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Posts tagged ‘mental-health’

Open Your Eyes … Or, Don’t: It’s Your Choice

First, You Must Decide to Wake Up!

Because we are human, we do not always do what our mothers taught us to do. We make mistakes. We slip. Sometimes we feel guilty, sad and remorseful. This is followed by a strong commitment to change; to get back on the right path, to do all those things that mom, our first-grade teacher, Captain Kangaroo, Bert & Ernie, Mr. Rogers and Oprah told us to do. Unfortunately, just like when on a bike path — once we slip off we tend to make deeper and deeper grooves in the soft grass and mud. If we stay too long the grooves just get deeper until we find ourselves in someone else’s tracks; someone who slipped off the path long before we came along. Without fast action, we quickly adapt to this new trail. It seems so much easier to continue along in the mud. The problem is that we know we are in the mud and that we would be much safer if we could break through the rut and get back on the stable road. However, when we try to leave the sloppy and increasingly dangerous trail we are intimidated by the bumps as we smack up against the groove’s edge. So, we settle back into the rut (we’ll try again, later). We lack the courage, strength or will to risk the initial jar so we stay where we are.

Such is life both on and off a bike path. The difference between life and a bike path is that, on the life path, there are plenty of people happy and eager to tell you what’s good for you — what you need to do to live a healthy, happy, and prosperous life — to get back on the right path. Parents, teachers, priests, rabbis, monks, mullahs, your Aunt Betty, Dr. Phil and the next-door-neighbor stand ready to give (push) advice your way. Mostly, this advice is well intentioned, but it is often general in scope with little or no personal relevance.

Any newsstand magazine, professional website or internet blog can give you a broad wellness formula made up of good sense tips (mom told you these things a long time ago) like eat healthy foods, get plenty of sleep, stay away from tobacco, drink alcohol moderately or not at all, exercise regularly, spend time with family and friends, read a terrific book, see your doctor and dentist annually, wear your seat belt, believe in a higher power and stay away from a steady diet of cable news.

The Science of Life and the Art of Living

The science of life is general and objective. Evidence indicates that, foregoing defective genes and catastrophic events, a life accented by a healthy blend of proper nutrition, physical activity, rest & recovery, intellectual stimulation, emotional support, spiritual engagement and social interaction tends to be long and relatively free from illness and disability.

Science can show you how to build a strong skeleton, but YOU have to lay down the muscle and tease out the connective tissue that makes your unique system work, for you.

What do YOU want?

There are countless “How To…” books outlining the objective science of life complete with full-color templates. But, only YOU can explore, discover, design and nurture the unique, subjective, deeply personal art of living your life.

So, again, the questions are: What do YOU want? Where do YOU want to go? What predictably triggers and sustains those moments when you feel truly happy and satisfied with the life you’re living? Is it yoga or deep breathing exercises? How about “The Secret,” The Bible, The Koran, The Torah, or “The Four Noble Truths?” Is it truly better in the Bahamas … and does it simply take a trip to Jamaica to feel alright?

Perhaps, for you, wellbeing — life satisfaction — improves when you read a good book, spend time with your kids, go the movies, buy gifts for your grandchildren, drink a cold beer on a hot summer day, watch television or work till dawn on a project that comes to life and tickles you each time you give it your undivided attention? For me, every few years, it’s a quiet far-far-away mountaintop, exhausted, sleeping alone in a tent surrounded by strangers who quickly become forever-memory friends. For my wife, it was once the thrill of climbing out of a perfectly good airplane, hanging from the wing strut, letting go, and floating through the sky (YIKES!).

How about you? Of course, you WANT to increase and sustain your life satisfaction, but first you must WAKE UP! You must become AWARE and take inventory of what brings meaning to your life, today. You must open all of your senses and pay attention.

The Health and Wellness Industry FAQ: Vendors – How Do You Sort Out the Good, Bad and Truly Ugly?

Wellness Exists at the intersection of Contentment and Aspiration.

To live  there, You Must First Choose to Move Out of the Village of Someday…

 NOTE :

Over the years I’ve been asked a number of questions about the health and wellness industry. This is question #7 of the top 10 most frequently asked questions. The responses are, of course, neither right nor wrong. They are simply my impressions from over 35 years of field experience.

QUESTION #7: 

“We are bombarded with individuals and organizations selling wellness (health promotion, disease prevention and disease management) products and services.  How do you sort out the good, bad and truly ugly?”

RESPONSE: 

Thirty years ago, there were only a handful of quality programs available through national vendors. Choice was not that difficult. Today, with the growth of the Internet and the flood of scientific data, there are hundreds of vendors anxious to sell you their services.

Caution: A “Desk Drawer” wellness initiative will burn out your staff and simply will not work (tweak…maybe…but not transform). Avoid a scattergun or one-off approach. Success requires a dedicated internal project manager working with an experienced and field-tested 360 degree vendor.

Questions to ask include:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • Who are the individuals behind the products?
  • Do you have an advisory board? If so, who are the members?
  • Can you prove net health care and/or productivity cost reductions while improving population health?
  • Any accreditations and/or awards?
  • Are you open to risk sharing or pay-for-performance contract provisions?
  • What are the delivery options?
  • What outcome analytics are in place to track program results?
  • Who are your client references?

A vendor should be much more than a provider of drop-off products and services. They need to be comprehensive, accessible, flexible and experienced. Sound simple? It’s not. Due to limited dollars, you need as much quality one-stop-shopping as possible. You do not have the time, dollars or energy to have multiple contacts for each of your offerings. Find an experienced multi-component provider and stick with them. They will not only help you with paperwork and sanity, they will also help with triage, crossover, data collection, analysis and strategic planning. Like a good pharmacist, they will also help you avoid unhealthy program interactions. An excellent provider will have a pattern, philosophy and support network that is consistent throughout their offerings; this will help you, immensely. A good vendor is, at a minimum, equal to one FTE.

The ideal vendor should be able to assist clients with each and every phase of a  “comprehensive” wellness initiative, including:

  • A health awareness component, including health education, preventive screenings and health risk assessments.
  • Marketing and promotion efforts to maximize employee participation and engagement.
  • Research supported programs and methodologies to change unhealthy behaviors and lifestyle choices, including counseling, seminars, online programs and self-help materials.
  • Supportive environment efforts, including assistance with workplace policies to encourage healthy lifestyles, healthy eating, increased physical activity and improved mental health.

Introducing excellent programs without a comprehensive corporate audit (readiness) and indicated culture adjustments ⎯ policies, procedures, senior management visible buy-in and health-driven food services ⎯ is akin to throwing fertile seed on untilled and nutrient-poor soil. It won’t work; you will lose money and credibility.