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Past Meetings

May 15, 2018

Running on Empty: Manage Your Energy, Manage Your Stress

Times flies when you are leading into tomorrow! This meeting was the final meeting of the season and also the Annual General Meeting, during which we discussed the season’s milestones, participation, audited finances, and closed our Board nominations. We then heard from Dr. David Posen, a best-selling author and expert on stress management.  He talked to us about energy management, stress reduction, and taking control of our lives.

Annual General Meeting -   Shannon Quinn

Shannon Quinn, the President of the PMCQ, opened the meeting by covering the business of the Annual General Meeting:

  • Participation is up 10% from last year, with an average of 157 participants at each educational event.
  • The split in the room is 80% pharma manufacturers and 20% suppliers, and we have quite a cross-functional mix.
  • The event topics were chosen based on that cross-functional mix. We covered both the external environment of how regulations and innovations (AI and IO) would drive the future of pharma, but also focused inward and looked at ourselves as people coping with pressures, families and jobs, and also as patients who are dealing with pharma and living out disease challenges.
  • We tried something new this year: a breakfast event. It had the biggest attendance to date and this will influence how we plan future events.
  • We gave back to the community at our holiday soirée. Donations were made to two Montreal hospitals, plus a sponsorship experiment with CDM, where donations were made to the Shoebox Foundation.
  • Our next social event will close our season. It is the summer social at the Forest & Stream Club in Dorval. There will be parking guides and networking games to facilitate interactions. We will also have a silent auction where we will provide the benefits to one local and one global charity. Tickets are on sale now, but we only have a capacity of 200, so get your ticket soon!
  • Regarding the club’s financial standing, the year-end question for the finances is actually last season (July 2016 – June 2017). The bulk of the club’s revenues come from sponsorship dollars and memberships. The majority of expenses are on monthly meetings. (We are a victim of our success—the more people who attend, the higher cost of meals). Admin costs are 25-30% of the total revenue and expenses, respectively. There was a bit of an increase in the website cost because we had to update the site to a responsive design. Year-to-date finances are trending very similarly to past years.
  • Shannon then requested a motion to approve the audited finances. The members, by show of card, approved the audited finances.
  • Shannon then asked all members to approve the Board of Director nominations and they did.
  • Shannon then thanked all of the educational sponsors and requested everyone to tell the PMCQ what they would like to learn in the future. Please share your feedback with us and tell your colleagues and friends about your experience at our events. Spread the word in order to keep supporting the PMCQ!
  • Shannon then thanked the corporate partners. She asked everyone to talk to them and ask them how their business serves pharma and how the evolving landscape in pharma has changed their businesses.
  • She then thanked our supporting partners.
  • A special thank you was given to Mr. Bob Ness, who founded Data Ad, one of our supporting partners. He has served on the Board for over 20 years. He will be taking a step back from the PMCQ, but Data Ad will continue to support the club. Greg Buie presented to him a token of gratitude for his support.

Shannon then covered a few points of business:

  • Check the PMCQ’s website over the summer to see our new brochure for the upcoming season.
  • Our Facebook likes have grown over 50% since the start of the season. It is the go-to spot for all of our social activities, including photos. Please like our page!
  • Our LinkedIn page was a new addition for us this year. We’ve surpassed our number of followers on Facebook. This is our main, professional voice in the community.
  • Thank you to Merck for organizing the event and Raphael Normand for doing the creative for this event.

Live It: Merck’s State-of-the-Art Employee Wellness Program -   Violette Berberian

Shannon then introduced Violette Berberian, the Employee Wellness Lead at Merck, who presented Merck’s state-of-the-art employee wellness program called “Live it”. Violette spearheaded the strategy and rolled out the program nationally, both at the office and in the field, three years ago. Since then, the program has positioned Merck Canada as a benchmark country for wellness within the Merck affiliates around the globe.

The program itself is evidence-based (they did a lot of research on best practices) and in turn has generated real-world evidence for how making time to do physical activity, eat well, manage stress and take preventative action against potential diseases can make employees happier.

What is remarkable about the program is that 94% of the employees are participating. Merck has succeeded in creating a whole company culture around this program, which has lead to the company receiving an award for exemplifying the best employer for healthy lifestyles, as well as being recognized as one of the top Montreal employers.

Running on Empty: Manage Your Energy, Manage Your Stress -   Dr. David Posen

Violette then introduced Dr. David Posen, who was a family physician for 17 years before specializing in stress and lifestyle counselling. He is the author of several best-selling books. His talk consisted of two themes: 1) stress management as energy management; 2) how the best solutions are often right in front of our noses and we are not paying attention.

According to Dr. Posen, a lot of patients come to doctors complaining of fatigue. It is one of the most common complaints. Fatigue is a common symptom of stress. Most of our best stress reducers are actually energy-producers (i.e. exercise, meditation, leisure and relaxation, laughter and play). Dr. Posen said you have to control the things that you can control, because there are a lot of things in life that you can’t control. You control the way you think and behave, and the lifestyle choices you make.

How to monitor your stress and pace yourself:

The stress reaction is built into us and we actually need it for survival, but when stress goes on too long, the effects of cortisol can lead to cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance (which predisposes to Type 2 Diabetes), suppression of the immune system (causing susceptibility to infection), etc. A certain amount of stress serves us well, in that it gives us the energy to perform at our best. (Think of players in professional sports, right before the game starts.) After a certain point, our performance diminishes, however, and we lose our insight and our judgment—then we get exhausted, which can lead to sickness or depression or stress symptoms (headache, muscle pain, etc.). The tragedy of burnout is that it is years in the making and all of the warning signs are there, but they are missed along the way.

Most of the stress we experience today isn’t physical, it is psychological. Productivity is not a function of time multiplied by effort; it is time multiplied by efficiency. We need to take a “timely time-out” when we are losing our concentration at work. We all need recovery time. Every single organism goes through cycles of activity and rest. That’s how health is sustained. A healthy stress cycle looks like intermittent periods of stress dispersed by periods of rest and relaxation. For so many people, their stress levels may fluctuate, but they never have a chance to completely calm down, and so they never fully recover their energy.

“Timely time-outs,” as Dr. Posen calls them, have three timeframes:

  1. Throughout the day (short breaks)
  2. Throughout the week (leisure activities)
  3. Throughout the year (vacations)

The benefits of taking a time-out include:

  • Reducing stress and rejuvenating energy
    • The futility of working long hours is that when you’re tired, you’re less efficient at what you do. Then you have to work longer hours to get your work done, and when you work longer hours, you have less time for sleep and exercise, which keeps you tired and less efficient. The irony is that the things that would reduce our stress and rejuvenate our energy are the things we boot off first.
  • Getting perspective on the bigger picture and enhancing problem solving
    • Think about it: when do you get your best ideas? There are three times when our conscious and subconscious minds are closest together: 1) just as you’re drifting off to sleep; 2) in the twilight haze of waking up; 3) when you meditate or do some deep relaxation (rhythmic activities and activities involving water). When you are struggling with a difficult problem, one of the best things you can do is walk away from the problem.

Getting enough sleep

Think of the number of hours of sleep you need to function at your best and feel your best. The truth is that we know what to do and we’re just not doing it.

The symptoms of sleep deprivation are the same symptoms of stress:

  • Feeling physically tired
  • Poor memory and concentration
  • Decreased mood and depression
  • Lowered immune system

Sleep deprivation raises cortisol levels, the hormone involved in stress; therefore, sleep deprivation in and off itself is a form of stress. Three ways to get more sleep include:

  1. Going to bed earlier
  2. Sleeping in
  3. Taking power naps (5-20 minute naps)

Furthermore, you should not look at any screens in the hour before bedtime and stop checking emails.


Caffeine is such a socially acceptable substance that we forget that it’s a drug. It’s actually a strong stimulant of adrenaline and cortisol and blocks a natural relaxant in the brain called adenosine. The net result is a stress reaction in your body. Caffeine stays in your system a long time (6-10 hours, and longer the older you get). The paradox about caffeine is that as a stimulant, it gives us energy, but too much caffeine drains you of energy.

Dr. Posen said he makes all of his new patients quit caffeine for a few weeks to see what it does to them. Most feel better without the caffeine and claim they feel more calm and relaxed and have better energy because they sleep better. There are two explanations for this reaction:

  1. Caffeine causes you to burn energy too fast, leaving you feel tired.
  2. Caffeine bothers your sleep, even if you don’t think it does. With normal sleep, you go through cycles where the deepest part of sleep is called Level 3 or 4 sleep. People who drink caffeine before bed can go to sleep and go through the sleep cycles, but they never achieve greater than level 2 sleep. (They get the quantity but not the quality.)

The one caveat about decreasing your caffeine intake is that you have to do it gradually.

Introverts versus extroverts

Dr. Posen’s final comments were about the differences between introverts and extroverts. Contrary to popular belief, introversion is not a measure of how outgoing a person is, it is about how that person rejuvenates his/her energy. Introverts need more recovery time than extroverts. There is something called the “state of optimal arousal”. Introverts and extroverts have a different level of baseline cortical stimulation. If there is too much external stimulation, introverts get tired and overwhelmed due to their naturally higher level of baseline cortical stimulation. Extroverts have a lower baseline cortical stimulation and rely on outside stimuli to bring their levels up to the state of optimal arousal.

Key takeaways

Manage your energy and you will manage your stress. How can you do this?

  • Pace yourself and monitor your stress.
  • Take timely time outs.
  • Get up and move around.
  • Avoid long work hours.
  • Get the sleep you need.
  • Cut down on caffeine.
  • Do something for yourself every day for work-life balance.


Justine Garner
Freelance Medical Writer
Cell: (514) 605-5109


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Supporting Care Partners

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Time: 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
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