Transcript: Episode 162 – Writing as a Thought Leadership Strategy
February 13, 2023
Show Notes: Episode 163 – Employee Wellbeing through Mind-Body Medicine
February 27, 2023

Click here for this episode’s show notes.
This transcript was created using an automated transcription service and may contain errors.

Melanie 00:02
How we think and feel and believe about ourselves and the world around us absolutely affects our biological… every bit of our biological functioning, our physical health. And what’s happened to our bodies and… and how we take care of our bodies absolutely can affect the way we think and feel and believe and see the world.

JoDee 00:22
Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we help HR and business leaders embrace joy in the workplace. I’m JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink and Powered by Purple Ink. With me is my dear friend and co-host, Susan White, owner of Susan Tinder White Consulting, an HR consulting practice.

JoDee 00:48
Our topic today is on employee wellbeing through mind-body medicine skills. Employee mental health and wellbeing is such a hot topic these days. It’s always been important, but the last few years have really brought it to the forefront. Investing in the wellbeing of your team isn’t just good for them. Mental health challenges can really affect the way your employees show up and perform at work. It has been so interesting to me to find out after the fact that my team members, peers, or employees have been struggling with things like anxiety, or sick children or parents, or financial issues and I didn’t even realize it. I’ve been so embarrassed or felt so blind to the fact that they were dealing with these tough issues and didn’t talk about it. As you know, I’m an optimist, so I just always assumed all was well with everyone. I had someone on my team one time whose mother was going through breast cancer treatments, and she was driving three hours in the evening to see her mom after work and then driving back another three hours to get to the office at 8am.

Susan 02:18
Oh my gosh.

JoDee 02:19
And I had no idea she was doing that until it was all over.

Susan 02:25
Oh my gosh.

JoDee 02:26
How about you, Susan? Have you seen this effect in the workplace?

Susan 02:31
Oh, yeah. I… I think that it’s always been there. But I think that organizations and HR leaders and just business professionals are so much more aware that when people come to work, they’re bringing their whole self to work. And when I… early in my career, it was often, you know, you need to leave your personal life at the door. When you come in here, we expect you to be a corporate soldier, and then when you go home, you can pick up all that baggage. That is not the world that I think is healthy at all. That’s not the world that we’re going to make people be as effective as they could be. We’ve got to change our thinking, and… and I… I like to think that I’m a lot more empathetic today. I’m much more… and maybe it’s because I’ve been through so many things in my own life – right? – illnesses and deaths of parents and children’s illnesses and on and on, that I really try to understand the load that people are carrying into the workplace so that if they can find relief or help for resources, or I can be supportive, I want to do that.

JoDee 03:28
Right. From a recent article from EVERFI called “Forecast 2023: Six Mental Health Trends,” and I’ve selected three of those trends to mention today. Number one is employee mental health and wellbeing is becoming a budget line item. According to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 32% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety and or depression, and that study was done in October of 2021. But that was a 20% increase from the year before. From an employer standpoint, mental health challenges, of course, can impact retention productivity, as you mentioned earlier, and job performance – not to mention the health care costs themselves. Forward thinking workplaces recognize the benefits of investing in mental health and wellness of their employees, and there is data to support this. According to the World Health Organization, depression and anxiety cost the global economy $1 trillion a year in lost productivity, and for every $1 spent on effective social emotional learning program, the return on investment is $11 in long term benefits.

Susan 05:04

JoDee 05:05
So bottom line, not only is prioritizing the wellbeing of employees a good thing from a people standpoint, but from a business standpoint as well. This can come in many forms. It might be providing counseling resources, availability of apps or technology tools that promote positive employee mental health, or an extra allotment of time off that you might call “mental health days.”

Susan 05:37
I’m seeing more and more companies offer those.

JoDee 05:39

Susan 05:40
The second trend we’re going to talk about is employee resource and affinity groups are becoming much more commonplace. Employees are bringing more into the office with them than ever before. The line between work and personal lives continues to be more blurry. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore all the factors which were so easy to compartmentalize in a pre-pandemic world. And many employers have seen this play out in their employees’ states of wellbeing. So we’ve had employee resource groups and affinity groups around for quite a while, really, to really try and, I think, help enhance the diversity in organizations. So people who were of a certain protected class, if they had an opportunity with the company’s support to affiliate, to be together, to mentor, to talk through common issues, that was really something that we thought was going to help advance our diversity, equity, inclusion efforts, which is true. I think that is very true. But I think from a mental health standpoint and a work life balance standpoint, these organizations can have such help… so… if someone’s feeling isolated and alone, if they have an employee resource group or affinity group where they can find people that are sharing similar types of feelings, it can be so powerful. These communities can create spaces in which employees can connect with others who share similar interests or aspects of identity. For example, there are affinity groups for parents, for members of the LGBTQI+ communities, those focused on mental health, and affinity groups for women and people of color. I know when I was with a large corporation, I was very active in our disability affinity group. We called it Access Ability. And I remember I was going through such pain myself, because I have a daughter, as I mentioned in earlier episodes, that suffers from a disability, and the onset of it was the last… gosh, few years of my career at this large corporation. And I just remember how hard it was to work and to just get all the demands of my job done when there was an ache in my stomach all the time, just so worried about her. And so I had not joined the disability affinity group before this, but I thought, “You know what? I’m not only going to join, but I’m going to run for office.” So I ran for the… I ran for the global co-chair of this, and I ended up winning, and it was just transformative for me, because our Access Ability group not only was for people with disabilities, but it was for caregivers of people with disabilities or people who just cared about people with disabilities. And so I had the opportunity to learn so much more about disabilities, to really have an appreciation for caregivers and the issues that they faced in the world of work, and I can’t even tell you what that did for my mental health, and I’m sure it made me a better employee. I know it did, because I… I felt like I had a… an outlet for something that just was, you know, eating me away. So by creating the structure for affinity groups, employers can create space and resources for supporting members of their community, they can foster connections, and potentially increase retention and employee satisfaction.

JoDee 08:46
I love it. And the third one is that mental health will become dinner table dialogue. Although we’ve had this increase in mental health challenges, so too has the dialogue around it. The simple question, “How are you?” where we used to all just say “fine,” or “good,” – right? – has led many to engage in deeper conversations about their wellbeing. You know, I’ve noticed that even with my own adult children, talking about situations or friends who are seeing a psychiatrist or who are suffering from anxiety or depression. It just… they don’t even… they just talk about that, you know, wide open, much more so than… than I ever did growing up as well.

Susan 09:44
That’s so healthy. I think it used to be taboo or something that you’d feel, like, embarrassed about, but now I love the fact that I think it is on the table. At the dinner table, the breakfast table – at the table. Yes.

JoDee 09:55
Yes. Well, based on these three trends, we invited Melanie Fauth to join us today. Melanie is a registered nurse and the co-owner of Ignite Wellbeing, a business whose mission is to help organizations and individuals reduce stress and create cultures of wellbeing using mind-body medicine based tools. Melanie is certified in mind-body medicine and is passionate about sharing these skills with employers or employees to give people the tools they need to improve their overall mental/physical health.

Susan 10:37
Melanie, thank you so much for being here today.

Melanie 10:40
Thank you for having me.

Susan 10:42
So Melanie, why did addressing adult wellbeing become a priority for you?

Melanie 10:47
I’m a registered nurse, have been for over 30 years in a large health system, and I’ve always noticed that the Western health system… system of medicine was… had separated physical health from mental health and was really kind of focused on fixing issues instead of prevention. Not to say that there’s not preventative things happening in health care. And I think it’s growing more and more. So I was looking for something that became more prevention-focused, and personally, I was a caregiver… I am a caregiver to both my parents, I was an executive leader under a lot of stress, I saw a lot of families of patients that I worked with, staff members that I was leading under a lot of stress, I had had some major job changes in my life, like we all do, major life changes, and I was looking for a way to help myself. I had the opportunity to take a mind-body medicine course through The Center for Mind-Body Medicine out of Washington, DC and it gave me the language that I was looking for to help myself, and I became extremely passionate and trying to help… help others. We started Ignite Wellbeing with my business partner who also is certified in mind-body medicine and are passionate really to help humans learn these skills, learn more education around how our minds and our bodies are truly connected. I’m encouraged that I see a lot more information out there. I think COVID has and impacts COVID has had on our society has really pushed forward the idea of maybe we do need to pay more attention to how our minds and bodies are connected. So that is very encouraging. But just, you know, look, as humans, as adults trying to navigate our world, we often aren’t taught the skills that we need to have more resilience and have ways to help ourselves. And that’s what we’re all about at Ignite Wellbeing is to teach people simple skills that they can incorporate in their own lives to help… help them both mentally and physically.

JoDee 12:52
I love it. But Melanie, tell us a little bit more about… What exactly does mind-body medicine mean?

Melanie 13:02
Yeah, it’s kind of a nebulous word, isn’t it, mind-body medicine? Mind-body medicine uses the power of thoughts and emotions to impact physical health and vice versa. How we think and feel and believe about ourselves and the world around us absolutely affects our biological… every bit of our biological functioning, our physical health, and what’s happened to our bodies and how we take care of our bodies absolutely can affect the way we think and feel and believe and see the world. So again, it’s that connectivity of the mind and the body and how we are learning so much more all the time with neuroscience and how our nervous system really affects everything about us. Mind-body medicine provides a series of skills and tools for people, education about stress and trauma and the impact that that has on us, things from meditation, guided imagery, simple things like breathing… People don’t take time during the day in our busy lives to just sit and breathe even just for a minute. Deep breaths can make a big impact on how it calms our nervous system and calms our body down for us to be able to function in a better way. We teach things like movement, shaking and dancing, drawing, journaling, all of these different skills are under that mind-body medicine umbrella. Not all skills resonate with everyone, but the beautiful thing that we do at Ignite Wellbeing is to share them all with people, try to get everybody to have experiences with them all – it’s a smorgasbord of… of different things – to see what really people feel like they are drawn to and can integrate into their life, because it’s a… it’s a journey. We give people lots of experiences and then it’s up to them to practice and make it a lifelong commitment.

JoDee 14:58
Right. Nice.

Melanie 15:00
With mind-body medicine, scientifically, it’s shown to increase relaxation. It helps your cardiovascular system, it can lower your heart rate, your blood… blood pressure, especially. It can help in wound healing, with symptoms of depression and anxiety, helps your immune system function better, helps your endocrine system you have less fatigue, less chronic pain. There’s a lot of reasons, especially as, you know, adults in the United States and really around the world are dealing with a lot more chronic issues. Could it be possible that some of that is because we’re running around in a chronic stress… stress state?

Susan 15:42
I have to think so.

Melanie 15:44
Yeah, if we use some of these tools to calm ourselves down, calm our nervous system down. Yes, we’re busy, and it’s hard, and we have to integrate it into our… into our daily life. But we’re talking breathing.

Susan 15:58
Could you help our audience understand, is there some simple type of technique that we could do today that would help our mind, our body?

Melanie 16:06
Sure, breathing would be one. Just sitting quietly with your eyes closed and just breathing in through your mouth – in through your nose and out through your mouth, setting a timer, slowly and deeply breathing in and out and just trying to let… let thoughts that come into your mind go. Let the things that have happened in your day prior to taking a breath go and not think about things in the future, just be present. Pay attention to your body and how you’re feeling. Are you holding tension in your jaw? Are you holding tension in your shoulders? We get so busy and wound tightly that we don’t take time to just breathe deeply, and that’s often a tool that we teach people that… that they just really resonate with, because we can do that when we’re making our coffee in the morning, or we can do it before we go to bed, or we can breathe before we give a presentation or start a meeting, have a group… have the team that’s meeting just take a few breaths before people start just to reset and calm your mind down.

Susan 17:18
I love that.

JoDee 17:19
Melanie, you had just taught me about breathing, and I… when I woke up this morning, before I ever got out of bed, I did some deep breathing. It was, like, the first thing that came into my mind this morning and I did it. Of course, you know, I was just waking up. I wasn’t stressed or wasn’t in the middle of anything. But it really felt good to do that, so I’m hoping I can continue to do that. And it is very calming.

Melanie 17:52
And there are apps and there are a lot of the watches, the digital watches that are out today, the… the Apple Watches and so on have technology to help you remember to do that. But it’s that intentionality. The other thing that mind-body medicine brings people is learning to just be more self-aware. It’s good to have these skills, these tools, drawing out… trying to figure out solutions to problems or journaling with an emotion. But the underpinning of all that is… is using these different skills to really stop and just check in with yourself. How are you doing? How are you doing in the moment? How are you feeling in the moment? Are you… if you’re anxious, what’s that all about? Because we just… often a lot of us that are caregivers, we like to take care of other people, we don’t take care of ourselves. And I think just learning that self-awareness is another big part of… of mind-body medicine.

JoDee 18:50
So Melanie, when Ignite Wellbeing is working with teams or organizations, what is it exactly that you’re doing and what have some of your outcomes been so far?

Melanie 19:04
The thing that I love about what we do is that while we have kind of our core small group focus, we like working with teams over a six or eight week period, really giving them the education and the experiences of multiple tools. And JoDee, your team is going through that right now and seems to be really enjoying that. I would say that is what we really like to do. However, we have worked with organizations in all different ways. We co-create whatever works best for that organization. We can go in and try to really understand what their needs are, how they feel their employer – their employees are struggling with stress or issues in their organization. We might do half day or full day workshops. We often find ourselves doing is a series of lunch and learns, maybe a consolidated offering from our six or eight week group experience. It’s less time but… but it does give some information about all of the skills and a little bit of an experience for employees. So really, it’s about co-creating what works best for an organization based on time constraints and the needs of that organization. Our main focus is to create space for people. This is a human offering. It’s not a… it’s not a… it’s not counseling, it’s not a technology. This is about face-to-face human interaction and… and teaching people how to stop and breathe and process how they’re doing in the moment. Because these are skills that employees and humans can take with them anywhere. It’s a part of just taking better care of yourself and really thinking about your own personal wellbeing.

JoDee 20:57
You mentioned that you’re working with Purple Ink, and at this point, we’ve just had one session, and I can tell you, the response I’ve heard so far has been overwhelmingly positive and that… and that we’ve learned a lot about each other through the process, as well, too.

Melanie 21:16
Yes, thank you for that. I was… I meant to mention that earlier. I think working… we work with people in the community, with nonprofits, with clients of nonprofits, and with organizations, but I think in an organizational setting, it is nice for teams to go through these groups together, because not only… there’s a real relationality, if that’s a word, there’s a… there’s a way that really builds that team culture because we’re sharing how we’re doing in the moment, we’re sharing about our stresses and… and… and our insights that we have as we experience these different tools. And it’s a beautiful thing to be able to share our learning with others. We’ve kind of gotten away from that in the in the digital world of… of Zoom and decentralized workplaces and so on. And so it does work well in that regard to bring teams together. We can do groups, live and in person, or we can do it on Zoom. And… and I think with Purple Ink as an example, you have employees all over the country, and they’re able to be together and learn together, experience those skills together.

Susan 22:35
Melanie, how can our listeners reach out to you if they’re interested in working with you or engaging more?

Melanie 22:42
You can reach us by going to our website, www dot ignite wellbeing IN – for indiana – dot com. And you can let us know through the website that you’re interested in learning more. We’d be glad to reach out to you and find out what your needs are.

Susan 23:03
That’s great. Well, we’ll put that information in our show notes as well.

JoDee 23:06
And Melanie, you know, we always like to ask a question about joy. So what do you think is one small step people can do with their mental and physical wellbeing that will help them create more joy at work?

Melanie 23:24
That’s a loaded question, JoDee. I’m glad you asked it. You know, we just simply can’t pour from an empty cup. So what we like to do is help people realize that they have the power to help themselves. And we’re here to give them tools to do that. Take a lunch break, you know, and I know it’s hard sometimes. Go for a walk, even if it’s just for a minute. Take a break and breathe like you did this morning. It’s… sometimes it can be hard to practice mind-body skills in a work setting if that’s not the culture that’s been built in, and we understand that sometimes it can look like sitting in your office with the lights out and the door locked, and that’s okay. You just need to make some space. Or if you’re working from home, you know, get up and just go stand outside. Do little things that… that you can just create a little bit of space for yourself and just check in with yourself and how are you doing? Are you tired? Are you hungry? Are you stressed? Where are you? What can you do to help kind of calm… calm your mind a little bit? Because you will have better judgment, better empathy and compassion for people, and better ability to connect with people. If you can develop over time that insight of your stress level and try to calm yourself down so that obviously will bring more joy to… to work, into your work.

JoDee 24:54
Great advice. I know that I could be much better by doing… doing some or all of those exercises during the day. So thank you. And thanks for joining us, too.

Melanie 25:09
You’re welcome. Thanks for having me. Really appreciate it.

Susan 25:13
JoDee, it’s time for our listener question. The following question came from a listener of one of our previous podcasts. Please know we welcome questions from any of our listeners anytime. Here’s the question. “What are appropriate questions to ask in an on demand video interview?”

JoDee 25:30
Well, I’ll start by explaining a little bit about what a demand video interview is, and they’re definitely becoming more popular, and the positives to using this process are that interviewees can answer the questions on their own time and it’s easy to create a standardized process by using the same questions to all of the applicants, and it can save a lot of time. So the employer might physically be videoed asking questions, or there might just be questions that pop up on the screen that the interviewee will answer. And I think you can ask a lot of the same questions that you would ask on a phone or a live interview. But I do think it’s important to ask questions that the interviewee will be more comfortable answering, because I think the process of videotaping themselves can create some nervousness or even anxiety. So I’d save the tougher questions for an interactive interview later on. So you know, you’re using it as a screening tool. So… I don’t mean make it too easy for them, but get to the questions you need to screen them to see whether they need to go to the next step. But since you did ask for some specific questions, with some help from Google, and some of my own favorites, here are some ideas. Why should we hire you? Why did you leave your last job, or why are you interested in finding a new role? Why do you want this job in particular? What is your dream job? And what are your greatest strengths?

Susan 27:30
And I would just add on that, if you’re using an on demand video through someone like HireVue or any of the other major companies that do this, they also, depending on if you’re buying the artificial intelligence behind it, there’s also assessing response rates and tones and word choice. If you’re doing that whole package, I would work pretty closely with them on the questions that they suggest, because you’re going to want to ask questions where they are dialed into reading the whole picture of the response. I’m not sure I… you know, there’s pros and cons to all of that. I personally like doing an on demand video where I’m not reading anything into it other than what the person says, but that’s me. So I would just think… think about it if you’re going to be using more than just the video, if you’re looking at it for AI behind it.

JoDee 28:19
Right. I love it. In our in the news section, in a 2022 survey by insuranks, they found that 93% of working Americans had a side hustle. I was so surprised by that, Susan. As a matter of fact, I read this article three or four times and thinking, “93%. How could that be?” But as I did read further, I… I do believe it’s higher than what we might think. 93% Seems like a lot, but with the 2022 inflation, especially, employees might have had some needs for extra money, and/or many people had so much more flexibility to be able to take on a side hustle. So think of things like Uber, Etsy, Amazon, DoorDash, selling items online or at a farmers market, walking dogs, or teaching classes at a fitness center. I mean, when I read some of those ideas, I realized some of our Purple Ink team members do some of those things, so then I found it more believable when I thought about all the different ways that might include. The article goes on to say that some people have more than one side hustle, so these statistics won’t add up to 100%, but they said 95% of the survey respondents took surveys online – I would not have thought of that one. 18% of people with a side hustle sell things online. 13% do freelance work. 9% sell used clothes and 6% have a part time job. 29% of people say that inflation was a factor in starting their side hustle, and that 51% are considering starting one and 97% expect to continue their side hustle, and 93% say they really enjoy their side hustle. So. Interesting.

JoDee 30:45
Well, please tune in next time and make it a JoyPowered® day.

Susan 30:52
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JoDee 31:27
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Susan 31:55
We hope you tune in next time. Make it a JoyPowered® day.

Emily Miller
Emily Miller
Emily works behind the scenes at JoyPowered, helping to edit and publish the books, producing the podcast, and running the website and social media.

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