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Employee Wellness

Everyone At The Table: 3 Ways To Build A More Diverse And Inclusive Workplace

Promoting and improving diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace no longer just means hiring more women in the company or allocating a prayer room for your Muslim team members. These are good first steps but much more needs to be done if you want to create a workplace that respects the unique needs, perspectives, and potential of everyone. 

D&I explained

Simply put, diversity in the workplace means that the company hires a wide range of diverse individuals — people of various race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values system, national origin, and political beliefs.

Inclusion, on the other hand, is the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized. Inclusion is about putting diversity into action.

“Unconscious bias in the workplace impacts our recruitment decisions, employee development, impairing diversity and retention rates, as well as promoting a disconnected culture.”

Salma Sakr, MindNation Chief Growth Officer


Benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace

Equitable employers benefit in the following ways:

  1. They gain deeper trust and more commitment from their employees.
  2. Diversity and inclusion can enhance the problem-solving necessary to rethink businesses and reimagine industries in the face of unprecedented disruption.
  3. More diverse teams are better at anticipating changes in consumer needs and buying patterns, which can lead to more rapid product and service innovation.
  4. All of the above positively contribute to the company’s bottom line.

Putting it into practice

D&I has become a buzz word that many companies use for good PR, but genuine D&I requires effort, dedication, and consistency. Here are 3 ways you can make it happen in your company:

  1. Be aware of unconscious bias.
    Unconscious bias (or implicit bias) is often defined as prejudice or unsupported judgments in favor of or against one thing, person, or group as compared to another, in a way that is usually considered unfair.

Unconscious bias in the workplace impacts our recruitment decisions, employee development, impairing diversity and retention rates, as well as promoting a disconnected culture. 

Organizations who make an effort to address unconscious bias in order to develop and maintain an inclusive workforce enjoy the following benefits:

  1. Increasing company profitability: Teams that have solid problem-solving and decision-making skills can bring a competitive advantage to a company. For example, a McKinsey study found that gender-diverse companies were 21% more likely to gain above-average profitability.
  2. They are more attractive to top talent: By implementing inclusive recruitment strategies, companies are able to reach out to a wider talent pool. Job seekers would also be more likely to apply to companies that prioritize diversity.
  3. Increasing innovation: Diverse teams can bring a variety of fresh ideas to the table, allowing teams to come up with creative solutions that can drive sales. For example, a 2018 study by the Boston Consulting Group found that companies with diverse management teams bring 19% higher innovation revenue.
  4. Higher productivity: University research found that tech firms with diverse management teams have 1.32 times higher levels of productivity. Increased productivity can lead to more efficient project management and implementation.
  5. Higher employee engagement: This can lead to higher job satisfaction, which in turn, can lower the turnover rate.
  6. Making fair and more efficient business decisions: Inclusive teams can make better business decisions up to 87% of the time. These business decisions can help improve a company’s performance and revenue. 

2. Be an ally. This is a critical next step and involves the participation of everyone at work regardless of their title, i.e. whether you are a manager or not. Here are three things you can do if you see an injustice at work, a bias being played out, or a team member in an uncomfortable or even scarring situation: 

Step 1: Point it out using language such as 

“I noticed that…”
“It seems like…”

“It feels to me like…”

Step 2: Avoid making assumptions. Instead, clarify it with the person involved, such as by asking “Did I read that right?”

Then validate it by using language such as“I want to acknowledge how challenging this is…”

Step 3: Work it out together by sharing your intention to help and to develop a plan to problem solve together. 


3. Encourage team identification. High team identification is when members identify themselves as part of a group and feel proud to be a part of it, when they feel that they are not working against each other, but for the same team, and they have the same future, goals, and vision. The higher the collective team identification, the more likely team members feel positively about diversity and are therefore more collaborative and successful. To do this, you need to make sure that people are not merely members of different social categories such as gender or race, but to emphasise the distinctiveness of each individual. 

By following these relatively simple steps you can really make a difference to your employees’ lives and shape the effect of diversity for the greater.

This August, MindNation is offering webinars to train your managers on how to foster more diversity and inclusion in the workplace so that you build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Email [email protected] to schedule a session now!

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Featured

Darlyn Ty-Nilo: 7 Strategies For Designing Your Best Life

In 2006, Darlyn Ty-Nilo created the Belle de Jour (BDJ) Power Planners with the initial goal of helping Filipino women plan their days better. What started out as a passion project has now grown into a movement with over 9,000 members (known as “Bellas”) who swear by BDJ parent company Viviamo Inc.’s advocacy of empowering Filipinas to live their best lives. Viviamo Inc. does this not only through artful planners and journals, but also through campaigns and activities that engage with their community. 

For her work and efforts, Darlyn was awarded the Mansmith Young Market Masters Awardee for Entrepreneurship in 2010, became one of the youngest Agora Awardees for Entrepreneurship in 2012, and was named one of the Outstanding ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs in 2017. More recently last June 2020, she was honored as one of the 100 Most Influential Filipino Women on Linked In.

“So get to know yourself, fall in love with yourself; and when you make mistakes, don’t be afraid to fall out of love with yourself. Then rediscover what else you can do. It’s all part of the process, and when you trust in the process, everything else will fall into place.”

Darlyn Ty-Nilo, Viviamo Inc.’s President and Managing Director

Darlyn reflects on her life and career and shares her X tips for designing a life that is successful and fulfilling:

  1. Follow your “true choice.” “My first job right out of college was a failure,” Darlyn shares. Despite graduating with high marks and winning national marketing competitions in college and putting in extra hours with the multi-national company she was working for, she was not regularized after the probationary period of her employment. “I realized I failed because what I was doing was not what I really wanted; instead, I only did things to please society’s expectations of me,” she explains. “I would be told things like ‘You should accept the best job offer out there even if you don’t like it because to do otherwise would show you are ungrateful.’ Or I would hear that I had to take the accounting board exams because my studies would just go to waste if I didn’t. But all these comments stem from a mindset that opportunity only comes once; what if the truth is that the opportunity that is knocking on your door is merely testing you to find out what is really in your heart?”

So when Darlyn decided to go into the business of making and designing planners, she made sure to allot pages where people could write down their goals. “I wanted people to start their year asking themselves what kind of life they would want to have, because designing your best life starts with knowing what kind of life you want,” she declares. 

  1. Know that the path to success is never linear. It’s okay to fail, it’s okay to pause and reflect if you’re feeling stuck or confused, and it’s absolutely okay to change your mind if things are no longer working out. “It doesn’t matter whether you change your mind after three months or three years,” Darlyn assures. “What’s important is to keep on writing about it, because the act of writing down your goals and dreams provides clarity, and clarity will always give you power.”
  2.  Another way to create clarity — set routines. “I’m a big believer in routines,” Darlyn confesses. “This is because when you create structures to your day and life, you’re anchored on your goals and don’t get lost. It’s like you’re trying to walk a straight line; if there’s no line on the ground to begin with, how can you achieve that goal?”

With Darlyn, her overarching goals are to run her business effectively and spend quality time with her family, so she makes sure she plans her day in a way that ensures she has the time and energy to devote herself to both.

  1. Included in that routine — making time for self-care. “In the past few months, I was not allotting time for fun at all,” Darlyn shares. “At night when we were supposed to be resting, my husband and I would watch webinars or workshops, or I would read books related to business or self-improvement because I had to keep thinking of ways to keep the business running during the pandemic. Then a friend reminded me that I needed more play time, and I remembered the saying that ‘You cannot give what you don’t have.’ How can I expect my business and family to thrive and be happy if I myself was always tired and stressed?”

So today, Darlyn makes it a point to spend a few hours a day reading fiction books instead of business tomes, and has switched her caffeine-laden mornings with more nutritious smoothies. “I gave myself permission to rest and take care of myself,” she says. “Even on days that are extra-busy and my downtime is only 10 minutes long, I make sure the entire time is about me and my needs, not about my work or the family. “ 

  1. Set clear expectations with those around you — even with the ones you love. Like everyone else who owns a smartphone, Darlyn is a member of multiple chat groups at work so she can properly align and coordinate specific projects with the right people. When the pandemic happened and she and her husband found themselves together at home all the time, she knew she needed to implement a similar system to keep track of their conversations and achieve their goals in a more efficient way. “Before the pandemic, we had space from each other and it was clear who took care of what what,” she explains. “But when the lockdown caused us to be together all the time, lines became blurred because we were now getting involved in each other’s lives and responsibilities.”

Her solution: she also created chat groups for her and her husband on specific topics — food, finances, learning, family, and matters related to just the two of them. “This way, everything is documented and expectations are clearer about who will do what,” she shares. “This leads to less conflict and friction.” 

  1. Take care of your mental health. “I started seeing a psychologist in 2013,” Darlyn shares. “I am such a believer in professional help that before I married my husband, I made him see my psychologist as well so he can work out any issues that he may have. Now, we also schedule sessions before every major milestone in our lives — like before I would give birth, for example, just so we can check-in and process our emotions before these upheavals.” 

While Darlyn has many friends that she can turn to for support, she firmly believes that mental health professionals are better at helping her understand her issues and remediate problems. “Friends are biased, no matter how hard they try to control it; it’s human nature,” she points out. “On the other hand, psychologists are trained to improve our lives. Part of designing your best life is taking care of your mental health, and one of the best ways you do that is to seek the help of a professional.”

Her belief in the importance of mental health led her to partner with MindNation this year. Every last Wednesday of the month, BDJ and MindNation hold monthly live streams on Facebook to raise awareness about issues related to mental health and well-being.

“I really in believe MindNation’s vision of making mental health more accessible to all,” she adds. “The goal of our partnership is to start the conversation on mental health, erase the stigma, and make sure that people have a better understanding of mental health concerns.”

  1. Never stop improving. “I believe that we are sent here to Earth to find what will make us happy and to become the best versions of ourselves,” Darlyn says. “So get to know yourself, fall in love with yourself; and when you make mistakes, don’t be afraid to fall out of love with yourself. Then rediscover what else you can do. It’s all part of the process, and when you trust in the process, everything else will fall into place.”

Partner with MindNation to build happier, healthier, and more productive individuals. Email [email protected] for more information.  

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Employee Wellness Get Inspired

Seeing Success: 7 Steps To Developing a Growth Mindset At Work

A growth mindset is the belief that a person can continue to learn and become more intelligent with effort, and that failure is an opportunity to grow. People begin to be successful the moment they decide to be. 

In contrast, someone who has a fixed mindset believes that they are born with a certain amount of talent and intelligence that cannot be improved no matter how much effort they put forth, and that failure is the limit of their abilities. 

In addition, someone with a growth mindset sees mistakes as a learning opportunity and openly accepts criticism because they believe it will help them grow. Someone with a fixed mindset often gives up and takes criticism personally. 

Out of these two mindsets that we manifest at a very young age springs a great deal of our behavior, how we see setbacks, and how we see our relationship with success and failure, from both a personal and professional context. Ultimately, it sets the stage for our capacity to be happy — do we ascribe to a fixed mindset where we think that we are born this way and there’s nothing that we can change? Or do we want to have a growth mindset where we feel that we are capable and worthy of success if we put our heart to it?

“Many people assume that there are only two possibilities when you do something — you either succeed or fail. What they don’t understand is that failure and success are on the same track; not only that, the road to success is paved with many failures.”

Cat Triviño, MindNation Head of Communications and Content

Here are some ways we can cultivate a growth mindset:

  1. Build transportable skills. This is defined as a specific set of skills that don’t belong to a particular niche, industry or job; rather, they are general skills that can be transported between jobs, departments, and industries (hence the name). Examples include learning how to solve problems, your ability to be mentally resilient, learning how to communicate in times of difficulty, getting things done within the timelines, and also your capacity to take risks. Building these skills early and keeping them sharp and fresh constantly keeps you grounded and builds your overall ability to keep going and exploring new things.
  2. Cultivate meaningful experiences. These are situations that take us out of our comfort zone and force us to adapt. Think of them as vitamins or antibodies that boost our immune system and help us withstand career change and adversity. Being able to be resilient in times of crisis is an example of  a  meaningful experience; when we see our hardships and things beyond our control as something we can learn from, they take out that fear of failure.
  3. Invest in enduring relationships. Great relationships can make you stronger and your impact bigger. Surround yourself with people who are good influences so that you will be motivated to become someone unique and indispensable. That being said, when it comes to relationships in the workplace, you will need one of each of the following:
  1. Community of experts — These are people you look up to, who can help you come up with better answers. After all, you can’t always be the smartest person in the room.
  2. Critical colleagues — These are people who constantly give you feedback not because they just want to criticize, but because they want you to be better.
  3.  Champions — Find mentors and truth-sayers who are on your side. They will tell you when you’re wrong, so you grow as a person.
  1. Anchor on your “why.” Inspiring ourselves to move forward and motivating others starts with us being clear on where we’re heading. So think about your purpose in life. What is your cause? What do you believe in? Do you want to challenge the status quo? Do things differently? Then from your “why,” allow yourself to create the structure, the “how.” How do you make your “whys” realized, what specific actions will you take? The result of knowing the “why” and the “how” is the “what” — what is your purpose? What can you get out of this?
  2. Reframe success and failure. Many people assume that there are only two possibilities when you do something — you either succeed or fail. What they don’t understand is that failure and success are on the same track; not only that, the road to success is paved with many failures. So it is important to understand that challenges or setbacks are assets. Failure forces us to learn and grow. Everytime we hit rock bottom, we should recognize it, honor it, respect it, and understand that this will only make us more skilled and better
  3. Trust time and the process. When we fail, it’s not because we didn’t try hard enough; sometimes it’s because the  universe is telling us that it may not yet be the proper time.
  4. Make self-care a habit. Self-care is what makes us feel good about ourselves and what we do. When we constantly reward ourselves with adequate self-care, we will develop a healthier growth mindset as well, because we will want to be able to give the world the best of us, not what’s left of us. 

A lot of what influences and fuels our careers and our lives are our purpose and mindset. Being able to know our whys and having enough motivation to be able to constantly see failures as growth creates not only so much bigger opportunities for ourselves, it also creates inspiration for others.

MindNation has a repertoire of webinars to train your team on how to build a growth mindset, have a purposeful career, and have happier, healthier, and more productive lives. Message us at [email protected] to know more!

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Featured

Kana Takahashi: Building A World Where Mental Health Is Valued, Accepted, And Supported

In 2014, Kana Takahashi was a bright-eyed pre-med student taking up Psychology at one of the Philippines’ top universities when one of her professors started talking to the class about mental health. “Back then, I didn’t know much about mental health,” she explains. “So when I heard my teacher talking about it, I got really curious.”

This curiosity led her to join the Youth For Mental Health Coalition — the only mental health organization in the Philippines at that time — and it was here that Kana became aware about the state of mental health in the country and the stigma faced by people with mental health concerns. Up until 2018, she immersed herself in advocacy work, learning not only about mental health but also about other causes like feminism and human rights.  From attending seminars, she was soon conducting them herself; additionally, she became involved in groups that pushed for laws like the Safe Spaces Act (which increases protection against sexual harassment, among others), the bill legalizing divorce (which is still currently being deliberated in Congress), and the Philippine Comprehensive Mental Health Law (which was signed into law last June 2018).

Along the way,  Kana started to reconsider her plans of becoming a doctor. “I started to ask myself why I wanted to become a doctor, and the answer I came up with was that I wanted to help people. And I realized that what I wanted was to help people now, not after four to five years of medical school.” With that in mind, Kana decided to just look for work that could sustain her financially and at the same time continue her advocacy work with the organizations she was currently affiliated with.

“I started to ask myself why I wanted to become a doctor, and the answer I came up with was that I wanted to help people. And I realized that what I wanted was to help people now, not after four to five years of medical school.”

Kana Takahashi, MindNation Co-Founder and CEO

The birth of MindNation

Along with some friends, Kana co-founded MindNation in January 2020, with the initial goal of providing mental health services for organizations, as mandated by the Philippine Mental Health Law. The company started with just four people (including Kana) and one psychologist.

But in March 2020, just three months after the company launched, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Many businesses coped with lockdown measures by cutting down on expenses — including putting all talks with MindNation on the back burner.

A CEO of any other start-up would have wrung their hands and panicked, but Kana was unfazed. “I didn’t get worried because I knew that what we were doing had value,” she says. “It was just a matter of making companies understand that — especially with the pandemic — investing in people is not a waste of resources.  Before the pandemic, all that companies wanted to see were numbers — ‘How can the mental health program that you are offering me boost my revenue?’ ‘What’s the ROI?’  But because of the pandemic, we were able to shift their mindset from ‘How can this benefit my business?’ to ‘How are my employees doing?’

Going above and beyond

And while other companies looked for ways to tighten their belts during the pandemic, MindNation did the opposite — they started offering their teletherapy services for FREE to the sectors most affected by COVID-19, from Philippine-based employees and students, to retrenched employees, medical frontliners, and even to members of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+ community). 

“We partnered with amazing mental health advocates like Senator Risa Hontiveros, as well as LGBTQ+ organizations, and women’s organizations to offer these pro bono services,” Kana points out.  “The fact that many non-government organizations were willing to work with a business like us — which is very rare — is proof that they saw the value in what we were doing,” Kana says.

Growing strong

Today, MindNation has a team of 50 employees and 20 psychologists, some of whom are located in other parts of the world. The company is now partners with over 40 organizations across industries, has expanded into Middle East North Africa (MENA), and is currently looking to grow more in other parts of the world.  In addition, they have gone beyond offering their services solely to organizations; individuals with mental health and well-being struggles can now also avail of the company’s 24/7 teletherapy sessions.

“MindNation’s vision is to build a world where mental health is valued, accepted, and supported,” Kana explains. “And we can only do that by making mental health care accessible to all.”

Best assets

Kana attributes the company’s growth and success to its team. “Every successful company has great people, people who go to work not just to work but to actually make a positive impact,” she says. “That’s what I‘m really proud of. In MindNation, we don’t work to feed the pockets of certain people, we do it because we’re working on life changing things.”

When it comes to supporting mental health in the workplace, the company walks the talk and has made the mental health programs that it offers to its client-partners available to employees as well. MindNation team members have access to 24/7 teletherapy sessions with psychologists and WellBeing Coaches and mental health leaves with pay. “The culture inside is also great, we can talk to each other about work and personal matters while maintaining a good working dynamic,” Kana shares. 

Looking ahead

Kana is looking forward to taking up post-graduate studies related to mental health so that she can grow the company more and support more employees. “Personally, I want to be able to help as many people as possible, even in little ways, whatever help looks like for them,” she affirms. 

Partner with MindNation to build happier, healthier, and more productive employees. Message us on https://m.me/themindnation or email [email protected].

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How To

5 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Achieve Real Growth

Harrison Ford was a carpenter before being casted as Han Solo in the “Star Wars” movies. Today, he is one of the world’s best-known actors and an enduring pop culture icon. 

When Michael Jordan retired from basketball in 2003, he shifted to professional baseball and then to running his own business.  In 2014, he became the first billionaire player in NBA history; he is also currently the 5th-richest African-American. 

Finally, Sara Blakely was selling office supplies door-to-door when she got the idea for making shapewear; the company that she founded is now a household name — Spanx. 

What do these people have in common? They all got to where they are now by stepping out of their comfort zones.

“A comfort zone is not a physical place,” says Monique Ong, co-founder and chairman of MindNation. “It is a frame of mind, a place where you feel comfortable and your abilities are not being tested.” In other words, comfort zones are comfortable, safe ways of living and working, usually in a set routine. 

Staying in one’s comfort zone has its advantages — you have zero stress, you complete tasks faster, and you don’t expend as much mental energy.

However, it also has its drawbacks — you don’t learn new skills, become complacent, and even miss out on opportunities for growth. 

“Growth only happens when you are learning, and learning only happens when you encounter something new,” Monique points out. “When you make changes and take risks, you transition and even evolve into someone better, and sometimes in the process you even transform those around you.” 

Monique’s life has been all about expanding her comfort zones. After graduating top of her class from one of the most prestigious universities in the Philippines in 2000, she embarked on a storied career in Marketing for three Fortune 500 companies for over two decades, lived in seven different countries in the process, and even started her own business. But in June 2017, while on a business trip in Singapore, sustained a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). She spent 21 days in a coma and had to undergo three brain surgeries. When she woke up, she did not know how to eat, sit, or walk. Doctors told her that because of her injury, her brain was now only operating at 40% capacity. She was also diagnosed with aphasia, a disorder arising from a severe TBI that causes the patient to have trouble speaking, reading, writing, and understanding language. And finally, because of the swelling in her brain, she became blind in one eye. 

“Changes don’t have to be big, and they do not have to happen overnight. By simply being creative, you can make small tweaks to your routine while you are on lockdown and already challenge yourself.”

Monique Ong, MindNation Co-Founder and Chairman

Digging deep

Monique was told that with therapy, her brain capacity could improve up to 80% — at the most. But she refused to let doctors determine her fate; in her quest to return to her normal life, she challenged herself and those tasked to treat her. She demanded daily speech therapy, even if her therapists only suggested that she see them thrice a week. She also asked for homework, and spent every day answering grammar worksheets, writing in a journal, and practicing giving presentations. She even started a light boxing exercise regimen with her physical therapist. On top of all these, she resumed planning for her wedding, which would be held 11,000 kilometers away in southern France.

 When she was tested by her neurologist six months after her accident, her brain was operating at 95%. 

In 2019, she co-founded MindNation, an innovative mental health and well-being company that has grown globally as a trusted partner for organizations and communities alike. She is proof that if we step out of your comfort zone, take risks, and face challenges head-on, we can evolve our lives, relationships, and even careers into something better. “Maybe not right away, and definitely not guaranteed,” Monique cautions. “But at least there is that possibility.”

From the comfort zone to the growth zone

This is not to say that you do need to experience a life-altering accident to challenge yourself, or move to another country to experience taking risks. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it virtually impossible for us to have adventures. But all these do not mean we have to resign ourselves to a life of idleness and inactivity. “Changes don’t have to be big, and they do not have to happen overnight,” Monique advises. “By simply being creative, you can make small tweaks to your routine while you are on lockdown and already challenge yourself.”

Here are some of the things Monique does to continuously challenge her comfort zone even when she is homezoned: 

  1. Exercise.  

    Working out is synonymous with challenging yourself. Monique is currently working with a personal trainer online, even though exercising is one of the things that she doesn’t like to do. “Because of our one-on-one set-up, my coach is constantly focused on me, always telling me to squat lower or bend deeper. I hate it, but I end up learning that I can do things I never thought possible.”


For those who love exercising, one way to stay challenged is to change up your workout program from time to time. Don’t just brush off yoga because you think you’ll never be able to touch your toes or disregard strength training because it seems intimidating. Stepping outside your fitness comfort zone can help you spice up your routine, help break a fitness plateau, and even increase your motivation. 

  1. Veer away from comfort foods.

    Trying new dishes is one of the easiest ways you step out of your comfort zone. “If you’ve been having your meals constantly delivered like me, order a dish that you’ve never ordered before or that you think you’ll never like,” Monique suggests. “Or another from a different restaurant entirely. Even if you end up not liking the food, you are slowly training your brain to adapt to risk-taking. Next time, when you take on bigger challenges, they won’t seem so scary anymore.”
  2. Make lockdown date nights as close to real date nights as possible.

    Before lockdowns happened, date nights meant dressing up, candlelit dinners at romantic restaurants, and evenings filled with meaningful conversations. But if you and your partner have been isolating at home 24/7 for more than two years now, there are ways to break this routine and rekindle the spark.

    “When we order food on date nights, my partner and I make sure to remove them from the takeout containers and place them on real plates. We also use real utensils and bring out the formal glassware — even if we’re just drinking water,” Monique shares. “Finally, we make sure to dress up, sit facing each other at the dining table — not in front of the tv — and put our phones away for 2 hours so that we can have an honest-to-goodness conversation. These take a lot of effort, but in doing so we make the experience more meaningful.” 
  1. Dare to have uncomfortable conversations. 

“The pandemic has made talking to friends boring because there is no longer anything new to share,” Monique points out. “‘What’s new with you?’ ‘Nothing, I’m still stuck at home like you.’ So instead of asking people about their day during virtual catch-ups, introduce topics you never used to talk about, like world affairs or philosophical questions. These may be boring topics, but talking about them can help everyone learn something new and even take your relationship to a whole new level.”

  1. Expand your professional skill set.

    Monique may be the chairman of a company, but she still blocks time in her calendar every day for strategic thinking and planning. This includes updating herself on what competitors are doing, reading up on industry trends, and holding discussions with the team to stay on top of issues and concerns. “By doing these, I grow not only myself but also the business,” she says.

Not a C-suite executive? You can still challenge your professional comfort zone even if you are a junior team member. “Take on an extra project on top of what you are already doing — being mindful of your own capacities and limitations, of course,” Monique suggests. “Another way is to enroll in that digital marketing course, for example, even if you don’t know the difference between ‘reach’ and ‘engagement.’ Or reach out to your manager and ask if you can schedule a short meeting, to get feedback and advice on your current path.”

“Investing in skills like these not only represent a new challenge, they can build resilience, foster creativity, refresh your confidence, and open up more opportunities than ever,” she adds.

At first glance, there is nothing wrong with choosing to stay in your comfort zone. Here, you stay safe, predictable, and it’s not as if you will kill anyone for doing so. “But what it will kill is any purpose, meaning, or surprise in your life,” Monique points out. “When you don’t try new things, you won’t have any excitement, originality, or new motivation about anything.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing us to change our perspectives on how to live, act, and interact with others. “Use the time spent in lockdown to look for opportunities that will challenge your comfort zone; the result is either you say ‘This really isn’t for me,’ or you become so comfortable with the experience that you grow from it and it becomes your new comfort zone,” Monique says.

MindNation’s WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions if you are feeling stuck or unmotivated. Book a slot now through https://bit.ly/mindnationchat or email [email protected]

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Featured Self Help

7 Solutions For Time Management Issues

Whether you’re a student, stay-at-home-parent, or working in a company, time management is an essential skill to have. When you are better at planning your day, prioritizing work tasks, and eliminating distractions, you can achieve your goals and be less impacted by stress or burnout. 

Here are some things you can do to manage your time better:

“Spreading yourself thin will sabotage the success of anything you’ve already committed to. By learning the art of saying a tactful “no” to others, you’ll protect your time budget and improve your focus on your most valuable activities.”

Salma Sakr, MindNation Chief Growth Officer
  1. Avoid multitasking. Multitasking — also known as switchtasking — is doing multiple tasks at once. Many people believe that multitasking makes them productive, but all that shifting back and forth between tasks isn’t actually that efficient because each time you do it, it takes your brain more time to refocus. Not only does multitasking reduce productivity, it also increases the likelihood of mistakes happening and negatively impacts our stress levels. So try to complete one project or task at a time before moving to the next one; your brain will thank you for it. 
  1. Merge different email accounts into one inbox. According to a 2019 report by management consulting company McKinsey & Co., the average professional spends 28% of the work day reading and email. Get this time back by making a few changes to your email settings and having all incoming email delivered to just one inbox.
  2. Treat your calendar as your time budget. Time isn’t money, not always, but it does behave like money; it must be budgeted because when it’s gone, it’s gone. So when you schedule things into your calendar, think of it the same way you would think about withdrawing money from a bank account. Everyone has a weekly limit of 168 hours; try your best to live within this time budget and never overdraw because once you do, you’ll go into time debt.
  3. Avoid having back-to-back-to-back appointments.This isn’t practical or realistic, especially in today’s information-overloaded world. Leave space between your appointments for unexpected interruptions, to take a moment to relax, or to prepare for the next meeting.
  4. Say “No” more often than you say “Yes.” Always remember that whenever you say “yes” to one thing, you are, in effect, saying “no” to something else. In other words, spreading yourself thin will sabotage the success of anything you’ve already committed to. By learning the art of saying a tactful “no” to others, you’ll protect your time budget and improve your focus on your most valuable activities.
  5. Procrastinate properly. When a new idea comes into your head, ask yourself, “Do I need to do this now, or can I do it later?” As long as you are using your calendar properly as a time budget, procrastination can actually be your friend. Appropriate procrastination can help you, because you’re still going to complete those ideas, just at a later date. Don’t limit your calendar to what can be done today or within a week; instead, think in terms of months or even years.
  6. Identify your Most Valuable Activities (MVAs). These are the top two activities that you excel at, the ones that would cost you the most per hour to pay someone else to do. All the other activities that you do during work time other than those two MVAs are your less valuable activities, or LVAs, and if you’re like most people, you’re likely spending the majority of your work time in these very low value, low impact LVAs.

In order to achieve maximum results during the limited amount of work time you have each week, prioritize your MVAs in your calendar and delegate LVAs to your team or your colleagues when possible. By leaving less room for options, you minimize the temptation to multitask and improve your overall focus. The result: more disposable time, and you reach your goals faster.

Time will always fill the space you give it, so use it wisely. 

If your team is struggling with productivity, MindNation has a repertoire of virtual webinars to help employees with time management, manage stress, and avoid burnout. Partner with us to help build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Email [email protected] to know more.

By Salma Sakr, MindNation Chief Growth Officer

Categories
Employee Wellness

Stop Idolizing Overwork: 7 Things You can Do To Overcome Hustle Culture

Are you constantly on the go? Do you devote 110% of yourself towards your work or other responsibilities? Do you feel guilty for putting your feet up, taking a day off, or even taking a nap? Is your mantra “I’ll rest when I’m dead?”

If you answered “Yes” (or even a firm “Maybe”), you are part of the hustle culture, also known as “Burnout Culture,” “Toxic Productivity,” or “Workaholism.” “Hustle culture is this mindset that we have to work hard to be considered productive and exemplary, and that if we don’t, we are useless and worthless,” explains yoga and mindfulness facilitator, educator, and licensed psychologist Ria Tirazona

While working hard is important, the hustle culture practice takes it to another level. “Working hard means you devote your time and energy to something that’s important to you, but you’re still able to take care of yourself,” Ria points out. “On the other hand, hustle culture is telling yourself ‘I’ll rest when I’m dead.’”

“Rest is not the enemy, and slowing down is not wrong. You need to change the attitude that not producing any output means we are not worthy. Hustle culture can be changed, and the change has to start with you.” 

Ria Tirazona, Psychologist and Mindfulness Facilitator


Who is impacted 


Hustle culture is not just practiced by executives and employees; students are branded “mediocre” or “lazy” when they do not pull all-nighters, while stay-at-home parents are shamed for everything from not preparing Instagram-worthy food to raising paragons. 

Even worse, we are oftentimes our own worst judges. “As a teacher, I constantly feel the need to study more, to take another course, to get another certificate,” Risa shares. “Before, I did it as part of continuing my education to improve my skills; but now it’s like I need to collect more proof that I am competent.”

“We have become consumed by this need to have more, to produce more, to be more. And if we choose to do the opposite, which is taking it slow or easy, we are negatively judged,” she adds.

How it came about

The rise of hustle culture can be attributed to advances in technology — everything is so accessible now that the line between yourself and your job has blurred. “Before the advent of email and instant messaging, we had to wait until the next day to get the memo for the tasks that needed to be done. Now, we get emails at two o’ clock in the morning,” Ria points out.

Ironically, while the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified hustle culture, it has also shed light on its negative effects.

“On one hand, because the lines between work and home are blurred, companies expect that employees can produce more output because they’re ‘just at home,’” Ria explains. “And if you’re an employee in a company that’s struggling to make it, of course you’re going to hustle to keep your job.”

But to some degree, the lockdowns have also caused people to start becoming more aware of the negative effects of hustle culture — burnout, stress, anxiety, and poor physical health. “Because life is harder now, there is a growing number of people who are starting to say ‘No, I can’t do this,’” Ria shares. “More and more groups now are also highlighting the importance of mental health and well-being, which was not really talked about pre-pandemic.”

How to cancel hustle culture

If you want to stop toxic productivity and take care of yourself better, here are some things you can do:

  1. Ask yourself — “What is my ‘rest narrative?’” “If your mindset towards rest is that it’s bad and it’s laziness, then you will continue to overwork because you don’t want to be called ‘bad’ or ‘lazy,’” Ria says. “But if you believe that rest is a healthy way for you to care for your well-being and a space to connect with what is important, then your attitude will change.”
  2. The second question to ask yourself — “Is hustling really worth it?” Refusing to hustle when everyone else in your organization is doing it can be scary — it can cost you goodwill with team members, a promotion, or even your job. “But as much as we want to go with the flow, there’s also a lot of value in going against the flow,” Ria advises. “You cannot keep going with a system that will cost you your physical and mental health, your relationships with loved ones, or even your life. So maybe it’s time you stand up for what’s important to you — money, prestige, or your health?”
  3. Set and enforce boundaries. France recently passed a law making it illegal to send work messages after office hours. If you live in a country that does not have this law, take it upon yourself to decide when to stop working, and don’t be afraid to communicate this to others. “We also have to give people the benefit of the doubt — sometimes they’re not even aware that they are causing you to overwork,” Ria explains. “So we need to take it upon ourselves to advocate for change.”

A tactful way would be to reply to an after-work email with “Thank you for this email, I’ll respond to it in the morning/on Monday.” After a few times, your colleagues will know not to do it again. 

However, do know that not everything you ask for will be granted. There will be times when you will need to work longer or harder — to meet a deadline or take care of a work emergency, for example — so you should also be flexible when needed. Just be sure these are exceptions, and not the norm. 

  1. Make rest and self-care a lifestyle. “Rest should be a part of your everyday experience, not a special occasion,” Ria says. “So don’t wait until you’re sick or burned out to rest, which is what the hustle culture emphasizes. Slowing down is good because in that little place of pause, you actually become more productive because you’ve cleared the clutter from your mind.”
  2. Specifically, take a nap. If there is one thing that Ria advises people who want to stop overworking, it’s to take an afternoon snooze. “Naps have been proven to boost brain health, reduce fatigue, and improve our well-being,” she says.
  1. Know your “flow.” Note that resting is not the same as being unwilling to push yourself further. “We all want to be the best versions of ourselves; but part of that is knowing our capacities and when we’re starting to lose that capacity,” Ria explains. 

Psychologists call this the “flow,” a state of mind in which you become fully immersed in an activity, your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost. It is also a dynamic and ever-changing state. “Sometimes you’re at your peak and you’re challenged, other times you need to recover,” she says.  “So go ahead and challenge yourself, but be aware of signs when you need to take a break.”

  1. Follow the rhythms of nature. “Two forces exist in the universe. Yin is a passive, negative force, while yang is an active, positive force,” Ria teaches. “And these forces exist everywhere in the world, even inside us. So there will be times when we are more active, which is yang; and there will also be times when we need to slow down, which is yin.” Both need to be balanced so we achieve better well-being. 

Another way to look at our energy is to compare it to the cycles of the moon. “You can be at a phase when you’re creating something new, when you’re working hard, and you’re producing a lot,” she says. “But there’s also that phase of emptying out and recovering, so that you have something to draw from again.”

“Rest is not the enemy, and slowing down is not wrong,” Ria concludes. “You need to change the attitude that not producing any output means we are not worthy. Hustle culture can be changed, and the change has to start with you.” 

If you are experiencing burnout, stress, or anxiety as a result of hustle culture, MindNation’s psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions. Book a session now https://bit.ly/mindnationchat

Do you feel that your organization exhibits toxic productivity? Partner with us to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Message us at [email protected] to know more about our services. 

Categories
Employee Wellness

4 Steps To Beating Burnout

Think back to the day you reported to work for your very first job. Whether that job was your dream role or a stepping stone towards a greater path, I’m sure you approached it with vigor and excitement, savoring the rush of getting things done, putting new ideas to the table, and proving yourself to your peers and bosses.

Unfortunately, this rush does not last. As time passes and more work and responsibilities come in, we start to feel stress. And it’s not just with work — anything that we used to invigorate us that we have to do on a repetitive basis such as relationships, house chores, or taking care of a pet can suddenly feel like another box we have to tick. It can even get to the point where we can’t seem to drag ourselves off bed simply because we’re spent. We don’t feel plugged into the role or the things we need to do anymore. 

Is this burnout? Or are we just tired? 

“Burnout is not considered a mental illness. It is, however, still a mental health issue because if left unresolved, it can lead to reduced productivity and sap our energy, leaving us feeling depressed, cynical, and resentful.”

World Health Organization

Burnt out or tired?

Tiredness is defined as the state in which one desires to sleep or rest. Once we have done either of the two, the tired feeling goes away and we can carry on with our other activities normally. It’s normal for everyone to feel tired.

Burnout, however, is being over-tired – it is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. The term was first coined by German-American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in 1974 after observing the volunteers of a clinic for addicts and homeless people in New York City. The clinic’s volunteers were struggling with their intense work and according to Dr. Freudenberger, the stress of the job was causing them to feel demotivated and emotionally drained. Though they had once found their jobs rewarding, they had become cynical and depressed; they weren’t giving their patients the attention they deserved. 

According to the World Health Organization, burnout is not considered a mental illness. It is, however, still a mental health issue because if left unresolved, it can lead to reduced productivity and sap our energy, leaving us feeling depressed, cynical, and resentful. Burnout can also cause long-term changes to our body that makes us vulnerable to illnesses like colds and flu.

Symptoms of burnout

How can we tell if we are burnt out? According to the WHO, there are three symptoms to watch out for:

  1. Physical. Apart from feeling tired and drained most of the time, people who are burnt out also find it difficult to sleep. They also experience lowered immunity, frequent illnesses, frequent headaches, or muscle pain but laboratory tests reveal nothing is wrong.
  1. Emotional. These include feelings of doubt, helplessness, a sense of failure, of being trapped, loss of motivation, an increased negative outlook, and feeling detached or dissatisfied with no sense of accomplishments.
  2. Behavioral. Examples of this include lowered productivity, withdrawal from responsibilities, isolation, using food/drugs/alcohol to cope, procrastination, having a short fuse, skipping work or coming in late, and wanting to always leave early. 

If these apply to you or your team’s situation, it’s time to take action. Because of its many consequences, it’s important to deal with burnout right away.

What to do?

Here are some steps you can take when you spot the signs of burnout, as well as how to avoid it from happening:

Step 1: Recognize the state you are in

While many of us already have an inkling that we are in a state of burnout or approaching one, we tend to brush this feeling under the rug because we don’t want others (especially our bosses) to mistake our lowered productivity and detached feelings as laziness or an inability to cope with the demands of work. But we are not robots; It’s normal to experience burnout. This is why we need to conduct regular self check-ins to make sure we know what state we are in and take the appropriate countermeasures.

We can start by asking ourselves these questions: 

  1. Am I feeling cynical or negative about work, and are these feelings escalating?
  2. Is my motivation decreasing?
  3. Is it becoming difficult to perform work-related problem solving?
  4. Do I feel myself getting more agitated or angry at work?
  5. Are interpersonal difficulties at work spilling over into my home life?
  6. Do I feel depressed as a result of work-related stress?
  7. Is work-related stress causing my anxiety?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, you are either burnt out or close to being so.

If you are unsure, you can take MindNation’s WellBeing Quiz. This is a FREE, 2-minute TRUE or FALSE test to check if you are Thriving, Healthy, Decent, Fading, or Burnt Out. 

Step 2: Know your WHY

Once you have gotten the lay of the land and honored your state, dig deeper and ask yourself, WHY. Apart from income, why are you doing your job? This is because when we talked earlier about losing vigor to do the things that used to excite us, it can be largely driven by our loss of clarity or sight of our “why.” We simply don’t know why we do things anymore, and it can be easy to get lost in the many things happening around us today with the pandemic and personal stress. When we’re aligned with our why, it’s a different kind of fuel or charisma that makes things happen and gives us focus.

Step 3: Go back to the basics.
This means keeping hydrated, eating healthy, and recharging to the fullest.  Always remember that recovery from burnout is a slow journey and requires daily rest. It is not something that can be fixed in a day or even in just a week; research has shown that vacations don’t cure burnout. While burnout levels do decrease during vacation, they often return to pre-vacation levels within a week or two after returning to work. This is why the next step is important.

Step 4: Build habits that cultivate resilience

Taking care of our mental health is all about our mental strength. It involves developing daily habits that build mental muscle, which may also involve giving up bad habits or toxic stressors that do hold us back. When we hone our mental muscle, it’s like going to the gym consistently; we become stronger versions and it is something we have to discipline ourselves to do. 

Some ways to do this include:

  • Setting boundaries. This can avoid you from spreading yourself too thin, especially when you’re on the brink of burnout. So set limits on the time you give to others to help you manage stress while recovering from burnout. It doesn’t mean avoiding a person all together, but avoiding a specific habit, behavior, or ask that may be pushing you to your limit. Be firm about your needs. Talk to others involved and let them know what’s happening. Explain that you need some support in order to take care of your health and manage your workload productively.
  • Prioritizing work-life balance. Once you leave work, focus on relaxing and recharging for the next day.
  • Seeking professional help. Increasing your well-being is not always easy, especially when you’re at your lowest. So seek help from those around you, and from trusted professionals as soon as possible. MindNation’s licensed psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions if you need help managing stress or building better habits. Book a session now through bit.ly/mindnationchat or email [email protected]. Rest assured that all conversations will be kept secure and confidential.

Anxiety is caused by our fear for the future and things that may not have happened yet. Don’t zoom forward to this. As Mahatma Gandhi said: there is more to life than simply increasing speed. Our awareness with what’s happening now and acceptance will help us create that leeway we need to plan for what’s to come.

MindNation partners with like-minded organizations to provide holistic well-being programs, psychologist consultations via teletherapy, and Company Culture Drive talks to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Visit us at www.themindnation.com or email [email protected] to know more. 

Categories
Financial Wellness

6 Types Of Savings We Recommend You Should Have

We all know that it’s important to save money for the future. Surprisingly, the easiest way to accomplish this is to actually split up your savings into different accounts instead of just maintaining a single one. 

“By opening multiple savings accounts, it becomes easier for you to identify financial goals and make sure you are on track to achieving them,” says Mariel Bitanga, financial advisor and founder of Simply Finance, a boutique financial planning firm committed to empowering Filipinos. 

While managing more than one account may seem time-consuming, Mariel assures that the benefits outweigh the extra work required. Splitting up your money into different categories makes you more aware of where your salary is going. “When you know what’s happening to your money, you make better purchasing decisions and can adjust your financial goals accordingly.” 

Mariel adds that people now have the benefit of living in the Digital Age. “Opening a bank account is much easier to do now than before,” she explains. “There are so many digital banks now where you can open an account online without even having to talk to anyone. Most banks even have a feature where you can open sub-accounts under one account, so you can manage your money conveniently.”

Small earnings should not be a deterrent either; you can still split up your savings. “Put in small amounts here and there just to get started,” Mariel advises. “When your money is small, it’s easier for you to keep track of them and manage them; the key is to build the habit so that when you have more money, you’re still able to budget wisely.” 

When your financial life becomes more organized, you will become less anxious about your personal finances, make better money decisions, and enjoy better health.

“When you know what’s happening to your money, you make better purchasing decisions and can adjust your financial goals accordingly.” 

Mariel Bitanga, Financial Advisor and Founder of Simply Finance

Types of savings

There is no hard rule about how many accounts a person should have. “It depends on your personal situation, so always reflect on what’s suitable for your lifestyle and what you want to achieve,” Mariel points out. That being said, here are the six types of savings that she recommends:

  1. Emergency fund

As the name suggests, you only touch this money when a true emergency arises, such as job losses or other disasters that you need a lot of money to cover like major home repairs, car repairs, or even pet-related emergencies.

If you have dipped into your emergency fund because of the COVID-19 pandemic and do not have the income to replenish it yet, it may be time to think of ways to cover the loss. “Consider other ways you can make more money, such as taking on a second job or starting a side business, so that you do not deplete your emergency fund,” Mariel advises. 

  1. Retirement fund

This ensures that you will still have enough money to pay for your bills and expenses when you are no longer working. Start putting money into this fund even when you are still young; the earlier you start, the more opportunities you will have to grow those savings through investments. Consult a financial advisor on what opportunities are available for you.

  1.  Personal savings for day to day and regular expenses
    Since you can’t touch your emergency or retirement funds, this is where you should get your cash for your food, utility bills, and other essentials. 

As with the other types of savings on this list, the amount you should have in your personal savings depends on your lifestyle and needs. You can calculate this by adding up your monthly contribution to your retirement and emergency fund, and then subtracting these from your income. From what remains, make a commitment to set aside a reasonable amount that still allows you to have enough to meet your daily expenses. 

  1. Expenses for short-term goals

This is for expenses that require you to save up a little more than usual before you can spend them, such as a wedding, a downpayment for a car or gadget, or a vacation. 

  1. Hospital and medical expenses

This is money intended to cover a medical emergency, specifically something that might not be covered by health insurance. Even if you are young and at the peak of health, it would be wise to start setting aside money for this fund now. “We need to approach things responsibly especially now that we are in a pandemic,” Mariel says. “As human beings, it is inevitable that we or our loved ones will encounter medical emergencies or expenses at some point in our lives, so the smart thing to do is to have money set aside to cover those because they are really one of the first things that can deplete our investments and savings.”

  1. Optional: A fund for hobbies and other “wants.”
    “Wants” are defined as things that you buy for fun or leisure; you could live without them, but you enjoy your life more when you have them. These include expenses such as collectibles, games, or beauty treatments. If you see that you regularly spend a considerable amount on these items, consider setting aside money to exclusively fund these so you still spend with care.

How to get started

This is definitely not an exhaustive list of all the types of savings accounts that you could set up, but it is a great starting point. When you are ready, Mariel suggests that you start by making a list of all the categories mentioned above, as well as other categories that you think you need to budget for. After that, check all your current bank accounts and tally them up so see how much money you have to start with. Finally, start allocating to the various funds. Financial advisors can also help in this regard. 

For those still feeling unsure and overwhelmed, MindNation WellBeing Coaches are also available 24/7 to help you build better money habits.  Book a session now through https://bit.ly/mindnationchat or email [email protected].

Categories
Children's Mental Health

8 Ways To Raise Kids To Be Allies

Being an ally of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community is not just about knowing LGBTQ+-related vocabulary by heart or lobbying for trans-inclusive bathrooms. Even young children can be considered allies when they treat all people — regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or sex charactertistics (SOGIESC) —  with compassion, acceptance, and respect. 

“Raising kids to be kind and accepting benefits not just the recipients of those kind acts but also the children themselves,” says Dr. Kathryn Braganza, a neurodevelopmental pediatrician practicing in Manila and mother of two children aged 18 and 6. “Being kind will make them feel good about themselves, ease their anxieties, make them happier, and boost their self-esteem.” 

While it is easier to teach children to be allies when a relative is queer, even families without homosexual, bisexual, or transgender loved ones can raise children to be open and loving. Dr. Braganza, who also has a gay older brother living in the United States,  shares some tips from her personal experience on how parents can create a culture of kindness and inclusivity at home:

“When my husband makes inappropriate jokes, for example, I call him out in front of the kids in a nice way. In other instances when it’s okay to do so, I politely share science-backed data to counter other people’s stereotypes and misconceptions.”

Kathryn Braganza, Neurodevelopmental pediatrician
  1. Embrace diversity. From a young age, expose your children to people, shows, music, or literature that positively represent a variety of SOGIESC. “In the building where I live, we have a transgender neighbor who dotes on my six-year-old daughter, hugging and kissing her all the time,” relates Dr. Braganza. “And because my husband and I did not make an issue out of it, my daughter thinks of her as just a loving neighbor and not ‘that transgender neighbor.’” 

Many television shows now also have diverse casts and roles, so Dr. Braganza suggests that parents co-watch with children to better explain to them what they are watching. 

Finally, let your sons wear pink, your daughters wear blue, and let them play with whatever toys they want. “In developmental pediatrics, we encourage parents to let kids engage in pretend-play, such as playing with dolls, to boost socio-emotional skills,” Dr. Braganza says. “Some parents have told me they are hesitant to let their sons play with dolls because they worry it would make him more feminine, but I just explain to them that research has shown that toys do not determine or influence gender identity.”

  1. Emphasize WE, not ME. Encourage your child to look for what they have in common with others instead of how they are different. Any time your child points out how someone is unlike them, Dr. Braganza suggests that you say, “There are lots of ways people are different from each other. Now let’s try to think of ways you are the same.” 
  1. Encourage open and accepting minds. “You can model this in everything you do, even in situations that are not related to gender,” says Dr. Braganza. “When your kids see you treating everyone the same regardless of their social status or their appearance, they will also do it on their own.”
  2.  Openly speak with pride and love about family members, friends, and colleagues who are LGBTQ+ (as long as they are out and are comfortable with you discussing them with others).  “My brother came out to me and my parents just before I got married and we supported him whole-heartedly,” Dr. Braganza recounts. “So when my children were growing up, his sexual orientation was never an issue because they saw that their grandparents and I did not treat him any differently than other people. Before the pandemic, we would all even frequently visit him and his husband in the US and my children treated their relationship as something normal.” 
  1. Be mindful of hurtful or derogatory comments or behavior. Children are always watching, so they will notice kindness, respect, and when you speak up on behalf of someone receiving unfair treatment. “Of course, choose your battles,” Dr. Braganza clarifies. “When my husband makes inappropriate jokes, for example, I call him out in front of the kids in a nice way. In other instances when it’s okay to do so, I politely share science-backed data to counter other people’s stereotypes and misconceptions. But when the hurtful remarks come from an elederly relative, for example, I just say quiet to show respect, but once we are at home I explain to the kids that what they heard was not right.” 

“I also frequently tell my children that everyone is raised differently, so if other people give a different point of view, just be polite but at the same time they should be firm in their belief that they know what is right,” she adds. 

  1. Answer children’s questions simply and honestly. How you respond can either create stereotypes or prevent them from forming. For very young kids, usually a one- or two-sentence answer is enough. Dr. Braganza gives some examples:
  • “Mommy, he’s a man but why is he wearing makeup/dressing like a woman?” 

Answer: “That’s what he likes to do, it looks nice anyway, right?”

  • “Daddy, he is a boy, how can he be a girl?” (when referring to transgenders)

Answer: “He likes to be one, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

  • “Why does she look like that/talk that way?” (when referring to someone with a different gender expression)

Answer: “That’s how she likes to look or talk, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

In any situation, always tell your child that everyone has the right to choose how they want to express themselves,” she says. 

  1. Ask yourself one critical question every day: “If my child had only my behavior to copy, would they be witnessing an example of what I want them to emulate?” “So always model kindness and optimism,” explains Dr. Braganza. In doing so, your children will learn to be allies and treat everyone with compassion and kindness. 
  1. Update yourself on the latest facts about the LGBTQ+ community. There are many myths and misconceptions about sexual orientation and gender identity, so it is important that we educate ourselves to avoid inadvertently  projecting obsolete ideas onto our children and tainting their views. “Update yourself with what science tells us about SOGIESC,” she suggests. “The internet has a wide array of information to get you started.” 

MindNation also gives talks on SOGIESC in partnership with Balur Kanlungan, an online wellness community for LGBTQI youth in the Philippines; just email us at [email protected] to set a schedule. 

If you need help on improving your communication skills or forming a closer relationship with your child, our psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions. Rest assured that all conversations will be kept secure and confidential. Book a slot now through FB Messenger http://m.me/themindnation or email [email protected].