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Employee Wellness Featured Self Help Sleep

6 Secrets To A Good Night’s Sleep

If you’re tired of feeling tired, here are some simple tips to help you achieve better sleep

We all have trouble sleeping from time to time, but when restless nights persist, it can become a real problem. Studies have shown that inadequate sleep can have serious effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health, like increasing our propensity for obesity, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes, as well as making us tired, moody, and unable to concentrate on daily tasks. “Think of your body as a computer,” says Dr. Rhalf Jayson Guanco, a psychologist and faculty member of the psychology department of the Adventist University of the Philippines. “Walking around in a sleep-deprived state is like working on a computer with a fragmented hard drive. You are not getting all the performance from that computer that you could.” 

Experts say adults need to sleep between seven to nine hours per stretch so that the body can repair and recharge itself for the next day. And when we are fully rested, we enjoy benefits such as improved memory and concentration, enhanced creativity, better decision-making skills, a more positive mood and mindset, and a healthier immune system.

If you have trouble settling down to sleep, Dr. Guanco shares some tips below that you can follow:

  1. Maintain a regular sleep-wake schedule, even on the weekends. “Doing so maintains your body’s circadian rhythm (also known as our “inner clock”), which can help you fall asleep and wake up more easily,” says Dr. Guanco.
  2. Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as soaking in a hot bath, reading a book, or listening to soothing music. Don’t eat, do moderate to intense exercises, or drink alcohol or caffeine, or smoke three hours before bedtime since these arouse the senses instead of sending you into a relaxed state. “Also avoid doing activities that excite or stress you out, such as working, playing video games, or paying bills,” he adds.
  1. Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool. Dr. Guanco advises using blackout curtains to cover your windows, and wearing eye shades or ear plugs.
  2. Sleep on a firm, comfortable mattress. “The average lifespan for a good quality mattress is about 9 -10 years.,” he points out. 
  1. Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex. “This strengthens the association between your bed and sleep.  Take work materials, computers, and the television out of the bedroom,” he shares.
  2. Exercise regularly (but not too close to bedtime). Even just short bouts of exercise can lead to improvements in total sleep time, sleep quality, and time spent falling asleep. Exercise may also help reduce the symptoms of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or sleep-related movement disorders. Just make sure to do it at least 3 hours before bedtime. 

If you need help fine-tuning your sleep habits, our WellBeing Coaches are available for online sessions  24/7, all year round. Book your slot now at bit.ly/mn-chat or email [email protected].

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Relationships

6 Reasons To Enjoy Being Single

When we’ve been unattached for the longest time and hear that a friend has paired up or gotten engaged, or we see photos of couples looking lovey-dovey online — we can’t help but feel a twinge of envy and, in some cases, even frustration. “When will it be my turn?” “Why can’t my Mr. Right come right now?” “Sana all (I hope everyone’s like this).”

Feeling pressured to be in a romantic relationship is perfectly normal, assures Luis Villarroel, a psychologist and founder of Kintusgi Psy. “Biologically, humans are social creatures and we are most comfortable when we connect with someone else. Culturally, romantic relationships have been, well, romanticized through the years and we’ve been raised by our forebears to believe that being in one is what we should all strive for,” he points out.

But sometimes, this pressure to pair up can become too much for a single person to manage and may lead to feelings of low self-worth (“I’m single because there is something wrong with me”) and even spiral into mental health concerns like depression and anxiety. “Because we’ve been conditioned by society to believe that being in a relationship is the only path in life, we feel like failures when we do not achieve it,” explains Luis. “But the truth is, finding a romantic partner is NOT the only path we can take. There are other things that we can do and focus on in life.”

Below are some of the reasons to enjoy being single:

  1. You learn about yourself. Being single gives you more time to look deep inside yourself and identify the person you really want to be.
  1. You have time to work on yourself. What changes do you want to make in your career? What new skills, attitudes, or mindsets do you want to develop? When you are not in a relationship, you have time to get clear about all these and more.
  2. You can make self-care a priority. When you are in a relationship, part of your time will be spent assisting your partner with their needs. While this is not a bad thing, it can sometimes lead to putting yourself second. But when you are single, there are no other responsibilities to pull you away from self-care needs like working out, socializing with friends, or taking time to focus on personal development. 
  1. Your time is your own. Once you get past feeling lonely and realize how wonderful being single is, you will become aware of one of the best perks – your schedule is now completely your own.
  2. You take time to love yourself more. It’s actually mentally healthy for you to take some time to be alone if you can, because you learn to love yourself more. “By doing so, you can learn what you really want and what’s important to you and your life. This can even end up helping you find out whether or not a relationship is actually something you want in your future,” Luis says.
  1. You learn to enjoy being alone. “There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely,” says Luis. “We need to stop thinking less of ourselves just because we are alone.” 

To start appreciating having your own time, try making a list of five to 10 hobbies that can be done on your own–you’ll probably come up with more ideas than you think! 

“Don’t be ashamed or afraid of being single,” Luis advises. “You’re the only YOU that you’ve got, so never feel that it’s something less to be with yourself. Instead, use this time to work on the things that you need to improve, and learn to love yourself for who you really are.”

“You’re the only YOU that you’ve got, so never feel that it’s something less to be with yourself.”

Luis Villarroel, Psychologist

If the idea of being single continues to bother you, Luis suggests that you self-evaluate to find out why the idea is troubling. “Think about why you want to be in a romantic relationship? Is it because you’re feeling the pressure from others? Because you feel lonely? Worthless? And once you identify the stressors, pressures, and causes of tension, you will have a better idea on how to act on those. Now, if you are having trouble accessing these, talking to a psychologist can help.” 

At the end of the day, Luis points out that the stress of finding The One lies in the belief that love can only be found in romantic relationships. “That’s not true,” he says. “Love can be found in other aspects; there’s self-love, and also the love of your other social supports like friendships. You don’t always have to be in a romantic relationship to experience love.”

If your relationship status is causing you stress and anxiety and you need someone to talk to, you can reach out to MindNation’s FREE 24/7 Care Helpline via FB Messenger (bit.ly/mn-chat). If you need the services of a mental health professional, you can book online sessions with psychologists or WellBeing Coaches also through FB Messenger, or via email [email protected]

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Get Inspired

10 Trailblazing Trans Women You Should Know Right Now

A transgender person is one who cannot identify with the gender they were given at birth. For example, one may be born as a male but somehow feels more inclined to identify as female and behave in a feminine manner. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but due to society’s expectations, transpeople have to live with constant prejudice, stigma, discrimination, and — in some cases — even physical violence. They also tend to experience higher rates of mental health issues than the general population, including low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.

In honor of National Women’s Month, MindNation pays tribute to 10 amazing trans women from all over the world who are breaking free from stereotypes and the limitations placed on them and making their marks in various fields:

  1. Mela Habijan, Filipina actress, writer, content creator, beauty queen
    When Mela first came out to her parents in 2002, her father said, “So what if you’re gay? Why would I be embarrassed by you? You are a smart person. I raised you to be a good person. Most importantly, you are my child.” After coming out to her parents and with their blessing, Mela came out publicly when she turned 30 in 2017. She’s since openly spoken about her relationship with her parents, and has paid tribute to them several times on her social media pages. Last September 2020, Mela became the winner of the first ever Miss Trans Global. She is now organization’s spokesperson for its activities, including work with groups such as  TransValid and TransBeauty Magazine to “raise money, educate, and inspire transgender people globally.”
  1. Gislenne Zamayoa, Mexican architect
    Gislenne knew she was a woman at the age of four, but her transition did not begin until she was 36 and already working as an architect for a multinational soft drink company. During business trips, she would take a suitcase full of women’s clothes, makeup, and high heels. Whenever she finished her work, she would call a taxi from the hotel to take her to another hotel; there, she would change her clothes, put on makeup, and go to bars.

    When she announced to the company that she was transitioning, they offered her an administrative job, which she accepted at the beginning. But sheI had so much repression and worked so hard that her body did not stand it anymore, and she ended up in the hospital.

    Her big break started in 2016, when Apple Inc. hired her to build eight Mac stores in Mexico. The money and renown that the projects bought allowed her to create her own architectural company, Arquia, which now specializes in green design. 

    Today, Gislenne champions labor inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community. She works with the Mexican Federation of LGBT Entrepreneurs (FME-LGBT), and as a result, has been able to boost the projects of 13 transgender entrepreneurs.
  1. Mianne Bagger, Danish golfer
    In 2004, Mianne competed in the Australian Open professional golf tournament, becoming the first openly transitioned woman to play in a sport infamously known for its conservatism. She did not win, but she spent the next few years advocating for the rights of post-transition athletes and arguing that they do not have any clear physical advantage over their female-at-birth counterparts. Through her efforts, many professional golf organizations have amended their practices, paving the way for more inclusion in the sport. 
  1. Jin Xing, Chinese dancer
    Before becoming China’s first openly transgender celebrity and one of the first few transwomen officially recognized by the Chinese government, Jin Xing was a colonel in the People Liberation Army’s, which she joined as a child to receive dance training from a dance company affiliated with her military district. 

    At the age of 20, she traveled the United States and Europe to study and perform, returning to China six years later for a very specific purpose — to become the woman she’d realized she was meant to be. She insisted on having sex reassignment surgery in China, even though doctors there didn’t have much experience in the procedure at the time. The operation left one of her legs partially paralyzed and it took three months before she could dance again.

    Today, Jin Xing is the artistic director of her very own contemporary dance company in Shanghai, an in-demand choreographer, actress, talk show host, and an infamously hard-to-please judge on China’s “So You Think You Can Dance.” And while she says she never aspired to be an LGBT+ activist, she is now eyeing politics, saying she has the power and presence to help society.
  1. Breanna Sinclaire, American soprano
    As a child, Breanna sustained intense physical abuse at the hands of her father, who was deeply uncomfortable that he had an expressive, non-conforming child. When she was 13, her parents got divorced and the abuse eased up. She went on to study at the Baltimore School for the Arts where she found her niche, and then moved on to the California Institute of the Arts. In her final year at CalArts, she began her transition which included a transition in voice type from tenor to soprano. She faced heavy discrimination throughout the rest of her studies, but ultimately succeeded in finishing her studies and would go on to become the first transwomen in the opera program of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Today, she is widely known for her impressive four-octave vocal range.

    In 2015, she also became the first trans woman to sing The Star-Spangled Banner at a professional sporting event.
  1. Padmini Prakash, Indian news anchor
    In 2014, 31-year-old Padmini made history by becoming the first Indian transgender television news anchor. Before this big break, however, she experienced a troubled childhood — her family disowned her when she was 13 years old because they would not accept her gender identity, and she even attempted suicide but was saved by some people. She enrolled in an undergraduate programme in commerce through distance education, but had to drop out after two years due to financial problems and bullying. Undeterred, she went on to find work as a dancer, then as an actress, and even went on to compete in the trans beauty pageants.

    In 2014, after the Indian Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling recognizing the right of every human being to choose their gender” and ordering the government to provide equal protection and opportunity for transgenders, Lotus TV, a Tamil news satellite channel, hired Padmini. Today, she is also quite active in conducting awareness campaigns, even once working with the local police force to conduct transgender sensitivity workshops.
  1. Sasha Elijah (Lebanese model)
    In 2012,When Sasha’s devoutly Christian family opposed her desire to undergo hormone therapy when she was 15 years old, she pushed through with it anyway. It was a decision she says she does not regret, even though it took years to mend the relationship with her parents.

    She began modelling and, at the age of 17, became the first openly trans woman of the MENA region to walk the catwalk on an international TV channel. This attracted both local and international media, and she saw a way for her to raise awareness of the transgender community in her own country.

    In 2018, a district court of appeal in Lebanon issued a groundbreaking ruling that consensual sex between people of the same sex was not unlawful. Despite this positive development, Lebanese society still remains deeply rooted in religious and political conservatism.  Sasha hopes her outspokenness will encourage transgender people in the Middle East to be who they want to be, and help improve society’s understanding of the issues they face.
  1. Lynn Conway, American computer scientist
    Born in 1938, Lynn was a shy child and experienced gender dysphoria — the distress a person feels due to a mismatch between their gender identity and their sex assigned at birth. Upon completing her transition in 1968, she took a new name and identity, and restarted her career in what she called “stealth mode,” or passing as a cisgender woman instead of a transgender. In the course of her work, she became known for various pioneering achievements — much of today’s silicon chip design is based on her work — and won many awards and high honors, including election as a Member of the National Academy of Engineering, the highest professional recognition an engineer can receive.

    But it was only in 1999 (31 years after her gender transition) that she began to emerge from stealth mode and come out as a transwoman to friends and colleagues. She began work in transgender activism, intending to “illuminate and normalize the issues of gender identity and the processes of gender transition.” Today, she continues to work to protect and expand the rights of transgender people. She has provided direct and indirect assistance to numerous other transgender women going through transition and maintains a well-known website (https://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/conway.html) providing medical resources and emotional advice. Parts have been translated into most of the world’s major languages.
  1. Titica, Angolan singer and dancer
    Born in Luanda as Teca Miguel Garcia, singer and dancer Titica adopted her female persona four years ago following a breast enhancement operation in Brazil. Her stage name means “worthless” or “useless” in Portuguese, as a way to reclaim the hateful words that people have thrown at her as a transwoman.

    At age 25, she became the new face of Angola’s unique urban rap-techno fusion music style known as “kuduro”. By day her songs boom from minibus taxis, by night they fill Luanda’s dance floors, and at the weekends she has become the essential soundtrack for children’s parties. Named “Best Kuduro Artist of 2011”, she is a regular on television and radio, and has even performed at a Divas Angola concert attended by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

    In 2013, she was named a goodwill ambassador for UNAIDS. Through this role and her international popularity, Titica has increased awareness of HIV risks and treatment, sexual health, and issues regarding the LGBTQ community. Her success in the industry combats the homophobic and transphobic sentiments that exist in Angola and globally.
  1. Geraldine Roman, Filipina congresswoman
    In 2016, Gerladine became the first transgender person elected to the Congress of the Philippines. She, along with other elected lawmakers (collectively known as “equality champs”), launched the passage of the anti-discrimination bill on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (now known as the SOGIE Equality Bill) through a speech in the House of Representatives that garnered international support for LGBT rights in the Philippines.

    She was also named as one of the 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2016 by US-based Foreign Policy magazine, as well as one of the “13 Inspiring Women of 2016” list by Time magazine.

Way to go, ladies!

Know any more amazing trans-women we should feature? Tag us in on Instagram and follow us at @mindnation!

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Featured

8 Ways To Empower Women At Work (And Why You Should!)

Women constantly encounter challenges in society — and the workplace is no exception. All over the world, women are paid less than men for the same kind of work, are underrepresented in leadership roles, and must deal with varying levels of discrimination and harassment.

This is a situation that companies need to improve because if women have poor relationships with their co-workers, feel unvalued, and work in a negative environment, this affects their mental health and, in turn, hampers their productivity and performance at work.

On the other hand, workplaces that promote diversity, ensure equal representation, and support the well-being of its female staff, have been found to enjoy the following  positive benefits:

  1. Greater profitability. According to a 2018 study published by management consulting firm McKinsey & Co., company profits and share performance can be close to 50 percent higher when women are well represented at the top.
  2. Increased collaboration and innovation. Women and men bring different skills and perspectives to the workplace, and these spark creativity, leads to better innovation (especially crucial in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), and a more efficient way of completing other group processes.
  3. A more positive workplace culture. According to the same McKinsey report, senior-level women have a positive impact on a company’s culture. This is because they are more likely than senior-level men to embrace employee-friendly policies and programs and to champion racial and gender diversity, all of which can result in:

    a. Improved staff recruitment. Female millennials look for employers with a strong record on diversity, according to research by accounting firm Pricewaterhouse Cooper, with 85% saying it’s important to them, so you widen your talent pool.

    b. Lower employee turnover. Inclusive workplaces tend to have lower employee turnover rates due to higher morale – which represents big savings in terms of time and money spent on recruitment.

Inclusive workplaces tend to have lower employee turnover rates due to higher morale!

c. Trickle-down effect. Finally, women are also more likely to mentor and sponsor other women, ensuring the continuity of the benefits outlined above. 

Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

Unfortunately, women in the workplace can only do so much to assert their will and promote themselves; organizations and leaders must step in and begin eliminating gender bias while supporting and empowering female employees. Here are some ways:

  1. Make gender diversity a priority. As a leader, communicate that this is a critical issue that needs to be addressed so that the rest of the organization will follow. This in turn will enact a sense of urgency and convince others to begin to correct this issue. 

Once this is done, establish goals for improving gender diversity. Complete an analysis of your organization by asking for recommendations on improvements from employees and really listening to what they have to say. From the information collected, you can establish a strategy for improving gender diversity and dive deep into where obstacles might be for women leaders to move up the ranks. Be sure to educate your company about these initiatives and make sure your goals are implemented consistently across the board.

  1. Diversify management. Encourage women to pursue opportunities at every level. When you promote women at the same rate as men, you show them that they and their skills are valuable assets to your organization.
  2. Champion success. Instead of just communicating action items or criticism, praise your female team members when it is deserved as well. Celebrate their strengths and accomplishments, recognize contributions, and give credit where it is due.
  3. Increase education and awareness on issues affecting women. Look into better training opportunities for your team members on topics such as implicit bias, inclusion, and diversity. When you raise awareness about them in the company, you can evolve and improve your policies.
  4. Have a mentorship program. Mentorship can provide a pathway to resources and knowledge that managerial aspirants need, so connect female new-hires or those that you see are struggling with women in higher positions.
  5. Offer a flexible work environment. Women play multiple roles, from mothers to breadwinners. Flexible working options will provide them with much needed balance as they navigate their multiple roles in the workplace and at home.
  6. Close the pay gap. Look for inconsistencies in pay rates between the male and female members of your team, then make sure that all employees with equal experience and similar roles are paid the same as their counterparts.
  7. Make your workplace a safe space. Take immediate action to address complaints about discriminatory behavior or harassment.

There is certainly more work to be done, and it is up to you as a leader to do your part to help even the playing field so that women in your team feel heard, included, valued, supported, and empowered. If you need guidance, MindNation offers a holistic approach to wellbeing with the goal of creating happier, healthier, and more productive teams. For more information, go to www.mindnation.com or email us at [email protected]

Categories
Featured

7 Ways To Support The Mental Health Of Work-From-Home Moms

With seemingly no end to the COVID-19 outbreak in sight, many companies are continuing to operate remotely this 2021. This set-up is particularly difficult for employees with children —  parenting and working are hard enough on their own, but now many have to do them in tandem. And according to research by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, it is women who are shouldering the additional load of  juggling work responsibilities, distance learning, and family life on a daily basis. This can make working mothers more susceptible to physical ailments as well as mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and stress.

“It’s important to support a work-from-home (WFH) mom’s mental health because studies have shown that a parent’s mental well-being directly influences a child’s mental wellness,” points out Mia Domingo (@theparentinprogress), a psychologist and organizational development consultant. Past research tells us that children exposed to parental stress, anxiety, and depression are more likely to experience mental health problems themselves, in addition to developing an increased risk of learning and behavior problems. So by helping parents now, we can protect children’s futures.

In addition, it will be harder for a person with a mental health concern to be happy and reach their full potential, whether it’s as a parent, a partner, or an employee. “Work performance is affected by three things: ability, motivation and environment,” says Mia. “So if an employee has a mental health concern, that can already impact their ability and motivation to perform.”

If you are a friend, loved one, team member, or manager of a WFH mother, Mia suggests the following ways you can support their mental health during this challenging time in their lives:

For friends and loved ones:

  1. Let them know that you are there for them. Check up on your mom-friends regularly. “Ask them simply, ‘How are you? What can I do to help? I’m here for you.’ Then, actually follow through if they request something,” suggests Mia.
  2. Anticipate their needs. “WFH moms are so busy trying to get everything done that they don’t think about themselves or what they need,” says Mia. “Sending them meals they can just reheat will be a big help to them because it takes cooking out of their list of responsibilities for the day. If their family is part of your quarantine bubble, offer to take care of the kids so that they have time to catch a break or run errands.”
  1. Avoid mom-shaming. This means bullying (sometimes inadvertently) other moms for their parenting choices in subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) aggressions sprinkled into conversations. Specifically, we should not shame a working mom for ordering takeout because she is too busy working-homeschooling to cook, or parking her child in front of the tv so that she can focus on her virtual meeting.

“Instead of giving advice, I wish we complimented parents more.”

Mia Domingo @theparentinprogress

“We think we are giving unsolicited advice, but it’s actually coming off as a criticism rather than something constructive,” says Mia. “Instead of giving advice, I wish we complimented parents more. Parents are already so hard on themselves and balancing so many different roles– the last thing they’ll want to hear (or respond positively to) is how badly they’re doing.” She suggests we do these instead: 

When you message your parent-friends, include some words about what a great job they’re doing and how happy or loved their kids look.

Empathize. If a friend confesses that she is feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or tired from all her WFH responsibilities, don’t say “Of course it’s hard, you’re doing this instead of that.” Instead, say, “That must be really hard, I’m here if you want to talk,” or “What support can I give you?”

If you really feel that your advice will help, use “I” statements i.e. “This is what worked for my family, it might help you” instead of “Why aren’t you doing it this way?”

For managers and work colleagues

4. Acknowledge their efforts and give feedback. “Ask how they are from time to time,” advises Mia. “It would also be helpful if you can give feedback on their performance, especially when they do well, to boost morale. And if there are performance issues, discuss those with them right away and work together to find solutions.”

5. If possible, offer a more flexible work schedule to give your employee time for homeschooling and other family responsibilities.

6. Respect work-life boundaries. “Make sure your employee takes their full lunch break, and be mindful that they end their work on a reasonable time. And even if they are working from home, let them rest on weekends and continue to offer vacation leave benefits,” says Mia.

7. Regularly communicate what mental health benefits or resources are available to them, such as employee assistance programs or wellness programs.

If you think that a loved one or colleague is feeling stressed or overwhelmed and you’re not sure what else you can do to help, encourage them to reach out to MindNation psychologists thru bit.ly/mn-chat.

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Relationships

Strategies To Strengthen Your Relationships During The Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting our lives in many ways,  including our interactions (and lack thereof) with the people close to us.

At home, the combination of financial stress, anxieties, the pressures of working from home, and restrictions in leisure outings are causing most of us to become irritable and short-tempered with our partner and our kids.

We’re missing our social groups — the co-workers, school friends, and yoga/running/spinning/hiking buddies — whom we usually turn to if we need to destress and decompress. 

Lastly, many of us have also started neglecting ourselves. After all, it’s hard to squeeze in self-care when there are just so many social, financial, psychological, and physical stressors surrounding the pandemic.

But it is precisely because of all these challenges that we need to take better care of the relationships we have with our loved ones and with ourselves. “Having healthy relationships can provide us with meaning and a sense of hope and support during difficult times like now,” says Aiza Tabayoyong, a family and relationship coach at The Love Institute, a pioneering company equipping couples, parents, and individuals with skills on how to have fulfilling relationships with those dearest to them. “The lockdown is actually giving us a unique opportunity to identify the things and people that are most important to us, so let’s use the time to get to know them better and enjoy them.”

    Below are some ways we can strengthen and support our relationships:

1. With our spouse or partner

  • Schedule weekly date nights. If you are at home, find a corner in the house where you and your partner can be secluded and have a romantic moment together, whether it’s just binge-watching your favorite Netflix show or having a nice meal. And whether your dates are at home or done virtually, make sure you use the time to have fun, focus on each other, and build each other up. “Do not use this time to write down a list of what errands to do, what repairs need to be done, or discuss problems in the relationship,” instructs Aiza. “Have a separate day to talk about home management concerns or relationship issues.”
  • Frequently tell the other person how much you love and appreciate them, whether it’s verbally, through text messages (even if your home workstations are just a few feet away from each other), or by leaving little notes in their drawers.
  • Know your partner’s love language to make it easier and more efficient to meet their needs.

2. With your children (if any)

Just like with your partner, schedule one-on-one time with your child. Make the conversations light and fun. “This is the time to listen to them and be curious about their interests. Don’t use this time for scolding them or pushing them in the direction that you want,” Aiza reminds. “The stress of remote learning has unavoidably turned your parent-child relationship into a teacher-child interaction, so you need to balance this shift by letting your child see that you are still fun to be around. When that happens, your connection becomes stronger and you have more leverage to better influence them.”

3. With your friends

“Once a week or when your schedule permits, schedule a get-together with people who can lift you up during these tough times, either through virtual platforms or at restaurants that provide al fresco dining options,” advises Aiza. Maintaining ties with friends is crucial because they provide you a safe space to decompress from the stresses of home. It also assures you that you are not the only ones with problems, so make sure each person is given an equal opportunity to vent his or her concerns. 

4. With yourself

This is the most important relationship of all. “Nourishing yourself is actually prerequisite to nurturing all your other connections,” says Aiza. “Make time for self-care, and remember that it is not selfish. Adopt the mindset that ‘I need this, I deserve this, and doing this will benefit everyone else.’” 

  • Remember to get enough sleep and to eat well. 
  • Ask your partner or eldest child to give you massages or haircuts
  • Schedule regular quiet time. “Use it to do deep breathing exercises, to meditate, or for prayer time to connect and communicate with your god,” suggests Aiza.

Self-care also goes beyond meeting one’s physical needs for rest. It involves looking beyond the bad days we experience and viewing ourselves in a kinder light. So remember to: 

  • Reframe negative self-talk. “Always remind yourself that you are valuable as you are, and that you deserve the same kind of love you give others,” says Aiza.
  • Practice self-compassion. “Instead of being your harshest critic and saying things like ‘I’m so stupid,’ or ‘I can’t do this,’ replace these statements with ‘Oh well, that’s not my strength, I’ll just find someone to help me,’” advises Aiza.
  • Celebrate your achievements. “If you don’t hear enough affirmation from other people (probably because they are going through something themselves), you have to give it to yourself,” Aiza suggests. “Look in the mirror and tell yourself ‘I am amazing, I am capable, I am loved.’”  

Maintaining relationships may seem time-consuming, but the key to success is to make sure you plan properly. “Having a calendar will help you properly schedule and balance your must-do’s for home and work and your dates with the people most important in your life, including yourself,” advises Aiza. 

If you are feeling isolated, overwhelmed, or need advice on how to manage your relationships better, feel free to reach out to MindNation psychologists. Sessions are available 24/7. Book now thru bit.ly/mn-chat.

Categories
Children's Mental Health

10 Ways To Talk To Teens If They Don’t Want To Talk To You

Whether we like it or not, teenagers are complicated creatures. From being sweet, wholesome, and talkative kids who cannot wait to tell you stories about their day, they can become moody, temperamental, and impulsive adolescents who prefer to stay glued to their phones and answer your questions with grunts and eye-rolls.

Don’t worry, it’s really part of growing up. “There is a science behind this change in behavior during the teenage years,” assures Dr. Margaret Mae Maano, a pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist. “During adolescence, teenagers experience changes in their bodies and brains and these changes don’t take place at the same time. The first part of the brain to develop would be the limbic system, or the part that deals with emotions, which will explain why teens can become moody. The last to develop would be the prefrontal cortex, which is the decision-making part of the brain, and explains why teens are more prone to engage in high-risk behaviors.” According to the National Institute of Mental Health in the United States, this brain remodelling will continue until the teen turns 25, so it’s important that adults around them be a steady and constant presence to protect them from the negative impacts of their impulses. 

In addition, the combination of a developing brain and experiencing so many physical, emotional, and social changes may make teens ill-equipped to handle stress and cause them to develop mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. “Before the COVID-19 pandemic, teens could always turn to their friends for mental health support,” says Dr. Maano. “But now that schooling is online, this support system is no longer as accessible. It’s up to the adults in the house to become their source of strength and support.”

Just because your teens seem withdrawn and reticent does not mean that they will not appreciate your efforts to maintain a close relationship; you just have to approach them the right way. Below are some ways you can connect with your teenagers and get them to open up (even if they seem like they don’t want to):

1. Make family meal times sacred. Aim to have the family complete during one meal time each day and institute a no-gadget rule at the dining table. This creates a safe space where family members can share how their day went or talk about whatever is on their minds. “When family mealtimes are the norm, this will ingrain in our teens’ minds that their parents will always make time to listen to them,” says Dr. Maano. 

2. Ask open-ended questions. This allows teens the opportunity to open up on their own terms and the freedom to talk about what they are comfortable to share.   

3. Keep the conversations stress-free and casual. Limit the lectures. “The key is to actually listen to what your teen says,” points out Dr. Maano.

4. Tone down the criticisms, turn up the praise.  “Sometimes, that positive statement from you may be the only good thing they have heard in a long time,” Dr. Maano says.

5. Don’t demand compliance; opt for negotiation. “Because teens are at a stage when they are trying to develop independence from their parents, they may not respond positively if we force them to do something,” opines Dr, Maano. “Instead of imposing your will, help them come up with a better way to handle their issues. Teens may not want you to solve their problems for them, but some guidance would be great.” 

6. Ask them about their opinions about what is going on in the world. This is a good way to understand what is going on in their minds. “It also makes them feel respected and valued,” points out Dr. Maano. 

7. Be clear with your family rules, such as non-school related screen time, smoking, swearing, etc. Everyone in the household should be in agreement with the rules and even adults should be bound by them; if some parts of the rules are contentious, negotiate during family meal times. 

8. Pick your battles. Don’t fight with your kids over every infraction committed. “Teens feel omnipotent, that diseases and dangers do not apply to them. They also tend to be experimental, so for example, they may try to smoke or drink alcohol out of curiosity but then stop on their own,” explains Dr. Maano. As a parent, the most you can do is guide them in making their own decisions. And if you do catch your teen disobeying your rules, such as skipping class, smoking, or drinking, address the issue calmly. Don’t lecture them because they will only shut you out. Find out why they started doing it, then negotiate on getting them to stop. If there are consequences, help them face up to it; and if they stop, commend them for making a good decision. 

9. Allow them some liberties but give them additional responsibilities at home as well.  Giving them responsibilities also means that you are trusting them as a young adult and boosts their confidence. 

10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you find yourself facing an issue beyond your control or expertise, ask help from your child’s school counselors, your pediatrician or adolescent medicine specialist, or from mental health professionals. Dr. Maano gives some examples:

  • If you catch your teen doing drugs, this will require professional intervention. 
  • If you and/or your teen are uncomfortable talking about sex or reproductive health, find another trusted adult whom he or she can talk to, like their pediatrician. “But as early and as often as possible, I encourage parents to teach children about respect for the body, that private parts should remain private. If your daughter feels she is not ready to have sex with her boyfriend, tell her it is ok to refuse and say no.  And if your son has a girlfriend and she says no, he should respect that as well.”
  • Finally, self-harm and suicidal ideation should be treated as a cry of help from the teen. “Consult a mental health expert right away,” Dr. Maano advises. “If your child is reluctant to see a mental health expert, he or she might be more comfortable talking to their school’s guidance counselor first. The counsellor will be the one to recommend further evaluation.”

There are no hard and fast rules for parenting. “The good news is the majority of teenagers go through adolescence without any problems,” assures Dr. Maano. “Just be a constant presence in their lives, talking to them, listening without judgement, and keeping an open mind. Step back and allow them to discover things on their own. When your teen knows that you are just there, ready to listen, he or she will open up to you when they are ready.”

If you or your teen needs someone to talk to, MindNation psychologists are available for teletherapy sessions 24/7. Book a session thru bit.ly/mn-chat.

Categories
Self Help

Intention Setting For Beginners

Setting intentions used to be something people only did at the start of a yoga or meditation practice. It is defined as the act of stating what you intend to accomplish through your actions. Examples would be “Inner peace,” “Gratitude,” or “Happiness.” 

When differentiating between goals and intentions, one thing to remember is that “goals” are what you want to do, while “intentions” are what you want to achieve and revolve around self-care and personal development. 

“An intention is the ‘why’ or the desire behind the goal”

Kimi Lu, http://www.kimilulifecoach.com

“An intention is the ‘why’ or the desire behind the goal,” says life and corporate coach Kimi Lu (@kimilulifecoach). “We all have deeper reasons why we want to achieve certain goals – and bigger or more ambitious goals usually involve achieving something that is bigger than ourselves.” This is where intentions can help. 

Intention setting can help you be more present and mindful in your day-to-day life. It serves as a compass to guide you in your day, month, or even year. “Anytime you feel like there are too many things running through your mind, go back to your intention to regain clarity,” advises Kimi. 

If you are new to intention-setting, keep them small and achievable first. This way, when you become successful, you gain the confidence to make and achieve bigger intentions. Kimi recommends some easy ones below that you can start with: 

  1. “Breathe”
    Make this your mantra during stressful times, so you can stay calm.
  2. “Listen actively.”
    When you are about to join a meeting, this intention can help you learn more from others.
  3. “Heal.”
    Set this if you have been through heartache, so you can let go of past hurts and welcome the next phase of your life with a heart filled with self-love and gratitude. 

As you progress, you can set advanced intentions such as “Love unconditionally,” “Be kind even when under pressure,” or “Lead by example.”

It helps to write down your intentions as soon as you make them so that you have a visual reminder of the commitment you are making to yourself. Then make it a habit to refer back to them at the end of the day, week, or month for reflection. By checking in with yourself and your actions, you create a space for self-awareness and self-development. 

Finally, feel free to share your intentions with others so that you have a support network to keep you accountable, motivate you, or even cheer you on on your journey to success. 

MindNation WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 if you need help crafting an intention or sticking to one. Book a session now bit.ly/mn-chat.

Categories
Employee Wellness

10 Tips For Managing Difficult Conversations

Difficult conversations are inevitable in human life. You have to deliver bad news, call someone out for saying something offensive, or have opposing thoughts about polarizing issues. Most of us tend to shy away from engaging in tough dialogues because we are afraid the other party will get sad, mad, or — in the case of friends and loved ones — not want to be friends or love us anymore. But keeping quiet can lead to a build-up of resentment that will possibly boil over into an explosive confrontation the next time around, or result in improper behaviors remaining unchanged. 

“We tend to view difficult conversations as a personal attack, a power struggle that becomes a win-lose situation,” says Salma Sakr, Chief Growth Officer of MindNation. “But if we treated them as an opportunity to grow both personally and professionally, to increase understanding, and to achieve goals, then we can address the situation sooner and with more ease.”

“Falling to engage in difficult conversations with loved ones does the relationship a disservice.”

Danah Gutierrez , Author and R&R.mp3 Podcast Host

For Danah Gutierrez, author and podcast host, falling to engage in difficult conversations with loved ones does the relationship a disservice. “You end up living in this illusion that everything is fine between the two of you, but it’s only fine on the surface. Deep down, something sinister is brewing, which is not good for the relationship.”

While there is no one way to have a difficult conversation, there is a blueprint that we can use to support us as we head into those conversations:

  1. Don’t get into it if you are feeling angry. Never initiate a conversation when you are overly angry, frustrated, or resentful. “While it’s okay to feel emotions, you have to time it right,” points out Salma. “Once you calm down, you’re in a better position to initiate and engage in a conversation.”
  1. Don’t use text, email, or chat, video talk or face to face is better. “Never use emails, texts, or chats to engage in a difficult conversation because things can be lost in translation when written,” says Salma. “And if someone triggers you with their email, don’t take the bait and  don’t defend yourself. Just don’t respond. Ask for a face to face meeting; if that’s not possible, ask for a phone meeting.”
  1. Don’t point fingers, be sarcastic, or call them names. This is especially true when the other person’s words care are racist, homophobic, or misogynistic, thus inflaming our emotions. Call the person out politely and don’t be mean. “Empathize,” Danah advises. “Ask questions and find out why they feel that way. Maybe they were traumatized by a certain race, or those characteristics are the only things they see on tv.” Then respectfully counter these generalizations with your own experiences, such as telling them that you know people from this race who are not what they think them to be. 
  1. Let them share their perspective. When a loved one says or does something that does not sit well with you, ask questions first so you can find out where they are coming from. Danah recommends asking things like “How are you?” “What’s going on?” “I heard you say this, did I hear it correctly?” It’s possible the person only said those words in a moment of heightened emotions or because he or she was confused. 
  1. Use “I” statements. Statements like “From my perspective,” or “The way I see it…” or “I feel __ when you said ___” make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not making accusatory assumptions about the other person’s intentions or behavior. When the other party does not feel judged, emotions de-escalate and a proper conversation can ensue. 
  2. Don’t  lose focus.  If you find yourself facing a lot of resistance, and the person is veering into unrelated matters, Salma suggests a few statements to help get you back on track: 
  • “I understand where you are coming from, but right now we are talking about …”
  • “That may be true but that is not as urgent as what we are discussing now. Let’s prioritize” 
  • “I suggest we park that and come back to it once we finish our conversation.”
  • “Clearly you have a lot on your mind, let’s set up more time to discuss that after we finish what we came to discuss here.” 

“By doing this, you are giving space for their emotions but putting a boundary that this conversation is focused on a certain discussion and that you won’t deviate,” says Salma.

  1. Agree to disagree. “In today’s society, there is so much polarization going on in the form of ‘If you believe this, we cant be friends,’ or ‘If you don’t agree with me, feel free to unfriend me on social media,’” points out Danah. “But when you start living in a bubble of like-minded people, you become out of touch with the reality that there will always be people who think differently than you. We don’t have to fear the people who oppose our views. Instead, offer to meet halfway, and know that you can both walk away from that conversation not hating each other.” 

Now, if the other person is insistent on his or her views, end the conversation politely but with affirmation. “‘I really love how passionate you are about this,’” Danah role-plays. “‘But I don’t want to argue with you, so let’s just agree to disagree.’”

  1. Create accountability. “When wrapping up the conversation related to work performance, make sure to put a deadline within which you want to see the behavior or results changed/improved,” suggests Salma. “Ask them to book it in your calendar so you can reconvene and assess progress. That will ensure they remain accountable to the changes you have requested.”
  1. Don’t expect to change their minds. “Everyone is entitled to their opinion and at the end of the day, it’s not our job to fix other people’s way of thinking,” Danah says. “Always go back to the relationship; know that the two of you can be extremely different but still love and respect each other. Instead of cutting them off from your life because of differing opinions, use these difficult conversations as an opportunity to practice empathy, patience, and emotional intelligence.”
  1. Do set boundaries for future encounters. Anytime a difficult conversation with a loved one feels overwhelming, know that it’s okay to take a step back for your own mental and emotional health. “Some people can be tolerated only in small doses and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Danah points out. 


It is possible to transform difficult conversations into constructive exchanges. We may not be able to control how others think and react, but we can control our own emotions, thoughts, and responses so that the relationship becomes better for it. 

MindNation offers Company Culture Drive Ⓒ Talks — interactive webinars featuring experts on mental health and other dimensions of wellness. One of our most popular talks is “Having Difficult Conversations In The Workplace” where we train managers on how to handle tough conversations with team members, ensuring the well-being of all involved. If you want us to conduct this training for your team, email us at [email protected]

Categories
Employee Wellness Mental Health 101 Self Help Work in the New Normal

5 Ways To Disagree With Your Boss (Without Getting Fired)

Speaking up for what you believe is a good thing, but when it comes to disagreeing with your boss, you need to be careful and tactful.

A 2018 study by Gallup reported that 94% of people feel stressed at work, with 35% saying that their boss is a cause of workplace stress. One possible reason for the latter is the fear and anxiety that comes when you need to voice a disagreement with a higher-up. While most workplaces these days are trying to establish a healthy culture where communication is open across all levels, dissenting with a superior is still a tricky thing. Doing so might make him or her think you are being difficult or disrespectful, but staying silent might give everyone else the impression that you are apathetic or complacent.

So how can you deliver your opposing opinion without suffering unfavorable consequences? Below are some strategies that you can employ: 

  1. Take note of the timing

Sometimes it’s not just what you say — it’s also when and where you say it. If you are in a relaxed team meeting where everyone is sharing suggestions and ideas, then feel free to chime in with your own thoughts. But if the discussion is starting to get heated and your manager is starting to display signs that they are getting angry, embarrassed, or feeling ganged-up on, it might be best to wait until things cool down. Then set up a separate, private meeting to talk it out. 

  1. Start off on a positive note. 

While work conversations should ideally be honest and straight-to-the-point, you will need to moderate your bluntness when you are talking to a person of authority. So begin your opposition by clearly mentioning something positive, like a portion of the idea that you liked. Segueing into the disagreement is much better than blurting out “I think your idea is wrong because…” right off the bat.  

  1. Ask and listen before reacting. 

Take a deep breath and try considering the issue from your superior’s point of view. Try to know his or her motivations for making such decisions; the best way to get them to listen to your side is to be able to reflect back to them that you understand what’s important to them. So ask questions, research the context, and gather information so that once you state your opposing view, it is based on facts and logic, not on emotions. 

  1. Rephrase the disagreement in the form of a suggestion

Instead of telling your boss what you think should be done, make it seem like you are asking for an alternative take on the matter. For example, you could say something like “I like your idea of holding team meetings every week, but what do you think about holding them on Wednesdays instead of Mondays so that….?” By letting your manager make the final decision, you still show respect for his or her authority. 

  1. Respect the final decision. 

Always mentally prepare for the possibility that you will speak your mind but nothing will change. If that happens, you need to respect your boss’s decision and let it go. Instead of feeling angry or sad, take the rejection as a learning opportunity; even if you disagree with his or her point, try to at least understand it, so you are able to support it. At the very least, rejection builds mental resilience, so you still get something positive out of the whole experience. 

By following the tips above, you can hopefully disagree with your boss in a way that is courteous and convincing but won’t cost you your mental health or your job. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation