Category Archives: MIndfulness

Six Ways to Support Employees During the COVID Crisis

Credit: CentrallTAlliance

The challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have been with us for a while now.  Stressors from social isolation, balancing work responsibilities while homeschooling, concerns about job security and health concerns can easily interfere with an employee’s job performance.
Here are 6 actions you can take to support your employees:

Provide open communication about employee well-being. Encourage conversations between managers and employees that go beyond discussing tasks that need to be accomplished.  Ask employees how they are doing and how they would like to be supported.  In team meetings, allow time for team members to provide support to each other.

Affirm the employee’s value to your organization. Since people are now having less contact with each other, there aren’t as many opportunities for employees to get feedback about their contributions.  Take time to communicate specific ways their contributions are impacting your organization’s success, and you will positively impact their motivation and self-esteem.

Consider virtual support groups. Explore whether your employees would find it useful to form a group with the purpose of helping each other cope with common stressors.

Offer mentoring.  Mentoring can offer tremendous benefits to enhance employee and organizational success.  With many organizations dealing with the impact of downsizing, a mentor can work with employees to help guide their career development within your new organizational structure.

Build resilience.  Although some people are naturally resilient, many of us need to learn how to be resilient.  One of the best ways to become more resilient is to increase social+emotional intelligence.  The assessment and coaching we provide can help build the resilience that we all need right now. Mindfulness has been found to be an excellent way to build resilience.  Check out our programs that incorporate mindfulness techniques to improve organizational health.

Use your EAP. During these difficult times, some of your employees may be experiencing a mental health crisis or problems with substance abuse.  Make sure your employees are aware of the resources your EAP provides.  If you don’t have an EAP, provide employees with appropriate avenues for help.

Being proactive by offering support and resources now, can prevent common stressors from taking a major toll on your employees well-being and their productivity.

Alisa Blum & Associates helps businesses & organizations select, develop and retain top employees.  To schedule a complimentary consultation, contact Alisa at (503) 481-7586 or


Tools for Reducing Internal Conflict



When we think of a conflict, we most likely think about a disagreement with another person.  In actuality, for many people, the conflicts we have inside ourselves cause us the most distress.

Here are 3 ways to effectively deal with internal conflicts:

  1. Notice your early warning signals.

How does your body react when you are upset? Does your heart beat fast, do your hands get sweaty, do you clench your jaw, does your stomach tighten, do you talk to yourself in a nasty tone?  By paying attention to your early warning signals you can redirect and calm yourself.  Try a short meditation such as Judy Sugg’s 3-minute mindful pause.

  1. Be kind to yourself.

 Are you your own worst enemy? Do you find that you are more critical of yourself than others are of you?  The first step in becoming less self-critical is to become aware you are giving yourself negative messages and then, consciously substitute the negative self-messages with positive self-messages.  Treat yourself with the same kindness you would give a good friend.

  1. Give your worries a reality check.

You may find that fretting over what could go wrong keeps you from directly dealing with a conflict.  Often worries over what could go wrong are exaggerated.  Talk with someone you trust and who is familiar with the situation. You may find the reality of the situation is less toxic than your fears.

You can find more tools for conflict resolution in the book, “Transforming Conflict with Mindfulness” by Judith Sugg & Alisa Blum.  Information about our training programs for organizational health can be found at .







4 Steps to Getting Over Stage Fright

It’s one of those problems we don’t talk about a lot.  Yet many business people suffer from a fear of speaking in public that’s severe enough to damage their career.  You can change!  Do these simple steps and it improvement will be rapid.

First, before a specific talk:

  1. Be prepared. This is the MOST important thing you can do.
  2. Practice the first 5 sentences at least ten times.Know them very well.  You can go on automatic at that point and get over the initial jitters.
  3. Practice the whole talk 1-3 times.
  4. Look good! Dress well, comfortably, loose waistbands, nothing fussy or worrisome.

Second, just before the talk:

  1. SING!!! Sing at the top of your voice in the car on the way.Sing scales.  Hum in the bathroom. (Loosen vocal cords, deepen breathing)
  2. Try tensing a hand, abdominals, jaw.Do it deliberately, then release.  The idea is to consciously give yourself control over tension and relaxation.  One public speaker says that isometric tension of abdominals is her key to preventing stage fright.
  3. Take a few deep breaths with a LONGER EXHALE to signal relaxation to your overwrought nervous system.

Third, just before you open your mouth:

  1. On the way to the chair or podium, sing in your head!Hear some music that makes you feel upbeat and powerful.
  2. Check the self-talk – switch from “I’m so scared” to things like:“I am prepared.” “I can HANDLE THIS!”  “I talk well.”  “I may actually enjoy this.”  “I’m the one they choose to talk.”  “I’m good at my job.”   (Self-talk is a large part of what is scaring you to death!  Say your new phrases with happily, with enthusiasm!)
  3. Pause and look at your audience. Get their attention. Breathe.

Four, here are strategies to have more fun as a speaker: 

  1. Go to Toastmasters or something like it. This will build your “speaking muscles.”
  2. Find ways to practice – groups, church, school, etc.
  3. Keep a journal of your public speaking – hopes, fears, successes, feedback.No failure, only feedback.
  4. When you feel a twinge of fear, practice diaphragmatic breathing – exhale 2 times before you inhale.Feel the belly rise and fall as you breath (this means clothes are loose enough).  Loosen your shoulders and jaw as you exhale.
  5. What’s your belief about fear?Some fear may be helpful – you just want to do a good job.  Some beliefs generate the fear.  Write them down and “dispute” them:

            No one else is scared.  Dispute: I know that stage fright is common.

            People will know I’m scared.  Dispute: True, so what? May not be true—my team says I sound just fine.

I’ll forget my part.  Dispute: Maybe, but I have my notes.

Fifth, visualize for better speeches.  Maybe you’ve rehearsed fear and failure in your head for a long time.  Try this instead!

  1. Imagine someone giving your talk successfully. See and hear them, hear the applause.
  2. Make any improvements to this scene.
  3. Now, step in and imagine yourself doing the same thing.See, hear and feel yourself successfully going through the talk as if you were there.  Hear the applause!  Hear yourself say “Good job!” “I did really well” to yourself.
  4. Write down anything you learned from this exercise that will help you. You can practice as much as you like.

Speaking in public can be rewarding and powerful for your career.  Take the next step.

Judith Sugg, Ph.D. is an author, teacher and consultant who helps people and organizations clarify their vision, improve their interactions, understand conflict, and thrive in their surroundings.  She partners with Alisa Blum at AIM for Organizational Health to raise Awareness, achieve Integration and enable Mastery of mindfulness tools to improve individual and organizational effectiveness.  Judy is the author of Six-Word Lessons for Fearless Presenting: 100 Lessons to Beat Anxiety and Give Stellar Presentations available on Amazon.





How Mindfulness Can Prevent Burnout Among Healthcare Providers

The strong desire to help others, along with natural tendencies toward compassion and empathy, serve to enable healthcare providers to develop high quality relationships with their patients. These qualities also put healthcare providers at risk for compassion fatigue, burnout and secondary post-traumatic stress.

Compassion fatigue is the point at which a helping professional or employee no longer is focused on the clients needs as well as before because the emotional “well” (the ability to empathize and manage the relationship) is dry. Burnout denotes a level of incapacitation of the provider/profession, often without acute awareness of the problem. Vicarious trauma often applies to workers who deal with aftermath crisis situations and deeply disturbing situations, such as abuse, war, violence, and, we would add, homelessness, deprivation, and domestic violence. Thus health care professionals start to take on the trauma of clients and feel the effects physically and emotionally, contributing to burnout but also to damage to their own health.

When providers are drained, distracted, overwhelmed, stressed, and unaware, they are unable to fully use their skills.   Not only does patient care suffer but these providers are more likely to lose time from work due to stress related illnesses and some will choose to leave the profession altogether.

In short, to care for others — or even deal with others in stressful situations — we need to take care of ourselves.   We have found that mindfulness practices, self-care techniques and a supportive work environment can greatly reduce the likelihood of burnout. We teach a number of mindfulness practices that can be easily integrated into the workday.   Strategies such as verbal recognition, short breaks and opportunities for support will enhance the ability of healthcare providers to present their best selves at work, thereby providing the highest quality of patient care.

Alisa Blum, MSW & Judy Sugg, PH.D. co-direct AIM for Organizational Health, providing customized training, facilitation and coaching, to raise Awareness, achieve Integration, and enable Mastery of mindfulness tools to improve individual and organizational effectiveness.  Our upcoming public workshop, “Seven Tools for MindfulSelf-care“, will help participants develop skills to prevent burnout & compassion fatigue.