few weeks following a death, the mourner often faces a tremendous void. This is an especially good time to be there for the bereaved as he/she faces the reality of the loss and increased feelings of loneliness.

Do not underestimate the value of presence. Sometimes we under-value the comfort of just “being”with a person who is mourning. Being comfortable with shared silence, offering a hug or just stopping for a cup of coffee shows that we care about them in the midst of their sadness.

Suggest professional help. There are signals that the bereaved may need more than time. Depression, persistent anxiety, substance abuse or deteriorating physical health may be signs that professional help is needed. The Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare Employee Assistance Program is the right place to call to find help. Your EAP counselors can help the greiving person find the right care. We are available to you at 901.683.5658.

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Colleen Bonadio, LPC, CEAP is a Liscensed Professional Counselor with the Methodist Employee Assistance Program. All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and not of their employer. Information provided here is for medical education only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. Counselors are available to you at 901.683.5658.

Marriage: For Better AND Worse
last updated:
Fri, 4/30/2010 9:03 AM

You may have heard the old joke: Marriage is a three ring circus - engagement ring, wedding ring and suffering.

Based on my latest internet search, let me share some numbers on marriage and divorce:

  • The probability that a man will be married by age 40 is 80%; for a woman, it is 86%.
  • The chance that a first marriage will end in divorce is 45-50%.
  • Of those first marriages ending in divorce, the probability of re-marriage is 75%.
  • Of those who re-marry the probability of another divorce is even higher (67-74%)!

My conclusion: We are apparently "wired" for marriage but our "wiring" is faulty!

As an employee assistance program counselor, this reality is evident in my day-to-day practice. Individuals and couple’s present in various stages of enchantment and disenchantment- the unmarried recovering from the latest disappointment, the married seeking first aid--but all mystified by the absence of that love story that we carry in our heads! Competent in our challenging jobs and capable of multi-tasking with our latest electronic devices, we frequently feel like we’re suffering from a learning disorder when it comes to our love lives.

Counseling is a way to clarify thoughts and feelings regarding the complicated marital relationship. A licensed EAP counselor, as a neutral party, can help you better understand the patterns and dynamics in your marriage, so that once again your marriage can be "for better."

Please give Methodist Employee Assistance Program a call for easily accessible, no cost, confidential assistance.

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Wayne Hyatt has worked for Methodist LeBonheur since 1997 and as a behavioral health clinician, manager and consultant in the Memphis area for over 25 years. All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and not of their employer. Information provided here is for medical education only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. For more information about how the Methodist Employee Assistance Program can help you, call us at 901.683.5658 or 800.880.5658.

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Methodist Healthcare is an integrated health care delivery system, dedicated to the art of healing through our faith-based commitment to minister to the whole person. 1211 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38104 • (901) 516-7000

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