Categories
Food and Nutrition

7 Strategies To Manage Stress Eating

Do you find yourself turning to food for comfort — whether consciously or unconsciously — when you are facing a difficult problem, feeling stressed, or even feeling bored? If yes, then welcome to the world of stress eating.

  “The purpose of eating is to have energy,” says nutritionist-coach Timothy Jeffe Ting, RND (www.timnutrition.com). “Stress eating occurs when you consume food for another purpose, which is to regulate your emotional state.”

 Occasionally using food as a pick-me-up, a reward, or to celebrate isn’t a bad thing. But when eating becomes your primary emotional coping mechanism, it can impact your health in many ways. Obviously, physical health would be the first one affected. “You stress eat because you have problems — would you really want to add becoming overweight and increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease to those problems?” asks Timothy. “Then there is also your mental health. When you reach for food as a reaction to stressful stimuli, you are exhibiting impulsiveness; you use food to fill your emotional needs instead of finding healthier outlets.” In addition, while eating may feel good in the moment, the feelings that triggered the eating are still there. And you often feel worse than you did before — even ashamed and guilty — because of the unnecessary calories you’ve just consumed. 

While it is possible to stop stress eating, Timothy suggests that a better alternative would be to curb it. Here are some strategies.

  1. Don’t label food as “good” or “bad.” “Food is food,” he points out. “When we start to label a particular food, we shift focus from overall healthy eating patterns, which is what really defines a person’s well-being.” 

After all, while vegetables do have a better nutritional profile, eating them all day, every day will not be good for you. On the other hand, depriving yourself of ‘bad’ or ‘forbidden’ food like ice cream or pizza will only make you crave them more intensely.

  1. Tame your stress. While Timothy is not a mental health expert, he shares the following stress management tips:
    • Practice time management. “Most of the time, we feel stressed because we are not available to fulfill our tasks at work or in school efficiently,” he says. “So find ways to plan and control how much time you spend on specific activities.” Some ways you can that include:
      • Not spreading yourself too thin. When someone tries to draft you in to take on an additional task, say “no” more often than you say “yes.”
      • Prioritizing your “Most Valuable Activities” (the tasks you excel at) over “Less Valuable Activities” (other responsibilities that can be delegated to others).
      • Avoiding back-to-back appointments so that you have time to relax and breathe. 
    • Do cognitive reappraisal. “If you were told that you were not accepted for the job that you applied for, would eating an entire pizza help you get another job?” Timothy asks. “No, right? So instead of feeling like a failure and reaching for food for comfort, treat the rejection as a learning opportunity or as redirection.” When you reframe your mindset this way, you will no longer be triggered by the stress.
  1. Take away temptation. Don’t keep hard-to-resist and unhealthy comfort foods within easy reach. “We are all designed to be lazy,” Timothy points out. “If you surround yourself with cakes, cookies, and ice cream, then you will definitely eat them often. And don’t just think about yourself — even if YOU are able to exercise willpower and avoid eating them, what about the rest of your family members?”
  2. Make healthier food alternatives more convenient. We all have fruits and vegetables at home, but no one eats them because they still  have to be washed, peeled, chopped, and, sometimes, cooked before we can eat them. “Compare them to a bag of chips that you can just rip open in one second — of course you will eat the chips,” says Timothy. 

So rearrange the items in your pantry or refrigerator. Place the junk foods on the highest shelf of the cabinet and the ice cream at the very back of the freezer; then put the fruits and vegetables within line of sight and easier reach.

  1. Add, don’t subtract. Don’t deprive yourself of treats. “If you want to eat a chocolate bar, go ahead, but eat a piece of fruit afterwards,” advises Timothy. “Then next time, try eating the fruit FIRST before the chocolate.”
  1. Eat in moderation. How to define what is moderate? Timothy suggests the 70-30 rule. “If you eat four meals a day, make the three meals healthy, filled with veggies, fruits, and lean proteins,” he shares.
  1. Snack healthy. If you must eat for comfort, choose wisely. Timothy shares his list:

Best foods to eat when stressed:

  1. Anything that’s warm, like hot teas. “Green and black teas contain L-theanine, which has been proven to improve mental focus and increase relaxation,” he says. “Hot drinks also force you to slow down and take deep breaths before drinking them, which can lower your stress.”
  2. Dark chocolates. Not only are they a lower-calorie alternative, they also contain theobromine (which combats the oxidation in the body caused by stress) and magnesium (which helps people to  relax and fall asleep).
     
  3. Quality carbohydrates like root crops, potatoes, or corn. “Air-popped popcorn — the ones you cook on the stovetop, not the buttered ones they sell in cinemas — is extremely low in calories and high in fiber. Eat it plain or put in some salt and herbs for flavor,” shares Timothy.
  4. Bananas, because it also contains magnesium.
  5. Other fruits. “Anything high in Vitamin C will be helpful in reducing stress levels, because the stress hormone cortisol is mitigated by Vitamin C,” says Timothy.
  6. Whole nuts like pistachios and almonds. According to Timothy, these contain B-vitamins that help unlock energy, since tiredness may also cause stress. 
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

On the other hand, think twice before reaching for these foods for comfort:

  1. Anything caffeinated. “Caffeine is a double-edged sword,” points out Timothy. “It gives you an energy boost when you want to get out of a tight spot, but the problem is you will develop a tolerance for it; eventually, you will need increasing amounts of caffeine to give you energy, and when you don’t get you fill, you might experience an energy crash.”

The solution: drink in moderation. “If you drink one cup of coffee a day in a week, try not to drink on Sundays. If you are on vacation and not feeling stressed, don’t drink at all. Also, try to get your energy from whole foods and good sleep,” Timothy advises. 

  1.  Alcohol. “Alcohol gives you a buzz so you don’t think about your problems, but the problems are still there,” says Timothy. It also lowers your inhibitions, so you end up eating mindlessly, which leads to a lot of health problems in the long run.”
  1. Anything with a huge amount of carbohydrates and fats together, without protein, such as pastries, refined goods, cookies, cakes, pastries, pizza, etc. “These are very high in calories, very easy to overeat, and will lead to a lot of problems down the line if you are overweight,” Timothy cautions.

Emotional eating tends to be automatic and virtually mindless. Before you even realize what you’re doing, you’ve reached for a tub of ice cream and polished off half of it. But if you can take a moment to pause and reflect when you’re hit with a craving, you give yourself the opportunity to make a different decision.

If you need help building better eating habits, schedule a consultation with our WellBeing Coaches now. They are available 24/7 and rest assured that all conversations are secure and confidential. Book now through FB Messenger http://m.me/themindnation or email [email protected]

Categories
Mental Health 101 Self Help

The Pitfalls of Toxic Positivity

When a friend comes to us with a problem, it’s easy for us to give advice that falls into the trap of toxic positivity — defined by clinical psychologist Dr. Jaime Zuckerman as “the assumption, either by one’s self or others, that despite a person’s emotional pain or difficult situation, they should only have a positive mindset or—my pet peeve term—‘positive vibes.’”

Toxic positivity statements may sound like any of the following:

  • “You’ll get over it.”
  • “Don’t be so negative.”
  • “Always look on the bright side.”
  • “Think happy thoughts.”
  • “It could be worse.”
  • “Everything happens for a reason.”

Focusing on the positive and rejecting anything that may trigger negative emotions may sound like a good thing, but according to Joyce Pring-Triviño, TV presenter, and host of the podcast “Adulting With Joyce Pring,” toxic positivity denies, minimizes, and invalidates genuine human emotional experiences. “When we exhibit toxic positivity, we deny all the negative experiences that make us human,” Joyce points out.

“Furthermore, suppressing or avoiding negative feelings can lead to increased anxiety, depression, and overall worsening of mental health,” Dr. Zuckerman says.

Psychotherapist Carolyn Karoll adds: “The pressure to appear ‘OK’ gives the impression that the person is defective when they feel distress, which can be internalized in a core belief that they are inadequate or weak. Judging oneself for feeling pain, sadness, jealousy—which are part of the human experience and are transient emotions—leads to secondary emotions, such as shame, that are much more intense and maladaptive. They…don’t give space for self-compassion, which is so vital to mental health.”

Lastly, by not acknowledging the wrong in the situation, we don’t leave room for the other person to take steps to resolve their situation. “After all, how can things get better if we’re already saying that they should be okay with what is happening?” says Joyce. 

If you find yourself constantly turning to toxic positive statements to help a friend or loved one cope with their fears and anxieties, the first thing to do is not to  blame yourself. “It’s also human nature to not want to dwell on the bad things,” assures Joyce. “We want to be distracted by the good because otherwise, we will get anxious ourselves.”

The next time the opportunity presents itself, work on doing the following instead:

  1. Listen and validate other people, even if their sadness makes you uncomfortable. Everyone’s entitled to their own feelings. Don’t shame another person for their emotions.
  2. Use healthy positivity statements: 
  • “I know it’s hard but I believe in you.”
  • “It’s okay to feel bad sometimes.”
  • “Always look at the bright side.” 
  • “It can be difficult to see the good in this situation, but we’ll make sense of it when we can.”
  • “Things can get really tough, but I am here for you.”
  • “I know this isn’t the outcome you were hoping for and that can be painful. But trust that this feeling won’t last forever.”
  1. Do not offer unsolicited advice. Instead, ask “How can I support you?” or just say “I’m here if you need me for anything.”

While it may seem beneficial to tell others to look on the bright side of things and find the silver lining in all life experiences, it’s also important to acknowledge and listen to emotions even when they aren’t pleasant. By helping your loved one pay attention and process their feelings as they come and go, you can help them understand themselves and their situation better.

Listen to Adulting with Joyce Pring’s “Toxic Positivity” episode here!

If someone you know is feeling especially stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious, MindNation’s 24/7 Care Hotline is available all day, every day, on FB Messenger. The service is FREE, completely confidential, and the staff is trained to ease your anxieties. Drop us a line http://m.me/themindnation

Categories
How To

How To Respond To Uncomfortable And Intrusive Questions

We’ve all been asked questions that are no one else’s business: “Why are you still single?” “Why don’t you have kids yet?” “Are you gay?” “How much do you make?”

Our first instinct would be to get angry at the intrusiveness of the questions, but Luis Villarroel, psychologist and founder of Kintsugi Psy (https://www.facebook.com/kintsugi.psy), advises that we should first give the one asking the benefit of the doubt. “Sometimes, people ask things they shouldn’t because they’re bored, they’re curious, or they’re looking for intrigue. But it’s also possible that they just don’t know any better,” he points out.

What to do instead? Answer honestly — and by honestly, Luis means to answer based on how you feel about the question. How to find out? Here are some things you can do the next time someone asks you something that makes you squirm:

  1. First, determine the other person’s motives. 

    Ask questions in return, such as: “Why are you curious?” or “Why do you ask that?”

    If the person is really persistent, ask: “Is there something going on in your life that you want to know more about mine?”

    These questions will help you understand the person’s intentions and guide you into making your next move, which is to answer, to decline, or to disengage.
  1. If you want to answer, go right ahead.

    “There is no shame in that,” Luis says. Just make sure that answering is what you really want to do; do not answer for the sake of being polite (a common reaction if the one asking is an older relative or a superior at work), or because you feel guilty or are being pressured. Doing so will only take a toll on your mental health.

    “There is a difference between answering politely and answering healthily. If you are polite (for example: you just give an uneasy laugh), the other person might not realize that their questions are inappropriate or are making you uncomfortable,” points out Luis. “They might keep asking it the next time you meet, which means you have to keep up the charade and bottle up your feelings, all of which could also affect your mental health later on.

“There is a difference between answering politely and answering healthily.”

Luis Villarroel RPsy
  1. If you would rather decline answering, make it simple and straight to the point. 

    Say things like: “Sorry I’m not comfortable answering that”, “I don’t want to talk about that”, or “Can we talk about something else? I’m not in the mood to talk about that.”

    There is no need to antagonize or fight with the person (i.e. “You’re so rude” or “That’s so offensive”); not all battles have to be fought.
  1. If the other person keeps pressing the issue, know that you have every right to disengage by walking away.

    “Everyone has the fundamental right to privacy. Everyone is entitled to share what they want to share and withhold what they want to withhold,” Luis points out. “Do not let the other person, whether intentionally or not, manipulate you into doing something you don’t want to do.”


Finally, when you have some time alone, Luis advises that you reflect on your thoughts, values, and principles.

After all, events –and questions — by themselves are not positive or negative. What makes them good or bad is how we perceive them. There may not really be any malice in the question being asked. “Ask yourself why you perceive some questions as ‘intrusive’? What about those questions makes them ‘bad’ or ‘rude’ to you? Why do they make you uncomfortable?” Luis suggests.

If you do find the reason, and are content with your belief that they are too personal to answer, then go ahead and defend your right NOT to answer them the next time you are asked. On the other hand, you might end up realizing that you can answer those questions after all, and you will become better for it,” he says.



Written by Jac of MindNation

Categories
Get Inspired Self Help

When To Grit Vs. When To Quit

According to business author Seth Godin, “We’re fooling ourselves thinking that sticking it out is the way to get ahead.”

Many of us are familiar with the saying “Winners never quit and quitters never win.” But according to business writer Seth Godin, author of the bestselling book “The Dip: A Little Book That Tells You When To Quit (And When To Stick)”, winners DO quit and quitters DO win. “Winners quit all the time,” he writes. “They just quit the right stuff at the right time.”

The Dip and The Cul-de-Sac

“Every new project (or job, or hobby, or company) starts out exciting and fun,” Seth writes. “Then it gets harder and less fun, until it hits a low point–really hard, and not much fun at all. And then you find yourself asking if the goal is even worth the hassle.”

For Seth, this low point can be one of two things:

  • The “Dip,” the point where something you’ve started is no longer fun, becomes difficult, and most people give up.
  • A “Cul-de-Sac,” a dead end, where you try and try or work and work and nothing happens.

According to Seth, what really sets superstars apart from everyone else is their ability to tell the two apart. Winners see the Dip as a barrier, a temporary setback that will get better if they keep pushing. If they are able to overcome it, they will come out more exceptional than when they started out. 

He cites a well-reported study which found that salespersons usually give up and move on after the fifth contact with the prospect because they think they are wasting their time and the prospect’s. Five times is the Dip. But according to the study, 80 percent of customers buy on the seventh attempt to close the sale! If the salesperson had stuck it out and pushed on, he or she would have found success.

On  the other hand, those who recognize that they are in a Cul-de-Sac and have the guts to quit early have the benefit of freeing up time and space to reinvest their energies on something more worthwhile. 

“In both cases, it’s about being the best in the world. About getting through the hard stuff and coming out on the other side,” states Seth. 


On the other hand, Seth states that losers fall into two basic traps. “Either they fail to stick out the Dip–they get to the moment of truth and give up–or they never even find the right Dip to conquer,” he writes.

Seth advises that people need to figure out first if they are in a Dip that is worthy of their time, effort, and talents. “If you are, the dip will inspire you to hang tough. If not, it will help you find the courage to quit, so you can be number one at something else.”

So how do you know if you’re in Dip or a Cul-de-Sac? Seth offers the following suggestions in an interview with author Josh Kaufman. Read Here

When to grit and when to quit

1. Find your why. “If you are showing up at work or training everyday just because you showed up yesterday, or if you are showing up because you believe that showing up is the only way to support your family, then you’re making a mistake.”

2. Ask yourself — “‘Is there a dip on the horizon? Can you see it coming?’ ‘Have other people you’ve worked with found that spot?’ If yes, you have to stick it out because your turn will come.”

3. Lastly, is the task getting more difficult? “If all you’re measuring is that you didn’t get fired, or your job reviews are better than average, and the company is not going not going out of business, that’s probably a dead end right there. There’s no dip coming, there’s no breakthrough, there’s no chance you’re going to be able to embrace the dip, push through it, and come out the other end exceptional.”

And if you’ve found yourself in an honest-to-goodness Cul-de-Sac, Seth advocates quitting. “Strategic quitting is a conscious decision you make based on the choices that are available to you. If you realize you’re at a dead end compared with what you could be investing in, quitting is not only a reasonable choice, it’s a smart one. Quitting is better than coping because quitting frees you up to excel at something else.”

To know if we are quitting strategically and NOT just reactively, Seth advises that we first ask ourselves three questions before making the decision: 

  1. Am I panicking? Quitting is a critical decision, so doing it when you’re panicked is dangerous and expensive. “When the pressure is greatest to compromise, to drop out, or to settle, your desire to quit should be at its lowest,” he shares. “The best quitters, as we’ve seen, are the ones who decide in advance when they’re going to quit. You can always quit later—so wait until you’re done panicking to decide.”
  2. Who am I trying to influence? “If you have a well defined person you’re trying to influence and they’re not listening, it may be time to quit. But when it’s a whole market, there are plenty of other people you could try to influence. Influencing a market is a hill you have to climb,” he states.
  3. What sort of measurable progress am I making? If you’re trying to succeed in a job or a relationship or at a task, you’re either moving forward, falling behind, or standing still. There are only three choices. “To succeed, to get to that light at the end of the tunnel, you’ve got to make some sort of forward progress, no matter how small. Too often, we get stuck in a situation where quitting seems too painful, so we just stay with it, choosing not to quit because it’s easier than quitting. That choice—to stick with it in the absence of forward progress—is a waste. It’s a waste because of the opportunity cost,” Seth points out. He adds: :”Measurable progress doesn’t have to be a raise or a promotion. It can be more subtle than that, but it needs to be more than just ‘surviving is succeeding.’” 

Finally, Seth cautions in his interview with Josh that encountering a Cul-de-Sac does not mean you have to quit RIGHT NOW. If you really need the income, don’t leave your job just yet, but do ACT like you’ve quit. “Live as if you have no income,” he advises. “Shop less. Don’t buy fancy coffee. Do it radically and completely until you’ve saved enough money to be able to really quit, to survive the transition, and get through the Dip.”

“To be a superstar, you must do something exceptional. Not just survive the Dip, but use the Dip as an opportunity to create something so extraordinary that people can’t help but talk about it, recommend it, and, yes, choose it.”

MindNation’s WellBeing Coaches can help if you are feeling “stuck” and need help achieving your goals. Book an online session with them now on FB Messenger http://m.me/themindnation or email [email protected]

Categories
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 http://m.me/themindnation or email [email protected].

Categories
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 (http://m.me/themindnation). 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]

Categories
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 @themindnation!

Categories
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.themindnation.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’s chat helpline on FB Messenger so that they have someone to talk to. This FREE service is staffed 24/7 and all conversations will be kept completely confidential. Get started here http://m.me/themindnation.  

Categories
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’s Care Hotline on FB Messenger. The FREE service is available 24/7, 365 days a year,  and rest assured that all conversations will be kept completely confidential.