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Financial Wellness

6 Ways To Help Someone Struggling Financially During The Pandemic

Money concerns are one of the main causes of stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the results of a 2020 Pulse Survey conducted among 6,085 employees by MindNation’s Consumer Insights Team, nearly half (46%) of respondents listed financial pressures as their source of mental health problems. 

“Financial security is really uncertain right now,” says Mariel Bitanga, a financial planner and founder of Simply Finance (https://www.simplyfinanceph.com), a boutique financial planning firm committed to empowering Filipino women. “So many have been retrenched or furloughed, and even those who are lucky enough to still be employed are always worrying that their company will go under at any moment.” 

This constant threat of ongoing debt or insufficient income can result in feelings of loss of control, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. If you are in a position to ease the financial stress of a loved one, know that even the smallest acts of care can make a difference. Mariel suggests the following simple and concrete ways you can support someone who is struggling with money:

  1. Offer emotional support. Start by simply reaching out to let them know that you’ll be there for them in any way you can. “This lets the person know that they are not alone and eases their anxiety,” says Mariel. 

    Also, because people tend to anchor their identities and self-worth with their work and income, emphasize to your loved ones that they are cherished and valuable no matter what. Remind them of their core strengths and highlight the small things they do each day to contribute to their family and the community. 
  1. Help them come up with a money-making gameplan. “Sit down with them and brainstorm ways they can earn extra money or manage their existing finances,” Mariel suggests.
  2. Utilize your connections. If you have another friend whose business is stable or thriving, ask if they have job openings, or if they would be willing to hire your friend on a freelance basis. “But if you’re unsure about the financial state of your friend’s business, best not to bring it up,” cautions Mariel.
  3. For those who have put up businesses, support them through social media. This past year has seen many people turning to home-based side businesses to augment their income. While the pressure to buy their products can be strong, Mariel assures that there are other ways to show support. “One of the most powerful ways you can help their business grow is to spread the word on social media. Be deliberate in tagging them on online marketplaces, sharing their posts, and leaving glowing reviews,” Mariel says. “Doing these won’t even cost you anything.”  

    In the event that you disagree with your friend’s business plan (i.e. you feel the product is too expensive), be careful in voicing your opinion. “Just express it subtly, like ‘Hey, I saw another person selling the same thing as you but at a lower price, and it’s doing very well; maybe you can try doing the same?’” advises Mariel. “Always make sure that feedback is constructive, not solely critical.”

“One of the most powerful ways you can help their business grow is to spread the word on social media. Be deliberate in tagging them on online marketplaces, sharing their posts, and leaving glowing reviews,”

Mariel Bitanga, SimplyFinance (on supporting your loved one’s business for free)
  1. Help them find local resources. “Good financial planners don’t just help with money management, we can also sit down with them and strategize how to earn extra money,” explains Mariel. 

    When choosing a financial planner, make sure they have legitimate credentials and offer a holistic program. This means that instead of just focusing on a specific area of a person’s finances (i.e. insurance or investments), the financial planner considers all aspects of the client’s personal circumstances and financial position to identify the actions that need to be taken to meet their goals for the future. 

    Finally, Mariel adds that there is also a wealth of credible and free financial planning resources available online. She recommends the following:
  • Chinkee Tan’s “Chink Positive” (available on YouTube and Spotify) 
  • Thea Sy Bautista (available on YouTube)
  • Marvin Germo (available on YouTube)
  • Vince Rapisura (available on YouTube)
  • Simply Finance TV (available on YouTube)
  1. As a last resort, you may offer a cash gift or loan — but tread lightly. Only offer to lend or give money if you have a close relationship with the other person. “Otherwise, you risk hurting their pride or making them feel beholden to you,” explains Mariel. 

    When you do decide to offer financial assistance, do so without expectations of repayment. “When you put conditions on your assistance, you put an additional burden on the other person. So make sure your offer is an amount that you are comfortable letting go of,” Mariel advises. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of slowing down, your loved ones may truly need your financial assistance. Before you commit to helping, be sure to think through what you can and can’t afford to do. Remember that if your own resources are limited, there are meaningful, effective, and creative ways to help others.
If someone you know needs help managing their financial worries, MindNation’s WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 for online sessions in the PH and (for a limited time) in the Middle East and North Africa Region. Book a slot now on FB Messenger http://m.me/themindnation or email [email protected].

Categories
Employee Wellness Featured Mental Health 101 Suicide Prevention

6 Ways Companies can Help Reduce the Risk for Suicide in the Workplace

CONTENT WARNING: This article includes descriptions of suicide that may disturb some readers

Workplace suicide is defined as suicide in or outside the workplace, which may involve an employee, supplier, a significant customer, a family member, a close friend of any of the above. When it occurs, it has a devastating impact on the emotional well-being of both the victim and his/her co-workers.

According to the National Center of Mental Health, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a dramatic rise in mental health problems which may trigger or aggravate suicidal thoughts. This is because the virus outbreak has brought forth a slew of stressors that millions of people are experiencing for the first time in their lives: widespread job loss, deaths of loved ones that they are unable to properly mourn, and the heightened fear of contracting the disease, among others.

To make matters worse, social distancing policies crafted by health authorities to reduce the risk of infection have resulted in the removal of many of the resources people have traditionally used to cope with stress: Routines are disrupted; face-to-face contacts with family, friends, and mental health professionals are no longer allowed; exercise and other forms of outdoor physical activities have been curtailed; and even relaxing at home is now harder to achieve since the entire household is cooped up together.

Because people spend a large portion of their day at the workplace, it is highly likely that there will be those who are struggling with the stresses while doing work and hiding it. Employers and co-workers therefore have a crucial role to play in suicide prevention because they are in a position to spot the signs of being mentally unwell, as well as provide distressed individuals with an important social and emotional network.

Key elements of an effective workplace suicide prevention program might include:

1. Creating a workplace culture that promotes good mental health

Encourage staff to create Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) whose members can serve as mental health champions as well as offer peer support when needed. In addition, managers can advocate or promote pro-mental health work benefits such as paid mental health days, sufficient vacation time, and other policies that acknowledge the importance of both physical and mental health.

2. Knowing and understanding your employees.

Regularly hold team-building events so that co-workers get to know each other on a more personal level. This will make it easier for them to identify colleagues who are exhibiting stress or drastic changes in mood or behavior.

3. Fostering a workplace culture where it is all right to seek help.

Employees should feel comfortable in approaching their superiors if they are feeling emotionally unwell. In turn, managers should have the confidence to be able to respond appropriately when an employee needs support.

4. Encouraging self-care and healthy living.

Regularly promote the importance of maintaining a balanced diet and getting enough exercise, as well as the risks of smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. In addition, make sure that the on-site workplace environment itself follows safety protocols — air quality, lighting, temperature, noise levels, and physical distancing measures must meet minimum health standards to reduce the stress of employees.

5. Promoting a safe and positive work environment.

Bullying and harassment at work increase stress and the risk of suicide, so they should never be tolerated. Employers must act swiftly and decisively when allegations are made.

6. Educating and training managers and other key staff about suicide prevention awareness.

The suicide or attempted suicide of an employee — even if it does not occur on the job –can have a profound emotional effect on others in the workplace. Evidence has shown that when businesses take concrete measures to support staff health and well-being, these will translate to improved staff engagement and better productivity, leading to financial gain for all.

We can all help prevent suicide. If you or a loved one is in distress, MindNationconnects individuals with counselors for emotional support and other services via web chat, 24/7, anytime, anywhere. The service is completely confidential and the staff is trained to help you ease your anxieties. Start chatting here: http://m.me/themindnation

Categories
Featured Self Help

7 ways to take care of your Mental Health during the Coronavirus Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has cost millions of people their lives, jobs, and a sense of security and stability. Fear and uncertainty continue to lead to anxiety and depression for many of us. If you are one of those people whose mental well-being has taken a hit during the pandemic, below are some things you can practice to build your mental resilience, feel more optimistic, and boost your emotional wellness:

1. Focus on what you can control

Fear and negative feelings can make you replay in your mind all the ways the virus has upended your life: “No more going to the movies/concerts/malls/restaurants,” “No more gatherings with friends/family,” “Your choice, at work is either to resign or take a pay cut.” Because all these are beyond your control, thinking about them will only worsen your anxieties. So, shift your focus to parts of your life that you can manage: your daily routine, the meals you will prepare for yourself or your family, and new goals you want to achieve now that you have extra time to spare. Take this time to practice mindfulness and putting more effort into your mental well-being as well.

2. Avoid information overload

More often than not, you want to stay on top of the latest developments about the pandemic; but when you stay glued to your phone, TV, or computer, you will most likely get inundated with bad news like increasing mortality rates, overwhelmed health care workers, or other upsetting and depressing stories. To ease this toll on your mental health, studies suggest that you set boundaries by learning to limit the time you spend watching the news or reading the news on your social media feed.

3. Seek out ways to help

News might get a little negative but there are also pandemic-related news that are uplifting from people donating to the less fortunate, new businesses thriving, and other stories of generosity and compassion. Look for these human-interest bits when you scroll through your newsfeeds to minimize your anxiety and depression. Hopefully, those stories will inspire you so that you can also shine your own light and be the positivity you want to see in your community!

4. Take brain breaks and entertain yourself

Do activities that can take your mind off stress, such as rewatching your favorite sitcom on Netflix or Youtube, doing jigsaw puzzles/cross-stitch patters/paint-by-numbers, and engaging in activities that will allow you to move your body which is proven to help boost endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, all of the feel-good chemicals in your brain. They make you feel more energized and happier. Another activity you can do to cope with the Coronavirus anxiety is video chatting with friends and family. Studies show that a lack of social connection can not only hurt our mental health, but also, ultimately, our physical health. Being isolated can also result in more anxiety and depression.

MindNation has a 24/7 Friend you can chat with for FREE via Facebook Messenger, too! It’s completely confidential and they’re trained to help you ease your anxieties. Start chatting here: http://m.me/themindnation 

5. Set Goals

When there is nothing much to do, resist the temptation to fall into a state of idleness, which will only make your life seem more lost and hopeless. Challenge yourself by taking up new hobbies or projects. It can be as simple as redecorating your room, learning how to bake, learning how to play a musical instrument, or decluttering the different spaces in your house. When you have accomplished something, you will not feel as aimless.

6. Practice kindness with others

Just because you’re not a frontliner does not mean you can’t do your part in helping ease the anxiety. Cook food and share it with those whom you think are in need; donate personal protective equipment to hospitals and other frontliners; order baked goods from your neighbor who was furloughed or laid off from his/her work; get takeout from your favorite restaurant to support small business. There are many ways we can practice kindness to others. We can also do this by checking in with our friends and loved ones and ask how they’re doing. You’ll never know who needs it!

7. End every day with gratitude


Every night before going to bed, think of all that you have accomplished, learned or were blessed with during the day. Research shows that cultivating gratitude will help alleviate any negativity you might be feeling, and reminds you that not everything that’s happening right now is bad or depressing.

Doing any of the above does not mean that you should ignore the dangers of COVID-19. But if you keep a positive outlook and help those whom you can – all while practicing minimum health standards – you can reduce your stress and better manage your anxiety during these uncertain times.

Written by Jacq of Mindnation

Categories
Featured Get Inspired

4 Ways You Can Help Out During the COVID-19 Pandemic

4 ways you can help out during the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteering can be one of the most productive and meaningful experiences of your life; why not use this time to start doing it?  

Volunteering is defined as an activity where an individual or organization freely gives time to benefit another person or group without expecting anything in return. Apart from being able to help others, volunteers experience the added bonus of improved mental health – numerous research has shown that acts of selflessness lead to lower rates of depression, increased life satisfaction, and reduced stress levels. 

If you find yourself with extra time on your hands because the pandemic has curtailed your usual activities, consider using it to volunteer. Most of the suggestions below can even be done in the comfort and safety of your home. 

  • Make masks and face shields. Personal protective equipment for the face are easy to make, don’t take up a lot of time, and the raw materials are inexpensive. There are also many video tutorials available online. You can donate the finished products to the nearest healthcare facility, or to members of other vulnerable sectors (i.e. supermarket employees, garbage collectors, security guards, etc).
  • Cook and/or deliver meals to those who need them. You don’t have to be a culinary genius to come up with food that is nutritious and filling. Even a simple pasta dish will be appreciated by medical frontliners, your senior citizen neighbors, or the blue-collar workers in your community whose earnings have been affected by the pandemic.
  • Run errands for immunocompromised or senior citizen neighbors. Many people who cannot leave the house do not just need food – they may also need someone to buy them their toiletries, medicines, and other household needs. On your designated grocery day, simply knock on doors and ask if anyone needs anything, so that you can purchase everything in one go.
  • Teach senior citizens to use technology. If you are living with people who are not tech savvy, use the time to educate them on videoconferencing apps, mobile banking, or ordering online. This will make them feel less helpless and can even take some of the burden off you (i.e. you don’t have to run as much errands for them anymore since they can now do things online by themselves). A bonus – nothing feels better than seeing a grandparent’s eyes light up after finally being able to interact with a grandchild she has not seen in months.

There are many opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life, even during a lockdown situation. Just remember that when volunteering during the pandemic, always take the necessary precautions to keep yourself and others safe. Wear masks, practice social distancing, and wash hands frequently.