Lifestyle 08 November 2016
"I'm going to go on record right now, I don’t think it’s going to be a close election,” says Lauren Leader-Chivée, Co-Founder and CEO of All In Together. “Because despite the rhetoric, it is not who we are.”
Leader-Chivée, a political correspondent who dedicated her life working to close gender and racial gaps in business and politics, believes Hillary's win will usher in a new female-focused perspective in our government.“Two years ago [I said to] Chelsea Clinton ‘it’s time, and she said ‘it’s way past the time,” says the author of Crossing the Thinnest Line. “I am so convinced that women are essential to our political process.”
Leader-Chivée, a lifelong democrat who is often featured on FOX and CNN, says the 2016 election is more about differences in leadership than differences in policies.
"We have a major diversity problem."“I spend a lot of time on Conservative media and have been on a lot of shows with women who support Trump,” she says. “What we are seeing play out in this election is the whole new fundamental question of what is leadership. And you see the same thing happening in business. Is leadership this command and control, powerful personality that [believes] ‘I alone can solve this,’ or is it a more inclusive collaborative, considering of other people’s perspectives, stereotypically female kind of leadership? That is really in many ways what we are voting on.”
Something that many may not realize is the great power women have in the outcomes of political races, says Leader-Chivée.
“Women have turned every election in this country since 1980,” she says. “We are the majority of the electorate and we are in fact more likely to turn out to vote than men.”
But, as with all the news surrounding gender and race that she covers in her book, there’s a flip side.
“The United States is 74th in the world for the political empowerment and participation of women, and we have fallen 20 places since 2015. Countries like Afghanistan, Tunisia, South Africa and Rwanda are all ahead of us in terms of their political representation of women and that has nothing to do with whether we elect a woman in this election”
For Leader-Chivée, social media has played an undeniable role in this election, but isn’t necessarily reflective of society’s political choices.
“This election has been like a funhouse mirror,” she says. “It has presented a warped view of who we are as a country. The extreme discrimination bias that has been so amplified by Twitter and the media in this election is not representative of who we are, but because of the great equalizing power of social media platforms it starts to seem like it is.”
She adds, “little did I know that this election would bring on one of the most venomous and difficult periods in our national conversation about this. It has certainly not elevated it.”
“This election has been like a funhouse mirror"
Part of the unspoken issue behind the negative election is the lack of women in roles of power, and the lack of comfort when they do step up into top spots.
“In the corporate world, something like 22 million women with college degrees at big companies are hitting a wall because there is still a great deal of bias in the promotion process and while women do extremely well in the early years, as they become more senior you start to hit the intangibles of what people see as leadership.”
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This disparity happens, in part because senior-level men are not investing as directly in women’s careers, helping them move forward.
“Even though women are as ambitions as men, they are often opting out from the pursuit of some of the senior most jobs in part because it doesn’t seem appealing to them," she says. "Even men and women who have equal performance reviews, the men are more likely to get promoted at senior levels.”
When it comes to entrepreneurs, the “massive funding gap,” is one of the biggest road blocks in terms of launching new businesses.
“About four percent of VC money goes to women-owned business," she says. "Women struggle with access to capital. Part of why you see so many women entering entrepreneurship is because they’re hitting a wall in the workplace. If you don’t see a path for yourself in a corporation you are more likely to want to define your own destiny and set it up, but that’s not a super easy road either.”
Of course, media is another problem.
"Media is one of the biggest reasons for the fact that women feel stunted when it comes to taking leadership roles, as 98 percent of executives at major media companies are white men," she says. “We have a major diversity problem among those who decide what we see,” she said, adding that the commentators and hosts are hugely skewed. “It’s still overwhelmingly male and overwhelmingly white.”
According to Leader-Chivée, who is the mother of two African American children, she wrote her book after witnessing the change in the diversity conversation in the country.
“I was prompted by the Black Lives Matter movement, and the explosion of videos and conversation surrounding racial issues,” she says. “I had a sense that we were at a moment in the country, that the conversation around diversity had hit a point where we were faced with a choice; Are we going to spend the rest of our lifetimes rehashing the same fights, battles and breakdowns in understanding or is there a path to doing better?”
America will become minority/majority nation in our lifetimes, which is another reason a change is needed.
“The implications of that are profound,” says Leader-Chivée, who reveals that a run for office is potentially in her future. “I felt we hadn’t had a meaningful enough national conversation in my lifetime about the importance of diversity to our economy, to the social fabric of our nation, and to our identity as American.”
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5 min read
When we envision a person who is suffering from substance use disorder (SUD)—defined by having a history of past misuse, experiencing increasing mental health symptoms, or having a family history of addiction—we often picture someone waking up and instantly grabbing their first drink. However, in my experience working with those battling SUD for nearly a decade, I've learned that everyone's relationship with alcohol looks different and having a few too many drinks at night can be just as dangerous.
The time of day, amount, or type of alcohol one drinks doesn't define if they suffer from SUD or not—it's the compulsion to drink. By focusing on healthy stress relievers and implementing them into your daily routine, you aren't just avoiding another glass at night, you are curbing any inclination for SUD that you may have.
While you may feel the desire to reach for another drink after dinner and putting the kids to bed to relieve some of the stress you incurred that day, there are other things that you can do that are much more beneficial to your mental health and wellbeing.
Risks of Reaching for Another Drink
Reaching for another cocktail or glass of wine can feel like a great way to relieve the stress of the day at the time, but over time it can actually lead to the opposite. Excessive drinking is known to lead to increased anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders such as increased risk of family problems, altered judgment, and worsened sleep quality. These can all lead to increased stress and create a continuous cycle I have seen in many of my patients, which often prove difficult to break.
Increased alcohol consumption can directly impact an individual's mood and temperament, too. In my patients, I've seen a connection between increased alcohol consumption and irritability, fatigue, and loss of interest in activities that previously brought that person joy—activities that people should always put time into, especially right now during the pandemic.
While drinking in moderation doesn't have serious implications for some, others are already at increased risk for SUD. One drink per day is considered moderate for women, while eight drinks or more in a single week is categorized as heavy drinking. It's important to monitor your intake—whether you are at increased risk for SUD or not. It is all too easy for one glass to become another, and then another. And if you keep reaching for just one more drink, you can start to build a tolerance, as it requires more and more alcohol to achieve the desired effect. This can result in dangerous, addictive habits that will alter your life, and the lives of those who care for you.
Three Healthy Ways to Relieve Evening Stress
Stress relief from alcohol is short-lived, but choosing healthier, alternative stress relievers can provide long-lasting benefits for both your mental and physical wellbeing. At Wellbridge, our team not only focuses on treating addiction but also on teaching healthy habits to support ongoing sobriety. And many of these learnings can be implemented to avoid addiction by handling stress better as well!
Below are three healthy stress relief ideas you can implement into your routine:
- Mindfulness exercises can be a powerful and mentally stimulating stress reliever. Throughout our therapeutic program at Wellbridge, we provide different opportunities to cultivate mindfulness. For example, breathing exercises, such as box breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, mindful walking, and progressive muscle relaxation. If you're looking for entry, guided meditation, check out this YouTube channel where experts post mindfulness exercises each week.
- Human connection is invaluable. Whether it is your spouse, your children, a friend, or even a therapist, connecting with someone else can be a great way to relieve stress. The additional perspective that another person provides can also help us feel that the anxieties and stressors we are experiencing are more manageable. If you are feeling increased stress from loneliness or isolation, reach out and schedule a Zoom coffee hour with a friend, or call a loved one to check-in and chat.
- Physical activity is an excellent stress reliever as well, for so many reasons. Not only can it help us get our mind off of stress, it enables our bodies to release endorphins and provides long-lasting physical health benefits. Physical activity doesn't need to be a full-blown workout if you don't feel up to it, or simply don't have extended periods of time to dedicate to a longer exercise regimen. Even a short walk or some stretching can go a long way towards improving your mood. I enjoy following guided, online yoga practices for both mindfulness practice and physical activity.
Despite my years working in this space, I am no stranger to giving in to stress. However, I've learned that by allotting myself a little time each morning and evening for activities that set a positive tone in my life—like meditation, journaling, and exercise—I've been able to better manage my stress and feel more prepared for heightened periods of stress. Do I manage to set aside personal time every morning and evening? Definitely not—life happens! But by doing our best to take regular time out for ourselves, we're all certain to be in a better place emotionally and mentally.
Putting Your Mental Health & Wellbeing First
It's important to also recognize that it isn't just stress that causes us to reach for another drink at night. With the added pressures and responsibilities of women in today's world, having another glass of our favorite drink at the end of the day can often seem like a quicker and easier option than other healthier ways to relieve stress.
However, it's essential to put your mental health and wellbeing front and center in your priority list—something that many women struggle with. But just like the oxygen masks on an airplane, you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself first. By focusing on implementing small, healthy habits and making them a seamless part of your daily routine, you ensure that you can show up in all aspects of your life and for all the people in your life.
If you are struggling with increased stress, be specific and honest with your support system about your need to preserve your mental wellbeing. Prioritizing your needs will help you be there for other people you care about in your life.
I always refer back to a quote from a Dar Williams song—a song about therapy no less! "Oh, how I loved everybody else when I finally got to talk so much about myself." Talk about your needs with others and find time to develop healthy coping habits. And if you feel as though you've already created an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, discuss that relationship with a medical advisor to learn if advanced treatment is the right option for you.