Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Pain of Rejection

Two very interesting articles were published recently on the health effects of job loss and on-the-job rejection.

The first article looks at the health of people who have been fired. They limited their study to previously healthy adults who got sick after they lost their jobs. It didn’t seem to matter why they were let go or how quickly they found a new job. Kate Stully, an assistant professor in sociology at the State University of New York at Albany and author of “Job Loss Can Make You Sick” found that losing a job is linked to a higher risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, diabetes or depression. I would also add an increased risk of suicide to this list.

The second article looks at what happens when you’ve been left out (or just think you’ve been left out) of the loop at work. Purdue University’s professor of psychological sciences, Kipling D. Williams, reported that hurt feelings for a perceived slight can affect morale, hurt job performance and productivity, and can even hurt the company financially in his article, “Avoid the Dark About Effects of Leaving Others Out of the Loop”.

The first article looks at how we define ourselves and our place in society by our jobs. The second looks at how damaging a perceived slight can be to productivity. Now these two articles on the surface seem to be talking about two different things. But if we take a closer look, aren’t both of these articles talking about the effects of rejection?

No matter how much we would like to say we don’t care what other people think, we really do care much more so than we might think. And it hurts when we feel left out or feel unwanted. According to the first article, it can even make us physically sick. It matters that we feel needed and accepted by those who play a large part in our lives. And let’s face it; we spend a lot of time with our coworkers so it would naturally follow that these people would have some influence over how we feel about ourselves.

The second article explains how just a small amount of the cold shoulder can have a significant impact on how we feel about ourselves and how we perceive others feel about us.
So how do we cope with feelings of rejection in the workplace? Most of us spend more time with coworkers than we do our families, so they often become our second family. In some cases, our work family may be the only one we’ve got. And family rejection is often the most devastating to our self-worth.

The first step in dealing with any rejection is a critical look at the rejecter as well as the rejected. Is she really rejecting me by talking with another coworker? Sure, we were a team in the meeting, but after the meeting she talked to someone else in the hall. Does this mean rejection, or does this mean she had a follow-up comment to something that person said in the meeting? Is my being fired from my job a reflection on my job performance or downsizing of the company? If it is my performance, was the job really a good fit to begin with? How could I have changed the outcome to better serve me? Could I have stepped up my performance, or changed jobs to one that I liked better? How will I deal with this in the future? Do I really want to be a part of this group in the first place? Is my desire for alliance with this group solely based on popularity? Does this group fit with my own morals and ideals? We all want to fit in, but not at the expense of losing ourselves in the process.

The second step is to realize that in order to feel rejection we must first give someone else the power to do so. Am I setting myself up for rejection? According to psychiatrist, Karen Horney, we tend to move toward, away from, or against others. Am I open and meeting others half way? Am I waiting for others to come to me or making others work harder to approach me? Or am I mistakenly pushing others away from me by rubbing them the wrong way or coming on too strong when all I really want to do is connect? Am I trying to alienate others before they get the chance to alienate or reject me?

The third step is to understand that rejection is a negative experience just like any other and that the hurt lessens when shared with others. Sometimes we can “feel” rejection when we are not being rejected at all. If I was cheated on by a loved one, or a family member raked me over the coals for showing up late for dinner, I would find a sympathetic ear to talk it out with. By discussing rejection, we find that we are not alone. We may even find that our story is not so bad when others share their horror stories of rejection. And don’t worry about fearing that we’ve blown the situation out of proportion. Maybe we have not been rejected at all. Our true friends will be the first to tell us when we are full of hot air. Our fake friends will be the last to tell us when we are wearing our underwear on our heads!

I’ll leave you with a couple of quotes on fitting in:

“I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member” Groucho Marx

“I want my individuality, so why can’t I get a tattoo? Everyone else is.” My neighbor’s teenager

The floor is now open for your comments. Please join in.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Which Fish Have the Most Omega 3 Fatty Acids?

Most of us know that fish are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, and that these are the "healthy" fats that help prevent heart disease. Is there much difference in omega 3 fatty acid content among various fish? I found out the importance of this question when it showed up on my board examination this past week.

In general, fresh water fish have LESS omega 3 fatty acid content than fish from salt water, although trout is a pretty good source. The correct answer on my board question was most probably salmon, although herring has a higher content (was not listed as a choice). Not all salmon have the same amount of omega 3s, with Atlantic, Coho, and Sockeye salmon leading the list. Besides salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines and halibut are good sources of omega 3 fatty acids.

Some fish and vegetable oils have more omega 6 fatty acids, not considered a "healthy" fat for reducing heart disease. Some evidence suggests that the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 is important for reducing heart disease risk. I found out recently that tilapia, a fish I order sometimes, has a much higher content of omega 6 than omega 3 fatty acids. No more tilapia for me!

Like most areas of nutrition, drilling down to the next level of information is important. Eating healthy is one of the most important things we do. With these blogs, I strive to give you the best nutrition information possible so you may make wise food choices, one of the pillars of good health.


Friday, July 17, 2009

eDoc Begins a New Era with Statewide Medicaid Coverage

Beginning July 1st, eDocAmerica began offering eDoc services to Medicaid recipients and their families in Arkansas. Since there are about 800,000 Arkansas Medicaid recipients, when added to our previously covered clients, this program takes us a long way towards offering the benefit to the majority of Arkansans.

It is especially exciting to begin offering a cost effective health care benefit to this large, underserved population. eDoc services can help with so many of this patient population's needs, including whether a child needs to be taken to see a doctor for acute care needs, to provide information that can help a patient determine if a second opinion needs to be sought for a given care situation, to provide information about medications that patients are on, to provide information to families of nursing home patients that they can use to ask intelligent questions about their family member's care, and many others. For nursing home patients, we encourage family members to log on and ask our professionals questions about their family members anytime, for any reason.

It is a daunting task to effectively communicate the availability of this benefit to this group of patients. We'll be working diligently over the coming weeks and months with the Arkansas Minority Affairs Commission, the Arkansas State Health Department, the Community Health Centers of Arkansas, Area Health Education Centers and Arkansas State government agents to increase awareness of this program and encourage its use.

One of the barriers to this program's success is that many patients either won't have a computer, or won't have access to the internet. We have addressed this with a toll free number (877-581-3362) that Medicaid recipients can call to ask their question. Our call center is staffed by trained nursing personnel who will relay the message to the professional staff and then call the patient back after the answer has been posted.

In addition, we are finalizing an iPhone application that should be ready to go within a short time. We hope to use this new initiative to begin to address some of the health care disparities that exist in the state.

I hope that we will soon see the day that every single resident in our State, insured or not, will be able to log on ask one of our professionals a question that will, in some small way, improve their health!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Positive Thinking, Negative Thinking, and why it’s better to be on the Fence

Since the publication of Norman Vincent Peale’s 1952 book called The Power of Positive Thinking, the world has been bombarded with a plethora of self-help books guaranteed to show us the way to happiness. But is there a down-side to these suggestions?

If we do as instructed, by a multitude of sources, to push away the negative, or bad thoughts and focus only on the positive, or good thoughts, how do we prepare for the bad times of reality?

Come with me, if you will, on a journey through the cluttered half-baked theories of my mind, but watch your step, there’s no liability insurance in here. If you trip into the corpus callosum, you’re on your own.

Part one of the half-baked journey begins with the extreme outcome of pure positive thinking. If I am truly thinking positively, then nothing at all could possibly go wrong, I have nothing to worry about, I am perfect just the way I am, and the world exists just so that I might gain pleasure from it.

If nothing could go wrong, why should I plan for a rainy day? My job will last forever, the roof will never leak, and my kids will remain perfectly healthy. There is only sunshine in my world.

If there is nothing to worry about, then I can count my life savings while walking down a dark alley without fear, my car will last forever- that banging under the hood means nothing and adds an interesting beat to the music playing on the radio, and I will never grow old. Throw away the botox; there are no wrinkles here.

If I am perfect just the way I am, why should I exercise to take off that extra ten pounds, why should I try to improve my mind with literature, the theater, or a higher degree. Why should I get off the couch?

If I buy into this extreme sport of pure positive thinking, why would I work like a dog to get ahead? Wouldn’t I be perfect enough for everything to be given to me?

Now for part two of the half-baked journey; are you still with me? We are getting really deep in the frontal lobes now.

If I remain in a positive thinking mode until I gain a serene, carefree state, does that mean my brain is unstimulated? And in turn, does that mean that the firing of neurons has diminished so much that if danger were to occur, I would not be able to act quickly enough for self-preservation? Would I react at all if I were a true positive thinker? What could happen if I stayed on the couch?

Let’s go back to the unstimulated idea. If I continue to not stimulate my brain, will my brain begin to deteriorate? After all, the old adage “Use it or Lose it” has been around longer than “Think Positively”. Let’s throw in another adage: Necessity is the Mother of Invention. That being said, if we have no necessity because we are positively thinking about everything and therefore need nothing new, why would we trouble ourselves to invent new things?

If I remain unstimulated for an extended period of time, what will happen to my mood? If there are no highs or lows, no release of adrenaline to handle excitement or danger, no need for the release of serotonin or dopamine to stimulate my brain, will these receptors be decommissioned as no longer needed? Will my mood sink into depression?

Now for the flip side of this saga.

What if I experienced continual negative thoughts? Would my life mirror the same lack of moving forward I found while hanging out on the couch with positive thinking? I may have more supplies stored in the basement with negative thinking and the door would be locked, but would my life be any more interesting? Would it be just as flat, but in a negative way?

If danger startled me off of the couch, would I be too paralyzed by negativity to react in time? If I think nothing good will ever happen, have I made this come true simply by closing the door to the possibility?

This leaves us with the good old fence straddlers.

Ordinarily, sitting on the fence is thought of as a bad thing. We are urged to choose a side, be decisive and stick with our convictions. What if I had a mixture of positive and negative thinking tempered with a good dose of reality thinking? Would my life attain a better balance necessary to survival? Would I have happy little neurons firing quickly and efficiently because they were getting a healthy dose of exercise and rest? If I use reality thinking with a mixture of both positive and negative thinking, will I be better prepared to weather hard times?

If I have a huge project due at work, would I be more effective if I used a dose of negative thinking that I don’t have enough time to complete this project, mixed in a little anxiety that if I don’t finish then my job may be finished, added some positive thinking that all I can do is my best, and stirred it around with reality thinking that I’ve proven myself by meeting hard deadlines in the past and have the ability to do so again. My project will most likely be completed on time because I have made this mixture of positive, negative, anxiety and reality work for me instead of against me. Too much positive thinking and I won’t push myself hard enough to make the deadline. Too much negative and I will give up before really trying.

The fence straddlers can enjoy a healthy mixture of both positive and negative thoughts, knowing each has its own value if kept in balance. And the view from the fence is not bad either.

Thank you for coming along on this trip through the half-baked theory region of my mind.

Now that I've shared some of my thoughts, feel free to share some of your own.