Authored by paulking

Exercise Your Depression Away

Feel blue and low-down? Get moving. Physical activity is one of the best things you can do if you are battling depression.

Are you running from depression? How about walking, swimming or biking? If not, try it. Physical activity is one of the best things you can do for yourself if you are battling depression.

Research has shown that:

Exercise can ease symptoms of depression. It can help anyone, at any age or fitness level, but it has the most dramatic effects on those who are the most unhealthy.
Exercise is as good as antidepressants at reducing depression. If your depression is mild, exercise alone may be enough to help lift your mood. If you have major depression, the greatest benefit comes from combining exercise with antidepressants and psychotherapy.
Almost any type of physical activity can improve mood. People often choose walking or running, but even non-aerobic activities such as weightlifting can help. The main thing is to get up and get moving and keep at it.

Exercise and mood: what's the connection? Research suggests that exercise increases the level of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical that affects mood, sleep, appetite and sex drive. Low levels of it have been linked to depression. Exercise also stimulates the production of endorphins, "feel-good" chemicals in the brain, and helps reduce the level of cortisol, a stress hormone.

Physical activity can help you:

Sleep better
Feel better about yourself
Gain a sense of accomplishment
Take an active role in your mental and physical health
Keep depression at bay after your recovery

Taking the first step By its nature, depression makes it tough to get motivated to take care of yourself. If you hardly feel like getting out of bed, you may wonder where you'll get the energy to exercise.

The first step is to talk with your doctor.This is especially important if you haven't been exercising or have a chronic health problem. A doctor can tell you what type and level of exercise is safe for you. If you're not taking an antidepressant, your doctor may prescribe one or recommend a counselor.

Next, try these strategies to help you get started and be successful:

Pick an activity you like. You're more likely to stick with it if you enjoy it.
Identify your roadblocks. Think about the things that get in the way of exercise, and make a plan for how you will overcome them. Can't afford a gym? Walk or ride a bike. Too cold or wet outside? Walk at a mall. Too tired in the morning? Exercise over the lunch hour. If you anticipate the problems, you can find ways around them.
Enlist a workout buddy. Having a companion to exercise with often helps people stay motivated. If you're walking, a dog can be an eager and supportive partner.
Start out slowly. At first just aim for 10 minutes a session. Over time increase activity to 30 or more minutes most days of the week.
Cut yourself some slack. There may be days you just don't feel up to exercising. If you miss a day or can only do 10 minutes, that's fine. Just get back on track the next day.
Remember the benefits. Physical activity can improve your mood, and it can also strengthen your heart and bones, help control your weight and cut your risk for many diseases. Each time you exercise, you're doing something positive for your health.
Be patient. It may take a few weeks to see an improvement in your mood.If you don't notice any change in this time, talk to your doctor about increasing the intensity or trying another activity.


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  • Unlike climate, which is more readily changed, culture is extremely difficult to change once established.It is in the bedrock of the organization and it could take an earthquake to shift the landscape.The easiest aspects of culture to see are at the artifact level.Artifacts are the visible manifestations of culture.Examples include the physical environment, styles of dress, ways of interacting, and modes of operation.These usually are what a person first notices about an organization.If you walk around the campus of my university, you’ll see small classrooms, most outfitted with the latest technology.Joseph and the boy Jesus.From these artifacts you can come to some conclusions about our culture.Some of your conclusions might be right but others might be wrong.Sometimes it is difficult to infer deeper meanings from artifacts only.If your job takes you in and out of businesses, you know how different businesses can be.Ask the pharmaceutical rep who spends the day going from one physician’s office to another.Ask the truck driver delivering goods from store to store.Ask the temporary worker who works in different offices from week to week.Harold examined the financial data and the business plan.Harold met the key members of the leadership team and talked with several of the employees, mostly newly minted software engineers.Harold seemed pleased with the answers to his questions.Did you see that place?I’ve never seen such a mess.Papers and trash everywhere.I don’t know how they can work like that.What they need is a janitorial service but I’m not convinced they would use it.The mess that Harold saw in the offices reflected the disorderliness of the founder.Consequently, neither did his employees.The papers and trash were just part of the environment, part of the background.Usually the physical environment reflects some aspects of the culture, but it is possible for the physical environment to actually influence the culture or subculture.One of the strangest consulting experiences I ever had was an example of this.A senior official in an organization was concerned about one of his units, a small group of about 12 people.They would smile nicely but never showed enthusiasm for any undertaking.Other branches saw them as wimps.The senior official wanted me to talk with them to see if I could come up with any ideas to turn things around.The offices were located in the basement of a building.The head of the unit greeted me softly, almost a whisper, and then introduced me to his staff, always in a low voice.Each in turn replied in a near whisper.It was obvious you could hear a pin drop in these offices.The acoustics of the basement offices were such that every sound was greatly amplified.People whispered to keep from disturbing each other.I thanked the head of the unit for the introductions and suggested we talk in the cafeteria so we would not disturb the others.We grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down for a chat.So tell me about your group. I said.Then, in a soft whisper, he started talking.Every person I interviewed spoke in the same manner.It was an office of low talkers!The employees in this unit had been there for years.They had learned to speak softly and it just carried over outside of their office.No wonder they were seen as unenthusiastic wimps.A move to new offices fixed the source of the problem, but the behaviors were still ingrained.With their stronger voices came greater effectiveness in negotiations.Schein suggested that sometimes it is difficult to decipher what artifacts mean.In my consulting experience with the low talkers, people heard the soft speech but had not associated it with the physical environment of the office’s extreme acoustics.Once it was identified it seemed obvious to all.Moreover, they were somewhat puzzled as to why they had not thought of it themselves.They were like fish swimming in water.Differences between what an organization preaches and what it does could reveal the real core of an organization’s culture.An organization has some beliefs and values that it openly shares with the world.Other beliefs and values are internal and only discussed among employees.Espoused beliefs and values can be found in mission statements, statements of company values, and slogans.They can be found in stories told to newcomers.These tales are part of organizational lore which point to shared values and ways of doing business.Surrounded by his entourage, Watson entered a company building and was moving through a control point when he was stopped by the security guard.Sir, you do not have your identification badge.Someone in the entourage snorted, Don’t you know who this is?To which the guard replied, Yes, sir.But he is not wearing his badge.At this point Watson acknowledged the guard’s request and sent someone to his office to get his identification badge.The message was clear.Stories like this become legend.All companies that have been around for a while have them.Know that you are appreciated and will be rewarded. Actions can speak louder than words, but significant actions become words that live long beyond the original actions.At the heart of culture are the core assumptions that pervade organizational life, regardless of whether those in the organization know that.Sometimes the espoused beliefs and assumptions flow accurately and directly from these basic core assumptions.My guess is that you might see some gaps between what your organization says and what it does.Formally, here is what we say.Informally, here is what we do. We say that customer satisfaction is our top priority but actually it is maximizing profits.We say we have a strong commitment to the community and at the same time we are planning on moving jobs to Mexico.Sometimes these result from espoused beliefs and values being different from the underlying assumptions.Some assumptions at the heart of culture can be hard to detect when you are part of the culture.Beneath ways of doing things and the decisions made lie assumptions.How does the organization really view employees?How do we really view our customers?Is responsibility shared?Do we really believe in empowerment?How do we determine strategy?How do we determine opportunity?Do we really care about integrity?There are shared but unspoken answers to such questions at the heart of organizational culture.If you simply ask these questions of members of an organization, you will elicit the espoused beliefs, not necessarily the real answers.You could develop working hypotheses about what the real answers might be.Over time you might confirm your ideas or find that your answers were not correct after all.Some answers will come with time.Some might come if you advance in the organization.Others will come when someone with the answers trusts you enough to share them with you.Other times insights grow out of specific organizational experiences.Madison was the company’s senior training and development specialist.An excellent instructor, she was always learning, bright, and had a future in the organization.She scheduled a meeting with Mark.Mark, I heard we’re considering the Singing Sponges motivational package.I just wanted to give you my two cents. Madison then laid out her reservations.We won’t go with the Singing Sponges.You and the other trainers can give me your recommendation on which motivational package to buy.People programs aren’t really valued much around here. Madison might have suspected this or figured it out over time but Mark made it clear.Early in my academic career at the Air Force Institute of Technology near Dayton, Ohio, I taught management and organizational behavior courses to engineers pursuing graduate degrees in engineering management.I learned that engineering cultures typically place less value on people skills and more value on technical skills.In other words, the human factor might be an afterthought.A few years ago, I attended a conference of an organization which had been founded by an engineer.The conference was attended mostly by engineers.If you attended a 10:00 a.m.And the sessions went until very late into the evening.One session started at 10:00 p.m.!In this case, no thought was given to the people side of things.Engineering fish swimming in an engineering sea.Culture gives members of an organization a common lens to look through to make sense of events around them.Most people in organizations do not realize that they are looking through a lens.Schein argued that aspects of culture work invisibly and without our awareness to bring a sense of coherence to organizations.Culture can shape our behaviors without our knowing that our behaviors are being shaped.The class I was to teach began at 1:00 p.m.I arrived at the classroom and opened the door.Today, I was not in coat and tie.Today, I wore a blue smock.I stood at the door for a moment and then took off my shoes before entering the classroom.Using my hands, I reached into the bowl and scooped some veggies.Lifting the bowl, I loudly slurped the soup.This went on for ten minutes.The room remained silent.When I finished, I put my head down and rested for a few minutes.I then gathered the remnants of my meal, went to the board, erased Silence, wrote Discuss, and left the room.If you had been in that class, what would you have thought?I cleaned up, changed into a coat and tie, and returned to the classroom.Long before I reached the class, I could hear the sound of students discussing what had just happened.The conversation was loud and animated and involved the whole class.I entered and said, So, what did you think?The class was evenly divided four ways.Some students found the situation absolutely hilarious and could not believe a professor would act like that.Our class was embedded in the culture of our educational institution.Although they were not consciously aware of it, the students had expectations about the professor and classroom behavior.The culture of the classroom affected their behaviors.In other words, they had a common lens shaped by the organizational culture by which they could make sense of the classroom and respond accordingly.When I wrote Silence on the board, remaining silent was consistent with that lens.As my behavior grew progressively stranger, however, the cultural lens was less helpful.The lens that allowed them to make sense of my behavior, for most of the students, simply did not work.My behavior seemed to be inconsistent with the classroom culture.Instead of a common view of what was happening, they fell back to individual perceptions and their own experiences.My different classroom behavior brought the classroom culture into focus for the students.It was a good class that day.I challenged them to think about the organizations of which they are a part and how they might be being influenced by organizational culture without their knowledge.My deviation from normal classroom behaviors made cultural influences easier to understand.Likewise, significant events in the life of organizations bring cultural influences into focus.Sometimes the lens is exposed.We could be so immersed in our organizations, however, that we just don’t see the shared lens or the influences of culture.Life goes on and that’s just the way we do things rules the day.But if we look at artifacts, understand espoused beliefs and values, pay attention to differences between words and actions, and stay alert to significant organizational events, then aspects of organizational culture will be revealed, helping us decode the workplace.Followers Make LeadersJustin was excited about joining Johnston Howl’s company.Howl’s employees worked hard and often put in long hours, but they shared Howl’s vision to be number one in customer service in their industry.He had big plans for the company.

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