Alternative options to manage ADHD
Today most people have either dealt with or at least heard about ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Now there are variations of this disorder including AD/HD and ADD but basically the key behavioral signs in children are inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Adults with ADHD often exhibit signs of depression, mood swings, anger and relationship issues, poor time management skills, and procrastination. The severity of these symptoms can vary and there are many adults who are not aware that they are mildly afflicted with this disorder. Research indicates that it is caused by a genetic chemical imbalance in the brain and therefore can be inherited although there are some who believe that factors like food additives contribute to the disorder. Most do agree though that triggers such as stress, anxiety and diet can intensify the symptoms.
As a therapist in Los Angeles I have worked with many patients with ADHD, especially in the entertainment industry. When I recommend they consider starting a mindfulness meditation practice, usually the first objection I hear is, “Oh, I could never mediate I’m too restless to be able to sit still long enough. Besides it could stifle my creativity and dull my mind.” I assure them that on the contrary, mindfulness meditation has proven to be a very effective tool in dealing with this disorder and takes less time than they think.
Mindfulness helps create the capacity to not only calm and sooth but increases the ability to focus. It offers two important benefits that help reduce restlessness. One is heightened concentration, allowing patients to be more productive. Another is physiological changes, namely, a decrease in skin temperature and increase in oxygenation of the brain, a decrease in lactic acid (which causes fatigue) and cortisol (a stress hormone). With less fatigue and stress, patients become less distracted and more efficient in using and managing their time. Through mindfulness they also feel less anxiety and stress and instead experience more ‘one-pointedness of mind.’ In Zen this means being in a state of complete focus or heightened concentration and totally aware of the present moment. The more frequent someone practices mindfulness the more they enter the zone of single minded focus and become less plagued by the monkey mind.
Mindfulness practice seems to ground restless people, transforming their energy from a chaotic, even manic discharge to a more focused and heightened exuberance that then can be channeled into productivity. In addition to meditation, there are other techniques that people with ADHD can do to help them manage their symptoms such as regular exercise especially yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi; a diet that is low in stimulating foods like sugar, processed foods, alcohol and coffee; creating lists to help keep them focused; not giving themselves too many choices and listening when other people are talking thus avoiding speaking too quickly.
Ronald Alexander Ph.D., a psychotherapist, leadership coach and international trainer is the author of the widely acclaimed book Wise Mind, Open Mind: Finding Purpose and Meaning in Times of Crisis, Loss and Change thatprovides practical and innovative applications to help one through today’s challenging times. He is the Executive Director of the OpenMind Training Institute, a leading edge organization that offers personal and professional training programs in mind-body therapies, transformational leadership, and mindfulness. Through his unique techniques of combining the ancient wisdom of mindfulness with positive psychology and creative thinking Ronald Alexander has helped hundreds learn how to open their mind and heart to transform any challenge and ignite their inner passions. For more inspiration visit www.ronaldalexander.com.
How healthcare can safeguard itself against cyberthreats
One of the most fundamental lessons from the COVID crisis is that health should always be a priority. In a similar fashion to the human body that frequently fights off viruses and foreign invaders that intend to cause it harm, the sector itself is now a prime target for another type of external threat: cyberattacks.
The figures speak for themselves: between December and January this year, hospitals in the UK were at 89% capacity, with 7,000 fewer available beds than there usually are. As the pandemic increased pressure on hospitals, clinics, and research facilities to create a treatment for patients globally, it has left the sector exposed to hackers who, like a virus, have been targeting it relentlessly and evolving their tactics.
From patient records being held ransom, to fake emails claiming to originate from the UN WHO, the NHS, or vaccine centres, through to attacks on the cold supply chain to find out the secret formula of the COVID vaccine, the healthcare industry is facing constant cyberattacks and struggling to cope. This threat is unlikely to go away anytime soon – and as such, the industry needs to take a proactive, preventative stance to stay safe in a dynamic digital world.
The responsive nature of healthcare – particularly of hospitals – means that efficiency is crucial to the industry’s standard operations. To support this, the sector has been embracing technological advancements that can improve the quality of work, enabling staff to meet pressing deadlines, and enhancing patient care. For example, the industry has been digitising records and improving its ways of working through digital means over the past few years.
This shift is critical to offer high quality patient care; yet, it also means the sector has become more dependent on IT, which can come with a risk if cybersecurity processes employed are deemed as inadequate.
Without the correct security measures in place, the desired efficiency gains realised, can be easily lost in a heartbeat. Simply put, an elementary glitch in the system can have a tremendous ripple effect on many areas, from accessing patient records and conducting scans, to maintaining physical security and protecting the intellectual property of experimental treatment development.
To prevent this, healthcare organisations need to ensure they’re considering cybersecurity as part of their overall digital transformation strategy – and setting the right foundations to create a culture where safety goes hand in hand with patient care.
Before implementing cybersecurity process, healthcare organisations need to assess the potential risks they face. Depending on how much confidential data the trust has, where it is stored, who has access to it and via which means, the cybersecurity strategy and associated solutions will change.
It’s fair to say that a medical device start-up where all employees have a corporate-sanctioned laptop and access data via a VPN will have radically different needs to a large hospital with hundreds of frontline workers connecting to the hospital’s Wi-Fi using their personal device.
These requirements will pale by comparison to a global pharmaceutical giant with offices in multiple locations, a large R&D department researching new treatments for complex diseases and a fully integrated supply chain. Considering the existing setup and what the organisations is looking to achieve with its digital transformation strategy will therefore have an immediate impact on the cybersecurity strategy.
Despite this, there are fundamentals that any organisation should implement:
Review and test your back-up policy to ensure it is thorough and sufficient – By checking that the organisation’s back-up is running smoothly, IT teams can limit any risks of disruption in the midst of an incident and of losing data permanently.
In our recent State of Email Security report, we found that six out of ten organisations have been victims of ransomware in 2020. As a result, afflicted organisations have lost an average of six days to downtime. One third of organisations even admitted that they failed to get their data back, despite paying the ransom. In the healthcare industry, this could mean losing valuable patient records or data related to new treatments – two areas the sector cannot afford to be cavalier about.
Conduct due diligence across the organisation’s supply chain – Healthcare organisations should review their ways of working with partners, providers and regulatory institutions they work with in order to prevent any weak link in their cybersecurity chain. Without this due diligence, organisations leave themselves exposed to the risks of third party-led incidents.
Roll out mandatory cybersecurity awareness training - Healthcare organisations shouldn’t neglect the training and awareness of their entire staff – including frontline workers who may not access the corporate network on a regular basis. According to our State of Email Security report, only one fifth of organisations carry out ongoing cyber awareness training.
This suggests it is not widely considered as a fundamental part of most organisations cyber-resilience strategy, despite the fact many employees rely on their organisation’s corporate network to work. By providing systematic training, healthcare organisations can help workers at all levels better understand the current cyberthreats they face, how they could impact their organisation, the role they play in defending the networks, and develop consistent, good cybersecurity hygiene habits to limit the risks of incidents.
Consider a degree of separation – Information and Operational Technology (IT and OT) networks should be separated.
Although mutually supported and reliance on each other, employees shouldn’t be accessing one via the other. This should be complemented by a considered tried and tested contingency and resiliency plan that allows crucial services to function unabated should there be a compromise. Similarly, admin terminals should not have internet access to afford a degree of hardening and protection for these critical accounts.
As the sector becomes a common target for fraudulent and malicious activity, putting cybersecurity at the core of the organisation’s operations is critical. It will help limit the risks of disruption due to cyberattacks, reduce time spent by the cybersecurity team to resolve easily avoidable errors, and ensure that institutions can deliver patient care, safe in the knowledge that their networks are safe.
Fighting future threats
With technology continuing to change the face of healthcare, the surface area and vectors available for attacks by malicious actors is constantly increasing. With the introduction of apps, networked monitoring devices, and a need for communication, the attack vector is ever expanding, a trend that needs to be monitored and secured against.
To prevent any damage to patients, staff, or the organisation they are responsible for, healthcare leaders must put security front and centre of their digital transformation strategy. Only then can the sector harness the full benefits of technology. Doing this should include implementing cybersecurity awareness training to challenge misconceptions around security, encourage conversation, and to ensure employee knowledge of the security basics and threats faced.
This ultimately allows healthcare organisations to do what they do best: provide the highest standard of patient care, safe in the knowledge that their operations, patients, and data are safe.