Posts Tagged "work"


‘I’ll be silently judged’: Why millennial women ‘age up’ to be taken seriously at work – National

by BBG Hub

When Lauren gets ready for work, she thoughtfully picks out every item to wear.

The 27-year-old, who asked Global News to only use her first name, has a public-facing role at an Ottawa-based nonprofit. She’s expected to present herself professionally, she says, and wears either a blazer, dress or skirt everyday.

“I do this especially because I look young for my age and am often mistaken for being in my early 20s or even late teens,” she said.

“Meanwhile, my 40-year-old male boss comes to work every day in a T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers (or cargo shorts and sandals in the summertime) and no one bats an eye. His ‘professional’ look when doing presentations is simply throwing a blazer on top.”

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For some millennial women, or women who look even younger than their actual age, dressing for work can be a process. Many workers want to look put-together, approachable yet authoritative, and avoid wearing anything too revealing.

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Dressing professionally for some even comes down to hair. There have been stories of Black people not being hired because of it.

To combat this, some women try to “age up” through their wardrobe choices in an effort to be taken seriously, by wearing glasses, hiding tattoos and applying make-up.

For Lauren, sporting nice shoes and wearing glasses helps.

“I don’t feel I’d be taken as seriously otherwise,” she said.

“People see figures of authority as old, male, and white. I am only one of those things, so for a lack of a better term, I feel I really have to look like I have my sh*t together to be heard.”

Communicating through clothing

When women enter male-dominated workplaces, there is often a norm around how things get done and how people behave, says Tanya van Biesen, the executive director of women’s workplace organization Catalyst Canada.

Different work environments have different standards of dressing.

Would a career change really make you happier?

Would a career change really make you happier?

In office environments, dressing norms often include wearing things like blazers, dress shirts and suits — items associated with masculinity and power. To fit in, women may conform to this style of dressing to be taken “seriously,” van Biesen said.

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“You could also argue that men have been forced inside a box to dress in a certain way, and that women have been granted more latitude in terms of what they can wear to to work,” she added.

In more casual or laid-back workplaces, it may be perfectly OK to dress in jeans and T-shirts. What you wear, however, signals whether or not you “belong” in certain spaces, writer Erika Thorkelson explained in an essay for the Walrus.

“We are told that if we internalize the right dress codes, we can overcome whatever systemic obstacles lie before us,” Thorkelson wrote.

“Endless blogs and magazine articles attempt to teach us how to dress for success.”

Dress affects all young people — not just women

The pressure to “dress for success,” though, is not just an issue millennial women face, van Biesen says. It’s one faced by all young workers.

Layer on intersections of gender, race and ethnicity, and certain groups can face more pressure to dress “appropriately” than others, she adds.

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“We talk a lot about ‘bringing your whole self to work,’ but I do still think at least in North American culture… we police each other into these pretty narrow bands into what is ‘acceptable dress,’” she said.

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“And that policing is caused by ‘the normative group,’ but that normative policing happens by both men and women.”

In Lauren’s office, she says women employees face extra pressure to not only dress a certain way, but perform professionally while maintaining a “positive attitude.”

“If I want to get ahead in this world where workplaces are designed for men, I don’t have the luxury of showing up in a T-shirt and jeans,” she said.

Navigating social media and the workplace

Navigating social media and the workplace

While she believes she would still feel compelled to dress professionally if she were a young man, she believes her youthful appearance and gender identity compound this pressure.

“I think for men, it’s seen as ‘bonus points’ to dress professionally, whereas for women it’s sort of an expectation,” she explained.

“Dress fashionably and flatteringly, but don’t be too sexy. Wear make-up, but not too much. If I don’t hit the nail right on the head, I’ll be silently judged and dismissed.”

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Fine whines: Does complaining always work? – National

by BBG Hub

Complaining about something — whether it’s about an item missing from your food order or your partner’s behaviour — isn’t always easy. 

While many of us scoff at the idea of someone constantly airing their grievances, expressing dissatisfaction in a meaningful way can actually increase happiness levels, studies show

Customer alleges Samsung tried to silence him after complaint

Constructively complaining can also be an indicator of high self-esteem, research out of Clemson University in South Carolina found. 

“When people complain strategically, that’s where the true benefit comes from,” said Robin Kowalski, a psychology professor at the university.

“People who are effective complainers… are the ones who do it in moderation, and are selective in the audience to their complaint.”

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When complaining is constructive

Kowalski has studied why we complain and how to do so effectively for 30 years, after she was told by a supervisor that she’s a successful complainer. 

In 2014, Kowalski and her colleagues asked more than 400 university students to write down complaints they had about current or former partners for a study

How to make an effective complaint over bad products and services

How to make an effective complaint over bad products and services

They found that those who complained with purpose, looking to achieve a result or cause change, had higher levels of happiness than those who were annoyed without a strategy.

Tactful complaints that are done with intention, with mindfulness at its core, can actually give you the results you’re looking for, Kowalski said. 

Using social media to complain

Amanda from Toronto has no problem complaining to a company or store if they don’t provide the service she’s paid for. (Global News has agreed to withhold Amanda’s last name for privacy reasons.)

She holds businesses to account on social media platforms like Twitter to solicit a response so they can fix an issue.

“It’s really about, here’s the problem I have as a consumer,” she said. “What can you do to help me?”

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Amanda recalls the time she tweeted at a home appliance store about a poor customer experience when they shipped damaged products for a kitchen renovation that were worth thousands of dollars. 

Consumer complaints about wireless and internet services continue to grow

Revealing the problem on social media in a public way caused the store to leap into action and replace the products they sent, she said. 

“I’ll complain looking for a solution as opposed to complaining just to make a complaint public,” Amanda said, adding that social media adds more weight to complaints since others can see them.

It’s important to be reasonable in your complaint, as you should only complain if you have a real issue that requires a solution. But understanding your rights as a consumer can give you the confidence to actually vocalize your dissatisfaction, she said.

Know what you want — and why

Those who are able to complain only when they have a clear objective in mind — not because they are simply upset in a moment — often have a better sense of self and self-esteem, Kowalski said. 

This is especially true when it comes to complaining in public, like at a restaurant. 

Someone who is more confident in themselves will only complain if something is truly wrong with their meal, as opposed to complaining about food only so others will think their standards are high, Kowalski explained. 

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People who like to complain even when there isn’t a real problem may be participating in what psychologists call “impression management,” which is trying to control how others see you, Kowalski said. 

Her research has found this tactic is also used to elicit sympathy, like complaining that you are sick when really you are feeling fine. 

How to complain effectively 

Venting and constantly expressing anger for attention or without an objective can make you feel worse, research out of Iowa State University found. 

But holding complaints in, especially when it comes to your relationships or even your workplace, can also have negative impacts on your health.

Kowalski’s research from the mid-90s shows that some may hide their feelings if they are worried about how others will perceive them. This is particularly true if someone has a high need for approval. 

Learning how to complain in a constructive way can help to improve your relationships and have your needs met, said Amy Cooper Hakim, a psychologist based in Boca Raton, Fla., who specializes in workplace relationships. 

“If we complain in a constructive manner, we’re doing so to improve a particular situation for ourselves, or for others,” Hakim said. 

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Before you make a complaint, first decide whether it’s worth complaining at all. Ask yourself: will this bother me in the next five minutes, or five hours? 

If something is not going to be a problem for you within a few hours, it might not be worth bringing up, Hakim said. But if it’s going to be an ongoing issue, you should address the problem and figure out how to solve it. 

Picking and choosing your battles may make your complaints seem more legitimate to others, as you won’t be known as someone who constantly complains, she said. 

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She also recommends trying to take emotion out of the situation, even though that can be hard to do.

“When we are emotionally invested and angry, we come off in a certain way where we could perhaps be seen as a whiner,” she said. “But when we can specifically look at the fact of the matter… we [should] focus on that.” 

Also, consider the relationship you have to the person you are complaining to, she said. Complaints should be framed differently depending on if you are speaking with your boss, versus a close friend.

“You can appeal to someone’s soft side if they know you, if they have experienced something similar,” she said. “Think through who you’re speaking to before you just speak.”

Complaining a lot could mean that you are very effective at it, but Hakim recommends using those skills wisely. If you become known as a complainer it can weaken your arguments. 

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For Amanda, she doesn’t see complaining as a bad thing, but rather a sign of empowerment, especially for consumers.

“It’s just holding companies and people accountable for the products and services they provide,” she said. “I’m asking for something that’s reasonable.”

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Ontario teachers strike: Are you allowed to take your child to work with you? – National

by BBG Hub

With three teachers’ unions in Ontario holding one-day strikes next week, parents are scrambling to find last-minute childcare.

Strikes are being held by teachers in public high schools, Catholic high schools and elementary schools across the province.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation has been holding a series of weekly one-day strikes since early December, while the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association and Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario are expected to hit the picket lines for the first time on Jan. 20 and Jan. 21, respectively.

READ MORE: How to get government child care funding during Ontario teachers strike

If you have children in any of these boards, you might be wondering where to take them next week while you go to work.

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The Ontario government has announced it will pay parents whose children are affected by striking teachers ($25 to $60 per day, depending on your circumstances), but finding last-minute childcare can be difficult.

The good news is, if you absolutely cannot find adequate care for your child, taking them to work with you will likely be allowed. However, this depends on a number of circumstances and will vary from workplace to workplace.

Your rights as a parent and employee

“There are two potential sources of rights,” said Kevin Banks, director of the Queen’s University Centre for Law in the Contemporary Workplace.

Union claims Ford government’s child care benefit is a ‘bribe’ ahead of school strikes

Union claims Ford government’s child care benefit is a ‘bribe’ ahead of school strikes

One would be your employment contract, and the other would be the Human Rights Code.

“[The Human Rights Code] says that the family status of parents has to be accommodated,” he said.

“The theory there is that because caregiving needs and obligations are part of family status, and family status is protected, an employer has to accommodate the employee’s caregiving needs up to the point where it would be an undue hardship on the employer.”

READ MORE: Where are Ontario teachers striking next?

Family status is a protected human right in every province and territory across Canada. It is part of the Human Rights Code, said Lior Samfiru, an employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.

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“Some provinces may call it the Human Rights Act, but every province has their own human rights legislation,” he said. “It’s very similar in every jurisdiction.”

Factors to consider

Whether you will be allowed to bring your child to work will largely depend on your workplace.

Banks says an employer’s resources and the nature of an employee’s duties are important factors.

“Most employers are not set up to be daycares,” Banks said.

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The decision by your employer will depend on a few different aspects: “Is it a big or small employer? What are the needs of the workplace? Does the employer need the employee’s undivided attention continuously? Could it be dangerous?” Banks said.

It is probably easier — and safer — for someone who works in an office, as opposed to an assembly line, to bring their child to work.

Childcare credit for Ontario families affected by education strikes could cost up to $48 million per day

Childcare credit for Ontario families affected by education strikes could cost up to $48 million per day

Instead of allowing you to bring your child to work, your employer may offer you accommodation in another form, like working from home or a day off. It’s not necessarily up to the employee to decide the best form of accommodation, Samfiru said.

“The employer gets to decide that, as long as the need — which is to care for the child — is met,” Samfiru said.

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“The employer may say ‘No, I’m not going to let you bring the child to work, but I am going to allow you to take a day off work without any penalty,’” he said.

All City of Kawartha Lakes schools to close Tuesday for teachers’ strikes

All City of Kawartha Lakes schools to close Tuesday for teachers’ strikes

If your employer still claims that it cannot make accommodations for you, it has to prove that trying to accommodate your family status has reached a point of “undue hardship.”

How the “undue hardship” part of the Human Rights Code is defined will be very context-specific.

“That could be a situation where the workplace is very dangerous [so] you can’t allow a child to be in that environment… [but] the employee must be there because they’re the only one that can operate the machinery,” Samfiru said.

READ MORE: How to get government child care funding during Ontario teachers strike

If these one-day strikes were to develop into longer job action, it would be up to parents to make their “best efforts” to find alternative childcare.

“Parents will need to prove that they’ve asked family members, they’ve looked in the private market or that they are willing to spend a not-insignificant amount of money if needed,” Banks said.

“The employee has to do what they can before they’re able to claim there’s a conflict.”

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The process of asking for accommodations

The first step to securing accommodations by your employer is to ask permission.

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“This is not the kind of issue that comes up with enough frequency … so it’s very unlikely that employees would have contract terms that speak to this question,” Banks said.

“If there’s been a practice of bringing kids into the office and the employer has been fine with it for some time, it might be safe to assume that you can continue to do this, but otherwise, it probably requires a conversation.”

Toronto, York and Ottawa elementary teachers to hold 1-day strike Monday

Toronto, York and Ottawa elementary teachers to hold 1-day strike Monday

If your employer refuses, Banks recommends that you speak with your human resources department or, if your workplace is unionized, to a union representative. In these conversations, it’s important to show you’ve done your best effort to meet caregiving obligations.

If you prove that you have no other options, your employer is not allowed to deny you accommodation.

READ MORE: Ontario’s 4 teachers’ unions are engaged in job actions. Here’s what they’re fighting for

If they do deny you, “that would be a violation of the Human Rights Code,” Samfiru said.

If you feel your employer does violate your family status, you could file a complaint with the province’s human rights tribunal. That process takes time, Samfiru said, and it’s not always an option employees choose if they’re still working for their employer.

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“In my experience, a lot of employers end up getting away with not providing accommodation for that reason,” he said.

“There’s no easy way for an employee to hold the employer accountable.”

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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U.K. company gives non-smokers 4 more vacation days to promote healthy workplace – National

by BBG Hub

Despite the well-documented health effects of smoking, many Canadians still leave work to do it every few hours.

In fact, according to Statistics Canada, roughly 4.9 million people smoked cigarettes either daily or occasionally in 2018.

The trends are similar in the U.K., which is why a Swindon-based company has announced it will provide non-smoking staff four extra days of vacation per year.

READ MORE: U.S. raises legal smoking age to 21 in effort to curb tobacco use

In a Facebook post shared on Jan. 2, KCJ Training & Employment Solutions said it would implement the “new non-smoking policy” at the beginning of 2020.

“We’re proud to incentivize our staff to quit smoking and to create a healthy workplace within our KCJ offices,” read the post.

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KCJ was congratulated for the initiative, with one person calling it a “brilliant idea,” but the company can’t take all the credit.

In 2017, Japanese marketing firm Piala Inc. implemented the same policy, rewarding non-smokers with six extra days of paid holiday.

The decision was “pretty popular,” Hirotaka Matsushima, the firm’s corporate planning director, previously told Global News.

Cigarette alternative heats tobacco instead of burning it, health-care experts skeptical

Cigarette alternative heats tobacco instead of burning it, health-care experts skeptical

It remains to be seen whether Canadian companies will enact a similar policy, but some people, like Toronto resident Elizabeth Keyes, are all for it.

“My dad has worked at a factory for over 30 years now, and it is his pet peeve that smokers are able to go out and take breaks,” she previously told Global News.

“And what he does is hard labour. While he’s inside working, they are outside taking 15- to 30-minute breaks every day. Yet they get paid the same.”

She added that it’s not just about the smoking break, it’s also about getting to socialize with co-workers.

Do smokers end up getting more time off?

KCJ managing director Don Bryden is a smoker himself, so he knows it hurts productivity.

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“It’s been taken on and embraced within the company by both smokers and non-smokers,” he told the BBC in an interview.

“I’m not saying stop [taking smoke breaks], but if you say it’s three 10-minute smoke breaks a day, that equates to 16 and a quarter days a year based on an eight-hour working day.”

READ MORE: Quebec pledges new regulations for vaping by next spring

On average, each smoker costs an employer around $4,200 in productivity each year, according to 2013 statistics by the Conference Board of Canada.

The study also found $3,800 of that total was due to unauthorized smoke breaks and $414 due to increased absences.

Each daily smoker and recent quitter took almost 2.5 more sick days in 2010 compared to employees who have never smoked, according to the board.

Damage to your health

The negative health effects of smoking — for both regular and social smokers — are well-documented.

A 2017 study found that social smokers have the same elevated risks for high blood pressure and high cholesterol as their counterparts who smoke daily.

“Not smoking at all is the best way to go. Even smoking in a social situation is detrimental to your cardiovascular health,” Dr. Kate Gawlik, a clinical nursing professor and lead author of the 2017 study, previously said in a statement.

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“One in 10 people in this study said they sometimes smoke, and many of them are young and already on the path to heart disease.”

The study looked at 39,555 people, and more than 10 per cent of respondents who participated labelled themselves as social smokers — meaning they don’t smoke every day. Another 17 per cent called themselves current smokers, who lit up at least once a day.

Among current and social smokers, 75 per cent had high blood pressure and roughly 54 per cent had high cholesterol.

READ MORE: How dangerous is vaping? What we know about its health risks

The health impact is another reason KCJ has implemented the policy.

“Remember: a healthier workplace is a happier workplace,” Bryden told the BBC.

— With files from Global News’ Katie Dangerfield and Carmen Chai

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘Work shouldn’t hurt’: Easy ways to make your desk safer and more comfortable – National

by BBG Hub

From construction sites to office cubicles, every workplace has the potential for injury.

In fact, there were 251,508 accepted claims for lost time due to a work-related injury or disease in 2018, according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational health and Safety (CCOHS).

“Across Canada, somebody is injured in the workplace almost once every two minutes,” Steve Fischer, associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Waterloo, told Global News.

READ MORE: ‘It’s not one size fits all’: Why open office plans don’t work for everyone

Some jobs are undeniably more dangerous than others, but sitting at a desk all day also comes with its own set of risks.

“When we look at the evidence, prolonged anything — whether it’s lifting heavy boxes [or] sitting in an office chair — doing the same thing for an extended period of time can cause problems,” Fischer said.

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In the case of a desk job, a prolonged static posture is the major worry.

Would a career change really make you happier?

Would a career change really make you happier?

“It has an effect on the underlying tissues in our body, and it can lead to people developing pain, progressively developing into injuries and other problems,” he said.

“Work shouldn’t hurt.”

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The good news is that desk-related pain and injury is easily preventable. The key, said Fischer, is to catch discomfort early — before it becomes something worse.

READ MORE: Love and work: The ins and outs of dating your coworker

“We have a tendency to let these things go … but if it gets worse, it can become really hard to deal with,” he said.

“If a worker begins to feel pain — maybe it’s in the shoulder, maybe it’s the neck or the back — it’s really important to bring awareness to the issue.”

Simple ergonomic adjustments like adjusting the height of your computer monitor, adjusting your chair height and introducing a more diverse set of postures throughout the day can be extremely effective, but they work better the sooner they’re implemented.

Study says plants can reduce workplace stress

Study says plants can reduce workplace stress

Determining the comfort and safety of your desk situation can be as easy as asking yourself a few simple questions.

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“Am I changing it up and moving? Is my body supported by my armrests? Do I have an appropriate keyboard?” said Fischer.

Here, Karen Joudrey, an occupational therapist and an instructor at the school of occupational therapy at Dalhousie University, shares some tips you can use the next time you’re at your desk.

The 90-90-90 rule

When you’re sitting all day, it’s important to pay attention to how you sit so that you’re not unintentionally injuring your neck or back.

Joudrey uses the “90-90-90” rule to remind people of the best way to sit.

“Your hips [should be] at 90 degrees, your elbows at 90 degrees and your ankles at 90 degrees,” she said.

READ MORE: Working moms 40% more stressed than women without kids: study

It’s common for people who sit at a desk to place their feet on the legs of their office chair, but this can compromise blood flow and circulation.

“Ideally, when you’re sitting in your chair … you should have about two fingers of space between the back of your knee and the edge of the chair,” said Joudrey.

“It can cause you to sit in an anterior pelvic tilt with your tailbone out. You don’t want that; you want a neutral posture of your hips.”

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The 20-20-20 rule

“For the general office worker, my biggest piece of advice is to get up and move,” said Joudrey.

If you have flexibility in the type of work that you do, try to stand up and move as much as you can.

Joudrey calls this the “20-20-20” rule: “Every 20 minutes, get up, walk 20 feet, 20 steps for 20 seconds,” she said.

Woman says she reported boss for sexual harassment, then got fired

Woman says she reported boss for sexual harassment, then got fired

While you’re up, make a point of changing your eye gaze to give your vision a break, too.

“Every 20 minutes might seem ambitious to people while they’re sitting, very focused on something,” she said.

“But 20 seconds is enough to reset and give you that mental break, give your eyes a break and keep your body active.”

Other changes you can make

Lighting can have a huge impact on your well-being at work.

“If your computer screen is against a window, that’s going to cause some contrast, which could give you fatigue,” said Joudrey.

She also recommends trying to move your seat to in between rows of lights, instead of directly underneath. Sitting directly underneath a row of lights can cause glare, causing you to squint.

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READ MORE: 6 ways your workplace can be impacting your motivation

Getting up to walk around can also help you avoid digital eye strain, which can happen when you sit at a computer screen for too long.

“You blink less when you’re staring at a computer screen, so be intentional about getting up and moving around,” said Joudrey.

“Give your eyes a break. During the break, let your eyes focus on different points.”

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘It feels like failure’: Why Canadian workplaces should offer stress leave – National

by BBG Hub

Winnipeg resident Merissa King has generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and a few years ago, it became so severe she had to take a leave of absence from work.

At the time, she was working in marketing and communications for an insurance company in Toronto.

“I was struggling with a terrible cold for weeks that I couldn’t shake, [and] being sick meant I was less able to manage my anxiety, which led to not being able to manage my stress,” King told Global News.

“This all happened during a very stressful period at work, with a heavy workload and high pressure situations.

“One day at work, I just hit a wall. I thought, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’”

READ MORE: WHO classifies burnout as ‘occupational phenomenon’ related solely to work

Her stress levels affected her productivity and the quality of her work, which led to more stress. It quickly became a vicious cycle she couldn’t control.

“I had taken a couple of sick days over the prior weeks, but that just led to putting in extra time to catch up on work,” she said.

“My stress levels were severe. I couldn’t focus or concentrate, and I was mentally and physically exhausted. I cried a lot.”

That day, King had a panic attack and immediately left work to see a doctor. During a consultation with the doctor, she made the decision to take a leave from work.

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“I didn’t give my employer much choice. I had to make an immediate decision to take care of myself, so I provided my doctor’s note and indicated the period of time I would be away from work,” she said. “It was an incredibly difficult decision.

“Everyone on my team was under the same stressful conditions as me, so I felt extremely guilty and selfish for taking leave.”

Unfortunately, King’s experience is very common.

READ MORE: ‘Burnout’ is a thing, doctors say. Here are the symptoms

2018 Gallup poll found that nearly a quarter of Americans reported feeling burned out at work either “very often” or “always.”

“Burned-out employees are 63 per cent more likely to take a sick day and 2.6 times as likely to be actively seeking a different job,” the poll stated.

“Even scarier, burned-out employees are 23 per cent more likely to visit the emergency room.”

In fact, severe workplace stress has become so widespread that earlier this year, the WHO classified burnout as an official medical diagnosis.

The condition is defined as: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job and reduced professional efficacy.

Dr. Shimi Kang, a Vancouver-based psychiatrist and frequent speaker on the subject of workplace and mental health, hopes the classification will help destigmatize the condition.

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“The more that we can live a human life… We actually see better bottom lines at the workplace,” she previously told Global News.

“We see better workplace culture, less absenteeism, less presenteeism. So I hope the workplace does take this seriously.”

Stress happens when there is an “imbalance between the demands placed on you and the resources that you have [to meet those demands],” said Vishwanath Baba.

READ MORE: Advocates call for national youth suicide strategy: ‘Our children will continue to die’

A professor of human resources and management at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., Baba said stress becomes even worse when the consequences for not meeting demand are serious.

“It has physical consequences, psychological consequences, behavioural consequences and so on,” Baba said.

“Unresolved stress eventually leads to [things like] burnout, depression” and, sometimes, more severe mental illness.

Does your employer offer stress leave?

Unfortunately, stress leave is not mandated by federal legislation in Canada. What employees are entitled to by way of leave will vary across workplaces.

“There’s two different ways to look at what kind of leave employers might provide, either contractually or voluntarily, to employees, and there is a great variety of different arrangements,” said Kevin Banks. He’s the director of the Centre for Law in the Contemporary Workplace and an associate professor of law at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

As a minimum, federal legislation requires that workplaces offer leave for family-related issues or sickness, “and it’s under those terms that people will take leave in order to deal with stress,” Banks said.

READ MORE: ‘Depression meals’: How diets connect to mental health

“It’s usually not called ‘stress leave’… because it’s kind of [considered to be] a cause, and then if it manifests itself in sickness or if you need to take some time to deal with family issues, you can apply that as justification.”

However, Banks fears this language could prevent employees from disclosing their stress to employers until it’s already too severe.

“I think most of us probably try to tough it out when we’re feeling stressed,” he said.

“I think, intuitively, we don’t necessarily equate being stressed with being sick, and so maybe people wait until they feel like they’re really burning out before they feel entitled to ask for sick leave.”

WATCH BELOW: Techniques to deal with work stress, according to clinical psychologists

This is furthered by the reality that most sick leaves require a doctor’s note, and most doctors won’t provide a note until stress is manifesting itself in physical symptoms.

If you need to talk to someone about high levels of stress and your options, ask your employer if they offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), said Banks.

READ MORE: Canada has a discrimination problem when it comes to hiring — here’s why

King’s employer offered her access to an EAP, and she found it extremely effective.

“I was able to, for free, talk to counsellors and get the support I needed,” she said.

“I even took part in an online group therapy session on excessive worrying and anxiety, which I found incredibly helpful. It made me understand that I wasn’t alone, and I took away very practical coping tools.”

It’s in an employer’s interest to combat employee stress

Stress may seem harmless at first, but left untreated, it can lead to worse performance and physical illness over time.

“First, you feel emotionally exhausted… in order to get back [to normal], you start putting a distance between you and the people you deal with [at work]… When you do this again and again, you start questioning your own capabilities.” said Baba.

“Emotional exhaustion leads to depersonalization, resulting in a diminished sense of personal accomplishment.”

WATCH BELOW: Prioritizing mental health as students head back to school

In King’s experience, the nature of her stress made it extremely difficult to articulate what she was experiencing to her employer.

“Looking back, I wish I’d done things differently,” she said. “It’s tremendously difficult to admit that you’re stressed.

“It feels like failure. My inner critic kept telling me to push myself to the limits.”

Now, King is at a new company and she feels more confident in her ability to recognize when she needs help. However, she believes more can be done to support employees.

“We lack the tools for people who aren’t experiencing it to support others in the workplace,” she said.

“Generally speaking, it’s awkward, uncomfortable and frustrating for everyone involved, so I think we have a ways to go before organizations know how to sufficiently cope with stress in the workplace.”

WATCH BELOW: Back to school: UBC president’s personal mental health struggle

Stress could be considered a legitimate reason for needing a temporary withdrawal from work, but without the language to communicate that, employees can be left in a lurch.

“If it’s not to the point where you could get a medical note… and you’ve already used up the [days] that you might have been given to deal with family related or personal issues, there’s not a lot you can make the employer do unless there’s something in your contract that gives you the right to something like stress leave,” said Banks.

“If it’s a unionized workplace, you could ask your local representative to take the issue up with the employer… but 70 per cent of Canadian workers aren’t in unionized workplaces.”

READ MORE: ‘A plop is quite different than a tinkling’: Why are we afraid to poop at work?

Baba believes a good employer should understand the cost of stress and take several different measures to protect their employees against it — even if they don’t openly discuss their stress in the workplace.

“Ask yourself the question: why are some people experiencing this stress? Why are people experiencing an imbalance? How am I the cause of this imbalance?” he said.

Employers need to study the expectations they set for their employees, and then analyze the resources they provide to them to meet those expectations. The hope is to stop the stress before it affects people’s physical health, as it did with King.

READ MORE: 28 per cent of men believe they could lose their job if they discuss mental health at work: study

“You can prevent stress by looking at the job itself,” said Baba. “I often tell people to redesign the work and the job in a stress-sensitive fashion.”

Another way to deal with workplace stress is to give your employees the opportunity to build resiliency.

“Does this person have good habits? Are they eating well, sleeping well?” explained Baba. “You need both preventative and reactive measures.”

WATCH BELOW: The pros and cons of standing desks in the workplace

Finally, Baba believes a “good” employer will allow employees to take “temporary withdrawals” from work.

This can mean anything from a single sick day to a mental health day or a long-term absence due to stress.

“At the end of the day, it’s in the interests of the employer to create an employment climate that is sensitive to the stress that one experiences at work,” he said.

“Stress is here to stay… The question is: how will the organization deal with it?”

— With files from Rebecca Joseph


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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘A plop is quite different than tinkling’: Why are we afraid to poo at work? – National

by BBG Hub

Pooping at work: many of us do it, yet few of us ever talk about it.

In fact, taking a poo in the office bathroom can cause so much anxiety that many folks go to great lengths to cover their tracks.

Recently, the New York Times published a piece on women going number two at work and the poop-hiding tactics they employ. Among them include the “flush hush,” which is when you flush multiple times to silence any pooping sounds.

Another is the “scatological standoff,” which is when two or more people sit silently in their respective stalls until someone poops first, or gives up on their bowel movement altogether. If it sounds tiresome, it is.

READ MORE: Why it hurts when you poop, and when to get help

According to Ottawa-based Julie Blais Comeau, the chief etiquette officer at Etiquette Julie, it’s still largely taboo to go number two in work bathrooms.

“Pooping… is a sensory experience,” Blais Comeau explained.

“There are the sounds — a plop is quite different than tinkling — and there are the sights; after-poop could be visible [in the toilet]. There is the smell, as well.”

WATCH BELOW: 3 things to know about how fibre, water affects your poop

Poop shame

Because pooping is something often done in private, Blais Comeau said, it can be incredibly uncomfortable having this experience at the place you work. Just think: your colleague could recognize your shoes peering out of the bathroom stall, or hear you let one rip.

“There is also the element of hierarchy,” Blais Comeau added. “If you’re a boss and you’re going to the bathroom, you’re looking for privacy.”

Lisa Orr, a Toronto-based etiquette coach, said there’s pressure in North America to “look good and smell great at all times.” Pooping goes against this societal expectation.

READ MORE: Women need twice as many public washrooms as men, new report says

“We worry that people will think less of us if they hear or smell something that doesn’t reflect that put-together image we are trying to present,” Orr told Global News.

Women have different experiences than men

The expectation to hide our natural bodily functions is often felt more by women, both Orr and Blais Comeau said. As the Times article points out, women are often conditioned to be “clean, odourless and groomed.”

This can be traced back to childhood, Blais Comeau said, as boys will often fart and laugh about it, but if a girl toots loudly, the reaction may be embarrassment.

WATCH BELOW: Parks Canada puts up toilet etiquette signs to help international tourists with outhouse use

“Culturally, there are still ways that women and men are being educated differently,” Blais Comeau said.

These gendered differences are carried into adulthood and straight to the workplace bathroom.

“I think it is more challenging for women who are often expected to be immaculately put together at all times, [but] the reality is our bodies’ elimination systems don’t care about those expectations,” Orr explained.

Bathroom etiquette

If you walk in on a co-worker taking a poop, it’s important not to react, Orr said. Don’t start a conversation with them, and don’t make comments about sounds or smells.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about healthy pooping

If you are the one relieving yourself, try to be courteous of the next person using the bathroom, Blais Comeau said. That means flushing once you are done (or multiple times, if necessary) and ensuring you’ve left enough toilet paper.

If your workplace has a bathroom air freshener spray, you may want to use that, too.

Do attitudes need to change?

Holding in your poop is incredibly uncomfortable, and it can be hard to focus on tasks at hand when your stomach is sending you a message. Because poo is part of our regular routines, Orr says that taking a number two at the office should be more normalized.

“The workplace is challenging enough without having to worry about holding it or being judged by your colleagues for sounds and smells,” she said.

WATCH BELOW: Gender-neutral bathrooms gaining popularity across Canada

Orr points to ways that workplaces can make employees more comfortable, like extending bathroom doors to the floor so there are no open gaps between stalls. She also suggests having music playing in bathrooms so there’s no silence.

“Another nice thing offices can do is to have out-of-order signs available and an easy way to get in touch with maintenance in case of a number two gone wrong,” Orr said.

That way, people will be less terrified of clogging toilets or finding themselves in “humiliating” poop situations.

READ MORE: What the colour of your pee says about your health

The most important thing, Orr adds, is that employees not judge themselves or each other for pooing. It’s a natural part of life and we all do it.

“Everyone has to use the facilities at work, and if you aren’t going number two every day, that is the bigger problem,” she said.

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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28 per cent of men believe they could lose their job if they discuss mental health at work: study – National

by BBG Hub

Suicide remains the biggest cause of death for Canadian men under the age of 44, but new research by the Movember Foundation found that men still struggle to talk about mental health — especially in the workplace.

Researchers at Ipsos MORI surveyed 1,000 Canadian men between the ages of 18 and 75, and the results are astounding.

Twenty-eight per cent of Canadian men said they believed their job could be at risk if they discuss mental health issues at work, and more than 33 per cent of men worry they could be overlooked for a promotion if they mention a problem.

READ MORE: ‘Depression meals’: How diets connect to mental health

As well, 42 per cent of men surveyed said they are also worried about colleagues making negative comments behind their backs.

For men like Peter, these results are completely unsurprising. (Global News has agreed to use a pseudonym to protect his identity.)

The 29-year-old marketing manager struggles with anxiety and panic attacks. “I’ve dealt with anxiety and panic my entire life, but I only began to acknowledge and treat it when I was 26,” he told Global News.

WATCH (Sept. 5, 2019): Prioritizing mental health as students head back to school

Earlier this year, Peter started a new job — a change that made his anxiety difficult to control.

“Starting a new job is one of the most stressful things you can do… What was supposed to be a career-shifting move turned into a never-ending episode of panic, stress, worry and fear,” he said.

Peter lived with this intense anxiety about his career and his job for three months, and the whole time, he felt like he was “walking on eggshells.”

READ MORE: Becoming a father can negatively impact men’s mental health: survey

The workplace culture didn’t help. According to Peter, it was “fear-based with top-down leadership.”

“The primary motivator was fear of losing your job. Because this leadership style came from the top down, it wasn’t a collaborative environment. It was every person for themselves,” he said.

Peter felt like he was stuck in a vicious cycle with no one to talk to about his mental health.

WATCH (Sept. 9, 2019): Suicide kills one person every 40 seconds, says World Health Organization

“(I felt that) if I said the wrong thing, I would lose my job and never be able to find a new one, and not be able to pay rent, and never be able to afford a down-payment on a house and I would spend the rest of my life on my parents’ couch,” he said.

“I’m a very healthy individual. I run marathons, eat vegan and meditate daily… but when employers are the cause of stress, anxiety, fear and uncertainty, short of leaving your job, I don’t think there’s much you can do.”

Ultimately, a particularly bad week forced Peter to confront his illness and see a doctor. At that point, he thought it would be appropriate to make his employer aware of his mental health — and ask for some leniency as he underwent treatment.

READ MORE: Doctor-prescribed addiction: How these Canadians got hooked on opioids

“All I needed was their support, understanding and patience,” Peter said, but that’s not what he was given.

“Things went on as normal. In fact, it was reiterated to me that I was in a performance-driven position and no accommodations could be made,” he said. “If I had broken my foot, accommodations would’ve been made. If I had pneumonia, accommodations would’ve been made.”

Four weeks later, Peter was terminated. His employer cited “performance issues,” and during his exit interview, he was made to feel ashamed about his illness. “They alluded to me lying about the illness to (explain my) poor performance,” Peter said.

The misconception that men aren’t affected by mental illness

Peter firmly believes that there is a lasting stigma around men who have a mental illness.

“We’ve come a long way with the stigma around mental health, but we clearly have so much further to go,” he said.

Movember spokesperson Alexandra Wise lost her father to suicide just three weeks after her mother died from ovarian cancer. In her opinion, stigma played a huge role in his battle with mental illness.

WATCH (Aug. 28, 2019): Back to school⁠ — UBC president’s personal mental health struggle

“He struggled with his mental health for most of my childhood, and as I got older, his mental health seemed to decline and things got worse,” she said.

“It was something that my family and I really didn’t understand. We didn’t understand the extent of what he was dealing with, and we weren’t really sure how to help him.”

Wise said her father lost his job when she was just a baby, and that the loss really affected him.

“He didn’t have any social connections and spent a lot of time inside the house, alone. He isolated himself more and more,” she said.

READ MORE: ‘I couldn’t believe it’ — why disability claims for mental health are often a struggle

At first, Wise struggled to understand why he would do such a thing. “It was really difficult to understand why he would do that,” she said. “My mom had no choice. My dad seemingly had the choice to live, or that’s what I thought.”

Since then, Wise has made an effort to learn more about mental health. Now she knows that her father didn’t feel like he had a choice.

“I think, really, in his mind, he felt like that was the only solution to end his pain and his suffering,” she said.

Employers need to do more

The workplace is commonly regarded as a space crucial to forming one’s identity. “It creates purpose,” said Dr. Ashley Bender, occupational psychiatrist and professor at the University of Toronto.

“Anything that is a potential threat to the loss of work or… their work status is something that could contribute to (someone) not coming forward with mental health issues.”

According to Bender, silence is seen as “the safe route” even though it puts people at risk by leaving their illness untreated.

WATCH (July 25, 2019): Doctor who termed “selfie dysmorphia” explains condition

This pressure could be compounded by the stereotype that men should always be working and that they shouldn’t talk about their feelings.

“Traditionally, a man’s role has been centered around employment and being productive and having work as a core source of their life and purpose,” said Bender.

To better support men with mental illness, Bender has three recommendations for workplaces.

“One of the ways is to launch anti-stigma campaigns… to impart knowledge and change attitudes about mental health,” he said. “This is really quite impactful, but it’s work that has to be done continuously.”

Manager training is also a big component so that “when it’s time to have those critical conversations, the individual who’s coming forward doesn’t feel stigmatized,” said Bender.

Finally, confidentiality is key. “Is there a workplace culture that respects confidentiality, particularly around (mental health issues)?” Bender said.

Ultimately, actions need to follow words.

“Attempts to change attitudes by creating awareness but then providing inadequate resources (like low coverage for psychological treatments) says, ‘we’re acknowledging that we have a problem, but we don’t care.’ That drives people into silence, because what’s the point?”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Hate certain vegetables? Here’s how taste buds work – National

by BBG Hub

If you grew up hating the taste of a vegetable like broccoli, two things may have happened in adulthood.

Either your dislike for the green vegetable remains or your taste buds have developed, allowing you to finally enjoy the texture and taste.

Registered dietitian Abbey Sharp of Abbey’s Kitchen, based in Toronto, told Global News the average person is born with roughly 10,000 taste buds.

READ MORE: Research suggests pressuring kids to eat food they don’t like doesn’t stop picky eating

“These taste buds die every two weeks and are replaced by new taste buds,” she continued. “As you grow older, the replacement of these taste buds slow down and they don’t all get replaced.”

As a result, this can affect the way people like (or dislike) certain flavours.

“This change in number makes flavours less intense which is often why we need to season our food more aggressively for our older family members.”

How do taste buds actually work?

According to the Australian Academy of Science, the average adult has between 2,000 and 8,000 taste buds.

“Despite what we may have learned in school, it’s not actually true there are certain areas of the tongue responsible for particular taste sensations,” the site noted. “However, there are different types of taste receptors that are each activated by a different suite of chemicals to elicit the various taste sensations we perceive.”

The academy added receptors for bitter, sweet, sour and umami tastes are actually proteins and are found on the top of taste bud cells.

READ MORE: Got a picky eater on your hands? Here’s how parents can deal

The National Center for Biotechnology Information in the U.S. adds each taste bud has 10 to 50 sensory cells and they are not just located on the tongue.

“There are also cells that detect taste elsewhere inside the oral cavity: in the back of the throat, epiglottis, the nasal cavity, and even in the upper part of the esophagus,” the site continued.

“Infants and young children also have sensory cells on their hard palate, in the middle of their tongue as well as in the mucous membranes of their lips and cheeks.”

Why we don’t like some foods

But regardless of age, some people just don’t like the taste of certain foods or flavours. For some it can be genetic. Previous reports in Huffpost found cilantro, for some, can taste like soap. 

Others, like David A. Levitsky, a professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University, previously told Well And Good humans are born with specific food perferences. 

“There are some clearly defined genetic determinants of taste, but mostly they define our reactions of very bitter tastes,” he told the site. “Bitter taste usually signals a potentially dangerous substance. That prevents children from eating potentially dangerous items in the environment.”

This is why it is common for children to be picky eaters.

READ MORE: Wary babies tend to be picky eaters too: child development study

“As we get older we become more curious and try new foods, some of which we may like.” Levitsky argued you can “train” yourself to like certain foods by eating them over and over again — this is why some people acquire the taste of wines, for example.

Sharp says some studies have shown the average person starts enjoying “intense-flavoured” food at the age of 22.

“Exposure to certain foods while you’re young is also a big factor in whether you enjoy them later in life,” she continued. “Translation? Don’t wait until full-blown adulthood to try new foods, get adventurous when you’re young.”

She added one 2017 study found exposing children to a variety of flavours at a young age meant they had a healthy relationship with that food later in life.

“When you’re expecting and breastfeeding, eat a variety of foods, and offer the same when your children start solids and transition into toddlerhood.”

Cutting out flavours

Sometimes, it’s about accepting new tastes; other times, it’s about cutting back. Sharp said because our taste buds are changing overtime, it can become hard for some people to completely cut out certain flavours.

“If I see someone who needs to limit their salt intake or sugar intake, we don’t recommend cutting it out altogether, cold-turkey,” she explained. “I would recommend slowly reducing the amount in their diet until they become more sensitive to smaller amounts.”

She added for starters, three shakes of salt could become two, and then if you were to try three again, it would be offensively salty.

“This is why soup companies, for example, have been very slowly adjusting their sodium levels over time — so that people’s palates can adjust,” she continued.

The same can be said for sugar.

“If you’re used to having three sugars in your coffee, you can cut back to two for a while, then get down to one and then none. If you ever accidentally have a drink with a lot of added sugar, you’ll quickly be surprised you were ever able to tolerate that sweetness load every day.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Chrissy Teigen got Botox in her armpits to prevent sweating, but does it work? – National

by BBG Hub

Chrissy Teigen had Botox injected into her armpits to prevent excessive sweating, and she said it was was the “best move” she’s ever made.

In a series of Instagram videos posted Tuesday, the model shared that the procedure has allowed her to “wear silk again without soaking.”

READ MORE: When excessive sweating becomes a medical condition — hyperhidrosis

In the first video, Teigen bites on a towel, anticipating pain from the needle headed into her underarm. But after a few seconds, she says: “That really isn’t anything!”

When asked if the procedure hurts, Teigen said it “truly didn’t hurt at all, but I also do laser hair removal there so my pain tolerance might be quite high.”

According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Julia Carroll, you might experience pain during this procedure but only for a few minutes.

“The whole process itself usually takes [about] a minute each side,” said Carroll. “It’s a relatively simple procedure for dermatologists who do more complicated cosmetic Botox on a regular basis.”

Excessive sweating as a medical condition

Carroll said that for people who suffer with excessive sweating, also known as hyperhidrosis, the treatment can be life-changing.

READ MORE: Can you be allergic to your own sweat?

People with hyperhidrosis produce more sweat than is necessary to keep themselves cool. The Canadian Dermatology Association estimates that around three per cent of Canadians, or about 950,000 people, have hyperhidrosis.

“Patients affected by this condition could just be sweating for no reason when other people in the same environment, same conditions, do not,” said Dr. Youwen Zhou, a dermatology professor at the University of British Columbia. While it’s not dangerous, it can be unpleasant and many patients feel embarrassed, he said.

“If regular antiperspirant doesn’t keep you comfortable and able to do all your daily activities, then you likely have hyperhidrosis,” she said. “It can have a massive impact on every part of your life.”

WATCH: Shoppers Drug Mart offers cosmetic injections, laser treatment — here’s what you need to know

Some people are bothered by the sweat itself, while others don’t like the smell.

“People don’t talk about it, but when you have to wake up every morning and think about what you’re going to put on so you can get through the day and not have to worry about [sweating], it can be really challenging,” said Carroll.

Carroll herself did the procedure before her wedding day.

“I was going to be in a white strapless dress so I had my armpits done because I didn’t want to worry about pit stains on my wedding day,” she said.

How does it work?

When used to treat hyperhidrosis, Botox is injected into the underarms in a grid-like pattern with small needles.

“We cleanse the area and then we take tiny needles and inject the area where the sweating occurs,” said Carroll.

If you’re struggling with pain or you don’t like needles, there are some options, she adds.

“I numb the area for some people, or we can use vibrations for distractions so people don’t feel it.”

WATCH: 5 tips to help overcome anxiety at the gym

This process will need to be repeated about every nine months, although the length of time in between procedures will depend on the severity of your hyperhidrosis.

“I have some patients with severe hyperhidrosis who are treated every three months and then I have a lot of patients who just get it done once a year during the season when they know they have the most trouble,” said Carroll.

Risks and results

The risks of this procedure are very minor.

Botox has long been safely used as a cosmetic treatment for smoothing facial wrinkles by temporarily paralyzing muscles. It has also been used to treat neuromuscular conditions such as migraines and muscle spasms.

“All the risks are around the needle itself,” Carroll said. “Pain, bruising… there’s a very slight risk of infection, but it’s very rare.”

READ MORE: Is antiperspirant safe for kids?

There aren’t any long-term risks associated with the procedure.

The results will vary from person to person.

“It really depends on how much you’re sweating and how responsive you are to the drug,” she said.

“For some people, they don’t sweat at all. For others with severe hyperhidrosis, it just takes them down to what normal people would experience on a warm day.”

How much does it cost?

There are two different costs involved with this procedure: the cost of the Botox and the cost of the injection. The total cost will depend on how much Botox you need.

“If you have medical coverage, [your insurance] will typically cover a percentage of the cost of Botox,” said Carroll. Some insurance companies will actually cover the entire cost of Botox. In this case, the patient only covers the cost of the injection fee.

“Injection fees range from $200 to $300, and the Botox could cost anywhere from $400 to $1,200,” Carroll said.

— With files from Leslie Young

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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