Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A cup of black tea really works wonders
Stress for Success
August 26, 2008

According to Psychology Today (October 2007) caffeinated tea is good for your health, because of the medicinal properties of flavonoids. Here’s how:
§ Green tea inhibits inflammation, bone erosion, and joint damage from rheumatoid arthritis. Its “EGCG” combats free-radical cell damage, activates a protein that protects healthy cells so is believed to fight cancer. EGCGs’ powerful anti-inflammatory properties may also treat inflammatory bowel disease. Green tea may also protect men’s livers from alcohol’s damaging effects. Finally, EGCG mitigates sunburn reaction, therefore protects against skin cancer.
§ Black tea seems to increase bone mineral density and reduce the risk of many cancers by acting as a Cox-2 inhibitor to suppress cancer cells. If you can drink five cups a day it also lowers total cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol. Black tea helps lower blood pressure and helps you recover from stressful events by reducing cortisol levels and diminishing blood platelet activation.
§ Drink both green and black tea: Catechins found in both teas, although more concentrated in green tea, protect against build-up of amyloid deposits implicated in Alzheimer’s and other age-related neurodegenerative diseases. Both also improve glucose tolerance in those with borderline diabetes. Because they’re rich in fluoride they protect against cavities even better than fluoride itself while strengthening teeth. Added to chewing gum, green tea extract protects gum tissue and stimulates salivary glands. Catechins also boost fat metabolism and calorie outlay, therefore are good for weight control.

Weight gain: Did you hear about Harvard Medical School and the University of California, San Diego’s study that found obesity is contagious? 12,000 people were followed for more than 30 years. Researchers found that the chance of becoming obese was greatly increased if siblings or a spouse gained weight. Scientists theorized that people may become more accepting of fat if someone they respect gains weight. To fight the battle of the bulge, don’t allow others’ weight to determine yours.

Get enough sleep: research from Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley, kept adult volunteers awake for about 35 hours. They found through MRI scans that sleep deprivation impairs the rational prefrontal cortex’s control over the amygdala, the brain’s emotional center. Subjects became moody, understandably fatigued and had greater difficulty making logical decisions.

Breathe for relaxation (from Yoga instructor Shakta Kaur):
§ Blow your nose.
§ Sit in a comfortable, cross-legged position and close your eyes. Focus on the point between your eyebrows. Rest your left hand on your left knee.
§ Raise your right hand to your face with the palm facing left and pointing straight up.
§ Close your right nostril by pressing gently with your thumb. Inhale a long, deep breath through the left nostril and hold comfortably for 10 to 30 seconds.
§ Exhale through the left nostril and relax.
§ Do this for three minutes.

Always look for ways to improve your health and life. There are thousands of helpful tidbits of information around. All you have to do is look for and try the ones that are pertinent to you.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., of InterAction Associates, is a trainer and a Stress Coach. E-mail her at www.jackieferguson.com with your questions or for information about her workshops on this and other topics and to invite her to speak to your organization.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Try natural healing methods next time you reach for pill
Stress for Success
August 19, 20008

Americans are notorious for getting physicians to prescribe medications for virtually anything that ails them. Our pill-popping culture looks for the quick fix rather than natural healing.

I’ve consulted with nutritionist Dr. Ava Fluty, ND, Med., CNHP and Yoga therapist and RN Debbie Padnuk for advice on some natural approaches to common physical problems.

Dr. Fluty believes that digestion plays a major role in disease. When yours doesn’t function well you may want pills for indigestion, acid reflux or constipation. But by improving your digestion these disorders can resolve themselves.

The most important key to digestion is enzymes, which are extremely sensitive to heat. Cooking food at above 188 degrees destroys most of them. To get the benefits of food enzymes you must eat more raw foods. Avocados, papayas, pineapples, bananas, and mangos are all high in enzymes. Brussel sprouts are the richest source. Based on this, I’ve switched from my oat bran and blueberry muffins to a fruit smoothie for breakfast.
Someone with digestive problems may also experience constipation (low fiber and low water) and usually high cholesterol. Dr. Fluty recommends drinking more water, eating more fiber, and getting more exercise. If you consume fiber pills instead of eating vegetables she suggests that you consider the expense. You need 20 to 35 grams of fiber daily and fiber pills don’t contain much so you end up taking several, which is costly. Instead eat more:
§ Broccoli (one medium spear equals 5 grams of fiber)
§ Spinach (three cups equals 10 grams of fiber)
§ Asparagus, beans, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, garlic, kale, okra, and whole grains
§ Foods high in pectin like apples, carrots, beets, bananas, cabbage and citrus fruits

Even though recent studies have downplayed drinking eight glasses of water daily, if you’re regularly constipated you almost certainly need more water. Instead of taking a stool softener, drink a couple of glasses of water around the time you normally have a bowel movement for a better and natural way to “get you moving.”

Now let’s consider advice from Debbie Padnuk about headaches, shoulder and neck pain, and constipation.

If you have headaches or neck and shoulder pain, focus on how you breathe. Soft belly breathing, slow and unforced breathing focusing on extending your belly as you inhale and contracting it as you exhale, helps use the muscles intended for breathing more efficiently and avoids overusing the neck and shoulder muscles that increase tension. Soft belly breathing is also useful for digestive health by increasing blood flow and energy to abdominal organs.

To relieve constipation try the yoga “wind-relieving pose!” Lie on the floor with one leg extended, and the other knee in toward your chest. Hold and take four to five slow, deep breaths. Repeat on the other side. This is also great for relief of tightness in the lower back.

Effective natural healing methods are less expensive and have no side effects. Also importantly, they increase personal control, which automatically lowers general stress; something that pill-popping simply can’t do.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., of InterAction Associates, is a trainer and a Stress Coach. E-mail her at www.jackieferguson.com with your questions or for information about her workshops on this and other topics and to invite her to speak to your organization.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Assert yourself when faced with harassment by co-worker
Stress for Success
August 12, 2008

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten,” is a great quote from the book “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” by Dr. Susan Jeffers.

For example, if you’re repeatedly on the receiving end of harassment or bullying and do nothing to stop it, you’ll get more of it. If you want it to cease you must change your reaction by asserting yourself with your harasser or reporting the behavior to your supervisor.

Another great quote is, “I train people how to treat me.” By doing nothing about the inappropriate behavior you’re actually encouraging it. Your passive reaction makes you complicit while you train the other person to harass you.

Nobody needs to tolerate abuse in the workplace today. There are laws to protect you in not only reporting harassment but also to protect you from retaliation as a result. (Although, you’ve heard of whistle blowers who are supposed to be protected from reprisal and aren’t.)

Retaliation is adverse treatment that occurs because someone opposes unlawful workplace harassment. (Protection from bullying, however, isn’t covered by anti-harassment law.) Examples include being assigned to a lesser position or less desirable work, not invited to meetings or not included in discussions pertinent to your job responsibilities.

Even though filing a harassment complaint is protected by law and you should follow your organization’s policy, consider first addressing your harasser. This isn’t always advisable but is generally less stressful than going through the complaint process. Learn to stand up to the harasser and nip the objectionable behavior in the bud. Don’t put up with it time and again.

Follow these assertive rules to make confronting the harasser more successful:
When speaking to the harasser, speak for yourself only. Avoid saying, “We’re all tired of your behavior.” Assertively confront the person on what she specifically did to you personally.
Use preventive assertion: speak to the harasser when no problems are occurring right now. Say something to prevent her from repeating her offensive behavior.
Use an “understanding assertion.” This gives the harasser the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he honestly doesn’t know that his behavior is offensive. To help minimize his defensiveness before describing his offensive behavior begin with:
“You may be unaware that …” Or,
“I’m sure you mean no harm, but …”
To request that he stop the offensive behavior, use the “behavior - feeling - request” formula.
o “When you call me ‘babe’ (behavior), I feel angry (feeling). Please don’t do that (request).”
o “When you tell dirty jokes (behavior), I feel uncomfortable (feeling). Stop doing this (request).”

It’s also very import to document everything that happens in case you decide to file a complaint later. Be specific about:
What was said/done by whom toward whom?
When did it happen?
What was your response?
Who else witnessed each event?

Train others to treat you with respect and give yourself greater control in these stressful and abusive situations.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., of InterAction Associates, is a trainer and a Stress Coach. E-mail her at www.jackieferguson.com with your questions or for information about her workshops on this and other topics and to invite her to speak to your organization.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Sexual harassment and bullying cause stress in the workplace
Stress for Success
August 5, 2008

If you’re over 50, you can remember when sexual harassment wasn’t even a term. Workplace “shenanigans” ran the gamut from funny to felonious. Once made illegal through Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 confusion about what constituted sexual harassment reigned partly because women and men perceive “joking” so differently causing distress for some.

For example, a male colleague gained a noticeable amount of weight and his co-workers teased him by saying, “Hey buddy how about another cheeseburger?” Women in the same circumstance might say to their female coworker, “You look great,” while talking about her weight gain behind her back.

This example doesn’t judge right or wrong. It just spotlights a gender difference. And when teasing takes on a sexual note, watch out!

There’s still confusion about what’s off limits in today’s workplace. But, as I have covered in past weeks, once employees understand what the law says it becomes much easier to discern if their own behavior crosses that shifting line.

Sexual harassment means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when it explicitly or implicitly affects:
§ An individual’s employment including raises, promotions, reprimands, etc.
§ Unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance
§ Creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment

The law applies to employers with 15 or more employees.

Consider that:
§ The target and harasser can be male or female and don’t have to be of the opposite sex.
§ The harasser can be the target’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a coworker, the employer’s agent, or a non-employee. When the harasser has authority over the target it’s called “quid pro quo” sexual harassment and the law takes it more seriously. When the harasser doesn’t have greater authority it’s considered “hostile work environment” sexual harassment.
§ The victim doesn’t have to be the person actually being harassed but could be anyone, an observer, offended by the conduct.
§ The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.

Sexual harassment is a crime that’s about power and control. So it makes sense that as women gain greater professional authority complaints against them will increase. In 2007, a record number, nearly 16% of documented cases, were filed by men, a number that has almost doubled in a decade.

Workplace bullying, such as ostracizing coworkers, spreading gossip, and insulting people about their job performance or private life, is even more stressful and prevalent than sexual harassment and not covered by anti-harassment laws. Targets of bullying feel angrier, more stressed, and are more likely to quit their job. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), 37% of US employees have been bullied at work verses eight to 10% who’ve been sexually harassed. Psychologist Gary Namie, director of WBI, thinks the lack of legal consequences is one reason. “Bullying situations are (also) minimized as mere personality conflicts,” Namie adds.

Next week we’ll look at how you can reduce your stress by taking control when you’re the target of harassment or bullying.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., of InterAction Associates, is a trainer and a Stress Coach. E-mail her at www.jackieferguson.com with your questions or for information about her workshops on this and other topics and to invite her to speak to your organization.