Managing Difficult Life Transitions

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Managing Difficult Life Transitions Powered By Docstoc
					     EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM                                                                                AUTUMN 2005

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   301-460-2100 • FAX 301-460-2113 • • Vol . 4, No. 1

Managing Difficult Life Transitions
Life is a process of beginnings and          of vulnerability. Most life transitions          ing a house; serious illness; significant
endings. In both life and nature, there      begin with a string of losses:                   loss (of a person, job, pet, or anything
are times when things move slowly                                                             important); or starting a career.
and don’t seem to change very much.          ß   The loss of a role
Then, suddenly, things change quickly.       ß   The loss of a person                         Stages of Life Transitions
Moving from August to September, the         ß   The loss of a place                          Successfully moving through a life
weather changes gradually at first, and       ß   The loss of your sense of where              transition usually means experiencing
then it seems that suddenly summer is            you fit in the world                          the following stages:
over. It is the same in our lives; transi-
tions are as natural as the changing         Life transitions can include accidents;          ß Experiencing a range of negative
seasons. Life transitions are challenging    buying a house; changing jobs; divorce;            feelings (anger, anxiety, confusion,
because they force us to let go of the fa-   getting married; having a baby; leaving            numbness, self-doubt).
miliar and face the future with a feeling    for college; relocation; retirement; sell-       ß Feeling a loss of self-esteem.
                                                                                              ß Beginning to accept the change.
                                                                                              ß Acknowledging that you need to let
Why Worry?                                                                                      go of the past and accept the future.
                                                                                              ß Beginning to feel hopeful about the
Do you worry about things that you           4. Can you do anything about the prob-             future.
can’t control? Worrying is harmful. It       lem? (Can you change whether it will                                       continued on page 2
adds to stress. But people often say they    happen? Can you change its outcome?)
“can’t help” worrying. Some people           5. Did it already happen? (Did it affect
worry about everything. Worrying             you or someone else? Is it likely to                Inside
doesn’t make a problem go away. In           happen again? How likely? Can you
fact, it often makes the problem worse.      prevent it?)
Worrying keeps people from facing            6. Are you responsible for doing some-              1 Managing Difficult Life Transitions
their problem and trying to solve them.      thing about the problem? (Why? Do                   1 Why Worry?
If you are worrying about a problem,         others agree that you are responsible?
                                                                                                 3 Having Conflict? Welcome to MCPS
ask yourself the following questions:        How do you know?)
                                                                                                    Dispute Resolution Program
1. What is the problem?                      You may find that there is nothing you               3 Recipe for a Successful Marriage
2. Is it really a problem? (What signs       can do to change the problem. Or that
                                                                                                 3 Web Sources for Health Information
show you that it is a problem? What do       someone else is responsible for the
you think those signs mean? Are there        problems. If that is the case, try to stop          4 Ask the EAP
other ways to look at things?)               worrying. And remember, that the EAP                4 EAP Workshops
3. How important is the problem?             is always available to help you learn to
                                                                                                 4 Upcoming Events
(What would happen if you did noth-          worry less and enjoy life more.
ing about it? What would happen if                                                               4 10 Reasons to Recognize Your Staff
                                             Taken from Managing Stress, American Institute
you stopped worrying?)                       for Preventive Medicine.
ß Feeling a rise in self-esteem.            gained and learned from each experi-        ing the new. Think about how you
ß Developing an optimistic view of          ence. Such transitions can provide a        respond to endings in your life: Do
    the future.                             productive time to do some important        you generally avoid them, like the
The process of moving through a tran-       self-exploration. They can be a chance      person who ducks out early on her last
sition does not always proceed in order     to overcome fears and to learn to deal      day on the job because she can’t bear
of these nice, predictable stages. People   with uncertainty. These can be the          to say good-bye? Or do you drag them
usually move through the process in         gifts of the transition process—to learn    out because you have such a hard time
different ways, often cycling back and       more about yourself and what makes          letting go? Perhaps you make light of
forth among the stages.                     you happy and fulfilled.                     endings, refusing to let yourself feel
                                                                                        sad. Before you can welcome the new,
Coping Skills                               Don’t be in a rush. When your life is       you must acknowledge and let go of
Life transitions are often difficult, but     disrupted, it takes time to adjust to the   the old.
they have a positive side, too. They pro-   new reality. Expect to feel uncomfort-
vide us with an opportunity to assess       able during a transition as you let go of   Keep some things consistent. When
the direction our lives are taking. They    old ways of doing things. Try to avoid      you are experiencing a significant life
are a chance to grow and learn. Here        starting new activities too soon, before    change, it helps to keep as much of
are some ideas that may help make the       you have had a chance to reflect and         your daily routine consistent as you
process rewarding.                          think about what is really best for you.    can.

Accept that change is a normal part of      Expect to feel uncomfortable. A time        Accept that you may never complete-
life. People who have this attitude seem    of transition is confusing and disori-      ly understand what has happened to
to have the easiest time getting through    enting. It is normal to feel insecure and   you. You are likely to spend a lot of
life transitions. Seeing changes as         anxious. These feelings are part of the     time feeling confused and afraid. This
negative or as experiences that must be     process, and they will pass.                makes most of us very uncomfortable.
avoided makes them more difficult to                                                      The discomfort and confusion will
navigate and less personally productive.    Stay sober. Using alcohol or drugs dur-     pass, and clarity will return.
                                            ing this confusing time is not a good
Identify your values and life goals. If     idea. It can only make the process more     Take one step at a time. It’s under-
a person knows who he/she is and what       difficult.                                    standable to feel like your life has
he/she wants from life, he/she may see                                                  become unmanageable. To regain a
the change as just another life chal-       Take good care of yourself. Transitions     sense of power, find one small thing
lenge. Such people are willing to take      are very stressful, even if they are sup-   you can control right now. Then break
responsibility for their actions and not    posed to be happy times. You may not        it down into small, specific, concrete
blame others for the changes that come      feel well enough to participate in your     steps. Write them down and post
along without warning.                      normal activities. Find something fun       them on your computer monitor or
                                            to do for yourself each day. Get plenty     mirror. Cross off each step as you ac-
Learn to identify and express your          of rest and exercise, and eat well.         complish it.
feelings. While it’s normal to try to
push away feelings of fear and anxiety,     Build your support system. Seek the         Times of life transitions offer you
you will move through them more             support of friends and family mem-          the chance to explore what your ide-
quickly if you acknowledge them. Make       bers, especially those who accept you       al life would look like. When things
them real by writing them down and          without judging you and encourage you       are in disarray, you can reflect on the
talking about them with trusted friends     to express your true feelings. A time       hopes and dreams you once had but
and family members. These feelings          of transition also is an excellent time     perhaps forgot about. Take this time
will have less power over you if you face   to seek the support of a mental health      to write about them in a journal or
them and express them.                      professional. He or she can guide you       talk about them with a trusted friend
                                            through the transition process in a safe,   or therapist. Now is a good time to
Focus on the payoffs. Think about            supportive environment.                     take advantage of the fork in the road.
what you have learned from other
life transitions. Recall the stages you     Acknowledge what you are leaving            Adapted from an article by Herb
went through, and identify what you         behind. This is the first step to accept-    Cantor, Ph.D. Used with permission.

Having Conflict?                             Recipe for a
Welcome to the                              Successful Marriage                        Web Sources
MCPS Dispute                                                                           for Health
Resolution Program                          Researcher John Gottman claims to be       Information
                                            able to predict, in five minutes, those
                                            marriages that will end in divorce with    According to the Washington
Conflict is inevitable. When people
                                            91 percent accuracy. For more than two     Post (June 21, 2005), the following
work together, disagreements can lead
                                            decades, this professor of psychology      Web sites were considered excel-
to conflict. Usually people can resolve
                                            at the University of Washington has        lent sources of health informa-
this conflict with little or no input from
                                            interviewed hundreds of couples at his     tion:
others. However, sometimes people
                                            Family Research Institute, also known
need help to resolve their differences.
                                            as the “Love Lab.” This research has
The Dispute Resolution Program pro-
                                            revealed four behaviors that can kill a    Sponsored by the National Insti-
vides free mediation services to MCPS
                                            relationship if they are not curbed—       tutes of Health, has lots of general
employees who would like help resolv-
                                            criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and    information on a wide range of
ing workplace conflict. Whether it is a
                                            stonewalling.                              topics.
matter of feeling disrespected, dealing
                                                Gottman proceeds to explain fac-
with someone who’s always late, or
                                            tors which are essential for successful
working with someone who encroaches
                                            marriages. In one surprising revelation,   Lots of information on numerous
on your personal space, mediation can
                                            Gottman claims that friendship is more     topics.
help. With the assistance of a neutral
                                            important than communication. “At
mediator, provided through an agree-
                                            the heart of my program is the simple
ment with the Conflict Resolution Cen-
                                            truth that happy marriages are based       Sponsored by the Mayo Clinic for
ter of Montgomery County, people are
                                            on a deep friendship,” he asserts. “By     Medical Education and Research.
able to find their own solutions to prob-
                                            this I mean a mutual respect for and       Geared to consumers seeking
lems. A private, informal, confidential
                                            enjoyment of each other’s compan.          health information.
agreement may help you resume a more
                                            They have an abiding regard for each
workable relationship with someone
                                            other and express this fondness not just
with whom you’ve had difficulties.
                                            in the big ways but in the little ways,    Articles written by physicians
                                            day in and day out.”                       and reviewed by a team of health
To learn more, or to schedule a media-
tion at a convenient time and place, call                                              professionals.
                                            While it seems unlikely that the perfect
the Dispute Resolution Program at the
                                            recipe for a successful marriage may
EAP at 301-460-2425.
                                            be developed, Gottman offers interest-      Sponsored by Nemours Foun-
                                            ing insights and helpful techniques for    dations Center for Children’s
                                            improving marriage. His book, Seven
National Depression                         Principles for Making Marriage Work:
                                                                                       Health. Lots of content focused
                                                                                       on children’s health.
Screening Day                               A Practical Guide from the Country’s
                                            Foremost Relationship Expert, provides
National Depression Screening Day           further information. It is published by    Sponsored by WebMd, for con-
is October 6. The EAP will be con-          Three Rivers Press, Michigan, and is       sumers who want professional-
ducting screenings for Depression,          available in bookstores.                   level articles on health-related
Bipolar Disorder, Generalized Anxi-                                                    topics.
ety Disorder, and Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder. If you think you or
a member of your family might have
one of these mental health issues,              “When you do the
please call the EAP at 301-460-2100             common things in life
to schedule an appointment for a                in an uncommon way,
screening. Screenings take no more              you will command the
than 30 minutes and include                     attention of the world.”
an opportunity to discuss your
results with a trained mental health            —George Washington Carver
professional.                                   (1864–1943)

                                                                                                 EAP Workshops
                        Upcoming Events
                                                                                                 Did you know that the EAP is avail-
                                                                                                 able to come to your school or office
      EAP Workshops:                                                                             and present one of our workshops?
      • September 28, 2005                                                                       Throughout the year, we offer many
      The Sandwich Generation: Caregiver Resources and Information:                              workshops that are available to all
      4:00–5:00 p.m., at the MCEA conference center (60 W. Gude Dr.),                            employees. However, if you would
      rooms ABC                                                                                  like the EAP to tailor a workshop to
      • October 18, 2005                                                                         your staff’s needs, please contact us
      Stress Management: 4:00–5:00 p.m., Montgomery Blair High                                   to discuss what you want us to do
      School                                                                                     and when. Topics currently include
      • November 16, 2005                                                                        the following:
      Managing the Stress of the Holidays: 4:00–5:00 p.m., North Lake                               Stress Management
      Center (15101 Bauer Dr.), Rockville, Media Center                                             Time Management
      • December 13, 2005                                                                           Managing the Stress of Relationships
      Managing the Stress of the Holidays: 12:00–1:00 p.m., Central                                 Overcoming Burnout
      Office (850 Hungerford Dr.), room 223                                                           Stress and Its Impact on Your Health
      • April 26, 2006                                                                              Four Steps to Better Workplace
      Substance Abuse Information for Parents: What You Need to                                  Relationships
      Know: 12:00–1:00 p.m., (850 Hungerford Dr.), room 120                                         Anger Management: Real Strategies
                                                                                                 for Real Life
      To RSVP, please call us at 301-460-2100 or contact us via e-mail at

If you have questions or would like to talk about EAP workshops, please call us at
                                                                                                  A Healthy Outlook
Ask the EAP                                             10 Reasons to                                      To help employees with
Q. Can the EAP be used more than
                                                        Recognize Your                                   troubling issues before they
                                                                                                           become overwhelming.
one time in a given year?                               Staff
A. Yes. Generally speaking, the EAP is                  As we return for another school year,
intended to provide short-term coun-                    supervisors and administrators once        EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE
seling and referral services. While the                 again face the challenge of how best       SPECIALISTS:         Debbie Tipton
EAP is not intended to be used for on-                  to retain a productive and motivated                            Robyn Rosenbauer
going counseling, it’s certainly available              staff. According to the National As-                             Jeff Becker
                                                                                                   EAP at North Lake Center
to those who may experience more                        sociation of Employee Recognition
                                                                                                   15101 Bauer Drive
than one incident in a given year—the                   (there is such an association!), it is     Rockville, Maryland 20853
short-term counseling benefit may be                     suggested that you recognize staff          phone: 301-460-2100
accessed for each incident. If someone                  members when they model behavior  A P
is coming to the EAP for the same                       that exemplifies any of the following:
incident multiple times, it is likely that              1. Innovation                                  Important Notice: Information in A
                                                                                                   Healthy Outlook! is for general information
the person needs a referral to a long-                  2. Initiative                              purposes only and is not intended to replace
term service; and the counselor would                   3. Loyalty                                  the counsel or advice of a qualified health
discuss that with the you.                              4. Leadership                                             professional.
                                                        5. Teamwork                                 For further questions or help with specific
Do you have a question for the EAP?                     6. Creativity                              problems or personal concerns contact your
Send your questions via FirstClass,                     7. Efficiency                                     employee assistance professional.
Outlook, or the Pony to Jeff Becker.                     8. Quality                                  You may contact us or send your questions
                                                        9. Superior Service                                    and comments to
                                                        10. A Positive Attitude              

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