Friday, December 6, 2013

Workplace Bullying - What's the Impact?

What's The Impact???

  We have all seen them or know someone who has been or is bullied in the workplace. While some instances of bullying may take a more subtle form, the impact resulting from the abuse can have lasting effects. You may know someone who has been bullied at their job, it may be a friend, a spouse of even you.  While the bullying may be targeted at one specific individual, it's important to note that the fallout may reach others who are not directly involved. Let's look at an example of how bullying can impact others besides the victim.

   We can assume there is a single mother named Julie who is working as a waitress, trying to make ends meet on a limited salary.  This woman also depends on her tips to survive. Another waitress named Barbara is constantly jockeying for the best tables in the restaurant.  The manager assigns Julie some of the better tables for one shift.  Barbara gets annoyed and begins to give Julie dirty looks. The abuse escalates as Barbara feels Julie is getting preferential treatment and begins to talk down to her and complains to other workers about her coworker.  Julie hears through the grapevine that Barbara is trying to destroy her reputation and confronts Barbara.  Barbara, walks off saying “You're crazy lady!” and a few other choice words.  Julie feels that if she complains to the boss, she may get fired and says nothing. The abuse continues as the days and weeks move on.

    This is just one instance of abuse within the workplace.  So, how could the above scenario impact others?  Let's take the above example and move forward.  Julie begins to go home and is increasingly nervous about going back to the restaurant. She begins to dwell on the situation and stops helping her daughter do homework.  Her daughter begins to show signs of trouble in class and Julie is called from the school.  The school wonders why her daughter’s grades are suffering and if there is something they could do to help.  Julie, frustrated over the continued abuse at the restaurant quits her job and is now in a worse situation.  Her daughter's grades continue to plummet due to her mother's worry over financial issues.

    It's possible Barbara (the bully) may have been a bully to others and easily could have been a bully as a child.  As she progressed through life, she was never stopped or confronted and the behavior continued.  The end result is she is either not aware and or does not care how her actions affect others.  You may ask, so what's the cure to all of this?  The answer is relatively simple and consists of an intervention by others to confront the bully and find a way to get them to stop the abuse.  If you or someone you know is being bullied in the workplace, seek help to stop the abuse!  

If you need professional help, call me at (214) 546 4514 to schedule an appointment.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

De-Stress for the Holidays

Simple Ways to De-Stress

It contributes to illness. It’s the major factor in back pain. In fact, it makes ANY pain worse. And it’s not always caused by bad things-it can be related to celebrations, new jobs, holidays, new babies, and many other things we would never wish away.

Yes, I’m talking about stress, or as defined by Webster’s, “a strain or pressure on the body or mind.” It’s almost always presented as a reason people finally get professional help for life issues, and I diagnose and treat it daily.

The body and mind perceive any change as potential danger, and they react with heightened awareness, muscle tension, and increased cortisol production (cortisol is that nasty hormone that can increase blood pressure and blood sugar, and suppress immune response). It is essential to our overall health to learn to reduce stress responses in our body and mind. The following are some ways to do so:

Under constant stress, our breathing becomes shallow and strained. A simple exercise is to sit back in your chair for a minute or two, close your eyes, and just focus on your breath. Breathe in deeply through your nose to the count of four, using the ticking of a clock if you have one. Hold your breath for four counts, and then SLOWLY let the air out for six beats. This deliberate focus and attention will both calm and distract your mind temporarily.

Guided Imagery
This is an article all by itself, but basically guided imagery involves taking time to mentally “visit” your favorite relaxing memory-be it the beach, the woods, whatever brings a smile to your face- and mentally placing yourself there using all five senses. This also works with visualizing a beloved child’s face or your pet. A few minutes of visualization a day can actually increase immune response and is simple to do.

Tense/Relax (Progressive Muscle Relaxation)
Starting at the top of your head, tense and relax the muscles of your face, neck, hands, shoulders, etc, all the way to your toes. Hold the tension to a count of four, and then let it go, moving on to the next muscle group. This puts a focus on muscles that may have been tight without your awareness.

The benefit of scribbling down thoughts and feelings is well researched. You don’t need to watch spelling, grammar or anything else, as no one will see it. You don’t even have to “keep” a journal-just the act of writing in itself is beneficial, even if you shred it immediately after! Try completing these sentences to start:
It really bugged me today when….
If I could wave a magic wand I would change…
Then just keep writing without thought or censure.

Doing Nothing
A totally foreign concept to our goal oriented society, isn’t it? But sitting completely still in silence for a few minutes a day is a wonderful way to de-stress. As we let the mind daydream, rest and wander, we often find new solutions to our stressors. This concept is summarized by the beautiful quote: “Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself” (Zen saying).

If these simple measures don’t ease your stress symptoms, the next step is to seek help from a licensed therapist who can help you resolve underlying issues contributing to the problem. Best of all, these simple steps to de-stress can’t hurt!