In theory, we all know the things we need to do to take care of ourselves. However, sometimes we can’t break unhealthy patterns or don’t know the right path to minimize stress and maximize health, mentally, physically and emotionally. This is especially true during stressful times. Below are some resources for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and minimizing stress. Please contact the Mass General Brigham Employee Assistance Program at 866-724-4327 if you need assistance with any of these issues.
EAP News Wellness Articles
- Start your Spring off with Healthy Habits that Stick
- Stay a Step Ahead of Predators and Avoid Being a Victim of Fraud
- If you want to Improve your Health, Improve your Sleep
- The Drawbacks of Using Alcohol to Cope
- How Building Resilience Helps You Weather Adversity
- Why is Everyone Talking about Mindfulness
- Getting Back on Track with Healthy Eating
Virtual Yoga Event
Yoga for Stress, Resilience, and Burnout in Healthcare Providers
Friday, March 31, 2023 via Zoom
11:00AM – 12:00PM
Maintaining a Healthy Diet
Information on Healthy Eating & Drinking
- BWH Dept of Nutrition – Guidelines for Healthy Eating
- BWH Dept of Nutrition – Nutrition Basics
- HSPH – NutritionSource
- USDA – My Plate
- American Diabetes Association – Eating Well
- Harvard Health – The Sweet Dangers of Sugar
- Harvard Health – The Truth about Fats -The Good, the Bad and the In-between
- NAAA – Alcohol Calorie Calculator
- MGH – Choosing Healthy Snacks
- HSPH – The Nutrition Source – How Chronic Stress Affects Eating Patterns
- Help Guide – Kids and Healthy Eating
Affordable Healthy Eating
- HSPH – The Nutrition Source – Strategies for Eating Well on a Budget
- Fresh Truck – Mobile Markets bringing Fresh Food to Neighborhoods across Boston
Programs & Apps for Weight Management
Minimizing use of Alcohol to Cope with Stress
Being “mindful” is a broad term, which refers to being present in the moment. The resources below offer information on different practices for being mindful and highlight the benefits for addressing stress, anxiety and physical health problems.
Mass General Brigham Health Plan Interviews EAP Senior Consultant Lisa Goss Staffiere, LICSW, CEAP, RYT, on the Benefits of Yoga
Meditation & Relaxation
Meditation is the activity of quieting the mind. It may include sitting, lying, or walking and often uses a specific focus of attention. It can help promote a feeling of calmness and/or physical relaxation.
- Mindful.org – Understanding Meditation
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health – Benefits of Meditation
- EAP Meditation Webinars – Register for upcoming Webinars and view Recordings of Previous Sessions
- Benson-Henry Institute – Guided Relaxation Exercises
Mindfulness and Meditation Apps
Free for Mass General Brigham Employees
- Koa Foundations
- Headspace (Link is not supported in Internet Explorer: suggested browsers include Chrome, Firefox and Safari)
Other Apps Available
The three part breath technique is an exercise that utilizes your entire lung capacity creating a state of deep relaxation in your body. Take a deep inhale through your nose, notice how the stomach expands like a big balloon. On the exhale, expel all the air out from the belly through your nose. Draw the navel back towards your spine to make sure that the belly is empty of air. On the next inhale, fill the belly up with air as described above. Then when the belly is full, draw in a little more breath and let that air expand into the rib cage, causing the ribs to widen apart.
- On the exhale, let the air go: first from the rib cage, letting the ribs slide closer together; and then from the belly, drawing the navel back towards the spine.
- On the next inhale, place your hands on your chest with the fingertips underneath the clavicles (collar bones) and fill the belly and rib cage up with air as described above. Then draw in just a little more air and let it fill the upper chest.
- On the exhale, let the breath go first from the upper chest, letting the ribs slide closer together. Finally, let the air go from the belly, drawing the navel back towards the spine.
- Continue at your own pace, letting the three parts of the breath happen smoothly without pausing. Continue for about 10 breaths.
- On the exhale, allow your body to return to its natural breath cycle. Pause and notice the effects of this practice, any sensations that may arise in your body, any thoughts and any feelings. Practice daily.
Yoga & Tai Chi
Regular yoga practices can help you achieve the sense of wellness you are seeking. Breathing techniques, stretches, and meditation help you release tension, build proper body alignment, increase awareness, focus the mind, and nourish and restore your balance. Here is information on the health benefits of yoga:
Mass General Brigham EAP - Coping Skills Booklet
You can develop a more positive outlook by taking steps every day to change how you think. This process may take time, especially with today’s challenges. You may see a difference right away just by trying a few things. Here are tips on building more optimism into your life:
- Be aware of your negative thoughts. Stop and listen to the messages you’re sending yourself. If you have negative thoughts about a situation you can’t change, try to replace them with positive ones. For example, you may say something like, “I can handle this,” when you are in a situation that you cannot change. What you can change is how you view the situation more optimistically.
- Engage in positive self-talk. Create alternate responses to the negative thoughts you would like to change and consider writing those responses down. For example, if you think, “I’ll never be able finish this project,” try, “I’ll break it down into small steps.” If you think, “I don’t know how to do that,” try, “I can learn something new.”
- Bring more humor into your life. Tap into the power of laughter. Rent funny movies, hang a cartoon up on your refrigerator, or enjoy humorous songs and stories with your friends.
- Spend time with optimistic people. Research has found that moods and ideas are contagious. Chronic complainers can bring you down even if you aren’t aware of it. Spend as much time as you can with optimistic people who can help lift your spirits.
- Practice gratitude. A pessimistic outlook may cause you to lose sight of the things you’re thankful for; practicing gratitude can restore the balance. Spend a few minutes each day thinking about the good things in your life. Some experts suggest that you keep a “gratitude journal” and write down the things that make you feel grateful.
- Recognize what you can control. You may start to feel pessimistic if you dwell on things you can’t control. Focus on doing all you can to improve what you can control.
- Develop or keep up healthy routines. Optimism is easier to maintain when you feel good physically and mentally. Eat a healthy diet and get plenty of sleep and exercise.
- Get help if you have unwanted negative thoughts that won’t go away. Mass General Brigham Employee Assistance Program (EAP), can give you other ideas on what to do if you have persistent negative thoughts that are interfering with your work, relationships, or enjoyment of life.
Mass General Brigham Spirituality Services
Today, our devices, and online activities have become such a big part of our lives. For many, checking email or social media is how their day starts and ends. Developing healthy and balanced digital habits is optimal for emotional wellbeing and coping and better relationships with our in-person connections.
Finding a Healthy Digital Balance
- Limit use of devices before or after going to bed
– Consider reading or a mindfulness activity instead
- Set a boundary with work technology
– Turn off notifications and don’t check email too often after hours or while on vacation
- Consider doing some activities such as exercise (except to access music) without a device
- Limit phone use while eating or visiting with friends or family
- Limit multi-tasking on your electronic devices
- Don’t use devices while driving
Social Media Habits
- Schedule your time on social media rather than letting it control you
- Be thoughtful about why you’re logging on and stick to your plan
- Remember that someone else’s happy news does not minimize your own and is not necessarily a full representation of their life
- Be yourself
- Put your emotional wellbeing first – you can skip or hide negative or upsetting posts
- Sign off when the stress created by social media becomes overwhelming
Resources for Children and Technology
- Common Sense Media – What Parents Need to Know
- Google Interland -Helping Kids be “Internet Awesome”
- American Academy of Pediatrics – Kids & Tech – Tips for Parents in the Digital Age
- APA.org – What do we Really Know about Kids and Screens?
- Verywellmind.com – The Signs and Effects of Video Game Addiction
- Childmind.org – Managing Social Media Stress with Mindfulness
- The Boston Police Department – Parent Internet Safety and App Guidelines
- FBI – Safe Online Surfing for Children
Helping Kids Navigate Social Media
- Engage in regular conversations about social media, before and after kids start using it
- Discuss how to be smart and safe online
- Teach kids how to evaluate information for validity and help them to grasp the concept that not everything is real
- Help kids understand that what you see is not necessarily what you get.
– People may not admit that they are not always perfect or happy or that they don’t wake up looking they the way they do on social media
- Use social media together
-Ask kids to share (if they are willing) what they are doing and seeing online
-Ask them to help you understand social media, how to set up an account, etc.
- Model healthy social media habits with:
-How often you log on
-How you engage with and react to social media
-What you focus on: outward appearance or internal traits