Archive for the ‘Stress’ Category

Service of Gratitude: We are Blessed

Thursday, February 14th, 2019

We are overwhelmed by the support and kindness friends have extended to us in the last week. Phone, text messages, and cards–even a surprise cake and incredible wine– have warmed our hearts and stomachs. Thank you.

We have landed at an apartment house owned by Pan Am Equities that is unlike any other. I have owned co-ops, lived in a condo and in a range of rentals. None compare. This gives you an idea: Management put a rose outside every door for Valentine’s Day. There are over 500 apartments.

Angelo oversees the team. Yesterday is too late for him to grant a request. He’d ordered a new sink the moment he heard ours was cracked and the next business day, after I told him tiles needed caulking, Leroy was busy at the task. Leroy did a superlative job and offered to switch out knobs on kitchen cabinets.

We are surrounded by hundreds of packing boxes and a sinful amount of packing paper. Cheerfully porters Phillip, Leroy and Giovanni have lugged the empty ones to the basement. I did this bit in the condo we lived in before.

Doorman Fred knew our names the second time we walked through the door and greets us. Jerzy, the handyman, repaired a broken light fixture minutes after I reported it. A friend said goodbye to me in front of the doorman’s desk on Saturday saying “Please sit down once in a while and take it easy.” The young doorman on duty piped up, “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of her.”

Not only the building has been kind. I changed our pharmacies to one in the new neighborhood and seeing my frazzled state Claudette at CVS [neither of us had our Rx accounts there] pulled together our profiles and within a short while had all prescriptions in the branch’s computer.

My hairstylist, now also a friend, volunteered to work on a day she never does to fit my schedule, so I can look in the mirror. Andrew, our brilliant IT expert, also a friend, stopped by Home Depot to pick up some items to save me a trip. He knew he couldn’t work on our computer when he dropped off the crucial items. It is buried under hundreds of boxes and is slated for a room that is not ready to set up a thing.

We are blessed. Thank you all. I hope that when you’ve needed support you received it–even from unexpected places.

 

 

Service of Deep Breaths: What Do You Do To Relax?

Monday, November 7th, 2016

 Deep Breath

There are so many polls taken and reported these days that I can’t recall which the WOR 710 Radio morning show hosts Len Berman and Todd Schnitt were referring to when they said that only 2 percent of respondents had no opinion about how they felt about this year’s presidential election. The majority were “disgusted.” The bulk are also stressed about the election outcome tomorrow, which was a call-in topic of this morning’s show.

men playing golfSo no surprise when the conversation Friday led to how the hosts and news director Joe Bartlett relax. Bartlett and Berman said by playing golf. Schnitt said scuba diving, skiing and shooting at a range.

Depending on my mood, where I am or the time I have, for me it could be shopping for gifts, walking on a beach late in the afternoon, being absorbed in a great show or movie, reading chapters of a Calvin Trillin book–he’s hilarous–sitting quietly in a place of worship without a service going on or chatting with friends who make me laugh.

What takes your mind off your troubles at work, at home or concerns about the world’s conflicts?

 beach

Service of Quick and Easy Solutions for Depression: Intrusive Much?

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Photo: pano.com

Photo: pano.com

I appreciate companies that tackle a challenge in resourceful, efficient ways, but not at risk to safety, privacy and efficacy. According to Rachel Emma Silverman, “Companies are waking up to the costs of untreated mental illnesses like depression, which is linked to $44 billion a year in lost workplace productivity, according to the University of Michigan Depression Center. The center cites data suggesting that workers suffering from depression cost companies 27 lost work days a year.”

Her Wall Street Journal article “Tackling Workers’ Mental Health, One Text at a Time–Employers are turning to counseling services that can be accessed on smartphones,” inspired questions. We’re not talking about tips to treat a paper cut here. Plus, to receive what resembles a mental Band-aid an employee must be willing to give up privacy.

StressEmployee assistance programs [EAPs], where staff has access to free counseling on the phone, don’t seem to work, she reported. In contrast, Silverman wrote: “Some apps mine data about employees’ phone usage, or medical and pharmaceutical claims, to determine who might be in need of care. Others allow workers to text and video chat with therapists—in what are being called ‘telemental’ health services.”

The apps also collect data—telling employers how many look for help for stress, anxiety or depression–but according to Silverman, an employer doesn’t learn anything about individuals. However some in the industry worry that a lost or hacked phone puts an employee’s privacy at risk and others, who are happy to see something is being done, point out that the security of the privacy is unproven.

AnxietyAccording to Silverman, one app, Ginger.io, “alerts a health coach when a user hasn’t texted in a while or hasn’t left the house, potential signals of increased stress or anxiety.” She continued, it “gathers phone-activity data with users’ permission; the app does not monitor the content of messages or a phone’s specific location.” The human resources director at a company that offers both EAPs and mobile apps reports about the latter. It “feels like a more immediate solution for folks, because they are always on their phones anyway.”

Another corporation expects an ROI of over $2 million this year. Last year it spent $11.5 million on “behavioral health treatments” for its US employees wrote Silverman. It has signed them up at Castlight Health Inc. that “computes users’ health and pharmaceutical claims, as well as their search history within the app, to identify who might be at risk for a mental health condition and direct them to appropriate care.” Silverman described that the smartphone screen of staffers with something like chronic pain– associated with depression and anxiety–might be “Feeling overwhelmed?” A click leads to a list of questions about mood, treatment suggestions and an online therapy program.

Mental health mavens add, “While treatment by text is convenient, some users may still need to supplement it with in-office visits to a therapist.”

I’m all for mobile apps that share weather, sports scores, the shortest driving distance between here and there, movie reviews and the time to expect the next First Avenue bus and I don’t care if the world knows I’ve accessed them. With technology as fine tuned as it is, I can’t believe that the employer won’t know if someone seeks out help which might prevent them from getting a promotion.

  • And if an app determines someone has stayed at home for two days, might the reason not be the flu or a sick child–rather than an indication that you are paralyzed by depression?
  • Haven’t you researched a disease or condition a friend or relative mentions? How would the app know it’s not about you?
  • Are corporations blaming stress and anxiety on staff, who must be cured, instead of fixing the management style, unrealistic expectations or work conditions that may have caused much of the employee anxiety and blues in such numbers?
Photo: tinybuddah.com

Photo: tinybuddah.com

Service of Limiting Communications

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

no emails

The French got the recent headlines but German companies such as Volkswagen already had email policies in place to curb the enthusiasm of people in management who send emails at all hours and expect employees to respond.

The alert employee who gets the worm–i.e. the promotion–must be on the job at dawn, at night and on weekends with eyes riveted on smartphone screens should a business-related email pop up. A friend’s former boss has a sleeping disorder which kept him up at night. My friend had a hard time fitting life in after 8 pm or 9 pm, when he left work, as there was no after work: He was expected to respond with charts, figures and explanations into the night.

early bird gets wormWrote Adam Auriemma and David Gauthier-Villars in “French Pact Could Give Workers an Email Break” in The Wall Street Journal:  “The French pact between companies and workers, settled last week and awaiting government approval, amounts to a declaration of principle more than law. It gives certain technology-sector workers the right to stop using work tools such as email and smartphones after logging France’s state-mandated maximum 13-hour day.”

What had Volkswagen done in 2011? It cut off email to 3,500 non managers at headquarters in Germany between 6:15 pm and 7 am. The authors reported Pew Research findings that email frenzies “start at the top,” as they increase with salaries, and they quote others who note the obvious: For the behavior to stop, the brakes must also come from the top. They wrote: “But as long as promotions go to the workers willing to do company bidding at any hour, policies intended to limit the workday are unlikely to matter, managers and scholars say.”

What do you think of email curbing policies? Are they realistic in a world where bosses and clients demand and expect immediate attention? Do you know of managers who overtax and burn out employees by expecting their full attention and immediate response 24/7? Are you one of those?

 Urgent stamp

Service of Stress II

Monday, January 27th, 2014

 

office elevator with people

In just one elevator ride from the 11th to the ground floor in my office building last Thursday I witnessed two examples of extreme stress. I fear these scenes are replicated around the country.

When I entered the elevator a young woman was on her phone saying, “I thought you were children waiting for pickuppicking up the children. I’m too far away to get them. I told you. What? What? Oh no,” and she snapped off the connection. I first noticed her because she was immaculately dressed and coiffed.

After I left the building I again heard her as she spoke, this time fighting tears. She was behind me. “We’d discussed this,” she said. “I, at least, am trying to look for a job. You are busy doing other things. Why did you call me back?”

I’ll never know the outcome—whether someone picked up the children on time; whether she’ll get the job she hoped for; whether the person she was speaking with would act more responsibly in future so as to lighten her load and reduce her sress.

The other instance began a few floors down from 11 when a man entered wearing nothing but a sweater. It was 20 degrees up from 9 in the morning but still not sweater weather. I said, “Guess you’re running out for a snack,” and he replied, “No, for a smoke.” 

being yelled at workI told him I’m nobody to warn him about smoking, as I’m an ex-smoker, but….He said in a low voice, “I gave up smoking for 10 years. I just started again.” My response, “I could start again—by the second one I’d be hooked. But it’s so expensive.” He said, “It’s the office—those lawyers. They yell at me all day, ‘Do this; Get that—now!’” I said “You can’t let them kill you.”

We were on the ground floor.

The economy is doing well for some–I know plenty of people who are thriving–but obviously the news still isn’t as bright for others. These two people looked earnest and serious. I wish I could help them. Have you noticed such palpable, dignified stress around you?

stress

 

Service of Stress

Monday, November 7th, 2011

stormhalloween2011-010-small3

As a Manhattanite born and bred I couldn’t help hearing the myth about how nasty, brusque and rude we all are and how pleasant, cordial, and kind country people are. So I’ve always bent over backwards to disprove the former, and I’m ready with an “Aha!” when I find instances that invalidate the latter.

Last weekend’s storm gave me fodder for some “Ahas!” [I took most of the photos in today’s post at our house last Sunday morning, after the storm. The poor old tree at the top belongs to a neighbor.]

Huge limbs and entire trees littered roads after an early, heavy, deep Saturday snow did its damage, lending credence to the emergency status declared for Dutchess County. [In Connecticut, there are still 50 thousand homes in the dark over a week later.]

Only one lane of a two-lane main road was open as crews hadn’t yet had time to clear the debris, so there were lines of cars on either side waiting a turn to pass.

I stopped to let the other lane of traffic go by as the lane I was on had gone through for quite some time. A car behind me swept by and dashed through the tight corridor, acting nothing like a country gentleperson, more like a hopped up brat.

Once the opposite lane emptied out, I started to negotiate the tight open spot when from over the hill came an aggressive jerk who accelerated as he saw the situation, missing me by a hair. I just had time to back up and out of his way.

stormhalloween2011-004smallMonday morning we already knew that we would be in busses for the first lap of the trip to the city. Temperature was 23 degrees and there was ice all over the parking lot. Two busses with drivers were there but they let us stand in the cold. When they finally opened their doors, we asked to put our suitcases in the busses’ belly. “Can’t unlock it,” was the sour response, forcing us to struggle up narrow stairs and the aisle lugging our things in a vehicle designed to hold people and briefcases.

As three giant busses arrived at the station where we normally change trains, a train pulled out of the station. Once the passengers from four stations had hung out on more ice on the open platform for 15 minutes, I meandered over to a stationmaster I’d just noticed.

stormhalloween2011-006smallHe was brave to be out there with us and I soon learned we were finally in good hands. I asked him when our train was coming, figuring it had been delayed. He mentioned a time that was an hour away. I then asked if the train that pulled out just as the “connecting” busses arrived at the station was the train to NYC. Answer: “I apologize.” He did help out best he could by getting a train to the station 20 minutes early so we could be warm and dry while we waited for departure.

There were other similar smart thinking people in the aftermath. On Sunday morning we had a welcome breakfast at the diner in town. The diner had no electricity so there was neither heat nor light but a generator worked a stove. Eggs on paper plates and coffee in paper cups tasted delicious. Adjacent towns had no such luxuries. In one, early Monday, national chains were locked tight: Not a drop of joe to be had.

City people have enormous stresses year ’round simply to get to work on overcrowded subways and busses in rush hour. Country people felt stresses last weekend. Many of us had barely gotten over the costly stretches of no electricity during Hurricane Irene. Does nastiness and recklessness happen as a result of stress,  poor upbringing or what?

stormhalloween2011-005small1

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