6 Ways To Cope With Holiday Depression

Are the holiday blues bogging you down? Find out how you can manage your emotions better so that you can still enjoy the Christmas season. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how many of us are celebrating the holidays this year. As we struggle with financial insecurity, the death of loved ones, and fear of contracting the disease — all while being physically distanced from our usual support group — we may be feeling additional stress, sadness, or anxiety instead of love, peace, and joy. 

“First of all, it’s completely ok and normal if you do not feel happy during what is supposed to be the happiest time of the year,” says Riyan Portuguez, RPsy RPsm (also known as The Millennial Psychologist). “Studies have shown that the holidays can trigger or exacerbate feelings of isolation, grief, and sadness, and anxiety.

That being said, there are things you can do to minimize the stress and depression that you may be feeling during the holidays. Who knows, you may even end up enjoying it more than you thought you would.

  1. Plan ahead. When stress is at its peak, it’s hard to stop and regroup. So for next year, try to prevent strong emotions from hitting you hard during the holidays by doing all your Christmas preparations before December comes around, specifically shopping for presents and wrapping the gifts. “This way, you don’t have to go out as much during the weeks leading up to Christmas and see all the decorations or hear the music, all of which can trigger your depression,” says Riyan.
  1. Reduce social media use. When you are bombarded with images of other people enjoying time with their loved ones, enjoying their new gifts, or eating yummy food that you cannot afford, you will be reminded of what you don’t have and feel worse instead of happy. Take a social media break for your own peace of mind. 
  1. Remember the reason for the season. “If you are feeling down because you feel pressured to give gifts even though you have limited funds, reframe your thinking. Remind yourself of the things that matter — that you still have friends and/or family who care for you, that you have a house, food on the table, that you are alive — and celebrate those,” points out Riyan. “Don’t allow perfectionism — the idea that Christmas has to be commemorated a certain way  — to rule your life.” 
  1. Continue to do self-care. Exercise, sleep well, and eat healthy meals throughout the holidays. Overindulging will only compound your stress and guilt. 
  1. Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones because of physical distancing measures, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. “Don’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season,” says Riyan. “Cry if you want to cry.”
  1. Reach out. “If you are feeling isolated or lonely, ask a trusted friend or family member to spend time with you, even just virtually,” suggests Riyan. “Talking to them will ease your concerns and offer you support and companionship during this stressful time.”

Don’t let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the holidays. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal grief, so you can combat them before they overwhelm you. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find peace and joy during the holidays.

Despite your best efforts, if you find yourself feeling persistently sad, anxious, or hopeless, seek professional help. A good place to start is MindNation’s chat helpline on FB Messenger, which is open 24/7 (yes, even during the holidays). The service is free, completely confidential, and the staff is trained to ease your anxieties. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

8 (Other) Effective Ways Parents Can Practice Self-Care

If you’ve been taking breaks throughout your work-from-home-day, no longer need to remind your kids to be quiet when you are napping, and manage to squeeze in some exercise in-between doing household chores — congratulations! You have made self-care a part of your life and are on the right track to experiencing reduced stress, more energy, and increased resilience. 

How about trying a few other ways to destress, decompress, and reward yourself? We’ve compiled some suggestions for you: 

  1. Watch a different genre on TV. We all love our Hollywood movies and sitcoms, but how about trying out some new categories for a change? If your goal is to temporarily escape reality, Korean dramas, cooking shows, and home improvement shows will surely take you there. 

What we recommend: “Start-Up” if you are a K-drama newbie, “Nailed It,” if you want a comedic baking show (yes, there is such a thing!)  “Tiny House Nation” if you want tips on how to live simply.

  1. Engage in light reading. Reading is good for your brain but that doesn’t mean your bedside table has to be stacked with Pulitzer-Prize winning works or other serious tones. Romance novels, comic books, and other forms of light reading do not tax a brain that’s already tired from a full day and provide much-needed stress relief.  

What we recommend: Dilbert and Calvin & Hobbes comic books for humor; anything by Julia Quinn for romance; the Trese comic series for action and a fresh take on Philippine mythology.

  1. Build something. When you work with your hands to create something from scratch, you trigger your brain’s reward centers and experience pleasure, which leads to reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. 

What we recommend: Lego and other construction blocks if you are a beginner and need step-by step guidance; jigsaw puzzles if you’ve had more experience; plastic model kits (i.e. Tamiya, Bandai) if you are up for a challenge. 

  1. Dress up, just because. Holiday parties may be put on hold because of the pandemic, but there’s no law against jazzing up your looks in the comfort of your home. Nothing will make you feel better faster than the sight of you in the mirror looking well-groomed and stylish. 

What we recommend: Set aside one day of the week (i.e. Fancy Fridays) where you and your partner will both swap the loungewear for dressier choices, complete with styled hair and makeup for the ladies. 

  1. Pop some bubble wrap. Odds are you’ve amassed quite a bit from all the orders that have arrived from your online shopping. Instead of putting them straight into the recycling bin, spend a few minutes popping the row of bubbles. What makes it so pleasurable is the instant gratification you receive from pressing out all the air; studies have even shown that popping bubble wrap for 60 seconds relieves as much stress as a 33-minute massage!

What we recommend: Another way bubble wrap can bring relief — cut up big sheets into the shape of your shoes and use them as shoe inserts the next time you have to go out to purchase essential items. Instant foot massage! 

  1. Cook or bake something simple. Both activities can help improve mood by providing small tasks to focus on in a manner similar to meditation. Let’s also not discount the sense of accomplishment you get when you smell or taste the end result of your kitchen experiment. If you find the prepping or cleaning to be a chore, round up the partner and kids to help out — instant family bonding time!

What we recommend: If you’re a beginner in the kitchen, start with store bought cake mixes that only need a few additional ingredients to yield the finished product (less mess to clean up too!) If you want to try your hand at cooking, we love Laura Vitale’s Youtube videos (laurainthekitchen.com) because the recipes are beginner-friendly but no less yummy.

  1. Keep physically close to your partner. According to Hans Delos Reyes, a MindNation wellness coach, positive physical contact with a partner can increase your mood and decrease your stress levels. 

What we recommend: If privacy is hard to come by because the kids are home ALL day, you and your partner need to get creative and even go easy on some of the household rules. Put them to bed earlier than usual, or wake them up later in the mornings (because 1-on-1 time does not only have to happen at night). If you can only spare an hour in the middle of the day, let them play with their gadgets or watch tv longer, then find other spots at home where you can have privacy.   

  1. Take care of plants. There’s a reason more people are buying plants during the pandemic. “It’s not just a trend, it is also a good way to take care of yourself,” says Hans. When you expose yourself to nature, you help the body increase melatonin, which is responsible for regulating sleep and lowering stress labels. “In addition, watching your plants to grow provides you with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction,” he adds.

What we recommend: Don’t have a green thumb? Try puttering with succulents first, which are inexpensive, don’t take up a lot of space, and are low-maintenance. 

Always remember that self-care isn’t just important, it’s crucial. Practicing self-care doesn’t make you weak; it helps you stay strong and recharges you so that you can care for your family and do your work better. 

Written by Jac of MindNation

5 Tips For Financial Wellness During the Holidays

The Christmas season is the most wonderful time of the year, but in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be stressful for people who are grappling with reduced income and yet feel that they have to spend to celebrate properly. Even though you get to save on some expenses since travel is curtailed and parties are banned, there is still the pressure to send gifts to loved ones or buy extra-special food for the holiday table. Instead of feeling love, peace, and joy this Christmas, one may end up feeling stressed, anxious, and guilty. 

“Financial worries can lead to poor mental health.” says Mariel Bitanga, a financial planner and founder of SImply Finance, a boutique financial planning firm committed to empowering women. “And it can get worse during this time of the year when people end up overspending and enter January with less savings or in debt.” 

To ease the anxiety and achieve financial wellness, you need to be more mindful and responsible about how you manage your money during the holiday season. Here are some suggestions: 

  1. Start early. Ideally you should be planning and listing down all your possible holiday expenses in the months leading to December, not during December itself. This way, you have a head start in setting aside cash for it and avoid the panic that comes with scrounging for funds when D-Day comes along.

How much of your income should you allocate for spending? Mariel advises people to follow the 50-30-20 budgeting method. “It’s beginner-friendly, generous towards your wants, and makes you feel more in-control of your spending,” she explains. Under this method:

  • Allocate 50% of your income to your necessities, or the things you need in order to survive, such as utilities, rent, and basic groceries.
  • 30% can be used to cover your “wants.” Wants are defined as non-essential expenses — things you choose to spend your money on although you could live without them if you had to. These include clothes shopping, dining out, entertainment subscriptions (i.e. Netflix), and groceries that are not part of the essentials. Your Christmas fund can fall under this category. 
  •  Finally, 20% can be put towards achieving your savings goals, investment opportunities, or paying back any outstanding debts.
  1. Make a list, check it twice, and stick to it. But even if you started late with your holiday planning, no worries, there are still ways to save. One is to make sure you approach your shopping methodically and not haphazardly. Just as your parents taught you to never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach because you’ll end up buying more food than you originally planned, neither should you do your holiday shopping without a ready list of recipients and corresponding budget. This makes you less likely to overshop and overspend. 
  1. Great gifts don’t need to be expensive. “Scour online for cheap but useful finds,” Mariel advises. “If you are crafty, make something out of your own hands; it’s cheaper but will be more meaningful for the recipient. Lastly, promote sustainability by normalizing giving secondhand gifts, like a dress that doesn’t fit you anymore but you know will look good on your friend.”

Gifts can also be non-material. “During these tough times, a simple gesture or word of encouragement will mean the world to someone who is struggling,” assures Mariel.

  1. “Don’t go into debt just to impress people or make them happy,” Mariel says. This means you shouldn’t feel obliged to give gifts if you really cannot afford it. “You’re the one who will suffer if you spend beyond your means and get the credit card bill next month.” Mariel says. “If the gift giver is sincere and a real friend, they will not expect anything in return; just don’t forget to say ‘thank you.’”
  1. When all the spending is done, reflect on what you could have done better and set your goals for NEXT YEAR. “Financial responsibility entails a lot of self-reflection,” Mariel reminds. “When you have the time, sit down and audit your finances. Think about what you can improve on, and what your financial goals are for the following year so that you can start preparing.” A financial planner can help you outline your goals in an objective manner, help you make sense of the computations, and create recommendations and action steps to fulfill those goals. “We’re here to give advice and present a clearer picture about your financial status,” Mariel explains.

And in case you do overspend or miss out on your financial goals this Christmas season, forgive yourself. “We are going through tough times right now, so don’t be too hard on yourself,” Mariel assures. “There are always ways to change the financial plan and save more, you just have to be creative and trust the process.”

Finally, always remember to go back to what the holidays are really about. “It’s about giving thanks for your family, friends, and all the other blessings you received this year; focus on those rather than on material things,” says Mariel. “Then make a firm commitment to change your ways and do better (financially) next year.”

If you need help managing your finances, send Mariel a message on www.simplyfinanceph.com and book a free Discovery Call to know more about their services. And if you want to talk to a friend to beat the holiday blues, message MindNation at http://m.me/themindnation!

Written by Jac of MindNation

5 Books That Teach Empathy and Kindness

We’ve got a mix of world literature, Pulitzer-Prize winning novels, a non-fiction recommendation, and even something for kids. Take your pick! 

  1. Wonder by R.J. Palacio

What it’s about: 10-year-old Auggie Pullman has a facial disfigurement that makes him the target of bullying when he attends school for the first time.

Why we recommend it: “Wonder” is packaged as a children’s book but the situations presented are things that even grown-ups can relate to, such as the  anxieties that come with trying to fit in and the desire to be accepted for our differences.

Quotable quote: “We carry with us, as human beings, not just the capacity to be kind, but the very choice of kindness.”

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

What it’s about: An African-American man is wrongly accused of a crime, and his Caucasian neighbor steps up to defend him despite opposition from all fronts

Why we recommend it: The themes and lessons of this book are as important today as they were when the story was first published in 1960. We need to be reminded that despite increasing awareness and belonging to a “woke” generation, racial and class discrimination continue to affect many people around the world today.  

Quotable quote: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.”

  1. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

What it’s about: A father and son travel on foot across a post-apocalyptic land and in the process encounter a variety of people — some good, many bad. 

Why we recommend it: At first glance, killing, stealing, and committing acts of unspeakable cruelty seem to be the only ways one can survive in a cruel world. But the father constantly reminds his son to “carry the fire” — to act with kindness, compassion, and decency no matter how terrible things are. 

Quotable quote: “All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one’s heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”

  1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

What it’s about: This is the first Afghan novel written in English. The main character, Amir, seeks atonement for betraying a friend. 

Why we recommend it: Amir spends much of the novel plagued by guilt, and it is only through empathy that he finds redemption and self-forgiveness.

Quotable quote: “Not a word passes between us, not because we have nothing to say, but because we don’t have to say anything.”

  1. Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About The People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell

What it’s about: Studies the miscommunication, interactions, and assumptions people make when dealing with those that they don’t know. 

Why we recommend it: How many times have we avoided talking to people who think and act differently from us, resulting in conflicts or misunderstanding? By using real-life examples, Gladwell teaches us how we can bridge this divide and avoid failure of communication.
Quotable quotes: “The first set of mistakes we make with strangers…has to do with our inability to make sense of the stranger as an individual.”

Do you have your own book recommendations? Share them in the comments below!

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

8 Things To Do When Someone Is Mad At You

Being face to face with an angry person can be scary or frustrating, but there are ways to soothe the situation. 

Despite your best intentions, there will be times when you come across someone who is upset, frustrated, or angry with you. If you do not know how to handle this situation, you may end up feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, or angry as well. On the other hand, when you respond to anger in the right manner, you quickly restore normalcy, reduce tension and stress, and, in some cases, even make the relationship stronger. 

Below are 8 things you can do when someone is mad at you:

  1. Listen, listen, and listen. In his book “Anger: Taming A Powerful Emotion,” Dr. Gary Chapman, a well-known marriage counselor and author of the bestselling book “The Five Love Languages,” lists down three important steps for dealing with an angry person. “First, listen. Second, listen. Third, listen,” he writes. “The best thing you can do for an angry person is to listen to his story. Having heard it, ask him to repeat it. Having heard it a second time, ask additional questions to clarify the situation. Listen at least three times before you give a response.” By having the angry person retell his or her reason for being upset, you are making them realize that you are taking their concerns seriously as well as giving them ample time to calm down. 
  1. Don’t dismiss their feelings or concerns. “Seeking to put a cap on another person’s anger is perhaps the worst way to respond to an angry person,” states Dr.Chapman. “We may not like the way the angry person is speaking to us, but the fact that he is sharing his anger is positive. The anger cannot be processed positively if it is held inside. It needs to be expressed, even if it is expressed with a loud voice.”
  1. Be calm but assertive. Even if the other person is already shouting expletives or throwing things around, do not respond with a raised voice or physical violence. “When the angry person is spewing out words and you engage in argument with him, it is like throwing gasoline on the fire,” says Dr. Chapman. “An angry person can burn all night if you continue to throw gasoline. But when you listen as the anger burns, eventually the fuel of his anger will burn out.” 

So when talking to an angry person, keep your tone even but maintain assertive body language like standing straight and maintaining eye contact. Don’t slouch or cross your arms because these convey that you are bored or not open to the communication. Don’t stand too close either; leave about a 3-foot distance between you and the other person so that you do not come across as too aggressive. 

  1. Acknowledge the other person’s anger. Anger is often a response to feeling misunderstood or ignored, so even if it’s the last thing you want to do, let the person know that you get that he or she is upset. “Put yourself in her shoes and try to view the world through her eyes.,”Dr. Chapman advises. “Ask yourself, ‘Would I be angry in the same situation?’” This is called empathy. It doesn’t matter if the person was the one at fault or if the reason for the anger is irrational. Whether one’s interpretation of the situation is correct is not the issue at this point. “This is not the stage in which to argue with the person about his interpretation. What you are trying to do is to understand his anger so that you might help him process it,” Dr. Chapman advises. 
  1. Be an active listener. Show that you are engaged with the other person by making eye contact, nodding, and using phrases like “uh-huh” and “mm-hmm.” Also, avoid using the word “but” (i.e. “I understand what you are saying BUT___”) When people hear “but,” they tend to get angry again because all they hear is “You’re wrong, I’m right.” Instead, use “and” statements like “I see your point AND I think we can fix this by ___.”
  1. Accept responsibility and offer a solution.  “If you realize that the angry person’s anger is definitive; that is, you have genuinely wronged her—intentionally or unintentionally, what you did or said was unfair and hurt her deeply—then it is time for your confession and efforts to make right the wrong you have committed,” Dr. Chapman advises. “Ask for forgiveness .”
  1. Try to find common ground between you and the angry person to help redirect the hostile situation into an amicable solution. For example, you can say something like “I understand fairness is important to you. It is to me as well. May I suggest we try ___.” This helps communicate to the other party that you are working towards the same goal. 
  1. Thank the other person. If you have been able to resolve the conflict, wrap up the conversation with a word of thanks. You can tell a customer “Thank you for allowing me to make this problem right” while you can tell a loved one “Thank you for sharing your problem with me, I now know what to do and not to do next time.”

As a final word: If you constantly find yourself fighting with a significant person in your life (i.e. a spouse, parent, sibling, or child), or he/she constantly flies off the handle at the slightest provocation, you may need to seek the services of a therapist or psychologist. Not only can these professionals mediate the situation, they can also teach both of you effective problem-solving and communication skills including how to overcome  angry feelings, strategies for expressing emotions, ways to recognize negative thought patterns that cause anger, and ways to relax and handle stress. 

Anger is a universal emotion, so no matter what you do or where you are, it is important to know how to deal with angry people calmly and firmly. Be empathetic, and always remember to stay composed and rational so that you can resolve the problem as smoothly and efficiently as possible. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

8 Ways To Help Teens Increase Their Self-confidence

It’s hard being a teenager. On top of dealing with the major physical and emotional changes that come with puberty, they must also grapple with being accepted in friendship groups and fulfill the roles expected of them in school and at home. Successes or setbacks in these areas can affect how they view themselves, which in turn can impact their self-confidence.

Confidence is defined as the belief that one will be successful in a particular situation or at a specific task. For teenagers, having a healthy dose of confidence is important because: 

  • They display more emotional resilience — even if they don’t have all the skills and knowledge required to overcome a particular problem, they are assured of their abilities and resourcefulness to acquire what they need. 
  • Confidence helps teenagers make safe, informed decisions. They can avoid people and situations that aren’t necessarily right for them, and find those that are.
  • Lastly, teens who are confident are also more likely to be assertive, positive, engaged, enthusiastic, and persistent.

Self-doubt

On the other hand, teenagers plagued by self-doubt will feel that they are incapable of accomplishing tasks. They may be afraid to recite in class or try new activities. But don’t panic if your child occasionally displays self-doubt. “Having a certain level of self-doubt is not necessarily a bad thing,” assures Joyce Pring-Triviño, actress, philanthropist, and host of the Adulting with Joyce Pring podcast (https://open.spotify.com/show/0GVJ57XsbtgwRW7TJxNI0c). “A person has healthy self-doubt when even though he or she feels that they are not good at something, they are challenged to do better instead of outrightly giving up.”

That said, parents should be on the lookout for signs of unhealthy and persistent self-doubt, because if left unidentified or unresolved, it can lead to problems such as:

  • Negative moods like feeling sad, anxious, ashamed, or angry 
  • Relationship troubles
  • Low motivation
  • Poor body image
  • Earlier sexual activity
  • Drinking alcohol or taking drugs to feel better

Developing confidence

There are a number of things that you can do to help teenagers develop their self-confidence: 

  1. Don’t let them be defined by their failures or successes. Teenagers often see the world in black and white. If they get a low grade in a subject, they feel that they are not smart students. If they don’t win at sports events, they think that they are poor athletes. If a romantic relationship fails, they bemoan that they will never find love again. “But life should not be measured by one’s successes or failures,” Joyce advises. Assure your teen that he or she is not just a student, an athlete, or a boyfriend or girlfriend; they are also so many other things, including being sons, daughters, cousins, someone’s friend, a budding artist, etc.  
  1. Prioritize self-improvement. “‘Life is an infinite game,’” Joyce says, quoting from the book “The Infinite Game” by motivational author Simon Sinek. “There is always the opportunity to become better. If you did not do well today, you can always do better tomorrow.”
  1. Praise effort instead of outcome. While your teen cannot control the outcome of an exam, he or she can control how much effort they put into studying for it. If they get a low grade as a result, don’t berate them; instead, refer to the tip above and tell them to pay attention to the mistakes made so that they can do better next time. And if they get a good grade, praise them for all the studying they did instead of getting the high marks (i.e. “Your efforts really paid off!”). By doing this,  they will feel that they can always develop their abilities to become better or persist when the going gets tough.
  2. Teach your teen to speak up for himself or herself (in an appropriate manner). Assure them that it’s okay to ask for help when they don’t understand school work, rather than stay quiet, preserve their pride, but end up falling behind. Encourage them to speak up if they feel they are not being treated right by others — this will make them less likely to be treated poorly by peers. When they grow up, they will have the confidence to ask for what they need in a more direct manner, and protect themselves from untoward situations. 
  3. Encourage your teen just try. This is especially true when your child needs to step out of his or her comfort zone, like performing onstage or participating in a sporting event. “The only thing that keeps us from being confident is taking that first step to try,” Joyce says. Don’t focus on whether or not the attempt ends in success, because as we mentioned in tip #1, one should not be defined by what he or she did or did not achieve. But the very act of trying new activities is already a win because your  teen will end up discovering hidden talents, challenge himself or herself, or master a new skill — all of which can help grow his or her confidence. 
  4. Promote body positivity. Basing self-worth on superficial things, external circumstances, or other people leads to a lack of confidence in the long run. For example, if your teenage daughter only feels good when she fits into a certain size of clothes, this can have an effect on her body image and self-esteem. If your son feels anxious because his latest social media post is not getting many “likes,” he is basing his worth on other people’s opinions. Help your teen build a healthy and stable foundation for self-worth. Emphasize your values and teach that true self-worth is about living according to those values. For example, help them see that it’s more important to be kind and caring rather than thin or attractive.
  5. Avoid being a helicopter parent. When you micromanage your teen’s life, you will only reinforce that he or she can’t be trusted to make good choices on their own. Guide them when they make decisions, but also allow them to make their own mistakes and learn from them. Over time, they’ll develop increased confidence in their ability to make healthy choices.
  6. Avoid comparison. “One of the reasons self-doubt is so prevalent is because we tend to look at other people and how good their life is, instead of looking at ourselves and how good our life is,” Joyce points out. “Start life with an attitude of gratitude instead of from a place of comparison and entitlement. The more we expect our lives to be as perfect as others’, the more unhappy and disappointed we will be.” 

When you nurture your child through supportive words and actions, you nurture his or her self-esteem and give them the confidence needed to face any challenges that come their way.  “The key to developing your teen’s self-confidence is to make sure that he or she is grounded in the more important things of life,” Joyce says. “One is the unconditional love of the people around them. Another is the acceptance that life is not perfect. As long as they are able to give their best at everything, then they are doing the right thing.”

–Written by Jaclyn Lutangco-Chua of MindNation

6 Habits That Build Mental Resilience

Learn ways to cultivate your mental strength so that you can cope with stress better

If you encounter a personal failure or setback, are you able to pick yourself up and adapt to the circumstances? Or do you find yourself completely overwhelmed and unable to deal with the challenge?

Your answer will reveal how much mental resilience you have — defined as the ability to mentally or emotionally cope with a crisis or return to pre-crisis status quickly.

“Resilience is not tenacity,” clarifies Cat Trivino, Chief Marketing Office of MindNation. “More importantly, resilience is not about bouncing back and going back to our normal selves. It is about moving forward and becoming better versions of who we are.”

Go back to the question in the first paragraph; if you answered in the latter category, don’t worry. There are strategies you can adopt so that you build better mental resilience and become better equipped to cope with stress and other challenges

  1. Take care of yourself. Self-care is an essential strategy for building resilience and helps to keep your mind and body healthy enough to deal with difficult situations as they arise. Taking care of yourself means paying attention to your own needs and feelings, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Examples include: 
  1. “Listen to what your body needs, whether that’s extra time to breathe or a little stretch in the morning,” advises Cat. 
  2. “Get some sun. Only if you can and only if it’s safe, open the window and bring in that vitamin D,” she adds.
  3. Meditate. “Don’t stress about how you’re not doing it right the first few times,” Cat assures. “The simple act of breathing, grounding, and of being aware of our surroundings can make us less anxious and bring us back to what we need to address.”

2. Control your exposure to anxiety-provoking situations. This includes limiting your news instake. “Personally, I only follow one Telegram group to get all my COVID related news; for others I only rely on trusted news sites but even so I limit that intake,” shares Car. “We don’t need that much all the information; all we need is to be informed well enough for our peace of mind, and then we cut off and go about our day.

3. Make connections. “Social distancing does not mean emotional distancing,” Cat reminds. “Please do keep connected, and as much as possible, call. Hearing someone else’s voice, especially someone we love, can give us the instant calm that we need.”

4. Be thankful. When something bad happens, always remember that things could be worse. “Be grateful for anything and everything good. Starting or ending your day with a grateful mindset will only set us up to see things in a better light,” cays Cat. 

5. Ask — even if you won’t receive. Many of us are afraid to ask –for help, questions, or anything — because we fear hearing the word “No,” looking inadequate, or coming across as difficult. “But constantly avoiding rejection will not make us resilient,” counters Cat. Instead of staying away from the “No’s,” get your mind used to the feeling of being rebuffed to build your resilience threshold. “Start with small things like asking for your deliveries to be brought up to your unit, or requesting for a discount in the market. You may get rejected for various and legitimate reasons, but the point is to get used to hearing no!” she advises. “Once you realize that rejection is not debilitating, you build inner strength and become confident enough to ask for bigger things.”

6. Cultivate positive self-talk. “The next time you face challenges or adversities, identify how you’re describing them and see if you can reframe the words in a more positive way,” instructs Cat.

A. Instead of: “ I feel like a failure for not being able to lead my team through this pandemic.”

Say: “Being a leader during this pandemic is an obstacle, but not one I will face alone.” 


B. Instead of: “Working from home is horrible.”

Say: “Working from home is challenging.”

C. Instead of: “I asked for a promotion, and got rejected.”

Say: “I asked for a promotion, and got redirected.”

Just like other traits, resilience is something that can be learned and developed. All it takes is an awareness of the bad thoughts and actions that you may be doing, learning about the good ones, and having the discipline to enact them when the need arises.

But if the situation continues to be difficult for you and you are finding it hard to cope, always seek the help of a professional. A good place to start will be MindNation’s chat helpline on FB Messenger, available 24/7. The service is free, completely confidential, and the staff is trained to ease your anxieties.

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

Shake it off: How to properly let go of work at the end of the day

One of the reasons people struggle to achieve work-life balance is because they find it difficult to disengage from their jobs at the end of the workday, such as eating dinner while sitting in front of the laptop or continuing to reply to emails or texts while having conversations with family members. And even if they don’t do physical work, they might end spending the evening in bed thinking about all the work-related tasks they need to accomplish the next day, leading to what MindNation wellness coach Nicole Fabian, RPm, calls “anticipatory stress” — or any stress that you experience concerning the future. All of these negatively impact one’s physical and mental well-being, as well as affect quality time with family members. “This is why it’s important to make a clean break from work at the end of the day; when you mentally unplug from work, you reduce stress and protect your mental health,” she advises. 

If you are one of those who find it difficult to take a break between your professional and personal times, below are some end-of-day routines that can help: 

Before leaving the office:

  • As much as possible, always end work at the same time. “Set an alarm if possible,” Fabian advises. “This signals to your brain that work is over, and when you do it often enough, it will become a habit.” For an added mood boost, make the alarm tone a snippet of your favorite happy song. Don’t worry if it will look to others as if you can’t wait to go home; on the contrary, doing it this way will even make you a better employee. “You will actually become more productive and improve your time management skills because you know that you have to get all the important tasks done within your work time,” she assures.
  • Do one more small task. Whether it’s making a short phone call, signing a document, or responding to an email — these help end your work day on a positive note and leave you feeling pleased and gratified that you have one less thing to do the following day.
  • Make a to-do list. Write down all the tasks that you need to accomplish tomorrow, in order of importance. That way you can go to bed without worrying that you might forget to do something the next day. 
  • Straighten up your work area. 

Clean out your email as well. Block off a few minutes to delete unnecessary CCs or spam invitations. Emails can stack up fast in the morning, so decluttering your inbox the night before makes sure you don’t miss out on the important ones the next day.

  • Choose a specific ritual that will symbolize the end of thinking about work. An example includes shutting down your computer, calling home, then locking your office door. When you do this, you shift your mental state out of work mode and towards a state of rest.
  • Have something to look forward to at the end of the work day. Whether it’s working out or catching up on your favorite show on tv, have a relaxing activity that will keep your mind occupied. “Not only is it a form of self-care, it also ensures that your thoughts won’t be tempted to stray towards thoughts of work,” Fabian says. 

Outside of work: 

Turn off your email notifications or put work-related apps on mute. “If it’s really an emergency, your colleagues can call you,” Fabian points out. Also remember that part of good mental health is establishing and communicating boundaries, so be sure to let colleagues know from the start that your time after work is your own. 

How you end your day has an effect on the level of stress and happiness that you carry home, which in turn can impact your health, marriage and family life, your ability to sleep, and your overall level of happiness. Closing out your work day in an orderly and positive note makes a clean psychological transition into the personal side of life.  

–Written by Jac of MindNation

Partnership announcement: MindNation & Workbean

Mental health awareness and support in the workplace is about to get an even bigger boost

Back in the day, job seekers would choose which companies to work for based simply on what was available or how much financial compensation could be gained.
But as the demand for more multi-hyphenated, digitally-skilled workers rose, employees who fit the bill started to become more selective in which company they would join. The workplace culture became a dominant factor in decision-making — top candidates now want to work in environments that suit their personalities and capabilities, and whose policies allow them to be creative and empowering. In the same vein, companies found out that if they placed emphasis on camaraderie, inclusivity, and nurture, they can attract great talent. 


“People are spending more time at work than they do at home,” says Kassandra Monzon, CEO of Workbean, soon to be Asia’s largest directory of company cultures. “And with the current COVID-19 pandemic amplifying whatever stresses or anxieties they may already be experiencing, employers have the responsibility to support and care for the mental well-being of their staff because they are the ones spending so much time together.”


This is why it is important for companies to have a workplace culture that is supportive of mental health. “Most mental health risks in the workplace relate to interactions between the people, the organizational environment and culture, and the availability of support for employees to carry out their day-to-day tasks,” says Kana Takahashi, CEO of MindNation. “So a way to achieve a healthy workplace is through the development of company-wide mental health programs and policies that protect the health, safety and well-being of all.

With this partnership, MindNation and Workbean hope to increase awareness about the importance of having a workplace culture that supports mental health, as well as provide a platform for job seekers looking to find a workplace that cares for their well-being. In addition, Workbean-affiliated companies that have existing mental health programs and policies in place but want to know how to more effectively implement them can reach out to MindNation for guidance. 
“When a workplace culture is inclusive and supportive, people will be more free to express their mental health concerns and seek help when needed,” says Kana. 
For more information, click on www.themindation.com and www.workbean.co

— Written by Jac of MindNation

Build better boundaries: 6 ways you can protect your personal self and make sure you are treated the way you deserve

Boundaries are basic guidelines that people create to establish how others should behave around them, including what actions are okay, what are not, and how to respond if someone breaches those limitations. Whether you are interacting with a work colleague or a romantic partner, boundaries ensure that the relationship progresses smoothly and safely. 

However, there will always be instances when you encounter people who will make you feel that your boundaries are being violated. It may be a stranger who stands too close to you or touches you (physical boundary). Or a family member who constantly pressures you to do favors for them (emotional boundary). Perhaps you experience bullying at school or in the workplace (mental boundary). These disregard for your boundaries can leave you feeling confused, anxious, drained, and stressed. It is therefore important to know how to firmly establish healthy boundaries in every relationship so that you will feel respected, safe, and valued. We asked Ria Tirazona, RPsy, of Psych Consult Inc (https://www.psychconsult.com.ph) to suggest ways you can build better boundaries and maintain them:

  1. Know yourself. “When setting boundaries, it’s important to know what you’re capable of,” Ria says. “How far can you go without losing your sense of self or being connected to what’s important to you?” This means taking the time to identify your physical, emotional, and mental thresholds. What actions can you tolerate? What makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed? “

Also note that while some thresholds need to be clearly defined (i.e. those that align with your core values and beliefs), Ria assures that boundaries are allowed to be fluid in other circumstances. “It may depend on your capacity at the moment, the resources that you have, or how much you’ve evolved since you’ve set that first boundary.” For example, you may have made it a policy not to ‘friend’ co-workers on social media when you are new to the company; but once time passes and you develop a better relationship with them, it’s okay to deviate from your original limit. So don’t forget to take these conditions into consideration whenever you do your self-reflection. 

  1. Communicate honestly, openly, and mindfully with others. When someone does something that makes you uncomfortable, let them know right away, using mindful communication whenever possible. Ria suggests using “I” statements, such as “I feel __ when you do ____.” “This way, you are responding and not reacting to the emotions that you feel when your boundaries are pushed,” she explains. Doing this does not put the other party on the defensive, and will hopefully lead to a conversation on what both of you can do to create a healthier boundary. 

If all attempts at communication fail, a simple but firm “No” is always an option anytime someone does something to you that you don’t like. Do not feel that you need to explain. You have the right to determine what you want others to do or not do to you. If you are being abused or harassed, report the incident right away to the relevant authorities. 

  1. Make your boundaries known from the very start. “This can be especially difficult to do when you are in the honeymoon stage of a romantic relationship, or when you are new to a workplace and want to fit in,” Ria points out. “But if we don’t communicate our boundaries right away, it sets the stage for miscommunication down the line and before we know it, it snowballs into disharmony, loss of personal identity, or — in the case of personal relationships — codependency or enmeshment.” 
  1. Don’t be concerned with what others will think. Remember that you are not responsible for the other person’s response. Know that if you break your own boundaries because you are scared of the other person’s reaction (especially that of a romantic partner), that is a HUGE red flag and deserves another topic of discussion altogether. In a healthy relationship, you should never feel afraid of the reactions of the other person.
  1. “Train” people to behave in the way you want them to treat you. “If you are always saying ‘yes,’ you are letting others know they have permission to walk all over you,” Ria points out. In the same way, don’t text people about work matters late at night if you don’t want the same to be done to you. “When you respect and reinforce other people’s boundaries, it will be easier for you to respect and reinforce your own,” Ria adds.
  1. Be patient. Establishing boundaries (and communicating these to others) takes time. In the same way that we don’t develop unhealthy boundaries overnight, we don’t develop healthy ones right away either. “Make sure to practice self-care,” Ria advises. “If you are rested, your thinking mind is clear and you can communicate better.” Also, building better boundaries is a process that requires a willingness to learn and grow. “Inform yourself about mindful communication and building better relationships,” Ria says. “Finally, be creative and curious about the world around you, because those will contribute to the flexibility and openness that you will need to adjust your boundaries when circumstances call for it.” 

“Any relationship benefits from healthy boundaries,” Ria says. Good boundaries not only show emotional health and self-respect, they also ensure that the relationships we are in are mutually respectful, supportive, and caring.”

Written by Jac of MindNation