Straight Talk For Real Life

Description of series

Straight Talk For Real Life is about everyday challenges that can get in the way of experiencing life at its fullest. We talk with experts about emotional health, relationships and parenting, sleep problems, substance use and addiction, financial challenges—and what it looks and feels like when it's time to ask for help. By breaking down the stigma and opening the dialogue, we want listeners to know that they're not alone and that HPE has resources to help employees and their families.


Most recent episode
Lessons from the Blue Zones: The Real Secrets to Living a Longer and Happier Life
  • 031
  • June 12, 2024

What are the secrets of living a longer, more fulfilled life? Answering that big question has been the quest of a company called Blue Zones for more than 2 decades. “Blue zone” is a term coined by its founder, Dan Buettner, to describe specific locations around the world where people regularly live to be 100 years old and beyond. The company examines how and why these people live far longer and happier lives than the average. Guest: Dexter Shurney, M.D., president/chief health and well-being officer, Blue Zones Well-Being Institute.

Loneliness: Social Connections—Why Your Health Depends on Them
  • 030
  • February 23, 2024

In today's fast-paced society, many of us spend our days balancing countless meetings and endless work with school and family responsibilities. If we have any free time, we might complete a few more errands or perhaps squeeze in some exercise. But something critically important to your health and happiness is missing: Social connection. Loneliness is at epidemic levels. How do we break the barriers of loneliness and lay the cornerstone of a more satisfying and connected life? Guest: Brad Shuck, PhD, University of Louisville.

Happiness Hacks
  • 029
  • September 1, 2023

Is there truly a road to happiness? And if so, how can we get there? You might be surprised! This episode contains many practical tips—“happiness hacks”—that can help you increase the happiness level in your life. Guest: Stella Grizont, positive psychology and happiness expert.

Caregiving: Preparing for the Unexpected
  • 028
  • July 21, 2023

No one ever imagines, much less prepares, for the day they will become a caregiver—providing necessary care for a loved one whose health is declining because of age or a disability, or whose health is affected because of a sudden accident or serious illness. But there’s a good chance that most of us will become caregivers during our lives. Learn practical tips about caregiving for your loved one . . . and yourself. Guest: Jessica Kim, cofounder of the caregiver app ianacare.

Grief: Coping with Loss Through the Love That’s Left Behind
  • 027
  • May 10, 2023

When a loved one dies—whether a parent, a child, a life partner, a family member, or a friend, or even a beloved pet—giving yourself time and permission to grieve that loss is an important step in healing. Although grief might include feelings of sadness and heartbreak, just remember that those feelings are not because of the love you’ve lost. Rather, they are proof that love is still there. Guest: Marisa Renee Lee, author of Grief Is Love: Living with Loss.

Psychological Safety: Creating a Happier, Healthier Team at Work and at Home
  • 026
  • February 27, 2023

Whether at work, in the community, or at home, you want to create an environment that brings out the very best in everyone, so your “team” can thrive. Years of research have revealed that the most important ingredient in “super-charging” any team—at work or at home—is to ensure a “psychologically safe” environment. In this episode, we’ll tell you how to do it. Guest: Brad Shuck, PhD, University of Louisville.

Allison’s Story: Hope for Addiction
  • 025
  • November 1, 2022

Addiction affects many people . . . people you know, love, or work with—perhaps even you. What happens to our brains when we become addicted to substances like alcohol or drugs or to behaviors like gambling? And what can we do about it? In this episode, we hear a very personal story about how alcohol addiction affected an HPE team member’s life. We also talk to an addiction and medical expert who was New York’s “chief” psychiatrist during times when the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Sandy affected the mental health of millions of people. Guests: HPE team member Allison; Lloyd I. Sederer, MD, psychiatrist, teacher, public health administrator, and author.

Neurodiversity: Hidden Challenges of Invisible Conditions
  • 024
  • September 1, 2022

Imagine having a disability or condition that no one can see. For a majority of people around the world—and even people you may know—it’s a reality. They might have autism, ADHD, dyslexia, or other conditions that affect how they learn and think. In this episode, we explore the benefits of neurodiversity, and we provide helpful tips for colleagues, managers, and those with hidden disabilities. Guest: Ted Smith, author of Hidden Disabilities and Conditions: Creating an Inclusive Workplace.

Menopause and How It Can Affect Your Mental Health
  • 023
  • June 6, 2022

Nearly all women go through menopause—and many younger women go through perimenopause. But because it’s a subject we rarely talk about, many women don’t know what to expect, especially when they start to experience mental health issues. Guest: Catherine O’Keeffe, known as the Wellness Warrior and “Ireland’s first menopause coach.” Guest hosts: Holly Greer, HPE’s Global Wellness Program Manager; and Kim Field, HPE’s UKIMESA HR Director.

Food and Your Mood: What You Eat Can Impact How You Feel
  • 022
  • March 14, 2022

Did you know that changing your diet can help you to feel happier? In this episode, we explore the science of nutritional psychiatry—how food can improve symptoms of behavioral health issues like depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, PTSD, Alzheimer’s disease, and more. Guest: Uma Naidoo, M.D., Harvard-trained psychiatrist, Cornell-trained nutrition expert, and professional chef.

Supporting Our Heroes: Resources for Veterans
  • 021
  • October 29, 2021

To honor our team members who are veterans, this Veterans Day episode focuses on the invisible wounds of military service—mental health issues of veterans—and the resources HPE offers to these brave women and men who have done so much for us. Guests: Guy Strawder, Revelations Counseling and Consulting; and Joseph Mack and Todd Sullivan, HPE team members who lead HPE’s Veterans Employee Resource Network (VERN).

Releasing the Superpower of the Brain: When Art and Science Come Together
  • 020
  • April 16, 2021

The creative arts have the power to change our brains, making us feel happier, healthier, and even smarter. Scientists can see that when we look at or engage in the creative arts, an area of the brain lights up and releases chemicals that can help us cope with stress, depression, and much more. Guest: Susan Magsamen, executive director of the International Arts + Mind Lab, from the Brain Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The Keys to Unlocking a Happier, Healthier Life: Gratitude, Compassion, and Self-Care
  • 019
  • January 22, 2021

A happier and healthier life is within your reach! This episode looks at 3 keys to unlocking it: gratitude, compassion, and self-care. We'll look at the science behind a few simple habits that can lead to better physical and emotional health, improved sleep, stronger relationships, and more happiness overall. Guest: Dr. Brad Shuck, Associate Professor and Program Director of the Human Resource and Organizational Development program at the University of Louisville in Kentucky.

Is Financial Stress Affecting Your Mental and Physical Health?
  • 018
  • November 30, 2020

For many of us, money issues can add a lot of stress and anxiety to our lives. In this episode, we talk to an expert about how financial stress can create health problems—and what you can do to reduce that stress. Guest: Jeanne Thompson, Senior Vice President, Workplace Solutions Thought Leader, Fidelity Investments.

Man to Man: Men's Health Questions—Suggested by You
  • 017
  • October 26, 2020

What are the top men's health questions on your mind? That's the question we posed to HPE team members all over the world. In a special Straight Talk For Real Life podcast episode in support of International Men's Day (November 19), HPE's Chief People Officer, Alan May, talks with Ronesh Sinha, M.D. (aka "Dr. Ron"), an internal medicine physician, author, and popular speaker, to get answers to many of those important questions. Guests: HPE Chief People Officer Alan May and Ronesh Sinha, M.D.

Helping Families with Children Who Have Special Needs
  • 016
  • August 4, 2020

Parenting is a demanding job even in the best circumstances. However, it can be even more difficult for parents who have children with learning, social, or behavioral challenges. In this episode, we discuss how to best support children with special needs and their families. Guest: Angela Nelson, vice president and executive director of clinical services at Rethink Benefits.

ABCs of Optimal Health: Training for the Pandemic
  • 015
  • July 6, 2020

How can we prepare our minds and bodies to successfully win the fight against COVID-19? In this special mini-episode, a medical doctor provides invaluable tips, not only about how to protect yourself from catching the virus, but about how to boost your immunity and survive COVID-19. Guest: Ronesh Sinha, M.D.

Be Kind to Your Mind in Times of Uncertainty
  • 014
  • July 6, 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many things have been out of our control—causing fear, stress, sleeplessness, and anxiety. Mindfulness and meditation are helping millions of people around the world cope. In this episode, we'll learn how mindfulness and meditation can help you cope with whatever life throws at you—today and in the future. Guests: Eve Lewis and Tom Freeman from Headspace.

Help Along the Way: Moving Toward Tomorrow
  • 013
  • July 6, 2020

We've all endured some big changes over the past several months due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. As we prepare to return to work and a new world, our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is there for you, offering resources and expertise you need. In this episode, we'll talk about those resources. Guest: Liam Coffey from Optum EAP, UK.

Parents: Helping Children Prepare for What's Ahead
  • 012
  • July 6, 2020

As schools, daycare centers, and camps reopen, parents and children may be dealing with stress and anxiety about what's ahead—and whatever that's like. Parents will play an enormously important role in helping the transition be successful. In this episode, we provide expert tips for reassuring children to feel prepared and confident as they step out into this "new normal." Guest: Ellen Contente, parenting coach and founder of Heart-Centered Programs.

Let the Journey Begin: Moving from Fear to Growth
  • 011
  • July 6, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of stress and anxiety. But now it's time to journey from the "fear zone" to a place that is healthier and happier. This short episode—part of a collective mini-series about navigating the uncharted road ahead—contains helpful tips to build your emotional fitness and find purpose and a sense of personal growth from what you experienced (called Post-Traumatic Growth). Guest: Rod Hart, senior practice leader in Aon's National Health Transformation Team.

Meditation: Could It Work for You—Like It Has Worked for Millions of Others?
  • 010
  • April 10, 2020

In today's stress-filled world, we're all looking for healthier ways to cope. For years, meditation has been standard practice for some of the most successful people in business, the tech world, and sports. Perhaps it could work for you too. Headspace can help. Guest: Headspace's Chief Science Officer, Megan Jones Bell.

Kelly McGonigal: The Joy of Movement
  • 009
  • April 10, 2020

Exercise—walking, running, dancing, moving—enhances and extends our lives. Yet many of us think of exercise as a chore. Discover how exercise can be a source of joy. Guest: Kelly McGonigal, PhD, research psychologist, speaker (her 2013 TED Talk, "How to Make Stress Your Friend," has been viewed more than 21 million times), and author of The Upside of Stress (2015) and The Joy of Movement (2019).

Stress and Your Heart
  • 008
  • March 9, 2020

Stress can make your life miserable, but could it be killing you? Recent research shows that your mental state can have a big impact on your physical wellness. In particular, stress can cause heart disease. Learn about it and what you can do to keep a healthy heart. Guest: Alexandra Crosswell, PhD, Assistant professor in psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco.

What's Keeping You Up at Night: The Secrets to Improving Your Sleep
  • 007
  • January 6, 2020

Sleep is incredibly important to your mental and physical health—and your overall performance. In this episode, we explore things you should—and shouldn't—do to improve your sleep. Our guest: Chris Winter, M.D., author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How to Fix It.

The Facts About Smoking and Vaping
  • 006
  • December 6, 2019

Ultimately, it's your decision whether to smoke tobacco or use a vaping device, or perhaps your children have jumped on the vaping bandwagon, so it's important that you know the facts. In this episode, we talk about smoking and the growing popularity of vaping—and what you need to know. Our guests: Pamela Ling, MD, MPH; Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, PhD.

Men's Health
  • 005
  • November 4, 2019

In recognition of International Men's Day on November 19, this episode focuses on men's health issues and what it takes to live a longer, happier, and healthier life. Guest: Dr. David C. Batman, a registered medical practitioner in the U.K. and international occupational health advisor for Virgin Pulse.

Addiction: What you need to know
  • 004
  • October 23, 2019

In this episode, we look at drug and alcohol addiction, a complex health issue affecting every region of the world today. An estimated 107 million people worldwide have an alcohol dependence. It is a disease that affects the rich and poor, male and female, young and old, and every ethnic background. The good news is that hope exists through treatment and recovery. Guests: Andrew B. Mendenhall, MD, addiction medicine specialist and chief medical officer for Central City Concern; and Blake Cohen, national outreach manager at Recovery Unplugged.

Olympic medalist Deena Kastor: The secret to reaching your potential
  • 003
  • October 23, 2019

American record holder, Olympic medalist, and New York Times best-selling author Deena Kastor has discovered what it takes to win. Hear how you can apply her winning recipe for success to your life—and get ready to achieve more than you ever dreamed. Guest: Deena Kastor.

You're not alone: Where to turn when you or someone you care about is facing real life challenges
  • 002
  • June 4, 2019

It's OK to not be OK. It just means that you're human. Things like stress, anxiety, and depression can affect anyone. The important thing to know is that you don't have to go through it alone. There are experts available to help you at any moment, night or day. In this episode, we'll talk about the resources available through Optum's Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Guests: Jessica Zach, Greg Casson, and Dr. Randall Solomon with Optum.

Angst, the documentary: A closer look at anxiety
  • 001
  • June 4, 2019

Anyone can experience anxiety—even Olympic champions like Michael Phelps. In this episode, we discuss anxiety and a documentary titled Angst (2017, IndieFlix), which is raising awareness and providing hope. Learn how to recognize and manage anxiety. Guests: executive producer of Angst Scilla Andreen; clinical psychologist Tam Nguyen, PhD.