Friday - It's All In Your Head
- 06-13-2006, 10:24 AM
Friday - It's All In Your Head
Mental Health: Head Case
Fight off a migraine
Don't blame your next blinding headache on stress or your kid's music. A new study by the Headache Care Center in Springfield, Missouri, found that 80 percent of people who thought they were having sinus headaches actually had migraines.
"Men are less likely to go to a doctor, and if they go, they're less likely to be diagnosed," says Richard Lipton, M.D., vice chairman of neurology at the Albert Einstein college of medicine in New York City. He developed this three-question quiz to screen for migraines:
1. in the past 3 months, have headaches limited your activities?
2. Does headache pain make you sick to your stomach?
3. Does light bother you?
"If you answer 'yes' to two questions, there's a 93 percent chance you are suffering from migraines," says Dr. Lipton.
Many men are unaware of the availability of treatment.
Triggers. Common culprits are red wine, nuts, bright lights, chocolate, smoke, stress, lack of sleep, irregular exercise, climate changes, and alcohol. But almost anything can set off a migraine, says Robert Kaniecki, M.D., director of the University of Pittsburgh headache center. Your doctor can narrow it down.
Treatment. "Usually a patient just has to pin down the triggers and make minor lifestyle changes," says Dr. Kaniecki. Prescription medications can stop pain soon after onset.
Stress: Worked Over?
When tension starts turning into burnout, step in and save your psyche
A crushing workload, a seemingly impossible deadline, a conspicuous lack of resources: Who among us hasn't endured occasional job emergencies that seem wildly beyond our capacity to perform? Amazingly, most of us actually come through in such situations--provided, that is, we know that the scenario is the exception, and that it will be followed by a chance to recover and recoup. But when in extremis becomes de rigueur, the odds of burnout climb fast.
Turn down the heat: Try talking to your boss (diplomatically, not breathlessly) about the amount and timing of your workload. If he's athletic, point out the analogy to weight lifting: Work your muscles nonstop and you'll stunt their growth and increase the risk of injury. But give them time to recover and you'll see that they're able to handle increasingly bigger loads. Explain that your goal is to become more productive, not less so.
It's the classic double bind: You know you're going to be held accountable for the results you produce, but you have no say in how the job is accomplished. Some control-freaky bosses, for example, second-guess every decision, to the point where a subordinate's focus understandably switches from "What could best solve this problem?" to "What's my boss going to find fault with now?"
Turn down the heat: "Managing a micromanager is an essential life skill," notes Leiter. First rule of management: Less is more, as in, lessen your expectations of your boss and you'll have more serenity when he pulls his stunts. We're not talking about "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here!" pessimism, just a nod to realpolitik pragmatism. In fact, pair this attitude adjustment with a plan to meet regularly with your boss and show him what you're up to. This will create more and earlier opportunities for course-changing input.
When it comes to acknowledging a job well done, says Maslach, money alone is not what our highly social species craves. "What we've found," she says, "is that recognition and positive feedback from others play an even more critical role. You bust your buns, you do a good job, but does anybody care?"
Turn down the heat: Often times, bad managers, like uncommunicative spouses, really do appreciate your efforts--but it doesn't occur to them to tell you so. Ask for more "feedback" on your work, couching this in terms that make it clear you'll use the information to perform even better in the future. Besides drawing him out about areas where you may have fallen short, ask where you performed well. With luck, a few such fishing trips will get your boss in the habit of acknowledging your accomplishments.
Successful managers have come to understand the importance of community in the workplace and take pains to foster and reward teamwork. Even some business schools, says Howard, have begun occasionally grading teams as opposed to individuals. Despite this, dysfunctional group dynamics is hardly an endangered species in much of American business. "If your workplace is characterized by a lot of destructive competition, unresolved conflicts, and lack of support, stress levels can go way, way up," says Maslach.
Turn down the heat: If you make an honest effort to be a team player but no one else shows up for practice, consider transferring to another department. It could be that you and your coworkers are alike--in all the wrong ways. "One of the most striking things about burnout is that it occurs in pockets," says Howard. "You have a cluster of five or six people here, 10 or 12 people there." And since the cause of these clusters is usually a toxic supervisor, often the best solution is to leave the department.
Of all the potential burnout pitfalls at a workplace, a sense that the rules have been rigged for another's benefit generates the greatest resentment and hostility. "When people perceive that there's nothing they can do to make things fair," says Maslach, "they often start doing other things to get even--leaving work early, for instance, or stealing office supplies--all with the justification that the company 'owes it to me.' "
Turn down the heat: As simplistic as it sounds, one way to deal with injustice is to simply "keep your eye on the prize"--i.e., acknowledge that life is frequently unfair, but if you keep doing your best, eventually you will be rewarded. Consider the example of Carlos P., a former steel fabricator in Pittsburgh. He had a sterling work record and was first in line for a supervisory job--until, that is, his boss hired an unqualified youngster he knew personally. Carlos swallowed his bile and didn't let what happened affect his performance. The next time a supervisory job came up, he got it.
Work demands, unfortunately, do not always harmonize with our sense of right and wrong. Say, for example, you have a core belief that honesty is the best policy. But in order to meet this month's sales quota (and thus continue feeding your family), you have to shade the truth and/or omit product details. This conflict is kindling for burnout.
Turn down the heat: Aside from killing off your conscience (or, if you're being too idealistic, getting real), the best you can do is voice your concerns to your boss and then cover your butt. Articulate your ethical objections, but do so in a nonaccusatory way--and, of course, expect nothing to change. If the activity has legal ramifications, start building a file--the paper kind--containing copies of everything that shows you weren't exactly a willing participant.
Mental Health: Feel Better in Five Minutes
18 mood lifters and life changers. No waiting
1. Sit in silence and count backward from 300. That's a 5-minute chunk of life gone to the gods, buddy. Do you miss it? Good. Now you see that killing time is a subtle form of suicide.
2. Hey, see that car wash? Pull in. A shower and shave for your ride polishes the brass on your balls.
3. Grab your girl and do whatever playful thing it is you do to brighten her day. A quick tango. A well-timed foot rub. A little flailing in the foyer. Attack now!
4. Unless you're lunching with the boss, no workday meal needs to last more than 5 minutes. Trail mix, yogurt, some fresh fruit at your desk. Now you've saved time to exercise and get home at a reasonable hour.
5. Coffee-Free Break #1: Put your favorite song on headphones. Loud. Some "Sympathy for the Devil," perhaps? Feel better? Good, now get back to work.
6. Tell the younglings an anytime, anyplace story. Start with "Once upon a time, a man rode a horse into a forest." Make the rest up as you go. Marvel at how quickly they shut up.
7. Shred some old bank state-ments. Feels good, right? Very Enron-after-dark.
8. Go to an online bank site like ingdirect.com and open a savings account that will automatically deduct 5 percent of your net pay from your checking account every payday. Now, here's the important part: Forget the account exists.
9. Return that one call you don't want to return. Cut it off after 5; you now officially have better things to do.
10. Put up a new light fixture. You'll transform the room's dynamic. And it impresses women because any man who can perform basic electrical work is a man without fear.
11. You owe somebody, somewhere, a thank-you note.
12. Stretch your hamstrings. Makes every muscle feel better, doesn't it?
13. Self-abuse never hurts.
14. Coffee-Free Break #2: Three sets of 20 pushups. You don't even have to loosen your tie.
15. Great game when you're stuck in traffic: "What's That Guy Got That I Haven't?" Whatever it is, note your attitude toward that item or trait. You now have a good idea what's motivating you these days.
16. Coffee-Free Break #3: Keep a funny book on hand. Some George Carlin, some David Sedaris, some old Calvin and Hobbes. Make five pages your 3 p.m. ritual.
17. She won't mind when the alarm clock goes off 5 minutes early tomorrow morning if she goes off soon after it.
18. While you're in line at the store, zone out on what's bothering you most about your life. Give yourself from now until the checkout cutie scans your first item to decide how you will solve this problem. See, you already know what the hell needs to be done. You're just not doing it yet.
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