May 2017 is Stress and Mental Health Month

We all have stress in our lives. Work stress. Home stress. Maine weather stress. ChallengeME is going to help you learn how to handle stress in new ways so that it doesn't get the best ofMay 2017 Mental Health Awareness Month Logo you. Managing multiple roles and responsibilities can be challenging. If you are providing care giving services to an elder or family member while also working and supporting your family, it is understandable to feel stressed. Consider the following information to help you successfully balance your various roles and responsibilities without experiencing burnout.

Balancing Work, Family And Care Giving Responsibilities

Learn Your Company’s Policies

It is important to become familiar with the policies your company has in place for absences and leave. Your employer may also have other suggestions to help you manage your time better.

Meet with your manager

  • If you are feeling overwhelmed, schedule a short appointment with your manager to talk to him or her about your situation. With his or her permission, you may be able to have a
    flextime work arrangement. Flextime is a variable work schedule instead of a traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule. Moving around your work hours may help you better fulfill your care giving and family responsibilities.
  • If your job is one that only requires a computer and phone, ask your manager if it is possible to work from home on some days. Working from home allows you to be closer to the individual you are caring for or your children in the event that there is an emergency. However, if you feel that working from home may be distracting, avoid this option. You want to make sure that your quality of work does not suffer.

Talk to Human Resources

  • If you feel that you need more time to adequately fulfill your family and care giving responsibilities, talk to your human resources department. Ask them about The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the FMLA allows eligible employees of covered employers to take an unpaid, job-protected leave for specific family and medical reasons. If you are eligible and your employer is covered, you can work with human resources to go on leave for up to 12 weeks during a 12-month period. This will allow you to focus on your care giving and family related responsibilities for some time.

Avoid Mixing Professional and Personal Responsibilities

  • When you are in the workplace, try to restrict your focus to work-related tasks only. Avoid taking many breaks for personal phone calls or completing nonwork related tasks on your computer. Mixing your work with other responsibilities can cause your performance to decline and your co-workers and manager to become frustrated. Similarly, when you are at home, avoid worrying about work. Try your best to give your undivided attention to your family members and care giving responsibilities. Focusing on work at home may cause your family to become upset or feel neglected.
Plan Ahead

Take some time to create a plan to help you stay on top of your various responsibilities and tasks.

Create a Schedule

  • If you prefer to access your schedule electronically, consider using the calendar on your phone or computer. If you prefer having a physical copy with you at all times, consider using a notebook or planner. Block off time for each task you have to complete. Depending on your tasks, you may be able to have a set routine for certain days of the week. For example, you can have one schedule for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, one for Tuesdays and Thursdays and one for the weekend. However, if your tasks vary significantly from day-to-day, a different schedule for each day may work best. Remember to factor in recurring tasks like meals, grocery shopping, laundry, etc.
  • Try your best to stick to the schedule you create. If you feel comfortable, share the schedule with your family members and close friends. This way, they know when they can spend time with you and when you are busy with other tasks.

Be Honest

  • Be honest with yourself when planning out each day. You may think you can fit many tasks into one day, but you must factor in your own needs as well. Balancing work, care giving and family-related tasks can be exhausting. Remember to set aside some time to relax and recuperate each day. It is also important to be honest about your schedule with your manager, family members and the individual whom you are caring for. You may want to accept extra projects and responsibilities from your manager or tell your family that you are available for them at any time. However, if you know that these things are not possible, make sure they know that. It is better to be honest rather than risk letting others down, as this can result in mutual frustration.
Seek Outside Help
  • Do not hesitate to seek help from others. As stated previously, you can always reach out to your manager and human resources department if you are having difficulties balancing work with other responsibilities
  • Similarly, if you know that you are unable to adequately fulfill all of your care giving responsibilities, look into care giving services to help you out. It is much better to ask for help rather than letting the quality of your care decline. Finally, if you (and your spouse, if you are married) are struggling to provide for your young children, consider nanny, babysitting or daycare services. If your close friends or relatives are available at times when you are not, consider asking them for help with taking care of your children. If your children are older, take some time to sit down and have an open discussion about how you can best be there for them. Try your best to incorporate these ideas and feedback into your daily schedule.

Stress, Depression and Anxiety

Benefits of Stress Management

Unsafe behaviors are the leading contributor of accidents and injuries and account for 80% of work place accidents and injuries. One of the leading courses of unsafe behaviors is stress. By reducing stress we can significantly reduce the frequency of employee behavior that lead to safety problems.

By managing stress we can reduce stress-related cost such as absenteeism, presenteeism, turnover, reduced productivity, and grievances. According to our survey, many employees bring stress home and over half of employees do not feel they have the resources at work they need to resolve stressful situations.

Depression is #4 of the top chronic conditions for MaineDOT employees and National statics show, 40% of job turnover is related to stress.

TIPS for helping employees better manage their stress
  • Avoid micromanaging your employees: Give employees as much control over their jobs as possible.
  • Deal with employee conflict quickly: Don’t let small issue between employee turn into big issues.
  • Communicate clearly and often about everything: Give employees clear direction, provide feedback and praise and discuss work schedules and changes. Not knowing is one of the greatest sources of stress for employees.
  • Work with employees to make their job as rewarding as possible: The more opportunity employees have to make decisions, use their minds and take responsibility the more
    fulfilled they will be.
  • Know the early warning signs of job stress: Headaches, sleeping disturbances, difficulty in concentrating, short tempers, job dissatisfaction and low moral.
  • Ensure employee have the tools and equipment they need to do their job.
  • Provide opportunities for social interaction among employees.
  • Recommend the Living Resources Program Living (EAP) to employee when they tell you they are struggling.

Living Resources Program (formerly known as Employee Assistance Program or “EAP”)

  • The Living Resources Program provides up to 5 counseling sessions per year and are covered 100% for employees and their household members.
  • Contact the Living Resources Program at 1-844-207- LINK (5465) to be connected with a counselor.

Aetna Point of Service

  • Additional counseling visits are covered under the State of Maine Point of Service health insurance plan with a $30 in network copay.
  • 1-855-850-0039 or