Categories
Mental Health 101

5 Steps To Choosing The Right Therapist For You

Looking for a therapist — whether it’s for self-improvement, to heal from past traumas, or just to maintain good mental health — can be daunting. After all, this is someone whom you will be sharing your deepest and most uncomfortable feelings to, so it is important that you choose a mental health professional who will make you comfortable and give you the right kind of help.

We asked psychologist Luis Angelo Villarroel of Kintsugi-Psy to share some steps for choosing a therapist to help you reach your mental health goals: 

Step 1: Ask yourself: “What kind of help do I need?”
There are many types of mental health professionals, specializing in different areas of mental health. Each of them plays a key role in identifying and treating your mental health challenges:

  • Psychologist. Uses evidence-based strategies and interventions to help people overcome challenges and cope with past traumas, present issues, or future concerns. 

“If you need help dealing with day-to-day problems, best to see a counseling psychologist. On the other hand, if you are looking for someone who can treat certain disorders, you will need the expertise of a clinical psychologist.”

Luis Angelo Villarroel, Psychologist

Just like medical doctors, psychologists have different areas of specialization: there are clinical psychologists, educational psychologists, assessment psychologists, industrial psychologists, child psychologists, etc. While they are all educated in mental health concerns, some are more equipped to deal with certain aspects than others. “If you need help dealing with day-to-day problems, best to see a counseling psychologist,” Luis explains. “On the other hand, if you are looking for someone who can treat certain disorders, you will need the expertise of a clinical psychologist.” 

  • Psychiatrist. They are the only type of mental health professional who are licensed to prescribe and monitor medication.Most psychiatrists do not offer counseling services, but will give referrals to therapists.
  • WellBeing Coach. They work one-on-one with individuals who want to improve their health and well-being, using concepts drawn from psychology, behavior change, and life coaching fields. A WellBeing Coach can help clients overcome obstacles to maintain healthy habits for life.

Don’t worry if you are unsure which one is suited for you. Luis assures that if the mental health professional that you visit first feels that some other form of therapy will be more suitable for you, they will inform you from the get-go.

Step 2: Start your search.

Once you have narrowed down what kind of therapy or therapist you want, it’s time to begin your search. There are a number of different places where you can begin choosing a therapist. Some options include:

  • Searching online through search engines or social media hashtags. You can also ask around in reputable forums or Facebook groups. 
  • A more secure way would be to inquire with hospitals. “Call the hospital help desk and ask if they provide mental health services,” Luis suggests.
  • An even better option is to ask trusted people for recommendations — friends, family, or your primary care provider. And don’t worry if you end up choosing the same therapist as your friend or loved one; like doctors, mental health professionals are bound by the rules of doctor-patient confidentiality. “Even if your spouse is my patient, I will treat the two of you as individuals,” assures Luis.

Step 3: Check their credentials

For psychologists and psychiatrists, make sure they are licensed to practice and that they follow guidelines and a code of ethics. Note that while WellBeing Coaches are not required to have a specific degree and they don’t have oversight by a governing board, you can do your own research to check if they are legitimate.

Step 4: Inquire cost

While therapy should always be considered an investment, it is prudent to know how much you will be shelling out per session, especially since mental health concerns cannot be resolved in just one session. That said, note that the professional fee of a therapist is not an indication or reflection of their experience or lack thereof. “Sometimes the cost can be dependent on the location of the therapist; if their clinic is located in a high-end part of the city, for example, expect their cost to be higher due to rent or other factors not necessarily linked to their skills,” Luis explains. 

Step 5: Book a session and get started on your mental health journey

Here is an article outlining about what you can expect during your first session with a psychologist or WellBeing Coach. 

Use this initial appointment to determine if you feel comfortable with the therapist you have chosen. While talking to the therapist, think about these questions:

  • Do you feel like you can talk to this person?
  • Do you feel like you can be honest?
  • Does it feel like this person accepts you?
  • Are they a good listener?
  • Will they customize their approach for you?

Know that you can always change therapists, whether it’s just five minutes into the first session or after five sessions. “You are free to withdraw from the therapy anytime you feel it is not working out, if you realize your therapist isn’t a good match for you, or you feel you are not being supported well into your therapy process,” Luis assures. “On our end, we will offer to make whatever adjustments you need so you become more comfortable and continue treatment. But ultimately, rapport with your therapist is very important– the treatments will only work if you feel comfortable with us.”

Finally, know that you have every right to terminate the relationship if the therapist behaves unprofessionally or crosses boundaries. In the Philippines, you can report these untoward incidents to the Professional Regulation Commission or to the Psychological Association of the Philippines.

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide if you have chosen the right therapist for you. “We will exhaust all means to help,” Luis says. “And even if we do not work out, I will always encourage you to continue looking for another professional. Sometimes, just talking to someone you can trust — or being able to trust someone again– is already a big help in achieving growth and healing.”

MindNation offers 24/7 teletherapy sessions with psychologists and WellBeing Coaches through video chat, voice call, or SMS chat. Psychologist session starts at P1,500/hour while WellBeing Coach session starts at P500/hour. Book a session now at bit.ly/themindnationchat. 

Categories
Mental Health 101

First Timer’s Guide To Therapy

You’ve finally booked an appointment with a mental health professional — congratulations! You’re on your way towards a better mind, better you.

Maybe you’re feeling nervous about it; that’s totally normal. Or maybe you just want to be prepared; that’s also commendable. Whatever your reason, we’ve put together some general ideas of what you might expect if you’re headed into therapy for the first time so you’ll feel more at ease.

“When attending a therapy session, go into it with open eyes. Be curious, be honest, ask questions, and do not be afraid. Think of it as talking to a friend.”

Kevin Quibranza, MindNation People & Operations Head

BEFORE THE SESSION:

  1. Eat a healthy meal, but not too much. If you’re hungry, you won’t be able to focus on the therapy. If you’re full, you might end up feeling sleepy in the middle of the session.
  2. Dress comfortably but appropriately.
  3. List down concerns you want addressed or any questions you may have. This allows you to maximize the time you have with the therapist.
  4. Inform household members that you should not be disturbed for the whole hour (unless it’s an emergency).
  5. Be in front of your computer at least 10 minutes before your session starts. This will give you enough time to settle down and check for anything (or anyone) who may disturb your privacy, i.e. if family members are around, gently remind them to move elsewhere. 
  6. Bring water because talking will make you thirsty, and you want to avoid leaving your computer –and wasting precious minutes — just to get a glass of water.
  7. Make sure you’re sitting comfortably; if you want to walk around while talking, that’s also okay as long as you don’t disrupt other people. I wouldn’t recommend lying down during sessions because it can cause drowsiness.
  8. If you are using your cellphone for the session, make sure to mute all notifications. If you are on your computer, put your phone on silent mode. 

DURING THE SESSION

  1. Because it’s your first time, the therapist will need to conduct an assessment. Some therapists will ask background questions about your childhood or your family to get to know you better. Others will ask you to share what’s on your mind, what’s bothering you, or your reason for seeing them.
  2. Some therapists take down notes while you speak; others will just listen and write their notes at the end of the session.
  3. Rest assured that your conversation will be kept in the strictest confidentiality. The therapist-patient relationship is special because it is one where you can be totally honest and not worry about being criticized, interrupted, or judged.
  4. You won’t be expected to tell your entire life story. If you booked a session for a specific reason, i.e. work stress, then the conversations will only revolve around that topic.
  5. You won’t be forced to feel anything. It’s okay if you cry, it’s also perfectly okay if you don’t. A healthy therapy is one where there is a connection between the client and the therapist and any emotions that spill out are brought about by that connection and not because it is “expected” of you.
  6. You are free to take down notes especially if the therapist likes to give instructions or homework. Writing may also help you remember some of the key points raised in the session.
  7. You don’t have to answer questions if you are not comfortable or ready. It is a therapist’s job to ask intrusive questions, but if they are really making you uncomfortable, just say so.
  1. If for whatever reason you feel that the therapist’s approach is not effective, it’s okay to let them know and try to find someone else. Choosing a therapist is like choosing a partner — it might take you a few tries but if you find one that you click with, it can really bring about something great.
  2. Don’t expect all your problems or issues to be solved after just one session. This is a misconception; talk therapy is not a quick fix. We encourage our therapists and clients to foster a connection and have multiple sessions since most of the time, problems are due to bad habits that were formed over the course of our lives and cannot be resolved in just 60 minutes. 

AFTER THE SESSION

  1. Expect to feel tired. Talking through major emotional topics for an hour is draining. Don’t go right into a big client presentation after your session; instead, drink water, calm down, and take some time to process the things that you need to do moving forward.
  2. Expect homework. Most therapists do this to empower clients to tackle the issues they are facing themselves and not be dependent on the psychologist for their mental healing. The type of homework would depend on your situation and the therapist’s approach, but most use Cognitive Behavioral Theory approaches such as practicing relaxation or stress management techniques.
  3. Book a follow-up session after two weeks. This will allow the therapist to check on your progress. 

When attending a therapy session, go into it with open eyes. Be curious, be honest, ask questions, and do not be afraid. Think of it as talking to a friend. If you are asked questions regarding your situation, try to answer them as honestly as you can because you might end up realizing something new about yourself. It’s all part of the process; go through it, and enjoy the ride.

For those in the Philippines, MindNation psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions. An initial session with a psychologist starts at P1,500, and succeeding consults will cost only P2,500 per hour.

Clients may opt to avail of a 5-session package for only P12,125. On the other hand, the first session with a WellBeing Coach will cost only P500, with additional sessions amounting to P1,000 per hour. Clients may also choose to buy a 3-session package for P2,850 or a 6-session package for P5,550.

Book a session now through http://m.me/themindnation.com or email [email protected]

Categories
Mental Health 101

Breaking 7 Myths About Meditation

Meditation has been proven to more than just reduce stress and help us achieve inner peace. Studies have shown that a regular meditation practice can also lengthen our attention span, reduce age-related memory loss, improve sleep, and help control pain. Additionally, meditation can be done for free, anytime and anywhere, without need for special equipment, and with zero side effects. 

While the number of people turning to meditation has increased through the years (a rough estimation of people who meditate globally ranges between 200 and 500 million), there are still many who hesitate to take up the practice because of the misconceptions that make them feel they cannot do it. We asked Dinah Salonga, co-founder and Chairman of Yogaplus (www.yogaplus.ph), one of Manila’s premier yoga studios, to debunk some common myths and explain what meditation is really about:

“Meditation is the practice of paying attention to whatever arises in the present moment, not communicating with a deity. There are no rules or dogmas to follow in meditation.”

Dinah Salonga, co-founder and Chairman of Yogaplus
  1. Meditation requires staying still for a long period of time.

Dinah: Just like dance or yoga, there are many different styles of meditation and many ways to practice it.

A. There is a dedicated practice, where you intentionally set a time to meditate in stillness for a few minutes. It’s like going to the gym; while you’re there, you focus on doing your exercises.

B. For those who have difficulty sitting still, there is the integrated practice, where you can meditate while doing an activity like walking, eating, hiking, or drinking coffee. Yoga is another example of a moving meditation practice.

  1. You need to be able to sit in an uncomfortable lotus position (a cross-legged sitting pose in which each foot is placed on the opposite thigh).

Dinah: Not at all. You can sit in a normal cross-legged position, or even sit down on your heels in a kneeling position. If being on the floor is not comfortable, you can meditate while sitting on a chair with your feet flat on the floor, or even standing up. You may even lie down — just make sure you don’t fall asleep. 

The important thing is to be in a position where you are comfortable and your spine is in neutral alignment — this means the spine is straight but not rigid, making it easier for you to breathe. 

  1. Meditation is a religious practice so I don’t want to do it because I’m a devout Catholic/Christian/Muslim/etc.

Dinah: Although many religions talk about meditation and its importance, the practice is more spiritual than religious. Meditation is the practice of paying attention to whatever arises in the present moment, not communicating with a deity. There are no rules or dogmas to follow in meditation; if there is chanting in a session, it is only done as a means of helping the mind concentrate, and is completely optional.   

  1. The goal of meditation is to empty the mind and feel calm and peaceful.

Dinah: Just as there are different styles of meditations, there are also different goals. You can meditate to relax, to empty the mind, or to learn to pay attention. The last one is called mindfulness meditation, where distractions are a part of the practice and you will be taught how to respond when you are distracted.

  1. One session of meditation can solve my problems (i.e.  depression, anxiety, etc) right away.

Dinah: Definitely not. Meditation is a practice and something you need to do regularly to experience the benefits. In some instances, it may not even be the right solution for your current situation. If you have a mental health problem, for example, it will be best to consult a professional and get their advice on whether meditation can help you.

  1. You need to practice meditation for YEARS to reap the benefits.

Dinah: Even just short segments of practice (i.e. one minute a few times a day) can already make a difference in making our minds more calm. Sure, it might take some time to feel that meditation has completely transformed you, the way you live, and your overall happiness; just like any other skill, the more you practice, the longer the effects will last. Take it step by step and enjoy the process of getting to know your mind. 

  1. Meditation is hard, it’s only for women/monks/elderly/etc. 

Dinah: Meditation is simple but is not easy. Think of it as driving or riding a bike — these are skills that can be done by anyone. We can all learn and become good at it if we practice. With a few exceptions (like some mental health issues), almost everyone can do it. 

MindNation Wellness Coaches are available 24/7 to help you build better physical and mental health habits. Book a teletherapy session with them through FB Messenger http://m.me/themindnation or email [email protected].

The Yogaplus Virtual Studio offers live 15-minute mindfulness meditation classes twice a week. Sign up now through bit.ly/YOGALIVE and get a free 7-day trial.

Categories
Mental Health 101

What is Gaslighting?

In 2018, Oxford Dictionaries named “gaslighting” as one of the most popular words of the year. It is defined as the act of undermining another person’s reality by denying facts, the environment around them, or their feelings.

“Gaslighting is a form of manipulation,” says psychologist Riyan Portuguez. “A person who gaslights seeks to gain more power in an argument by portraying themselves as the victim or making the partner question their worth.” 

Common statements you may hear from gaslighters include: 

“I was just joking.”

“I didn’t do that/I never said that. You’re imagining things.”

“You have issues.”

“You’re upset over nothing.”

“Here we go again.”

“You’re being sensitive/you’re so dramatic.”

“Gaslighting can be unintentional, especially in cases where one person is so afraid of losing the other that they will say anything to divert blame or avoid a difficult conversation,”

Riyan Portuguez, psychologist

While gaslighting is most often mentioned in the context of a romantic relationship, any relationship that has a power dynamic (i.e. friends, family members, or workmates) can be a breeding ground for this toxic behavior. This means that not only is it highly likely that most of us have been gaslighted at some point in our lives, it’s also possible that we have inadvertently gaslighted other people as well. 

“Gaslighting can be unintentional, especially in cases where one person is so afraid of losing the other that they will say anything to divert blame or avoid a difficult conversation,” explains Riyan. “But we need to understand that gaslighting is self-defeating, because it does not resolve the conflict in a mature or proper way.” 

When left unexamined, gaslighting can have a devastating and long-term impact on our emotional, psychological, and even physical well-being. This is why it’s important to learn how to spot the technique, shut it down, and minimize the psychological impact on our daily lives or the lives of our loved ones.

How to tell if you are being gaslighted

According to Dr. Robert Stern, author of the book “The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life,” signs that you are a victim of gaslighting include:

  • No longer feeling like the person you used to be
  • Being more anxious and less confident than you used to be
  • Often wondering if you’re being too sensitive
  • Feeling like everything you do is wrong
  • Always thinking it’s your fault when things go wrong
  • Apologizing often
  • Often questioning whether your response to your partner is appropriate (e.g., wondering if you were too unreasonable or not loving enough)
  • Making excuses for your partner’s behavior

If you don’t typically experience these feelings with other people but do with one particular individual, then you might be a victim of gaslighting.

What to do if you feel you are being gaslighted

  1. Don’t say “You’re gaslighting me!” “Accusations will only make the other person defensive and escalate the situation. Remember that it’s possible your partner is not even aware that they are gaslighting,” reminds Riyan.
  2. Instead, point to specific, observable actions and how they made you feel. Use ‘I’ statements such as “I felt __ when you did/said ___.”
  3. When presenting your side, stand your ground. “Gaslighters will seek to confuse you. But if you know your truth, it won’t be as easy to sway you,” Riyan says.
  4. Always remember that you are not responsible for another person’s actions or emotions. Gaslighters usually claim that you provoked the abuse. “Most victims of gaslighting end up rationalizing the gaslighter’s behavior by saying ‘He reacted this way because I did this’ or ‘It’s my fault she said that.’ But if we start feeling responsible, it will be hard for us to recognize reality,” Riyan shares. “It’s good to be empathetic and try to look at the other person’s point of view, but if you are the one wronged, you need to put up healthy barriers.”   
  5. Talk to someone about what you are going through. These can be trusted friends, loved ones, or even a mental health professional. This does not mean telling them off the bat that the other person is a gaslighter. “Don’t seek to make the other person look bad because again, they might not even be aware of what they are doing,” cautions Riyan. Instead, focus on the problem or the situation and seek advice on what to do, or if your thoughts and feelings are valid.
  6. Know when to walk away. “If you have exhausted all means but the gaslighter refuses to change their ways, then you need to leave the relationship to protect your mental health and peace of mind,” advises Riyan. “You are not responsible for changing another person; better to spend your time and energy with people who are more deserving of your attention and who see your worth.”

How to stop yourself from gaslighting others

If you are worried that you might be gaslighting your loved one, here are things you can do:

  1. Think before you speak or act. “Before you say or do something during a difficult conversation, ask yourself if your words or actions will improve the relationship, or worsen it,” advises Riyan.
  2. Seek to find common ground, not to “win.” “What is more important to you, the relationship, or your need to be right?” asks Riyan.
  3. If you made a mistake, own up to it. “Nobody is perfect, so reevaluate yourself before you plunge into a difficult conversation,” Riyan suggests.
  4. If the other person really misread the situation or misjudged you, don’t get angry or defensive. “This can happen in partners who came from toxic or abusive relationships; they inadvertently bring their hurts and insecurities into their current situation,” explains Riyan. Instead of responding to their accusations with “You’re being dramatic, it’s nothing!” or “You’re just imagining things,” ask them to pinpoint what exactly you did or said that they found wrong, and explain your side. “Don’t avoid the conversation; use it to give your partner the reassurance that they need,” she adds.

It is entirely possible to stop gaslighting behavior, but it will take a great deal of self-awareness to do so. While there are some who are able to do it on their own, talking to a mental health professional can also help. Therapists can guide you in examining your actions and see if you have been, consciously or unconsciously, engaging in toxic behaviors. They can also help you to make needed changes that will make your own life and relationships better.

MindNation psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions in the Philippines (and also in the Middle East for a limited time). Book your slot through FB Messenger http://m.me/themindnation or email [email protected]

Categories
Mental Health 101

8 Reasons Why People Don’t Seek Professional Help For Mental Health Concerns

Despite mental health being more visible than ever and care being more available, only a few people seek professional help for their mental health concerns; according to the World Health Organization, up to 80 percent of people with mental health issues do not seek treatment. 

Up to 80% of people with mental health issues do not seek treatment.

World Health Organization

Why is this the case? Based on a poll conducted on MindNation’s Instagram page last March 2020, below are the eight most common reasons people avoid therapy. We asked MindNation People and Operations Head Kevin Quibranza to comment and share how we can overcome these thoughts and fears:

  1. Shame. (“I don’t want to be labelled ill or crazy. If word got out that I was seeing a psychologist, it could negatively impact my career, relationship, or other life goals.”)

    “Being afraid to do what needs to be done because of what others think is detrimental to your health,” says Kevin. “Don’t be ashamed to seek help.”

    When confronted with these negative voices, the best thing to do is to tune them out. If they harangue you, keep your replies short (i.e. “I see,” or “Okay”) and resist the urge to expound or explain yourself. Switch the topic if you have to. With nothing to continue on, the naysayer will stop there.

    Lastly, surround yourself with enablers. Think about the people who are supportive or would be supportive of your plans to seek therapy if you told them. “Many people nowadays are open-minded with mental health problems and it is no longer as taboo for them as it used to be,” says Kevin. And if you don’t have any such people in your life, it’s okay. There are people out there in the world who are doing what you want to do, so increase your contact with their works, such as their books, their interviews, their TV shows, and so on.
  1. Practical barriers like cost (“Therapy is expensive. I’d rather talk to my friends, at least that’s free”) or inaccessibility (“My Internet connection is not stable;” “I don’t know how to use video conferencing apps.”)

    Reaching out to friends and family is free and highly recommended when starting your mental health journey. However, there will be cases in which your loved ones might also need to set boundaries when on the receiving end of concerns. The end goal of therapy is not to have you dependent on it, but to build your resilience so you can approach life and its obstacles as a stronger, better YOU. Mental health professionals are trained to do just that.

    TIP: As part of MindNation’s mission for accessible mental healthcare for all, psychologists and WellBeing coaches onboard are available for teletherapy sessions 24/7, and an initial session costs only P1,500 (for psychologist) and P500 (for a WellBeing Coach).

    MindNation sessions are available through video call, voice call, SMS/chat, and Care Assistants will be able to guide you every step of the way.
  1. Hopelessness. (“I tried it once, I didn’t feel any better. I guess it’s not for me.”)

    “Just because one psychologist’s approach did not work for you does not mean that another’s approach won’t,” explains Kevin. “Ask a friend, colleague, or doctor you trust to recommend another therapist who might be a good fit for you, although be mindful that you may have different therapy needs and goals than the one giving you the recommendation.”
  1. Distrust. (“I don’t like confiding in a stranger.”)

    “It might sound paradoxical, but the best person to talk about our problems are strangers,” points out Kevin. “They don’t have the biases that you or your immediate family might have, which can stop them from guiding you or giving you the best advice, plus they can offer a fresh perspective on a situation that may have trapped you for a long time.”
  2. Denial. (“Why should I go to therapy, there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m fine, everyone goes through what I’m going through; just give me a few days and I’ll be able to snap out of this funk that I am in.”)

    People usually resort to denial as a way of coping with anything that makes them feel vulnerable or threatens their sense of control. It could also be a defense mechanism against the fear of stigma mentioned in item #1.

    “Denial is never helpful,” says Kevin. “If you have mental health problems, you need to go to therapy right away to stop it from becoming something more serious. Those few days that you are asking for to ‘snap out of it’ can be addressed in a one-hour session.”
  1. Lack of awareness. (“My family thinks it’s a bad idea.”)

    This is usually said by older family members who do not understand the nature of mental health; the younger generation, thankfully, do not have such limited awareness. “At the end of the day, do what is best for yourself, because it will be you alone who will carry that burden,” advises Kevin. 
  1. Anxiety. (“I don’t know where to go. How can I be sure I won’t be scammed or the organization is legitimate?”)

    “Ask friends and other trusted sources for referrals, or follow the company’s social media accounts to read the reviews, comments, and see for yourself the work that they do,” suggests Kevin. 
  1. Other priorities. (“I just don’t have the time/money;” “I’m so busy with so many things.”)

    “Work can wait, your mental health cannot. You need to put your well-being on top of your priority list because everything else revolves around it; if you are mentally unwell, you cannot perform tasks as effectively, thereby affecting your productivity levels,” points out Kevin. 

Seeing a psychologist or WellBeing Coach for mental health issues should be as natural and automatic as seeing a doctor for broken bones or other physical ailments. “When you burn your hand, your first and natural reaction is to put it under cold water,” Kevin says. “Going to a professional to treat mental distress should also be a priority.”

Lastly, don’t think of therapy as an expense; treat it as an investment. By getting help now, you generate returns in the long-run for yourself, your family, your community, and your business. 

To book a session with MindNation’s psychologists and WellBeing Coaches, message http://m.me/themindnation or email [email protected]

Categories
Mental Health 101 Self Help

The Pitfalls of Toxic Positivity

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

Toxic positivity statements may sound like any of the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Employee Wellness Mental Health 101 Self Help Work in the New Normal

5 Ways To Disagree With Your Boss (Without Getting Fired)

Speaking up for what you believe is a good thing, but when it comes to disagreeing with your boss, you need to be careful and tactful.

A 2018 study by Gallup reported that 94% of people feel stressed at work, with 35% saying that their boss is a cause of workplace stress. One possible reason for the latter is the fear and anxiety that comes when you need to voice a disagreement with a higher-up. While most workplaces these days are trying to establish a healthy culture where communication is open across all levels, dissenting with a superior is still a tricky thing. Doing so might make him or her think you are being difficult or disrespectful, but staying silent might give everyone else the impression that you are apathetic or complacent.

So how can you deliver your opposing opinion without suffering unfavorable consequences? Below are some strategies that you can employ: 

  1. Take note of the timing

Sometimes it’s not just what you say — it’s also when and where you say it. If you are in a relaxed team meeting where everyone is sharing suggestions and ideas, then feel free to chime in with your own thoughts. But if the discussion is starting to get heated and your manager is starting to display signs that they are getting angry, embarrassed, or feeling ganged-up on, it might be best to wait until things cool down. Then set up a separate, private meeting to talk it out. 

  1. Start off on a positive note. 

While work conversations should ideally be honest and straight-to-the-point, you will need to moderate your bluntness when you are talking to a person of authority. So begin your opposition by clearly mentioning something positive, like a portion of the idea that you liked. Segueing into the disagreement is much better than blurting out “I think your idea is wrong because…” right off the bat.  

  1. Ask and listen before reacting. 

Take a deep breath and try considering the issue from your superior’s point of view. Try to know his or her motivations for making such decisions; the best way to get them to listen to your side is to be able to reflect back to them that you understand what’s important to them. So ask questions, research the context, and gather information so that once you state your opposing view, it is based on facts and logic, not on emotions. 

  1. Rephrase the disagreement in the form of a suggestion

Instead of telling your boss what you think should be done, make it seem like you are asking for an alternative take on the matter. For example, you could say something like “I like your idea of holding team meetings every week, but what do you think about holding them on Wednesdays instead of Mondays so that….?” By letting your manager make the final decision, you still show respect for his or her authority. 

  1. Respect the final decision. 

Always mentally prepare for the possibility that you will speak your mind but nothing will change. If that happens, you need to respect your boss’s decision and let it go. Instead of feeling angry or sad, take the rejection as a learning opportunity; even if you disagree with his or her point, try to at least understand it, so you are able to support it. At the very least, rejection builds mental resilience, so you still get something positive out of the whole experience. 

By following the tips above, you can hopefully disagree with your boss in a way that is courteous and convincing but won’t cost you your mental health or your job. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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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

Categories
Employee Wellness Get Inspired Mental Health 101 Self Help Work in the New Normal

10 Tips For Handling Difficult Conversations At Work

How to manage contentious exchanges at work without making things worse

Conflict is inevitable in the workplace. You have to deliver bad news, ask someone to make a change, or correct an inappropriate behavior. These moments all require conversations and these conversations are difficult. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified potential conflict. New working conditions and external threats and pressures have led to a rise in mental health concerns, possibly affecting work performance and team dynamics. As a manager, you need to resolve these conflicts in a timely and professional manner that minimizes disruption to productivity. But this can be easier said than done when emotions are running high. 

“We tend to view difficult conversations as a personal attack, a power struggle that becomes a win-lose situation,” says Salma Sakr, Chief Growth Officer of MindNation. “But if both parties treated them as an opportunity to grow both personally and professionally, to increase understanding, and to achieve goals, then we can address the situation sooner and with more ease.”

While there is no one way to have a difficult conversation, there is a blueprint that we can use to support us as we head into those conversations:

  1.  Before inviting the other person to a conversation, clarify your primary and secondary purpose. Salma suggests you do this by asking yourself two questions: first, what is this person doing that they should not be doing? And second, what is the person not doing that they should be doing?
    For example, you have an employee who does great work but is always a day or too late with projects. The primary purpose of your conversation is to emphasize the importance of getting work turned in on time. Your secondary purpose is to understand why there might be delays, what is the root cause of them being late all the time? 
  1. Never initiate a conversation when you’re overly emotional. “It’s okay to feel emotions. Your emotions tell you that a conversation needs to happen,” Salma assures. “But you’ve got to time it right. When you are calm, you’re in a better position to initiate and engage.”
  2. Anticipate resistance. Resistance is defined as any form of negativity or non-acceptance, an unwillingness to move forward. It means the conversation is either not happening or it’s not going in the direction you want. Examples of ways people can be resistant in conversations: 
  • “What you’re asking for is not possible”
  •  “This isn’t fair”
  •  “It will cost too much” 
  • “I don’t have enough time to do what you want”
  •  “I told you I’ve already tried that”

Resistance leads to non-productive conversations. The good news is there’s actually a way to test for resistance without getting trapped in an unproductive back and forth with the person you are speaking to. “Frame your request using the magic phrase ‘Would you be willing…?’” Salma suggests. “By doing this you are gauging how resistant they are and giving them space to decide if they are willing or not.”

  1. Don’t use electronic or digital communication to engage in a difficult conversation. “The urge can be pretty strong to hide behind an email, text or chat when emotions are hot but things can be ‘lost in translation’ when written,” Salma points out. A face to face conversation (even just through video call) is always best. And, if someone triggers you with their email, don’t take the bait and don’t defend yourself. “Just don’t respond. Ask for a face to face meeting. If that’s not possible, ask for a phone meeting,” says Salma. 
  2. Don’t play the blame game. The go-to response when you are angry is to point fingers, which will make the other party defensive. So control your urge to be right, to be understood, and to win.  Instead, practice active listening and get their side of the story. Until the other person feels heard, you’re only going to get defensiveness and disagreement. You don’t even have to agree. All you have to do is acknowledge their reality.
  3. Cultivate curiosity. “Being a know-it-all closes off possibilities,” says Salma. “If you think you already know someone’s motives, you won’t try to understand them. And if you already know what someone is going to say, you avoid communication.” So genuinely show eagerness to understand, ask questions, and make sure you are having a dialogue not a monologue. There are two people in this conversation, so make sure you act that way.
  4. Stay focused You’ve probably been engaged in a conversation that took a wrong turn. Chances are, you got distracted, you forgot your objective. Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want. When you keep your focus on what you want, it’s easier to get to your end result and move forward.
  5. Redirect so you are in control of the conversation. If you do find yourself facing a lot of resistance, or the person using many distracting phrases, you can use the following statements to help get you back on track. Examples include:
  • “I understand where you are coming from, but right now we are talking about your project delays.” 
  • “That may be true but that is not as urgent as what we are discussing now. Let’s prioritize.” 
  • “I suggest we park that and come back to it once we finish our conversation.” 
  • “Clearly you have a lot on your mind, let’s set up more time to discuss that after we finish what we came to discuss here.” 

“This way, you are giving space for their emotions but putting a boundary that this conversation is focused on a certain discussion and that you won’t deviate,” says Salma.

  1. Don’t generalize. Eliminate words like “always” and “never” because you will lose the other person, i.e. “You always do this…” or “ You never do that…” Instead, you bring forward the specific observable behavior. “Last week, I observed you did this…”
  1. Create accountability. Just because the conversation has happened and you both got through it doesn’t mean it ends there. Make sure to put a deadline within which you want to see the behavior or results changed/improved. “Ask them to book it in your calendar so you can reconvene and assess progress,” shares Salma. “This will ensure they remain accountable to the changes you have requested.” 

By following the tips outlined above, it is possible to transform difficult conversations into constructive exchanges. You may not be able to control how others think and react, but you can control our own emotions, thoughts, and responses so that the relationship with the other person becomes better for it. 

MindNation offers Company Culture Drive Ⓒ Talks — interactive webinars featuring experts on mental health and other dimensions of wellness. One of our most popular talks is “Having Difficult Conversations In The Workplace” where we train managers on how to handle tough conversations with team members, ensuring the well-being of all involved. To know more about this email us at [email protected]

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

Categories
Employee Wellness Get Inspired Mental Health 101 Self Help Work in the New Normal

3 Things You May Be (Unconsciously) Doing That’s Causing Stress

Stress may be inevitable, but it’s also important and manageable.

Stress is defined as any type of change that causes physical, emotional, or psychological strain. It is our body’s response to anything that requires attention or action.  

“Stress is a spectrum,” says Kana Takahashi, Chief Executive Officer of MindNation. “There is a good kind of stress, which provides us a sense of urgency to get important things done. On the other hand, there is bad stress, which can lead to physical and mental health problems.”

Everyone experiences bad stress to some degree, mostly because we may not even be aware that we are doing things that contribute to stress. Three of the most common causes of bad stress are:  

  1. Comparing ourselves to others

Doing this will leave us feeling happy and dissatisfied. “Instead of thinking about what others have, you should remind yourself of the positive things in your life,” says Kana. “This can be easier said than done, especially if you are a competitive person, but once you do, the rewards are worth it.”

  1. Procrastinating

When you put off a task, you build anxiety and feel nervous, which is a huge obstacle to peace of mind. “But when you take the time to adequately prepare for the day or week ahead, you can help eliminate stress,” Kana advises. 

  1. Sweating the small stuff 

Are you a worrier? “If so, it’s probably adding unnecessary stress to your life because when you focus on what could go wrong, you’re not letting yourself appreciate what’s going right,” points out Kana. “It’s especially important not to waste your emotional energy on things that are out of your control. So when you’re late for work because of a bad Internet connection, just take a deep breath and accept that it is what it is. 

The next time you find yourself spiraling into stress, take a moment to step back and see if you are doing any of the above. When you begin to understand the cause, you can take steps to combat it and protect your mental and physical health.

If you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or just need someone to talk to, you can reach out to MindNation’s chat helpline on FB Messenger http://m.me/themindnation for FREE. The service is available 24/7 and is completely CONFIDENTIAL. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation