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Employee Wellness Featured Self Help Sleep

6 Secrets To A Good Night’s Sleep

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

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

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

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

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

If you need help fine-tuning your sleep habits, our WellBeing Coaches are available for online sessions  24/7, all year round. Book your slot now at http://m.me/themindnation or email [email protected].

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Featured

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

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

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

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

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

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

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Featured

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

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

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

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

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

For friends and loved ones:

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

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

Mia Domingo @theparentinprogress

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

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

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

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

For managers and work colleagues

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

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

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

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

If you think that a loved one or colleague is feeling stressed or overwhelmed and you’re not sure what else you can do to help, encourage them to reach out to MindNation’s chat helpline on FB Messenger so that they have someone to talk to. This FREE service is staffed 24/7 and all conversations will be kept completely confidential. Get started here http://m.me/themindnation.  

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Children's Mental Health Featured

Supporting Students’ Mental Health And Well-being During COVID-19

With many schools transitioning into remote or online learning because of the pandemic, the toll of the virus, isolation, increased workload, and other associated effects are rising among many students. According to a May 2020 survey by Best Colleges, an online college planning resource, 81% of high school and college students surveyed said they somewhat or strongly agreed that they were experiencing increased stress due to the learning disruptions stemming from COVID-19.

“In the beginning, remote learning seemed easier and fun for kids since classes are only for half a day and they are just at home,” says Dr. Natasha Esteban-Ipac, a pediatrician and adolescent-medicine specialist. “But there are also disadvantages to online schooling, chiefly the lack of physical connection with other humans — no more hallway chats, high-fives, pats on the back, or hugs from friends and teachers. Students also need to contend with virtual learning fatigue because it takes extra effort to interpret the non-verbal cues of the person on the other side of the monitor. Lastly, let’s not forget that there are physical ill-effects of spending too much time online — eye strain, headache, and fatigue can affect their general well-being.”

“If left unresolved, these can affect a child’s ability and capacity to succeed at home, in school, in relationships, and in work later on.”

Dr. Natasha Esteban-Ipac, a pediatrician and adolescent-medicine specialist

All of the above, compounded with other pandemic-related stresses like parents’ anxieties and disruption of routine, can lead to the development of mental health issues in children such as anxiety, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorders, depression, and other mood disorders, sleep disorders, and even addiction to technology. “If left unresolved, these can affect a child’s ability and capacity to succeed at home, in school, in relationships, and in work later on,” says Dr. Esteban-Ipac.

What can parents and educators do to protect a student’s mental health? According to Dr. Estebal-Ipac, “All we need is L.O.V.E.”

  • L – Label and validate emotions. 

“We need to help children recognize what they are feeling and express them in healthy ways to prevent them from bottling up,” she says. This includes teaching them calming techniques such as deep breathing exercises, pausing to count from 1 to 10, or writing in a journal or diary. “When a child knows what to do when he or she is faced with certain emotions, they feel a sense of control and are comforted,” she adds

  • O – Offer to listen and respond.

Empathize and talk with your children when they are feeling tired, stressed, or scared. “Believe in the power of touch—hug or cuddle your children. Do not be afraid to be firm, though, if they do something wrong or anything that will compromise their safety,” reminds Dr. Ipac-Esteban. 

  • V – Value routine, rules, and schedules.

Having a structure at home is very helpful especially during stressful situations like this pandemic. When children have some form of control over the things that will happen throughout the day, they will feel more safe and secure. “Have a routine for waking up, preparing for school, mealtimes, activities such as playing or reading, and bedtime,” she says. 

Things not to miss out in these routines, rules, and schedules include:

  • Eating a balanced diet regularly
  • Having regular physical activity. “There is no need to squeeze in a home gym if you do not have space. Simple exercises like walking or jogging (in place if needed), stretching, dancing, lifting weights (even using home objects such as water bottles) are good enough,” suggests Dr. Esteban-Ipac. 
  • Limiting non-school related screen time 
  • Having adequate sleep and practicing good sleep hygiene
  • Socializing with other people but always making sure to stay safe
  • Always learning. “Constantly explore something new with your children, be it cooking, calligraphy, photography, or other online courses. Part of learning is also teaching the children about life skills, or how they can be functional adults. So involve them in doing household chores, preparing meals, cleaning parts of the house, or doing the laundry,” Dr. Esteban-Ipac advises. 
  • E – Embrace mistakes, chaos and imperfections: both your children’s and yours.
    Negotiating and resolving conflicts is an important skill children should learn because it develops resilience, and they learn it best with adults around them, be it parents or teachers. Some things we can do:
    • Try spending one on one quality time with each child (if you have more than one).
    • Try to solve problems together, and if it is really overwhelming for them, help them break down the task/problem into smaller tasks so they can solve it one step at a time. 
    • Help them organize their time and give them the opportunity to decide how they will tackle their tasks (be it school work or chores). This gives them a sense of autonomy and boosts their confidence.
    • Reframe their mistakes as learning opportunities and involve them in planning ways to improve their work. Reassure them that it’s okay to make mistakes, and that you do not love them any less. 

All these strategies will really require time and patience, so if you are a parent or teacher, don’t forget to practice self-care. “One of my favorite sayings is ‘Mental health begins with M.E,’” says Dr. Esteban-Ipac. “A stressed parent will lead to a stressed child, and in the same way a happy and healthy parent will result in a happy and healthy child.”

“A stressed parent will lead to a stressed child, and in the same way a happy and healthy parent will result in a happy and healthy child.”

If you feel your child is really troubled with online learning, talk to them and help them identify their reasons for being stressed or sad. But if it is really overwhelming, even for you, do not be afraid to seek professional help if needed.

MindNation’s Care Helpline on FB Messenger is available 24/7, all year round, if you or your child needs someone to talk to. The service is FREE, completely confidential, and the staff is trained to ease your anxieties. Drop them a line at http://m.me/themindnation.

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Featured Get Inspired Men's Mental Health Mental Health 101 Self Help

6 Ways to Support A Man’s Mental Health

Expert-recommended strategies to get men to open up about their feelings or seek help

A 2020 survey by the non-profit American academic medical center Cleveland Clinic has found that the COVID-19 pandemic is having a bigger impact on the mental health of men than many admit. 77% of respondents said that their stress levels increased during the pandemic, while 59% reported they felt isolated. Despite these, the same survey revealed that 66% of respondents rarely discussed the toll that COVID-19 has been taking on their mental health, while 48% said they put off seeing a doctor for non-COVID-19 health concerns. 


While the reasons for men’s reticence to discuss their mental health may be complex, traditional masculine values such as self-reliance and stoicism are likely to play a role, with talking about mental health seen as a weakness by many. “We live in a very patriarchal society where men are expected to be strong,” says Sarge Lacuesta, Editor-At-Large of men’s lifestyle magazine Esquire Philippines. “We can’t talk to most men about their mental health concerns because they see it as a sign of weakness, and for some, mental weakness is even worse than physical weakness.”  


This stigma is particularly dangerous for men because they are more likely than women to turn to dangerous or unhealthy behaviors to cope with their struggles.  The suicide rate among men is 4 times higher than women’s, while they are almost two times more likely to binge drink than women. Not only that, men consistently have higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations. They are also more likely to have used alcohol before dying by suicide.


We need to clear the misconception (not just among men but for everyone in general) that showing emotions is a sign of weakness. “While it’s a healthy social skill to be able to behave professionally even when you’re not feeling at the top of your game, letting your guard down at socially appropriate times isn’t a sign of weakness,”  writes psychotherapist Amy Morin in her bestselling book “13 things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.” “In fact, being aware of your emotions and making a conscious decision to share those emotions with others — when it’s socially appropriate to do so — can be a sign of strength.”

It is highly possible that a male friend or loved one is experiencing feelings of depression or anxiety. By following the strategies below, you can help the men in your lives overcome the stigma, feel comfortable to reach out for help, and receive the right kind of support: 

1.Take the mental health language out of the conversation, at least initially.

“Most men will take offense when you say that they might be ‘depressed,’” advises Sarge. “For them ‘depression’ is a dark word that means they have a disability and can no longer lead normal lives.”

For Sarge, a better approach would be to use the word ‘anxiety.’ “We’ve been hearing about ‘pandemic anxiety’ all over the news, so the term has become more common and accepted in our daily lives,” he explains. “So start the conversation with something like ‘You seem worried/anxious/preoccupied about something, want to talk about it?’ Most men are less sensitive to that.” 

2. Show relatable role models of hope and recovery.

While Hollywood celebrities like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or Ryan Reynolds have been open about their mental health struggles, talking about them may not necessarily inspire men to get help. “Regular men will find these actors unrelatable. They will think ‘These are artists, they lead crazy, unbalanced lives, of course they’re depressed. But I’m not a celebrity so my situation is not as bad,’’” points out Sarge. “Instead, introduce your man to another male relative, friend, or co-worker — an everyday person who is also under a lot of pressure, a lot of anxiety, but is able to lead a normal, productive life because he has sought help. These are more relatable than celebrity stories.” 

3. Encourage a light-hearted approach. 

Humor offers a healthy means of coping with life stress, and men love humor. “So instead of making their mental health struggles sound so dark and technical, help them make light of it,” advises Sarge. 

The next time you catch a man brooding or feeling frustrated, help him recognize the potential humor in just how ridiculously frustrating and annoying it can be. In your imagination, take the situation to an extreme that becomes even more ridiculous until he finds himself amused. For example, if he is behind the wheel and stuck in traffic, imagine that hours pass, then days…until by the time the light turns green you are already in the future and cars can already fly. 

“When you are able to laugh at your condition, it means you understand it enough to make light of it and are not burdened, intimidated, or scared by it,” says Sarge. 

That said, using humor comes with a caveat. “When a person makes a joke about commmitting suicide, always take it seriously,” Sarge cautions. “Even if he doesn’t push through with taking his own life, it can lead to self-destructive situations.” 

4. Direct him to safe spaces where he will feel comfortable and secure

“Because of the stigma against male mental health, most men can become sensitive, defensive, or modulate themselves in front of other people,” says Sarge. “Most men will not go to a therapist because they think that it’s a waste of money, and that it’s a very vain or bourgeois habit.”

Men will be more likely to seek support for their struggles if it is made available online, if they are guaranteed anonymity, and if help is made available at more convenient times of day. MindNation’s chat helpline (link at the end of the article) is one such place; it is available 24/7 on FB Messenger and is guaranteed to be 100% secure and confidential. 

5. Call attention to his responsibilities — but phrase it the right way

“Don’t tell a man that he has to get help because he has to be able to work productively and feed his family,” cautions Sarge. “This promotes toxic masculinity and adds to the pressure he feels as the ‘man of the house.’ A better way to play to his responsibilities would be to show him that when he takes care of himself, he is also modelling good self-care habits to his family and ensures that his children do not experience the same emotional struggles as him.”

6. Assure him that asking for help is not a weakness. By reaching out for help, it shows that he is strong enough to admit that he does not have all the answers, and that he’s brave enough to deal with uncomfortable emotions like humility, fear, and embarrassment, head-on. And that’s a real sign of strength.

Always remember that it takes a village to care for a person’s mental health, especially a man’s. “Men are victims of toxic masculinity as well,” Sarge points out. “It places them in a vulnerable position that keeps them locked-in and unable to express themselves.” The important thing to do is to get the message across that they are not alone and it’s okay to ask for help. 

If you think a male friend or loved one is struggling, MindNation’s chat helpline on FB Messenger is available 24/7 if he needs someone to talk to. The service is free, completely confidential, and the staff is trained to ease anxieties. Connect now   http://m.me/themindnation. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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Featured Get Inspired Mental Health 101

Top 10 Mental Health Myths Debunked (Part 2 of 2)

This time we talk about suicide, medication, and why seeking professional help is important.

Last week, we discussed some common misconceptions about mental health (insert link). This week, Prof. Jhon Carandang returns to shed light on five more misunderstandings about mental wellness. 

  1. Mental health concerns are like cancer; the person can get better, but the condition will never go away. 

Prof. Carandang: “This is partly true, but there is no need to regard it in such a negative light. People can and do recover from their mental health concerns, but they will need to continuously attend therapy, take their medication, or religiously practice self-care to prevent relapses. With the right care and support, many people with mental health issues go on to live productive and fulfilled lives, have good relationships with others, and excel and work. ” 

  1. When my friends confide their problems to me, I always give them tons of advice but they just wouldn’t listen. So it’s their fault they can’t snap out of their depression/anxiety/stress.

Prof. Carandang: “This is because more often than not, people who are troubled or struggling do not need advice; all they require is someone who will listen to them. I honestly believe that listening is the highest form of kindness that you can show others; when you take a pause and try to understand someone else’s perspective, it is only then that you truly grasp what he or she needs. Even as a psychologist, there are many times when I don’t say anything during the entire hour of therapy, and my patients are thankful for it.

The only exception to this rule is when your friend is talking about committing self-harm, suicide, or harming other people. In this case, you need to convince them to seek the help of a professional immediately, or offer to accompany them to one. If they are resistant, reach out to a mental health professional yourself, so that he or she can give you tips on how to handle the situation and convince your friend to see an expert.”

  1. People who take medication for their mental health will become addicted to it or experience negative side effects.

Prof. Carandang: “Addiction and negative effects to medication only occur if the patient veers away from the dosage or treatment plan prescribed by his or her psychiatrist. Never self-medicate, and always show up for follow-up sessions even if you are already feeling fine.”

  1. People who commit suicide display warning signs before committing the act. Their family/friends should have spotted the signs and been there for them.

Prof. Carandang: “More often than not, people who have suicidal ideations do not show signs that they are thinking about taking their own lives. Just as not everyone who is sad is depressed, not everyone who is happy is not struggling inside. This is why we should be mindful of our words and actions, because someone who is thinking of suicide is already experiencing severe depression, and what we say or do can inadvertently be the trigger that pushes their vulnerabilities over the edge.”

  1. Therapy is a waste of money. Why spend money talking to a professional when I can just talk to my friends for free!

Prof. Carandang: “Don’t think of it as simply paying to talk to someone; think of it as similar to going to a doctor when you have a physical illness — we don’t balk about paying them when our physical health is on the line right? So why should it be any different when we need to consult with a psychologist or psychiatrist about our mental health? Now, if financial constraints are really the issue, I think it’s also the responsibility of the patient’s friends and loved ones to pool funds to provide the necessary mental health care to the patient. Think of it as your act of charity; you could literally be saving a life by donating money to cover the costs of therapy. Or you can help them look for companies that offer free counselling services.”

MindNation offers FREE counselling services through its 24/7 chat helpline on FB Messenger. If you are struggling or know someone who is, you can reach out to us anytime and from anywhere. Rest assured that all conversations will be kept secure and confidential.

What other topics about mental health and wellbeing do you want us to cover? Let us know in the comments below. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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Featured

5 Ways to Build Remote Workforce Engagement

How can your team build and maintain social bonds in a time of social distancing? Find out below. 

An employee is considered “engaged” if he or she is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and has a positive attitude towards the organization. This leads them to take positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.

On the other hand, a disengaged employee may range from someone doing the bare minimum at work to an employee who is actively damaging the company’s work output and reputation.

When employees are engaged, they are more likely to invest in the work they do which leads to a higher quality of work produced.  In a study of companies with over 500 employees, researchers found that 71% of managers felt that employee engagement was one of the most important factors in overall company success.

Engagement rises when employees have strong relationships with their co-workers. In fact, according to research conducted by Gallup, employees who report having a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged. But because the majority of workers are now working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become a challenge for many to build and maintain social bonds at work, and companies are finding it difficult to keep employee engagement levels up.

What can team leaders do to build remote workforce engagement? Here are some ways: 

  1. Make time for small talk. Back when everyone was at a physical office, there were plenty of opportunities for idle talk, whether it’s chatting in the pantry during a coffee break or eating lunch together at the corner restaurant. As a leader, continue to provide opportunities for some socializing during remote working hours by reminding yourself that not all conversations have to be about work. Don’t be afraid to drop the occasional off-topic email, Slack message, or funny meme, and remember to acknowledge employees’ birthdays or other special occasions during regular team meetings.
  1. Organize occasional face-to-face gatherings. Even though most work can be done virtually, it does not mean that it should be done so all the time. Plan an in-person get-together once or twice a quarter in a setting where COVID-19 safety protocols are followed. This can be as simple as an outdoor restaurant so people can share a meal to a whole-day company retreat in a nature setting. 
  2. Provide clear direction. Engagement does not mean that everyone on the team has to be besties with one another; it’s also about making sure that everyone feels that they are still part of a team and not feeling isolated. What do they do next? Who can they turn to? Not being able to answer these questions can leave a remote employee completely disengaged.

So just like you’d take a new employee through an onboarding process, make sure that a remote employee knows about the tips, tools, and processes that will help them succeed. 

Who can they contact if they need help?

What is the official work schedule and working hours? 

What sort of output should be expected from them?

  1. Give and encourage feedback during online meetings. During physical gatherings, you can get insight on whether or not a team member is engaged through non-verbal cues like facial expressions. Maintaining the same connection can be difficult during virtual meetings if you have to deal with connectivity issues or if there are just too many people on a call. So make sure to help remote employees stay engaged by reducing distracting noise during video-conferencing sessions, stopping to gain their feedback whenever possible, as well as mentioning them when they say something laudable. 

In addition, help remote workers align more seamlessly by providing the meeting agenda ahead of time so that those with technical issues can still follow along. 

  1. Offer rewards. The best way to motivate people, whether working on-site or remotely, is rewarding them for efforts and positive behaviors. Some things you can do apart from the standard congratulatory email:
  1. Gift them with non-work related classes they can access for free or at a reduced cost. By giving them an opportunity to take part in a wide variety of options such as exercise or cooking you are even supporting their mental and physical wellbeing.
  2. Give out movie or music gift cards so employees can choose options online from the comfort of their home.
  3. If you have company swag, mail them to an employee for a job well done or as a simple token of appreciation.

By creating and encouraging meaningful connections with your remote workforce, you motivate and inspire them to become advocates of your organization and make them happier, healthier, and more productive team members. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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Top 10 Mental Health Myths Debunked (Part 1 of 2)

We compiled five widespread mental health myths and asked our expert to address them one by one.

Are people with mental health concerns crazy or dangerous? Can friends who are depressed or anxious “snap out of it” if they try hard enough? Are teenagers immune to mental health concerns? Prof. Jhon Carandang, a registered psychologist and behavioral therapist with the Love Institute, helps us answer these questions.

  1. Mental illness is rare. All my friends and family members are fine, and so am I!
    Prof. Carandang: “It only SEEMS rare, and there are two reasons for that:

One — there is still not much awareness yet about the signs and symptoms of mental health concerns. Because of this, people don’t know that they or their loved ones are already suffering from depression, anxiety, or other mental disorders.

The second reason is the stigma surrounding mental health concerns. Even if people know they need to seek treatment or help, they are afraid to let others know or even talk about it because they will be labelled negatively.” (see #2)

  1. People with mental health concerns are crazy/unpredictable/unfun to be with so I should not hire them, get into a romantic relationship with them, or even be friends with them.
    Prof. Carandang: “It’s true that some mental health issues can be difficult to deal with, but only a small subset of people with mental health concerns display aggressiveness towards the general population. And if they do, the behavior stems from complex, multiple, overlapping factors (such as family history, personal stressors, and socioeconomic factors) and not because of the mental health concern itself. Many people with mental health concerns are responsible employees, great friends, and reliable romantic partners.  

Also, it’s not that they do not want to do fun activities with you, it’s because they are struggling with something inside that only they can understand, and this struggle can be very tiring and even debilitating, leaving no room for zoom parties, exercising, or eating out.
Instead of shunning people with mental health concerns, we should do our best to understand their struggles, empathize with them, and be patient. 

  1. Mental health concerns are caused by parental neglect or being scolded or spanked too often. It’s all the parents’ fault!

Prof. Carandang: “Mental health concerns are caused by many factors, and traumatic childhood experiences are only one of them. It is not right to blame a person’s por mental health on a bad childhood. There are people who grew up in loving families who end up having mental health concerns, just as there are children with turbulent family histories who grow up being able to cope with stress and negative emotions very well.”

  1. People affected can snap out of it if they try hard enough.

Prof. Carandang: “We are not in a position to know how much a person can handle, because we can never know the full story behind what he or she is going through. They could already be tired from fighting an inner battle that we cannot see. To say that someone can just ‘snap out of it if they try hard enough’ is a sign of apathy when what we should be communicating is empathy.”

  1. Adolescents don’t have mental health problems — their ups and downs are a part of puberty.

Prof. Carandang: “No one is exempted from mental issues — not by age, race, gender, wealth, or profession. Everyone is vulnerable, even young people if they have been subjected to harmful, neglectful, or stressful situations.” 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of “Top 10 Mental Health Myths  Debunked,” coming next Wednesday, January 13, 2021. What other questions or myths about mental health would you like us to talk about? Let us know in the comments below!

If you or a loved one is struggling with a mental health concern and you need to ease your anxieties, you can always reach out to us for FREE on our FB Messenger chat helpline. The service is available 24/7 and rest assured that all conversations are absolutely confidential.   

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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Featured Get Inspired Mental Health 101 Self Help

6 Ways To Succeed In Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions

Here are some psychological strategies to help you stick to your goals.

The holidays are officially over and it’s time to spend today doing what most of us often do on the very first weekend of the year — making our New Year’s resolutions. 

But writing goals is one thing; making sure you are able to keep them throughout the year is another matter. Studies have shown that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fizzle out by mid-February, with the reasons ranging from loss of motivation to lack of social support. If you want to belong to the 20% who are able to successfully turn their resolutions into a lifelong habit, below are some things you can try:

  1. Rephrase your resolutions. In a study published last December 9 in the American scientific journal PLOS ONE, scientists discovered that those who phrased their resolutions as an “approach goal,” or where they tried to adopt a new habit or introduce something new to their lives, were the ones that had the highest rate of success. On other hand, resolutions about avoiding or quitting something, or “avoidance goals,” proved to be less successful. This is because it’s easier to introduce a new behavior than to erase a bad habit. 

So for example, if your goal is to stop eating sweets in order to lose weight, you will most likely be more successful if you say ‘I will eat fruit several times a day’ instead. You then replace sweets with something healthier, which probably means you will lose weight and also keep your resolution,” says Professor Per Carlbring at the Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, one of the collaborators of the above study. 

  1. Tell someone about it. Don’t keep your resolution a secret. Tell friends and family members so that they will support your goals and remind you when you start to forget about them. An even better thing to do would be to find a friend who has the same New Year’s resolution as you so that you can motivate each other.
  1. Set SMART goals. The SMART acronym was first coined by corporate consultant George T. Doran in 1981 and has since become the benchmark for making an effective goal, whether professional or personal. For your resolution to stick, it has to be:  
  • Specific. When you have a concrete idea of what you want to accomplish, you become more motivated. “I will eat healthier” is admirable but vague; “I will eat more fruits and vegetables every meal” is more defined and gives you a blueprint to follow.
  • Measurable. When you can track your progress (see #4), you will feel more confident to carry on or make tweaks when needed. 
  • Achievable. Don’t resolve to “Climb Mt. Everest by the end of the year” if you have a sedentary lifestyle. Amending your resolution to “Go hiking with friends every month” is more realistic.
  • Relevant. Your goals need to be significant to you, and suitable to your existing skills and resources, otherwise it can easily be discarded. For example, if you feel you have been doing a good job at work, aiming for a promotion is a logical and relevant next step. On the other hand, aiming to learn skills that are better suited in another department, while admirable, is not an efficient way to make use of your strengths. 
  • Time-bound. This helps you track your progress. “I want to be able to do 10 full-body push-ups in two months” gives you something to work towards than if you just leave it as “I want to be able to do 10 full-body push-ups, period.”
  1. Aim for progress not perfection. Celebrate every step in the right direction, no matter how small. Being able to do two push-ups out of 10 is better than zero; “small wins” can also reinforce the belief that you have the ability to change, and that your goals are within your reach.
  1. Learn and adapt. Encountering a setback is one of the most common reasons why people give up on their New Year’s resolutions. So if you suddenly relapse into a bad habit, don’t view it as a failure; instead, use it as a learning opportunity. One way to keep track is to maintain a resolution journal, where you can write down important information about when the relapse occurred, what might have triggered it, and what you might do differently next time. By understanding the challenges you face, you will be better prepared to deal with them in the future.
  1. Be patient. Change is a process. Those unhealthy or undesired habits that you are trying to change probably took years to develop, so don’t expect to change them in just a matter of days, weeks, or months. 

It may take longer than you would like to achieve your goals, but remember that working toward your resolution is a marathon, not a sprint to the finish line. Once you have made the commitment to changing a behavior, it may be something that you have to continue to work on for the rest of your life. 

If in the process you feel you are losing motivation, become overwhelmed by self-doubt, or need to ease your anxieties, you can always reach out to us on our 24/7 FB Messenger chat helpline. Our service is free, secure, and completely confidential. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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Featured Get Inspired Mental Health 101 Self Help

8 Ways To Raise Grateful Kids

Help kids develop an attitude of gratitude so that they will grow up to be happier, more positive, and more content with their lives.

As 2020 comes to an end, it’s time to start thinking about our goals and intentions for 2021 — not just for ourselves but also for our family. One resolution in particular that we would like to suggest — teach kids to be more grateful and less entitled. 

“Children become entitled when they always get what they ask for, when parents say ‘yes’ more than they say ‘no,’” says Maribel Dionisio, a parenting and relationship expert, author, and founder of the Love Institute, a pioneering company equipping couples, parents, and individuals with skills on how to have fulfilling relationships with those dearest to them. “When children are raised with everything handed to them, they grow up to become demanding, high-maintenance adults who are not equipped to handle life when things don’t go their way,” she adds.  

On the other hand, when children learn to be appreciative, responsible, and not take things for granted, they have better relationships with other people, can empathize more, are easier to please, and become generally happier in their later years. 

Below are some ways you can reinforce the importance of gratitude:

  1. Be mindful of your words and actions. You may be feeling proud that you are not entitling your children because you do not buy them every toy that they ask for; but an entitlement mentality can be shaped in other ways, some of which you may not even be aware of, such as: 
    • Attributing other people’s actions to their character and not because of outside forces. When your kids complain that someone took the last cookie without asking, don’t immediately say “Yes, he’s a bad boy, don’t be like him.” This teaches children to be judgemental and quickly blame others for their misfortunes.

      A better way to manage such situations would be to ask your children to think about what the other person may be going through or how they might be feeling, i.e. “Maybe he took the cookie because he didn’t get to eat lunch and is really hungry.” This act of empathizing makes kids stop immediately seeing others as bad, and makes them more grateful for their circumstances (i.e. at least they are not THAT hungry).
    • Overprotecting and overpraising them. The first will make them dependent on you, the second will make them feel that they can do no wrong. 
    • Jumping through hoops to make sure their path to success is paved for them, so they never have to work hard to get what they want. 

2. Set a good example. Kids learn a lot from watching their parents. So model gratitude every chance you get, such as offering a sincere “Thank you” to the person who delivers your packages or making it a point to share little things that you are grateful for during casual conversations. 

3. Be encouraging and positive. “When you catch your children doing good or beyond what is expected, praise them for it; don’t always focus on the things they did not do,” says Maribel. For example, if your toddler packed away four out of his seven toys, don’t scold him for not doing a perfect job; instead, tell him thank you for doing that, then remind or offer to help him pack the remaining items away. This reinforces the positive behavior and lets them know that what they do (no matter how small) is appreciated. 

4. Put things in perspective. Talk to your kids about those who are less fortunate, like the owner of their favorite restaurant who had to close shop because of the pandemic, or the people who lost their homes because of natural disasters. Understanding that not everyone has the same advantages will help them develop compassion for others and gratitude for their own privileges.

5. Let them do chores. Part of feeling gratitude is being aware of the effort someone else went through to give us something. One way to let your child experience this effort is to involve them in household tasks, such as making the bed, folding the laundry, or helping prepare meals.  “Chores reduce entitlement because it helps children see the value of work,” Maribel points out. “In addition, children learn to be responsible, feel more confident, discover their strengths, and see the value in their work.” 

6. Show them how to find the money. It can be hard for children to understand why they can’t just buy everything they want if they have never paid for anything. “Give your children opportunities to manage money, whether it’s giving them an allowance, helping them start their own business, or even paying them for doing extra chores,” says Mariblel. “When they see the time and effort it takes to be able to buy a new item of clothing or new gadget, they won’t feel entitled about money.”

7. Establish boundaries. “Do not let your children get away with everything,” Maribel instructs. “Have rules, and explain the importance of these rules so that your children cooperate. And if they deviate from rules, counter with logical and natural consequences, not with screaming, shouting, or spanking because these will only make them resent you.”

8. Cultivate a good relationship with your child. All of the above tips require you to be able to talk to your children openly, honestly, and without judgement. To achieve this, Maribel suggests the following ways:

  • Set aside one-on-one time for each child, at least 20 minutes a day. Make the conversation light and easy-going so that he or she opens up to you about what’s on their minds, and you in turn can share stories that impart the values of empathy, gratitude, and kindness. 
  • Set aside one-on-one time for each child, at least 20 minutes a day. Make the conversation light and easy-going so that he or she opens up to you about what’s on their minds, and you in turn can share stories that impart the values of empathy, gratitude, and kindness. 
  • Set aside one-on-one time for each child, at least 20 minutes a day. Make the conversation light and easy-going so that he or she opens up to you about what’s on their minds, and you in turn can share stories that impart the values of empathy, gratitude, and kindness. 

The only way children will learn gratitude (along with other positive values) is by having a relationship with them that is open, honest, and managed by boundaries. “When we do away with limitations and give our children everything they want because we want their lives to be easy, it is OUR lives that become complicated,” says Maribel. “On the other hand, when children feel loved, respected, and secure, they will not misbehave or feel entitled. They will want to return those loving feelings to you, absorb the values you impart,  and do everything to make you happy.”

If your children are struggling with strong emotions or if you need advice on how to manage their wellbeing and happiness, feel free to drop us a line on our FB Messenger chat helpline. We are open 24/7 and the service is free, secure, and confidential. 

For more information about the Love Institute, visit their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/theloveinstituteph/

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation