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5 Ways to Assess and Improve Your Employees' Emotional Health

Aug 18, 2008
Emotional health is a state of wellness that comes from understanding and acknowledging our emotions and finding appropriate ways to express them. As employees, we often bring emotional problems from our childhood or current family life into the workplace because we haven't dealt with them effectively outside of work. This can seriously damage workplace relationships and lead to poor performance and negative feelings all around.

Many tools and techniques exist for helping us improve our emotional health. Some of the most common are given below, with real-life case histories illustrating their use. If an unpleasant mood or feeling persists over a length of time, don't hesitate to seek out a qualified professional. Corporate wellness programs usually have professional support already in place as part of their services.

1. Coaching/Counseling
One of the hallmarks of emotional health is the willingness to ask for help when we need it. Confidential professional help, the coaching and counseling provided by employee assistance or wellness programs, can provide an external source of strength and insight for "working out" emotionally-based problems instead of "working them in" to your job.

2. Self-help Groups
Self-help groups are designed to aid people in emotional situations in which they feel alone. The purpose of these groups is twofold: to allow people to safely feel and express their emotions, and to help break their isolation at work and/or in society at large and reintegrate them into society with the support of a peer group.

The classic self-help group is Alcoholics Anonymous, but thanks to technology, it's possible to connect with others that have common health challenges, no matter how unique the situation. People are taking advantage of tele-conference groups and social websites, such as sparkpeople and revolutionhealth. Corporate wellness programs often have such groups available through online or telephone support.

Progressive corporate wellness provider Exan Wellness, for example, offers teleconference cell groups and moderated wellness forums for interacting with others in a supportive, confidential and anonymous environment. People with shared challenges get together and discuss the emotional challenges they are facing at work or in other areas of their lives and work through change together.

3. Journaling
Journaling is often recommended by counselors as a way to help identify and process emotions. People record their emotions in writing as they experience them, in whatever form they wish. By helping the writer gain greater emotional clarity, journaling can help in making more emotionally informed decisions. In much the same way, letter writing enables people to identify and process the emotions they feel in relation to others. The letter does not have to be sent or its contents shared: it simply provides a place for the expression of feelings.

An 18-year-old "army brat," Brent has always done well at school, academically and athletically. But in his last year of high school, something seems to have happened to him. He has lost all interest in school, becoming moody and withdrawn.
Brent describes to his guidance counselor all the times he had to move when he was growing up. Each move wrenched him from his friends and forced him to play the role of the "new kid on the block." The counselor suggests that Brent write letters to the friends he has missed over the years telling them how he felt. Finally, he has a chance to say a proper goodbye.

4. Assess Your Emotional Health
Companies that seek to boost employees' interpersonal skills, or emotional intelligence in the workplace are more successful, according to ground-breaking journalist Daniel Goleman. And emotional intelligence is the buzzword in workplaces these days. Some workplace wellness programs have information about emotional intelligence, or emotional health assessments. Seek out more information about emotional intelligence for better corporate wellness.

5. Friendships/Support Systems
Friendships allow people to feel supported in their emotional journeys. At the same time, they give people an opportunity to develop their empathetic skills. These skills are also important for workplace health. When we are empathic with fellow employees, we help them resolve negative or unhealthy emotions. New friendships are made through hobbies, classes, clubs, or even through online groups. Many people are finding emotional satisfaction by connecting or re-connecting with friends through Facebook and other social websites.

Sometimes workplace stress that is not dealt with in a healthy manner can be brought home. A 36-year-old mother of three, Sarah, wants to be a good wife, a good mother, and a success at her job. One day, drained after a long day at work, she shouted at her rambunctious children and threatened to hit her youngest son. Her behavior horrified her. To make matters worse, she believes she is a failure at her job as well as at motherhood. She watches with jealousy as younger co-workers advance much more rapidly up the corporate ladder despite having less experience than she has.

On the advice of a counselor, she decides to take time out for herself and take a course for amateur painters. It doesn't take long before she strikes up a friendship with a single mom in the class. She once led a life very similar to Sarah's before managing to achieve a better balance between work and family. Her new friend becomes a much-needed sounding board for Sarah and offers her perspectives on her life that she hadn't considered before.
About the Author
Exan Wellness, Inc. is a provider of corporate wellness programs that maximize the efficiency of internet tools with personal health coaching and worksite programs. http://www.exanwellness.com
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