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How to Say “No” At Work Without Putting People Off

Your goal is to ensure that disappointment doesn’t escalate to insult.

Mental health experts always advise us to say “No” to requests that make us feel stressed or uncomfortable so that we protect our boundaries and not feel overburdened. But this is easier said than done when it comes to the workplace, where begging off from a task assigned by a higher-up can negatively impact our career, while declining a client’s request for help can strain our relationship with them. In fact, a 2015 study by Linked In revealed that more than 58% of millennials globally consider themselves a “yes employee” – someone who does as they are told and is more apt not to question authority. This can result in a workforce that sees higher incidences of burnout, which can lead to mental health concerns.

So how can you say no to unreasonable requests, pointless meetings, busy work, and demanding clients without coming across as lazy, selfish, or disrespectful? The suggestions below might help: 

  • Show a valid reason. Don’t simply say “No.” Share your logic, the facts, and what motivated your decision. For example, don’t thumb down a proposal and have the team making conclusions about why you did so, i.e. “He doesn’t care about our opinion” or “It’s because she’s not benefitting from it.” Instead, cite the data and the thought process that led you to that position, so that you let others know that you gave careful consideration before making a decision. Say “I analyzed the pros and cons and believe we should turn this down because…” or “I cannot grant you this request because according to our company policy…
  • Offer an alternative. Instead of closing the door, offer something to smooth over the effect of your rejection, i.e. “I can’t help you right now but try me again when my current project has been completed” or “I don’t like this proposal but I’ll give you another week to come back with a better one…”
  • Be confident but humble. It’s important to take a firm stand, but not one where you come across as a know-it-all. You alienate more than you convince when you make statements like “The only reasonable conclusion we can draw is…” or “The right answer is…” Instead, use phrases like “I’ve concluded…” and “I believe…” to demonstrate a combination of resolve and humility that avoids provoking unnecessary conflict.
  • Be respectful. When saying no to a person of authority, particularly someone who might misinterpret your denial as disrespect, it can be helpful to ask permission to say no. This allows you to honor their authority while maintaining your integrity. For example, you could tell your superior, “You’ve asked me to take on a new project. I think it’s a bad idea for me to take it on, and I’d like to share my reasons. If, however, you don’t want to hear them, I’ll take it on and do my best. What would you like?” In most cases, the boss will feel obligated to hear you out.
    Now if the boss refuses to hear your reservations, you need to decide if this is an environment you want to spend a significant part of your life in.
  • Negotiate. Sometimes a “no” can turn into a “yes” if the other person is willing to modify the request or do something in return. Let’s say that your boss asks you to start working on a new project, and you know it’s not possible to do your other projects well if you have to add this one. Instead of saying, “I don’t see how I can do that” or “That’s not possible” — negotiate. Say something like, “Is this new project X a higher priority than project Y?  Because if we could move the deadline on Y by just a few days, then I can get X done.” 
  • Apologize and offer to do what you can.  Finally, when you ultimately say no, express your regret and offer to move as far in the direction of their request as possible. An example would be telling a customer “I’m afraid our current policies don’t allow this, but I will talk to my superior if we can do this in the future.” This lets the person know that even though you can’t fulfill this particular request, you hope to be able to fulfill the next one. 

Saying no isn’t being selfish. It’s being smart with the limited time you have each day, because no matter how many tasks and people you take on, the number of hours in a day remains the same so the amount of rest your body needs will also remain the same. By saying no and prioritizing your well-being, you become a healthier, happier, and more productive worker. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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5 Ways To Recharge Your Energy

Managing your energy more effectively throughout the day to boost productivity

In today’s fast-paced world, multitasking seems like a great way to get a lot done at once. But according to American-Canadian cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, doing more than one thing at a time is taxing on the brain and drains precious mental energy. “Asking the brain to shift attention from one activity to another causes [parts of our brain] to burn up oxygenated glucose, the same fuel they need to stay on task,” he says. “The rapid, continual shifting we do with multitasking causes the brain to burn through fuel so quickly that we feel exhausted and disoriented after even a short time.” This leads to a rapid decline in decision-making skills, creativity, and productivity. 

“It’s funny to me to think about how quickly we freak out when our cell phone battery starts to weaken, but how seldom we even notice when our own brain power starts fading away,” says Salma Sakr, Chief Growth Officer at MindNation. 

“So in the same way we  keep an eye on our finances to make sure we don’t go bankrupt, it’s important we pay attention to how we spend and invest our energy so we don’t end up running out. “

How can we best replenish our mental energy and attain consistent peak performance when faced with so many things to do at work and at home? Salma suggests 5 ways we can keep our body and brain primed throughout the day:

  1. Start your day right
  • Hold off on checking email, social media, or any media for that matter, right when you open your eyes. “This way you can fuel your brain with something positive, inspiring, or energizing first,” Salma suggests. 
  •  Don’t rush through your breakfast, coffee, or smoothie. Take time to savor the meal. 
  • Try listening to a guided meditation or podcast, or reading a few pages of an inspirational book. 
  • Go for a walk, do some gentle yoga.
  • Add a little humor to the morning by sharing a funny story with a friend or family.

“Once you get started and you feel that energy starting to flow, you end up doing more than you expected and you actually enjoy it,” Salma says.

2. It’s not just WHAT you eat, but also HOW you eat

  • Make sure to eat slowly, and stop before you think you’re full. 
  • Also make sure that you’re eating often enough to maintain a consistent energy level. Going too long between meals can actually cause your energy to tank and even reduce your immunity.

3. Find time to move throughout the day

“I suggest you try to get up and move for at least 10 minutes every hour using a 50-minute, 10-minute work cycle during the day,” Salma offers. “If you feel more tired, or more stressed, you may want to shift to 25 minutes on and five minutes off, so that you’re recharging even more often. You can even combine strategies, whatever the day calls for.”

4. Don’t forget to practice self-care

“Incorporate the things you enjoy doing into your routine, such as listening to music, using aromatherapy, doing gratitude exercises, thinking about someone you care about, or watching a funny video,” advises Salma.

5. At night, unwind properly

  • Place your digital device out of reach, because it’s way too tempting to check in when it’s by your bed.
  •  “If you have to sleep with the TV on, make sure to choose shows that are relaxing or even boring, so your brain isn’t trying to pay attention,” Salma suggests. “Also, set a timer for the TV to turn off.” 
  • Listen to an audiobook or read a few pages of a book. “Most people who read before bed only actually read a few pages because their eyes start to get tired and their brain starts to recognize this consistent thing they do when they are ready to fall asleep,” shares Salma.
  • Create a quiet comfortable space to sleep in. Studies show that a cool temperature of about 20 degrees is best for the body to rest, and you should also minimize light and sound. 

Take a few moments right now to write down a couple of ways you can recharge your energy throughout the day. Make sure your plans are realistic, and keep them short and simple. Then, think about someone you could ask to join you from time to time to help you stick with your commitment.

Make sure to  repeat these new habits consistently enough for adaptations to start to add up.  “A good rule of thumb is  the power of two days — never miss two consecutive days of completing a new positive habit,” Salma shares. “You can miss a day — because let’s be honest, life gets in the way and all our plans need to be realistic — but fight the urge to miss a second day so you don’t fall back into your old habits.” So push yourself (though not too much) and use the ‘2-day rule’ as a way to build your habit. 

Finally, don’t be hard on yourself. It’s not easy to break out of old habits and build new ones so be patient, start small, and be kind to yourself. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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

Top 10 Resolutions for Your Most Successful 2021

Achieve happiness, productivity, and work-life balance with the right New Year’s resolutions

It might feel a little hard to come up with a resolution this year given all the uncertainties, and some of you might just want to take it “day by day”. But the new year brings new hope, and resolutions help us with our direction on how we want to improve this 2021. 

Ultimately, everyone’s goal is to become healthier, happier and productive in both professional and personal lives. Below are some resolutions that can take you there:

  1. Do something you love everyday. 

In their book “First, Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently,” authors Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman of the Gallup organization interviewed 80,000 managers and discovered that those who answered “Yes” to the question “Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?” were more likely to be happy and productive at work. So find out what fuels your passion, whether it’s related to work or a personal endeavor, and make time for it everyday. 

  1. Have daily me-time. 

When you are a manager or entrepreneur, you will most likely spend every minute of your workday doing something for others. Then when you shift to home mode, there are the family needs to contend with.

So resolve to set time aside for yourself everyday to do something that is different from what you’re already doing all day long. Exercise, journal, meditate, nap, play with your pet, water your plants, or do any other activity that relaxes you. 

  1. Give yourself a pat on the back when you deserve it. 

The Gallup study also found out that people who received praise or recognition for their work in the last week were more happy and productive. 

Obviously, you cannot (and should not) rely on your boss or colleagues to heap praises at you. Instead, make it a point to recognize yourself for your stellar efforts. One way to do this is to keep a “Sunshine Folder” — literally a folder in your computer (or an envelope for hard copies) that contains positive feedback, thank you letters, and other reminders of your accomplishments.

  1. Learn something new every day. 

Is your daily routine starting to get, well, too routine? The good news is you don’t have to take up an extreme sport to venture out of your comfort zone. By simply paying more attention to your intellectual wellness, you can make room for growth, improvement, and learning which can be useful at work. Use reading challenges to build a reading habit, or subscribe to Google Alerts to receive articles on topics that interest you everyday. If reading is not really your thing, engage in healthy debates with a friend, learn a musical instrument or foreign language, or watch more documentaries on tv.

  1. Renew professional contacts and network

Look up old colleagues, engage in small talk with co-employees from other departments, and attend webinars that relate to your profession. You’ll benefit from these in the long run.

  1. Practice professional courage.

What do you usually do when an issue occurs at work? If you’re the type who shies away from addressing the problem, make 2021 your year to take charge. Speak your mind — just don’t do it rudely or argumentatively; be polite, concise, and impersonal. When you stand up for yourself, colleagues will admire you and you will prevent relapses from occurring. 

  1. Learn to listen more, talk less.

If a team member confides a problem to you, resist the urge to step in and fix it unless they expressly ask for advice. More often than not, they just want a sounding board, not necessarily a problem-solver. By listening empathetically you allow their emotions to become “unstuck” and can even empower them to solve their problems on their own.

  1. Track everything

Planner apps are great for keeping an eye on your work tasks, so how about keeping track of your personal goals too? Invest in personal exercise trackers so you can keep track of steps, calories consumed, weight, sleep, and exercise. They can boost your confidence when you see your progress, and free up your mind from the tiny details that can be very taxing at the end of the day. 

  1. Take up a new hobby or activity

Resolve to let 2021 be the year you take the first steps in participating in an activity or interest that you’ve always been interested in, whether it’s photography, redecorating a room, or a new sport. You’ll add a new dimension to your world, and this can positively interact with your business success.

  1. Laugh more

As a manager, it’s easy to get bogged down in serious matters like deliberation, advising, and problem-solving as you strive for business success. But take time to smile, laugh, and joke more — yes even during work hours (just make sure the jokes are appropriate). You don’t have to become best friends with your team, but there’s also no need to constantly be their parent either. 

While seemingly simple, it may be hard to get these recommended resolutions done all at once. So, pick a couple that resonates with you, you’re likely to stick with, and tackle those first! And if you falter, don’t give up; restructure it so it’s more doable and try again the next day. After all, each day is another opportunity to be a better YOU.

— 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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7 Ways To Be a Leader (Not Just A Manager)

While leadership and management go hand in hand, they are not the same thing

“Leaders” and “managers” are often used interchangeably, and while there is some overlap between the work that they do, there are also important differences. 

In his seminal 1989 book “On Becoming a Leader,”  Warren Bennis — American scholar, organizational consultant, and widely regarded as a pioneer in the field of leadership studies — compiled a list of these differences: 

— A manager administers, a leader innovates

— A manager maintains, a leader is an original

— A manager focuses on systems and structure, a leader focuses on people

— A manager relies on control, a leader inspires trust

— A manager has a short-range view, a leader has a long-range perspective

— A manager asks “how” and “when,” a leader asks “how” and “why”

— A manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line, a leader’s eye is on the horizon

— A manager imitates, a leader originates

— A manager accepts the status quo, a leader challenges it

— A manager does things right, a leader does the right thing

The best managers are leaders, but you do not necessarily have to be in a managerial position to be a leader. Any time you act in a way that inspires, encourages, or engages others, you are a leader. 

That said, whether you are a veteran or aspiring manager, possessing strong leadership skills is important because not only will it lead to better job performance, you also gain the knowledge and opportunity to influence the context and environment in which decisions get made. We’ve outlined below seven steps to help you get started on how to be  a leader at work:

  1. Work on your mental and emotional health

As a leader, you will be expected to set the tone during stressful and uncertain times, of which the workplace has many. This does not mean you should have the answers to all the problems; rather, it means you need to have the conviction and resilience to move forward. So not only should you be ready for anything, you also need to bring creativity, humor, and curiosity to stressful situations so that others can rely on you when things become difficult. 

  1. Practice self-awareness

Companies are not the only ones that have a brand identity — people do, too. A person’s work brand is based on his or her strengths, weaknesses, and what they contribute to the organization? As a leader, you need to be aware of your work brand so that you can develop yourself and, as a result, your leadership. So always seek feedback about your performance, whether it’s from a peer, someone more senior, and even from more junior staff — and take these seriously and professionally. 

  1. Adopt a growth mindset. 

Find ways to constantly improve yourself and your situation, whether it’s by honing your existing skills or developing new ones. 

  1. Be supportive. 

A true leader is a great facilitator. So encourage others to speak up instead of constantly offering only your opinions. Publicly recognize them when they do an excellent job, and resolve differences constructively. Create a safe space for people to open up to you if something is bothering them. Doing these builds trust in the workplace, creates rapport, develops positive mental well-being, and gives others the opportunity to improve themselves as well.

  1.  Think strategically.

A good leader is always goal-oriented — he or she has a plan on how to achieve those goals and the determination to act on them. When dealing with team members, it means you recognize the potential in everyone and know how to delegate to make the best of their strengths. 

  1. Be innovative.

Constantly think of ways to set your business apart from competitors. When you contribute creative ideas that are out of the box but benefit your company’s bottom line, you are exemplifying true leadership.

  1. Take the initiative. 

When you have done all of the above, it means you have led your team to working at maximum efficiency. This means you now have some time to learn new things or take on more responsibility. Don’t be afraid to ask management for more responsibility so you can further level up your game. When it comes to developing your leadership skills, the sky is the limit. 

As with other traits, leadership is a quality that needs to be shaped. By practicing empathy, openness, and self-awareness, professionals of all levels can develop leadership skills and find out how to bring out the best in themselves and others.

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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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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6 Ways To Be More Resilient At Work

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

Job stress poses a huge mental health challenge to the 21st century workforce. According to a recent survey by The Regus Group, as many as  60% of workers worldwide experience stress, with the number reaching as high as 86% in China! These figures do not even take into account the COVID-19 pandemic, which has unequivocally triggered or aggravated tensions in the workplace. 

If left untreated, stress can lead to increased levels of anxiety and burnout, which in turn will translate to chronic absences, low productivity, and low morale.

While you may not be able to eliminate the daily pressures that come with holding down a job, you can respond to the stressors better by becoming more mentally resilient. Mental resilience is defined as the ability to mentally or emotionally cope with a crisis or return to pre-crisis status quickly.

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

Resilience can make you more motivated, better equipped to cope with setbacks, and become less susceptible to burnout. 

Here are some ways you can build better mental resilience at work:  

  1. Try to establish good work-life balance. Self-care is an essential strategy for building resilience and helps to keep the mind and body healthy enough to deal with difficult situations as they arise. So pay attention to their own needs and feelings, and to  engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Examples include: 
  1. “Listening to what your body needs, whether that’s extra time to breathe or a little stretch in the mornings,” advises Cat. 
  2. Making time for fun and relaxation outside of work. If physical distancing is an issue, remember to at least get some sunlight periodically instead of staying cooped up in the home office all day. “If you can, and only if it’s safe, open the window and bring in that vitamin D,” Cat adds. 
  1. Meditating. “No need to stress if you don’t do it right the first few times,” Cat assures. “The simple act of breathing, grounding, and of being aware of their surroundings can make them less anxious and bring them back to what they need to address.”

2. Maintain connections. Having friendships outside of work can provide you with a safe space to express pent-up frustrations and anxieties. “Social distancing does not mean emotional distancing,” Cat reminds. “Please do keep connected, and as much as possible, call. Hearing someone else’s voice, especially someone we love, can give us the instant calm that we need.”

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

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

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

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

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


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

Say: “Working from home is challenging.”

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

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

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

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

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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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

Categories
Get Inspired Mental Health 101 Self Help

6 Ways To Cope With Holiday Depression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

Categories
Self Help

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Jac of MindNation