In a survey of more than 6,000 full-time employees in the Philippines, financial pressure was ranked as the second source of stress during the COVID-19 pandemic (the first one being fears of the COVID-19 virus). . Organizations that fail to address financial stress are more likely to encounter poor work performance. This is because a team member who is overwhelmed by money worries will most likely experience a decline in physical and mental health and productivity, specifically:
Physical ailments such as headaches, gastrointestinal problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. In countries without free healthcare, money worries may also cause a person to delay or skip seeing a doctor for fear of incurring additional expenses.
Insomnia or sleep difficulties due to worrying about unpaid bills or loss of income.
Weight gain or loss. A person may resort to overeating to cope with financial stress, or may even skip meals to save money.
Depression. People who struggle with debt are three times more likely to feel down and hopeless, and struggle to concentrate or make decisions.
Anxiety. Uncertainties about one’s financial situation may leave the person feeling vulnerable and distressed. Also, constantly worrying about unpaid bills or loss of income can trigger anxiety symptoms such as a pounding heartbeat, sweating, shaking, and even panic attacks.
Relationship difficulties. Money is often cited as the one of most common issues couples argue about. Left unchecked, financial stress can make one angry and irritable, cause a loss of interest in sex, and destroy the relationship if differences cannot be worked out in a constructive way.
Social withdrawal. Financial stress can cause an individual to withdraw from friends, curtail their social life, and retreat into their shell — which will only aggravate stress.
Unhealthy coping methods. Money stress can lead to drinking too much, abusing prescription drugs, taking illegal drugs, gambling, overeating, or suicidal ideations and self-harm.
Increase in absenteeism. Absenteeism is defined as the practice of regularly staying away from work without good reason. According to the 2020 Financial Stress Survey conducted by John Hancock, a U.S-based insurance company, the average number of work days missed due to financial stress more than doubled from 2019 to 2020.
Reduced productivity. This is because even if employees are not missing work, they are bringing the worry to work, which has an impact on productivity and related cost to employers. Nearly 6 in 10 workers say they worry about personal finances at least once a week at work, and in terms of lost productivity, the John Hancock survey said that the amount of time spent brooding over personal finances at work equates to over 47 hours per year (equivalent to six working days) .
“The average number of work days missed due to financial stress more than doubled from 2019 to 2020.”
John Hancock 2020 Financial Stress Survey
Additionally, there is a cyclical link between financial stress and mental health problems:
The decline in mental health makes it even harder to manage money because the person may find it harder to concentrate or lack the energy at work to tackle a mounting pile of bills. Or they may lose income by taking time off work due to anxiety or depression.
These difficulties managing money lead to more financial problems and worsening mental health problems.
When employees receive help and support for their financial stress, they become more focused at work and experience improved overall well-being. Download our free Achieving Financial Wellbeing toolkit https://bit.ly/MN_financialtoolkit to learn how you can help your employees increase their financial health, meet their short-term and long-term financial goals, and balance today’s challenges with tomorrow’s needs.
For this October — which also happens to be World Mental Health Month — Transcom Worldwide Philippines took centerstage and invited their mental health and well-being partner MindNation to join them in a discussion about “Brains and Body: Mental Health and Overall Wellness in Challenging Times.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that companies need to accelerate the conversation about mental health in the workplace,” says Mark Lyndsell, Transcom CEO for the Global English Region, in his opening remarks. “Many employees are struggling with feelings of isolation, despair, loneliness, and loss or lack of control.”
MindNation co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Kana Takahashi agrees. “Mental health concerns are becoming more alarming because of the pandemic and it’s something that companies should really look into.”
Here are other key insights that were shared by Mark and Kana at the CEO Forum:
Mental health concerns in the workplace have financial repercussions. “Research by the World Health Organization and MindNation showed that 40% of employees are struggling with mental health issues during the pandemic,” reports Kana. “These mental health struggles have led to an increase in absenteeism, presenteeism, and staff turnover. All these productivity losses can cost companies as much as USD 400 billion dollars a year in revenue.”
For change to happen, well-being needs to be holistically addressed. While some companies or mental health support groups offer teletherapy sessions or virtual training as a form of mental health support, Kana says that just relying on these will not yield meaningful results for the organization. “If you want the best for your company and employees, you need to offer more,” she points out. “Focus on your employees’ journey, on the company’s culture, and on the person’s overall well-being.”
This can be achieved by going back to the basics. “Create a mental health policy in the workplace that provides mental health leaves, flexible working hours, clauses for diverse groups, benefits, and other important protocols,” Kana enumerates. “Next is to make sure that basic support is there, such as virtual learning sessions and sessions with mental health professionals. Provide Critical Incident Support for emergencies. And finally, create a program for team members that encompasses the intersectionality of a person’s well-being — which means covering their physical, emotional, social, and cultural wellness, as well as financial well-being.”
Change also needs to come from the top. “As leaders, we set the tone for the culture of the organization,” Mark explains. “In 2017, I embarked on a transformation within my organization to openly promote and hire folks from outside who actually met a specific EQ (emotional quotient) bar. And as a result, over time, we were able to build a far more mature and empathetic leadership group that continues to provide dividends to the bottomline.”
“If companies want to successfully address mental health at work, they need to make sure that their managers and leaders are equipped with the proper skills and training to handle employees with mental health struggles, such as empathic listening, handling difficult conversations, and even mental health first aid,” Kana shares. “Employees need to feel that the company and the people they work with are safe spaces.”
A company that invests in its team’s wellbeing reaps benefits. “Addressing mental health in the workplace has positive business ramifications, especially when it comes to attraction and retention of talent,” Mark stresses. “Our numbers speak for themselves; our Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) has continued to progress consistently through the pandemic.”
The eNPS is a company’s way of measuring how employees are likely to promote the company to other people because of their positive experience. “An eNPS of 20 to 50 is considered healthy. Anything above 50 is very good to outstanding,” explains Transcom Asia Director of Employee Engagement And Communication Aldrin Carlos. “Transcom Philippines’ average eNPS in 2021 is 57.9; our score this third quarter was 62.1 versus the global score of 54.”
“As leaders we are wired to get results and to always look at the numbers, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Kana says. “But our people are the ones driving those results and numbers; if they are stressed and unhappy, it will take a toll on our business. When you invest in your employees, you also invest in the future of your company.”
There is no health without mental health. “When I first came to the Philippines 14 years ago, the conversation at work was all about physical health — how do we make sure our people have a healthy diet, how can we get them to stop smoking, etc?” Mark relates. “But given what we are facing now, I believe that mental health is just as important, if not more important, than physical health. In the same way that many of us exercise our physical self three to four times a week to avoid serious illness, exercise or support for our mental self also needs to become the norm.”
“As employers, we need to transcend the traditional approach of treating mental health concerns to something more innovative and proactive,” Kana says. “The more you understand your people through empathetic leadership and policies, the more you will be able to provide the right kind of support.”
MindNation uses a data-based approach to create proactive, customized, holistic health programs for your employees. Partner with us to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Visit http://www.themindnation.com now!
In a previous post, we wrote about the different myths and stereotypes that each generation has about the other, and which contributes to employee disengagement and unhappiness. Once empathy and understanding are established among team members, focus must now shift to how senior leaders can address each generation’s well-being needs so that everyone becomes happier, healthier, and more productive.
According to a report by management consulting company McKinsey, companies that mix the different strengths and perspectives of younger and older workers benefit from better decision making, problem solving, and innovation. The report made special mention of the importance of age diversity and inclusion during the COVID-19 pandemic, stating specifically that “companies whose leaders welcome diverse talents and include multiple perspectives are likely to emerge from the crisis stronger.”
So what does each generation want from their leaders? Grace De Castro, founder and Chief Empowerment Officer of V+A Consulting, a boutique consulting firm with expertise in customized people programs and creative business solutions, shares her thoughts:
What Gen Xers want
Minimal supervision from leaders. “Gen Xers prefer to work independently because it was also how they grew up,” Grace explains. “This is because they were raised with both parents working, they became accustomed to fending for themselves.”
Peer-oriented collaboration. Precisely because their parents were busy and there were no Internet or smartphones to occupy their time, Gen Xers spent a lot of time interacting face-to-face with friends, so they grew up learning how to make genuine connections.
Very clear opportunities to shine — “Because this is the generation that lacked attention from their parents, they are always looking to prove themselves,” Grace reminds. “So if they are not yet leaders, give them tasks that will allow them to show off their leadership skills; and if they are already leaders, invest in their continuous education like subsidizing online courses or assigning them an experienced mentor.”
Benefits related to physical and mental health. “Gen Xers have poor physical health,” Grace points out. “Among the different generations, they have the highest levels of alcohol and smoking abuse, as well as high levels of depression and anxiety. But they don’t talk about it and are less inclined to speak up when asked because they come from a generation that taught them to just follow and obey.”
Grace believes that health benefits will also be warmly received because Gen Xers are already at that age when they know they are no longer young, that they are now closer to retirement compared to their Millennial and Gen Z team members.
If you need guidance on how to implement a holistic well-being program at work, partner with a mental health and well-being company that can offer data-based and customized solutions to address the specific needs of team members.
Work-life balance. Similarly, because Gen Xers will not complain, it must be up to the company to create an environment that allows them to not feel guilty when they take breaks.
What Millennials and Gen Zers want
Employers who prioritize their well-being. Because Millennials and Gen Zers are work martyrs, they feel guilty for taking breaks. So as a leader, constantly remind your team members to slow down or rest between tasks. In addition, avoid assigning tasks outside work hours. “Let them know it’s okay to say ‘no’ when work becomes unmanageable,” Grace says.
Constant reminders to unplug. Similar to the above, encourage these tech-savvy employees to disconnect from social media once in a while. Research has shown that too much consumption of social media increases feelings of inadequacy, FOMO (fear of missing out) and isolation. “These add to a person’s stress and anxiety,” Grace explains.
Giving feedback. Millennials, in particular, crave continuous feedback. They demand and expect a responsive managerial style and ongoing relationships with their supervisors. “Feedback is not shouting at them if they make a mistake,” Grace cautions. “Rather, it is taking the time to walk them through what they did well and what they could improve on.”
Just because someone was born in a certain time does not mean everything about that generation applies
Grace de Castro
Beware dubious generalizations about others. “Just because someone was born in a certain time does not mean everything about that generation applies,” Grace says.
Spend time getting to know your team members. “Each person has their own story to tell,” she adds.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put so much pressure on workplace leaders to maintain profitability that sometimes, looking out for the welfare of employees takes a backseat. “But unless your company is fully automated, caring for the well-being of the people who work for you is the best investment you will ever make,” Grace says. “We need to be mindful that regardless of what generation they belong to, everyone is feeling overworked, feeling guilty for taking breaks, and struggling to separate work life from home life. So as a leader, it is important to make sure that everyone enjoys the work, feels valued, and feels like part of the team.Getting to know your people is what pays dividends and will pay back a hundredfold when you do it well.”
MindNation is a mental health and well-being company that focuses on holistic well-being to create customized programs for team members. Partner with us to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Visit www.themindnation.com to learn more!
Politics. Religion. Divorce. LGBTQ+. COVID-19 vaccines. These are just some examples of topics that can be very polarizing when brought up between colleagues, friends, and loved ones. If you want to avoid getting into a full-fledged argument and preserve the good relationship you have with the other person, sometimes the best course of action is to just agree to disagree. This means coming to an understanding that neither of you are going to change the other’s mind and expressing a willingness to move on.
Aiza Tabayoyong — a family and relationship expert from The Love Institute, a pioneering company equipping couples, parents, and individuals with skills on how to have fulfilling relationships with those dearest to them — shares some ways you can properly and respectfully agree to disagree:
Communicate to understand, not to change minds. Listen wIthout bias. “Instead of saying right off the bat ‘No, you are wrong’ or ‘That’s such a crazy thing to think,’ ask ‘Why do you feel this way?’ or ‘What makes you think this way?’” Aiza advises. Show respect and curiosity instead of judgment and condemnation. Then move on to #2 —
Find common ground. If both of you are set in your respective beliefs, try to look at the big picture. What do both of you want to achieve? What final outcomes are you interested in? Political differences, for example, can be rooted in a desire for better governance or protection of the family’s welfare; the issue of COVID19 vaccines, on the other hand, is about staying safe and healthy. While both of you may have different ideas on how to achieve these goals, choosing to focus on the why will make it easier to accept these differences.
Ask yourself what’s important. Choosing to agree to disagree is easier said than done. But if the relationship is special to you, preserving it should trump your need to be right. “At the end of the day, what’s more important to you — keeping the relationship or winning the argument?” Aiza asks. “Is it campaigning for a candidate, or saving a marriage or friendship that has been there even before this candidate ever thought about running for a position?”
MindNation WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 to help you build better communication habits so that you can express your thoughts and opinions more effectively. Book a teletherapy session now at www.themindnation.com.
Today’s workforce is generationally diverse: according to an article by think tank Pew Research Center, there are currently four very different generations working side by side in the workplace:
Baby Boomers (those born 1946-1964), who occupy critical leadership roles in the organizations;
Gen Xers (born 1965-1980), who may also occupy leadership positions;
Millennials (born 1981- 1996), who are next in line for leadership positions;
Generation Z (those born 1997-2012), who are just now making their way in the workforce
Bridging the generation gap at work can be challenging because each generation brings with it unique work values, ethics, and preferred ways of managing and being managed. “Generations are defined by socio-economic and political events that occurred during the formative years,” explains Grace De Castro, founder and Chief Empowerment Officer of V+A Consulting, a boutique consulting firm with expertise in customized people programs and creative business solutions. “These events helped shape the way a person thinks, so one generation’s way of doing things may be vastly different from another generation’s.”
As a result, it is not uncommon for older generations to ‘look down’ on younger team members and judge ‘Why are they acting this way, we weren’t like that before?’ or for Millennials and Gen Zers to regard older coworkers in a similarly negative light.
While these thoughts and emotions are valid, it is important for companies to reduce stereotyping and cultivate understanding so that everyone works together harmoniously.
Grace De Castro
“While these thoughts and emotions are valid, it is important for companies to reduce stereotyping and cultivate understanding so that everyone works together harmoniously,” Grace advises. Below, she shares 5 myths about the different generations that need to be debunked or contextualized:
Myth #1: Gen Xers have outdated values. They are homophobic, racist, sexist, etc. PLAUSIBLE: “It might seem that way because Gen Xers are in positions of authority at work, so everything they say is noticed,” Grace concedes. “But this does not mean that all members of that generation think the same way.”
Myth #2: Millennials and Gen Zers are lazy. FACT: According to this Forbes article, 4 in 10 millennials consider themselves “work martyrs.” “By this, we mean that they think of themselves as dedicated and indispensable workers who are wracked with guilt whenever they take time off, so many of them actually continue working while they are on leave,” Grace points out. This article by the Harvard Business Review also concurs — millennials are more likely to forfeit paid days off than older generations.
Myth #3: Millennials and Gen Z-ers are entitled and disrespectful. PLAUSIBLE: Being entitled means believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. So are younger co-workers really more self-absorbed? Grace says this would depend on the culture of the organization. This is because while a study published in the Journal of Business and Psychology found no difference in the work ethics of the different generations, she says that millennials are more willing to speak up for themselves and express their opinions — even to their superiors — than their older counterparts. “Millennials are not afraid to ask for that raise or promotion, or to take the risk to move on when necessary,” she says. This is why it’s important for organizations to create safe spaces in the workplace and make sure that employees are allowed to express themselves without fear of repercussions.
Myth #4: Millennials and Gen Zers seek purpose over paycheck. FACT: A survey of more than 20,000 LinkedIn members revealed that Millennials were found to be the least purpose-driven generation. Additionally, 84% of Gen Z workers said they would like to do purposeful work for a company in which they believe in, but financial security has greater relevance.
It is actually Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who prioritize purpose. “Sense of purpose deepens as you progress in your career,” Grace explains. “For Baby Boomers, it’s because they have worked longer and are at that age when they want to leave a legacy. On the other hand, Gen Xers are old enough to have experience and financial security, but also still young enough to consider doing other things.” She adds that the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, has caused many Gen Xers to reexamine their current life path and ask themselves “Am I really doing what I’m supposed to be doing?’”
Myth #5: Millennials and Gen Zers are job-hoppers and have no loyalty. PLAUSIBLE: Contrary to popular perception, the Pew Research Center says that Millennials actually stay with their employers longer than Gen X workers did at the same age.
However, a survey by Gallup reveals that 21% of Millennials have changed their jobs within the past two years and another 44% plan on leaving the company in the next two years. Additionally, less than half of all Millennials and Gen Z workers feel connected to their jobs , resulting in more than 40% saying that they would change jobs if another opportunity arose.
“So based on data, yes, I would say that Millennials and Gen Zers are job-hoppers,” Grace says. “But the better question leaders should ask is why do they do this?”
Bridging the gap Grace encourages leaders to keep striving to understand the different generations at work and encourage team members to be more empathetic towards one another. “Being a good leader means you keep levelling up and empowering your team members, and building an environment where good becomes better and better becomes best,” she says.
MindNation offers virtual trainings on how to manage multigenerational employees so that you lessen stress, increase empathy, and build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Book this talk now through [email protected]
Despite efforts to increase awareness and understanding about mental health, many workplaces still consider mental health a taboo topic. A MindNation Pulse Survey of more than 6,000 full-time employees in the Philippines revealed that only half (50%) of respondents feel comfortable talking about their mental health challenges with their managers, while 11% do not want to talk to anyone about their challenges at all. Additionally, only 12% of employees with mental health issues truthfully admitted to their managers that they are taking a sick leave for the same reason; the others stated that it was for a physical health problem, took it as part of their annual leave, or didn’t want to give a reason at all.
Companies whose employees who do not receive support for their mental health challenges are more likely to have higher rates of absenteeism, presenteeism, and employee turnover. These productivity losses cost organizations at least PHP7 million per year for every 1,000 employees.
One way to address mental health in the workplace is to stop the spread of misconceptions surrounding mental health challenges. Dr. Rhalf Jayson “RJ” Guanco, a licensed psychologist and psychometrician, faculty member of the Adventist University of the Philippines, and the current president of the Adventist Mental Health Association, lists down the top 5 employee mental health myths and provides the facts to debunk them:
Myth: Hard-working people do not have mental health concerns.
Fact: No one is exempt from mental health concerns. “Mental health concerns can occur regardless of one’s personality, age, social situation, religion, or any other factor. It can also begin at any age, from childhood to later adulthood,” Dr. RJ enumerates. “Being hardworking, dedicated, or industrious does not make a person immune from mental health challenges.”
Myth: People with mental health problems are unreliable employees/team members.
Fact: Although mental illnesses may have a negative impact on an employee’s ability to function at work, it may also have no effect at all.People with mental health concerns can go on to live happy, productive lives as long as they receive proper treatment and support. “Mental health issues are in no way a reflection of a person’s ability to perform their work functions and are not a hindrance to perform job-related tasks. The fact that an employee has a mental health problem does not diminish his or her humanity. Putting them in a negative light and calling them untrustworthy should be avoided at all costs,” Dr. RJ stresses.
Myth: Stress is really a part of work, so those with mental health concerns are just being lazy or making excuses.
Fact: “According to research, mental health disorders are caused by a variety of factors interacting with one another, including but not limited to heredity, biology, psychological trauma, poverty, adverse childhood experiences, environmental stress, etc.,” Dr. RJ enumerates. So in order to understand mental health problems properly, the person must be viewed holistically rather than singularly, i.e. work stress.
Myth: We’re in a pandemic, so it’s normal to have mental health problems and there’s nothing we can do but ride this out.
Fact: “While it is perfectly normal to feel nervous, depressed, isolated, and agitated, or to suffer from any kind of mental health problem during abnormal events like the COVID-19 pandemic, these responses must be handled well. Not everyone can just ‘snap out of it,’” Dr. RJ explains. “The more we understand ourselves and our own mental health, the more we will be able to provide useful support to individuals in our life who are dealing with mental health issues.”
MYTH: I can’t do anything for a colleague with a mental health problem because I am not a mental health professional.
“A self-confident team member is one who is comfortable in their own skin, trusts in their abilities, and knows their strengths and weaknesses.” explains Eric Santillan, an international Organizational Development consultant and a MindNation Scientific Board member. “Additionally, self-confidence is connected to boundaries. When a person has low self-confidence or low self-esteem, he has very porous boundaries, which means negative feedback is taken personally — when you tell them ‘Your report lacks X, Y, Z points,’ they take it as ‘I am no good, I am a failure.’ On the other hand, people with self-confidence have a growth mindset; they take setbacks as learning opportunities to become better.”
Self-confident employees benefit the company in many ways, from improved engagement to better performance. “Having self-confident employees can be a game changer for the company,” Eric stresses. “They are the people who willingly take on extra work because they want to learn more, and they are also the ones that you need to manage the least, allowing you more time to do the things that matter to you.”
“Having self-confident employees can be a game changer for the company. They are the people who willingly take on extra work because they want to learn more, and they are also the ones that you need to manage the least, allowing you more time to do the things that matter to you.”
As a manager, here are four things you need to constantly do to instill self-confidence in your employees:
Develop their skills. Confidence is linked to competence. When you give employees tools and resources to improve themselves and they apply these learnings to produce outstanding work, their confidence rises. So provide your team members with access to courses and training, or maybe even give them the opportunity to run a passion project, so that they hone their skills and have a chance to shine.
Don’t micromanage. If you do give them additional responsibilities, be empowering and not discouraging. “If you don’t trust your team, they won’t trust themselves,” Eric shares. “If you second-guess their decisions, or require that all decisions go through you, then you don’t incentivize them to make decisions on their own. Employees should not be treated like children that you have to check on all the time.”
Don’t set them up to fail. Related to the above — make sure you don’t delegate big responsibilities too soon or too quickly, because they might become overwhelmed, inadvertently flounder, and have their confidence shot. “The key is to strike a balance between making sure that the project is important enough to be challenging for the team member, but not big enough that if it fails it will be detrimental to the company’s bottomline,” Eric advises.
Take care of their well-being. This means building up your team’s mental health, from taking steps to reduce work stress and risk of burnout to providing them with resources to address mental health challenges. Make it a habit to check-in on your team members frequently, so that you get to know them as individuals and create a strong support foundation. When you treat your team members well, they will also view themselves in a positive and more confident light.
As a manager, you should never underestimate your influence over a team member’s confidence. “You have the capacity to make or break someone’s confidence, because next to their significant other, you are their most influential relationship,” Eric points out. “A person who is managed really well will develop confidence, while a person who is managed really badly will feel their confidence eroded.”
MindNation offers virtual training for companies related to self-confidence, from cultivating a growth mindset to building mental agility. Email [email protected] to book a training for your team today!
Not only are relationship conflicts normal, they are inevitable. “A serious relationship or marriage is a union of two distinct people who grew up in different families and, hence, bring with them different cultures, belief systems, values, goals, habits, and behavioral patterns,” says Aiza Tabayoyong, a family and relationship expert from The Love Institute, a pioneering company equipping couples, parents, and individuals with skills on how to have fulfilling relationships with those dearest to them. “For those who are in a heterosexual relationship, gender alone carries biological and psychological differences.”
Additionally, it takes a lifetime to know all there is about someone; Aiza even compares it to studying in school. “When you start dating someone, your knowledge and awareness about them is equivalent to what a child knows during the preschool years,” she explains. “Once you get married, it’s as if you are entering elementary school. On your 25th anniversary, you have just completed high school. I would say that you only become an expert on your partner — the equivalent of a doctorate degree — when you have spent 50 years together.”
“This is because once you start living together and form a family, you will be facing new situations that you otherwise would not have encountered as single people,” she adds. “Parenthood alone comes with a whole gamut of experiences that will require both parties to adjust each other’s temperaments and values. And it is during these times of adjusting that conflicts occur.”
Common causes of relationship conflict Even the most compatible of couples will encounter conflict because of the following reasons:
Triggers and issues stemming from childhood. “For example, if a partner lacked attention as a child and they feel they are also lacking attention in your marriage, that can be a trigger,” Aiza enumerates.
Differences in values. This encompasses a wide variety of subjects, including isues pertaining to money, sex, spirituality, goals, and family roles. “Who has more say in the relationship? How will the children be raised?” Aiza enumerates. “How much sway do in-laws or extended family members have in decision-making? If these are not discussed properly before the marriage, conflict will occur.”
Lack of communication, validation, and affirmation. “We’ve become so used to doing things a certain way when we were single that when our partner acts the opposite way and neither wants to compromise, that also poses a conflict,” says Aiza.
When to ignore, talk it out, or walk away Just because relationship conflicts are normal and inevitable does not mean you should give up on the idea of having a harmonious marriage. Unresolved relationship conflict is very stressful, and this stress can negatively affect the physical and mental health of both partners as well as any children that they may have. However, not all issues need to turn into conflicts; in the same vein, you should also know which conflicts are more grave and require more drastic measures. Aiza shares some ways you can tell the difference and what you can do to resolve them:
When to let your partner be “It is not worth the conflict if the issue is about something bigger involving your partner and not about you,” Aiza assures. “In such cases, just let them express their emotions and do your best to love and understand them.”
An example would be the expression “Shut up.” During one of your conversations, you might have said it in jest, i.e. “Oh, shut up, that’s not true,” but your partner reacted like they were disrespected and got triggered. In such cases, instead of lashing back with “You’re so sensitive, I didn’t mean anything bad about it,” just pause and give them time to cool their tempers. Then when they are ready, gently ask if they want to talk about why they reacted in such a manner, so that you know not to do it again next time. Whether they want to talk about it or not, just make a mental note to refrain from saying “Shut up” next time.
When to talk it out, work it out A relationship becomes problematic when the conflict stems from different values and you and your partner are triggered with deep feelings about certain issues.
A classic example would be matters involving money, i.e. when the two of you differ in how much to spend, what to spend on, how much money to lend to relatives or friends, etc. In such cases, you need to sit down and try to come up with a compromise. To do this, start by expressing your feelings, then hear out your partner. Use “I” statements such as “I feel __ when you spend on ___. But I want to understand why you are doing this, can you explain it to me?”
Then, as always, hear out your partner from a place of love and understanding, i.e. “Oh, so you were raised to think of money this way, which is why you did this and that. Now I see.” Finally, bring up options so that you can come up with compromises. That way, everyone comes out a winner.
When to walk away
Every person should have a list of behaviors that they will not tolerate in a partner. Ideally, these non-negotiables should have been seen before the marriage. For Aiza, examples of toxic behavior include extreme disrespect and abuse (whether physical, mental, or emotional), pathological reasons or disorders that you are not qualified to handle, or psychological incapacities.
“It is sad if these things are discovered within the marriage. But if the love is strong and the other person wants to make it work, then try to work it out, maybe with the help of a professional,” Aiza advises. But if the partner continues to be in denial, resorts to gaslighting, or keeps falling back on toxic habits despite promises to the contrary, then you need to decide if this is still a relationship that you want to continue.
This is not to mean that you should file for separation, divorce, or annulment at the drop of a hat. “If you love each other, and you spent spent a lot of time getting to know your partner well enough during the dating process, if you knew what you were getting into and you took your marriage vows seriously, if you were not coerced into the relationship and there was love to begin with — then everything can be worked out,” Aiza assures. “But if you got married simply because you were swept off your feet or were coerced or pressured, or you never had the opportunity to really get to know your partner — then maybe all these conflicts are a sign that you were not meant to be. Do still try to work on the relationship, don’t give up over the smallest conflict; but if you’ve done everything you can and you still don’t see any change in your partner, then you’re probably better off ending it.”
“Do you have enough common values that you can adjust to differences in way of thinking? Is there good enough communication? Is there a good level of maturity?”
According to research conducted by relationship company The Gottman Institute, 69% of conflicts in a marriage can be resolved successfully. This is where Aiza stresses the importance of getting to know your partner well. “Do you have enough common values that you can adjust to differences in way of thinking? Is there good enough communication? Is there a good level of maturity?” she lists. “Marriage is forever, it is ‘I love you until death do us part’ and not ‘I love you only until it’s convenient and comfortable.’ And when the love is true, that will hopefully be a strong enough motivation to keep going and to keep fixing any relationship conflict.”
MindNation psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 to help you address past traumas or build better habits so that you can have better relationships with the ones you love. Book a teletherapy session now Facebook Messenger http://bit.ly/mn-chat , or email [email protected]
In a survey of more than 6,000 Filipino employees conducted by MindNation between September 2020 to April 2021 on the state of their well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic, more than half (53%) of the respondents said they felt varying degrees of anxiety mainly due to fears of the COVID-19 virus, financial pressure, and personal matters..
“Anxiety is defined as distress or uneasiness caused by fear of danger or misfortune, as well as excessive worry,” says MindNation psychologist Jessa Mae Rojas. While a little bit of anxiety is normal and can be helpful in signaling danger — for example, it reminds you to practice social distancing policies when you are in a populated space — too much anxiety can leave you feeling weak, tired, irritable, or find it difficult to concentrate on tasks. You can even experience physical symptoms like gastrointestinal problems, insomnia, hyperventilation, and heart palpitations. All these can affect your productivity at work and relationships with loved ones.
Managing anxiety While we cannot stop anxious thoughts from entering our minds, there are things we can do to control our reactions to them. “Always remember to keep calm,” Jessa reminds. This means:
C — Cultivate positivity. Negative thoughts produce more unnecessary anxiety, so always practice positive self-talk. “Instead of saying ‘I can’t do this,’ say ‘I can do this,’” Jessa suggests. “Another thing you can do is stand in front of the mirror every morning and tell yourself that you are smart, beautiful, confident, and that you can do anything.”
Additionally, try to develop a story with positive outcomes. When you reframe an experience, it turns something stressful or traumatic into a challenge that can be overcome; or, it can turn a really bad day into a mildly low point in overall wonderful life. Just be careful not to fall into the trap of toxic positivity, or the assumption that you should always be happy despite being under difficult circumstances. “All our feelings are valid, and suppressing negative ones can lead to increased anxiety, depression, and overall worsening of mental health,” Jessa points out.
A — Allocate time for worrying. Jessa advocates the Worry Time Technique, which involves designating a specific time, place, and length of time each day solely for worrying.” Anytime you become aware of a worry during the day, write it down on a piece of paper and put it in your pocket or somewhere out of sight; since you will have time to think about that worry later, there’s no need to get anxious over it now,” Jessa instructs. “Then at the end of the day, when your worry time comes around, settle yourself down at the worry place, pull out the scraps of paper, and reflect on your worries.” Journaling can help at this point; just write out whatever is on your mind, instead of ruminating.
“The Worry Time Technique makes worrying less intrusive in your life and allows you to manage your anxieties effectively, giving you a greater sense of control,” she adds.
L — Label your emotions. Giving emotions a name (i.e. “I feel angry,” or “I feel confused”) provides a deeper understanding of what happened, how it affects you, and helps you see the possibilities for what to do next. Instead of your emotions spiraling out of control, you feel less anxious and triggered.
Start by writing down the event that activated your anxiety: “I made a mistake at work.”
Then, write down what that event made you believe about yourself: “I am such a failure. I should always do a perfect job.”
Name the emotion you feel: “I’m worried I’m going to get fired.”
Finally, dispute this belief: “I usually do a good job but I am not good at everything. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. My boss was very happy with my report last week. I will learn from this and perform better next time.’
By labelling your emotion, you are able to understand what is going on through your mind more clearly, and build a road-map to address the problem. This makes you more relaxed and confident.
M — Meditate regularly. “Mindfulness meditation — or the type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment — is an effective strategy for managing anxiety,” Jessa shares. By training your brain to stay in the moment, whether it’s through focusing on your breath or your five senses, you let go of regrets of the past as well as anxieties about the future.
If you notice a team member struggling with anxiety, you may want to refer them to a professional for help. Mental Health professionals can help with streamlining the process of identifying triggers, maintaining long-term strategies through behavioral therapy, and more.
The MindNation CareNow Plan provides your team access to 24/7 teletherapy sessions with MindNation psychologists and WellBeing Coaches through sms chat, video chat, or voice call. Email [email protected] today to inquire!
Eric Santillan’s road to psychology, counseling, and organizational development started — of all places — when he was studying to be a Jesuit priest in the early 2000s. “Jesuit formation is very psycho-spiritual,” he explains. So apart from studying theology, he also trained as a career and marriage counselor, moderated student organizations in the university, and even designed curriculums for schools. In 2006, he left theology school to become a full-time psychologist and counselor.
Today, Eric is a member of the MindNation Scientific Board, a relationship counselor, and a productivity and Organizational Development consultant. “As an OD consultant, organizations come to me when they have issues and problems and need clarity,” he explains. “And then I use organizational and management tools to help their people thrive and reach their full potential.”
Stress during the COVID-19 pandemic One of things Eric realized in his 22-year career as an OD consultant was that big problems stem from minor irritations. “Little stresses build up over time and if they are not addressed, they blow up,” he shares.
An example would be the issue of workplace stress. A MindNation Pulse Survey of more than 6,000 full-time employees in the Philippines taken from September 2020 to April 2021 revealed that 61% of respondents are feeling stressed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eric clarifies, however, that the pandemic did not cause this spike in stress; rather, it simply magnified stressful situations that would — pre-pandemic — have otherwise been just considered to be inconveniences. “People already had mental health challenges before the pandemic; the pandemic just highlighted them and made them very real,” he explains. Some examples of these stressful situations:
Limited physical and psychological space. Prior to the pandemic, parents could take a breather from child-care duties and other household responsibilities by sending their kids to school or just leaving the house for some “me-time” at a nearby coffee shop. But school closures and social distancing policies now meant that people are stuck at home 24/7 with little to no reprieve.
Missing support systems. “Deaths in the family and becoming a new parent are stressful transitions, and the pandemic has erased whatever support we would normally get during these major life changes,” Eric points out. Mourning rituals have been shortened, grandparents can no longer visit to help babysit — the people most affected by these transitions have no choice but to struggle on their own.
How stress affects work If left unaddressed, stress can contribute to decreased organizational performance, decreased employee overall performance, high error rate and poor quality of work, high staff turnover, and absenteeism due to physical and mental health problems.
As a manager, it is therefore important to take steps to ensure that employees are not subjected to unnecessary stress. “For a business to thrive, all elements have to be operating at their peak. So in the same way that you conduct preventive maintenance on your machines to make sure they are always running 100%, so should you have a program in place that makes sure your people are always at their best,” Eric says.
How to reduce workplace stress While managers and leaders cannot address all the stresses that a team member is struggling with in their personal lives, there some things that they can do to make the workplace less stressful:
Ask yourself: ‘Am I the source of stress?’ It’s possible you are inadvertently causing your employees stress, so be open to feedback about your leadership style. Another way to find out is to check the turnover rate in your department. “In teaching, there is a concept called ‘student factor’ or ‘teacher factor,’” Eric relates. “When one or two students fail in a class,that’s probably a student factor; but if 10 or 15 people flunk, then that’s a red flag, it’s a sign that there is probably an issue with the teacher. So it’s the same with workplace turnover– is it an employee factor or a manager factor? In some companies I have worked with, managers get sent for retraining if a certain number of people resign over a certain amount of time.”
Get to know your team. Take into account the personal lives of employees and recognise that the demands of home will sometimes clash with the demands of work. “Letting your team know that they are not just workers, but that they’re recognized as individuals, goes a long way,” Eric says.
Praise in public, correct in private. This simply means that when you have something positive to say about a team member, make sure others are aware of the praise; but if you are issuing a correction or reprimand, handle it one-on-one. Praising in public pumps up the self-esteem of the team member, while handing out negative feedback privately ensures that the employee is not publicly shamed in front of his or her peers. The latter creates stress and resentment, and damages morale.
Mess creates stress. Disorganization contributes to stress, so always be clear when relaying instructions, Make sure that everyone is properly trained for their job, and encourage an environment where employees can openly raise concerns about their duties and workload.
Try to celebrate small wins. Don’t wait for a project to end so you can celebrate; instead, break up the projects into milestones, and give positive feedback when people do a good job. “A company I know gives a small fund to each department, so that team members can treat themselves whenever they feel there is a cause for celebration,” Eric shares.
Practice what you preach. “Don’t say anything that you will not do yourself,” Eric cautions. So model work-life balance and stress management techniques so that employees down the line will follow suit.
Partner with a mental health and well-being company that addresses mental health challenges holistically. This means working with an Employee Assistance Program provider that addresses all dimensions of an employee’s well-being — physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and cultural — because you cannot have one without the other.
And if you do already have an Employee Assistance Program in place, don’t rely on it to be the cure-all for all your team’s well-being concerns. “Addressing workplace stress is not just the work of the EAP partner,” Eric shares. “It should be part of the organization’s culture.” This means normalizing the conversation about mental health in everyday interactions, granting paid mental health leaves, or even giving special mental health assistance to employees being groomed for leadership roles so they do not feel overwhelmed or stressed. “This way, the mental health program becomes holistic and robust, not just something offered on the side,” he adds.
“Workplace stress is a management issue,”
“Workplace stress is a management issue,” Eric concludes. A great manager is aware of their team member’s stress levels and takes proactive steps to reduce stress in the workplace. By reducing workplace stress, you not only improve the lives of your team members, you create an environment where they enjoy coming to work each day and become more productive.
MindNation is a mental health and well-being company that uses a data-based approach to create proactive, customized, holistic health programs for your employees. Partner with us to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Visit www.themindnation.com now!