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Employee Wellness

Eric Santillan: 7 Simple Ways Managers Can Reduce Workplace Stress

Eric Santillan’s road to psychology, counseling, and organizational development started — of all places — when he was studying to be a Jesuit priest in the early 2000s. “Jesuit formation is very psycho-spiritual,” he explains. So apart from studying theology, he also trained as a career and marriage counselor, moderated student organizations in the university, and even designed curriculums for schools. In 2006, he left theology school to become a full-time psychologist and counselor.

Today, Eric is a member of the MindNation Scientific Board, a relationship counselor, and a productivity and Organizational Development consultant. “As an OD consultant, organizations come to me when they have issues and problems and need clarity,” he explains. “And then I use organizational and management tools to help their people thrive and reach their full potential.”

Stress during the COVID-19 pandemic
One of things Eric realized in his 22-year career as an OD consultant was that big problems stem from minor irritations. “Little stresses build up over time and if they are not addressed, they blow up,” he shares.

An example would be the issue of workplace stress. A MindNation Pulse Survey of more than 6,000 full-time employees in the Philippines taken from September 2020 to April 2021 revealed that 61% of respondents are feeling stressed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eric clarifies, however, that the pandemic did not cause this spike in stress; rather, it simply magnified stressful situations that would — pre-pandemic — have otherwise been just considered to be inconveniences. “People already had mental health challenges before the pandemic; the pandemic just highlighted them and made them very real,” he explains. Some examples of these stressful situations:

  1. Bad management practices. Employees were already dealing with long working hours, heavy workload, job insecurity, and conflicts with co-workers or bosses long before the pandemic, but they have become more overwhelming now due to pandemic-related stressors like work-life imbalance, isolation, managing fears about the COVID-19 virus, and financial insecurity.
  2. Limited physical and psychological space. Prior to the pandemic, parents could take a breather from child-care duties and other household responsibilities by sending their kids to school or just leaving the house for some “me-time” at a nearby coffee shop. But school closures and social distancing policies now meant that people are stuck at home 24/7 with little to no reprieve.
  3. Missing support systems. “Deaths in the family and becoming a new parent are stressful transitions, and the pandemic has erased whatever support we would normally get during these major life changes,” Eric points out. Mourning rituals have been shortened, grandparents can no longer visit to help babysit — the people most affected by these transitions have no choice but to struggle on their own. 


How stress affects work
If left unaddressed, stress can contribute to decreased organizational performance, decreased employee overall performance, high error rate and poor quality of work, high staff turnover, and absenteeism due to physical and mental health problems.

As a manager, it is therefore important to take steps to ensure that employees are not subjected to unnecessary stress. “For a business to thrive, all elements have to be operating at their peak. So in the same way that you conduct preventive maintenance on your machines to make sure they are always running 100%, so should you have a program in place that makes sure your people are always at their best,” Eric says.

How to reduce workplace stress
While managers and leaders cannot address all the stresses that a team member is struggling with in their personal lives, there some things that they can do to make the workplace less stressful:

  1. Ask yourself: ‘Am I the source of stress?’ It’s possible you are inadvertently causing your employees stress, so be open to feedback about your leadership style. Another way to find out is to check the turnover rate in your department. “In teaching, there is a concept called ‘student factor’ or ‘teacher factor,’” Eric relates. “When one or two students fail in a class,that’s probably a student factor; but if 10 or 15 people flunk, then that’s a red flag, it’s a sign that there is probably an issue with the teacher. So it’s the same with workplace turnover– is it an employee factor or a manager factor? In some companies I have worked with, managers get sent for retraining if a certain number of people resign over a certain amount of time.”
  2. Get to know your team. Take into account the personal lives of employees and recognise that the demands of home will sometimes clash with the demands of work. “Letting your team know that they are not just workers, but that they’re recognized as individuals, goes a long way,” Eric says.
  3. Praise in public, correct in private. This simply means that when you have something positive to say about a team member, make sure others are aware of the praise; but if you are issuing a correction or reprimand, handle it one-on-one. Praising in public pumps up the self-esteem of the team member, while handing out negative feedback privately ensures that the employee is not publicly shamed in front of his or her peers. The latter creates stress and resentment, and damages morale.
  1. Mess creates stress. Disorganization contributes to stress, so always be clear when relaying instructions, Make sure that everyone is properly trained for their job, and encourage an environment where employees can openly raise concerns about their duties and workload.
  2. Try to celebrate small wins. Don’t wait for a project to end so you can celebrate; instead, break up the projects into milestones, and give positive feedback when people do a good job. “A company I know gives a small fund to each department, so that team members can treat themselves whenever they feel there is a cause for celebration,” Eric shares.
  3. Practice what you preach. “Don’t say anything that you will not do yourself,” Eric cautions. So model work-life balance and stress management techniques so that employees down the line will follow suit.
  1. Partner with a mental health and well-being company that addresses mental health challenges holistically. This means working with an Employee Assistance Program provider that addresses all dimensions of an employee’s well-being — physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and cultural — because you cannot have one without the other. 

And if you do already have an Employee Assistance Program in place, don’t rely on it to be the cure-all for all your team’s well-being concerns. “Addressing workplace stress is not just the work of the EAP partner,” Eric shares. “It should be part of the organization’s culture.” This means normalizing the conversation about mental health in everyday interactions, granting paid mental health leaves, or even giving special mental health assistance to employees being groomed for leadership roles so they do not feel overwhelmed or stressed. “This way, the mental health program becomes holistic and robust, not just something offered on the side,” he adds.

“Workplace stress is a management issue,”

Eric Santillan

“Workplace stress is a management issue,” Eric concludes. A great manager is aware of their team member’s stress levels and takes proactive steps to reduce stress in the workplace. By reducing workplace stress, you not only improve the lives of your team members, you create an environment where they enjoy coming to work each day and become more productive. 


MindNation is a mental health and well-being company that uses a data-based approach to create proactive, customized, holistic health programs for your employees. Partner with us to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Visit www.themindnation.com now!

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Employee Wellness

Josh Alfafara: 5 Leadership Lessons I Learned During The Pandemic

When premium flexible workplace provider The Executive Centre launched its flagship office in Makati, Philippines last June 2021, Country Manager Josh Alfafara knew he had his work cut out for him. “Leading a new business in the middle of a pandemic was challenging, to say the least,” he recalls. “Everyone was asking why we were selling office spaces at a time when everyone is working from home. But I said ‘Why not?’ I felt that this was the best time to do so because people are now looking for flexible ways of working.” 

This mindset has helped Josh and his team ensure that TEC Philippines remains top of mind for small and medium enterprises and multinational companies looking for a truly first-class flexible workplace solution within prime locations and prestigious office addresses. “We differentiate ourselves from our competitors in the service aspect that we give to our members,” he explains. “Even when the government imposed a strict lockdown, we never stopped communicating with our members, addressing their needs, and letting them know that we are available for them all the time.” 

“I don’t tell my team ‘You do this, you do that;’ instead I ask them ‘Where can I help?’ ‘What can WE do?’ And if my team member is not delivering, it’s on me. Where did I lack in terms of giving support or in providing resources?” 

Josh Alfafara, The Executive Centre Country Manager

Here are five leadership lessons that Josh has learned as he continues to lead his company and his team through the pandemic:

  1. Be flexible in your approach. “We can no longer go around publishing pictures of office spaces because no one wants to spend any money,” Josh points out. “So instead of being salespeople, we positioned ourselves as consultants of workplace strategy. We asked clients ‘What do you need at the moment? You have 2,000 square meters of office space that no one is using? Ok, that’s something we may be able to help you with.’” By building that trust and giving their expert advice on flexible workspaces, TEC was able to build loyalty with their clientele. 
  1. Servant-leadership is the key. Josh built his team in the middle of the pandemic, and while it felt good to be able to provide people with work, he also understands that it can be demotivating for them to market something when everyone is hiding at home. “As a leader, my role is to bring out the best in my team so they can do what they need to,” he shares. “I don’t tell my team ‘You do this, you do that;’ instead I ask them ‘Where can I help?’ ‘What can WE do?’ And if my team member is not delivering, it’s on me. Where did I lack in terms of giving support or in providing resources?” 
  1. Be transparent in communications. Josh has frequent and structured one-on-one conversations with his direct reports to align on goals and expectations. “As an employee, nothing is worse than thinking you are doing great but finding out at the end of the year during the performance review that you’re terrible at your job,” he says. “So it’s important that I meet them regularly to find out what they are lacking in, or what training they require.”
  1. Employee well-being drives results. To a certain extent, Josh does not believe in keeping work life separate from personal life. “People are people, and they have feelings and mental health. You can’t expect them to have mental health for home and a separate mental health for work,” he explains. He makes sure he has an open-door policy where people can just talk to him if they are struggling, not just with work but even in their personal lives. “When I talk to my team, I ask them how things are at home without getting too personal, and I believe that showing them this genuine care has helped them perform better at their job.”

This importance to employee well-being is what pushed TEC to partner with MindNation. “I believe that all businesses should have a mental health program in place. Leaders should treat it as an investment in their people because at the end of the day when you take care of your people, they take care of the business, which drives results. It’s hitting many birds with one stone and it’s absolutely necessary,” Josh says. 

He recalls that during the early days of his career, mental health was not a priority; people had to pretend to be sick to take time off. “But for me, if a team member is struggling today, I’d rather they let me know right away so that they can take whatever break they need and come back stronger tomorrow, instead of dragging their feet and dragging the rest of the business down,” he says. 

  1. Self-care is not selfish. Leading a business during a pandemic can be physically and emotionally draining. As someone who admittedly experiences anxiety, Josh makes sure he prioritizes his mental health as well. “I make sure I set limits as to when I check my phone and my work email. One of my favorite things to do is listening to a guided meditation app,” he shares. “I also make sure I have people can talk to, including a coach that I consult with on a regular basis, where I become the most vulnerable and let it all out.” 

Lastly, Josh makes sure his team members know all about his self-care habits so that they follow suit and take care of themselves as well.

Josh’s professional goals for the year include seeing TEC Philippines finally take off, perhaps even expanding to another site within the country. “Business is doing very well although it’s not where we want it to be because of the pandemic and the new spate of lockdowns,” he admits. “But we are doing what we can and I always encourage my team to have patience; we’ve done it before, we’ll get through this again.”

However, he is mindful that the company’s success should never come at the expense of the team’s well-being. “Now more than ever, leaders have to be available for the team and not leave them out in the dark,” he says. “If you are present with your team, they can help you make the business succeed.” 

Happier and healthier employees are productive employees. Partner with MindNation to provide your team with a well-being that is holistic, data-driven, and customized for your needs. Visit www.themindnation.com or email [email protected] to know more. 

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Featured

Transcom partners with MindNation for happier, healthier employees

Transcom Worldwide Philippines, Inc. is a global customer experience specialist  providing customer care, sales, technical support, and credit management services. 

MindNation sat down with Aldrin Carlos, Transcom Asia Director of Employee Engagement and Communication, to talk about how a personalized, holistic mental health program has benefited Transcom’s 9,000+ employees and how they plan to do more in the future.

Q: Why is mental health important to Transcom? 

ALDRIN: Even before the pandemic, our CEO, Mark Lyndsell, recognized the need to set up a program that would cater to our people’s mental health. Mental health is an essential part of a person’s overall well-being and we simply cannot expect people to compartmentalize themselves when they are at work and bring with them their joys, tears, hopes, and fears for themselves and the people dearest to them. 

We also recognize that mental health is a taboo subject, especially in the Philippines, and people didn’t want to talk about.  The company felt that we should provide an environment where people’s concerns can be addressed.

Q: What were the factors that influenced your decision to make it a priority, or was there something specific that triggered it?

ALDRIN: We stepped up our mental health program when a lot of our folks started showing signs of anxiety due to the [COVID-19] pandemic. At the onset of the lockdown, there were people whose jobs were affected due to the reduced working capacity onsite.  There were also concerns about job security, coping with transitions, worries for their families, etc. True to our core value of Malasakit (“concern”), the company started looking for a reliable partner to help develop a robust mental health program.

Q: How did upper management react to this plan? 

ALDRIN: Our senior leadership team actively led the implementation of this initiative. Mental health was a subject in every sitrep meeting, and the members never ceased to ask if HR had already chosen a partner or what alternatives were available to ensure that people’s mental health are supported.

“A mental health program, more than just a good people investment, is a concrete manifestation of genuine care to employees and their overall well-being.”

Aldrin Carlos, Transcom’s Director of Employee Engagement and Communication

Q: What were the primary objectives and the initial steps to building a mental health program within the company?

ALDRIN: The primary objective was to provide help to anyone in the company. Similar to how we offer financial assistance through our Transcom Cares program or 24/7 medical assistance through our HMO partner, we also sought to make mental health assistance readily available for our employees. We started with simple, free hotline numbers that employees may contact, but we thought that a better way to do this meaningfully was through a partner who can offer an array of services.

Q: How did you find out about MindNation? How were they able to help?

ALDRIN: We were receiving different offers from various mental health program providers and chanced upon a meeting with Daph Bajas [of MindNation]. We expressed our needs in terms of the assistance we wanted to give to our employees and Daph came back to us with proposals on how these can be addressed. He crafted a package that gave us a free webinar for every 30 psychologists booked each month, although I believe he owes me 2 webinars per month now because we are currently booking 60 or more sessions per month. Right, Daph? 

These monthly webinars, the ‘unlimited’ social conversations, and the psychologist bookings were all that we needed initially. Eventually, we reached out for more services like small group sessions, psychological first aid sessions for leaders, Monday Energy Boosters, and wind-down sessions.

Q: How did your employees react?

ALDRIN: The response from our employees was generally positive, and this can be attested by the number of attendees of the mental health webinars we initially conducted, the questions that they asked during these webinars, and the volume of people as well who reached out for 24/7 social conversations and psychological consultation bookings.

Inevitably, there were those who are still not receptive or comfortable with the idea of opening up to accompaniment. The partnership with MindNation, however, allows for different avenues to reach out to people – if not through the one-on-one interventions, at least through the virtual group activities or webinars. We’ve also explored ways to orient leaders about psychological first aid so they can extend basic accompaniment to their team members.

Q: What challenges have you encountered and how are you working to resolve them?

ALDRIN: The issue now is really more on how the webinars can reach our agents, most of whom just rely on free data to be able to connect to the internet. That is why we cannot simply broadcast through Zoom and have to use Facebook Live. But the challenge with FB Live is we cannot really determine how many of our employees tune in since it is open to the public.

It is also difficult to gather so many people in a common time slot, thus, the broadcast has to be recorded and replayed either through our official FB page itself or through our onsite plasma screens.

Q: In terms of the employees’ well-being: what differences have you seen since you brought in MindNation? Anything significant that you would like to share? 

ALDRIN: Among the leaders, there is now that sensitivity and greater awareness that they cannot just simply ignore the mental health concerns of their team members. Additionally, there is a clamor from them on how they can be of assistance as far as mental well-being is concerned.

We were expecting the number of bookings for psychologist consultations to go down but recent months are actually showing spikes. This could either be a sign of a real concern, especially since the pandemic is far from over, or it could be because there is now more awareness among the employees that help is available and they might as well avail of it.  It was also observed that there are new hires who are availing of the services.

MindNation runs Weekly Energizer boosts through the Transcom Asia Facebook Page for employees that want to kick-start their week

Q: On a personal note, what have YOU been doing to take care of your mental well-being? 

ALDRIN: I am able to draw mental fortitude and resilience so far from my faith, from being grateful for the blessings and gifts I have received despite the ongoing situation, from my family, friends, and my team. There’ve been a lot of stressors but so far I have managed to not allow myself to succumb to them. I am very conscious not to allow myself to be affected by negative thoughts.

I do have projects at home that are stress-relievers and give me some sense of fulfillment – minor repairs that require some creativity, construction of an additional nook in the house, etc. I am also lucky that my work allows me to be creative and use my talents.

There are good movies via online subscription – old and new – that I watch and enjoy with my wife and kid and there are, once in a while, books published by my own friends which bring a sense of pride, joy, and inspiration.

Gratitude also allows me to help others and helping others is so rewarding and beneficial to mental health.

Q: What is the one mental health advice or practice that you take to heart, and why? 

ALDRIN: To never let myself be overpowered by a concern or a problem because I am bigger than my problem, and if the problem proves to be much bigger, I have a loving family and supportive friends who will back me up. And if the problem is so huge, there is a Bigger Being that takes care of me and loves me unconditionally. Help is always available in ways human and divine.

Q: What is your advice to colleagues in the industry who are also considering mental health programs in the workforce? 

ALDRIN: A mental health program, more than just a good people investment, is a concrete manifestation of genuine care to employees and their overall well-being. Go for it.

Q: What is the company looking forward to with regards to mental health and well-being this 2021?

As we continue to support our employees in any way we can, we are also looking for ways to extend our program to their loved ones. We are grateful to our employees’ families and whenever possible, we want to integrate them in the benefits we offer.

If you want to create a mental health program for your organization, you can partner with MindNation and email [email protected].

Categories
Employee Wellness

10 Tips For Managing Difficult Conversations

Difficult conversations are inevitable in human life. You have to deliver bad news, call someone out for saying something offensive, or have opposing thoughts about polarizing issues. Most of us tend to shy away from engaging in tough dialogues because we are afraid the other party will get sad, mad, or — in the case of friends and loved ones — not want to be friends or love us anymore. But keeping quiet can lead to a build-up of resentment that will possibly boil over into an explosive confrontation the next time around, or result in improper behaviors remaining unchanged. 

“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 we 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.”

“Falling to engage in difficult conversations with loved ones does the relationship a disservice.”

Danah Gutierrez , Author and R&R.mp3 Podcast Host

For Danah Gutierrez, author and podcast host, falling to engage in difficult conversations with loved ones does the relationship a disservice. “You end up living in this illusion that everything is fine between the two of you, but it’s only fine on the surface. Deep down, something sinister is brewing, which is not good for the relationship.”

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. Don’t get into it if you are feeling angry. Never initiate a conversation when you are overly angry, frustrated, or resentful. “While it’s okay to feel emotions, you have to time it right,” points out Salma. “Once you calm down, you’re in a better position to initiate and engage in a conversation.”
  1. Don’t use text, email, or chat, video talk or face to face is better. “Never use emails, texts, or chats to engage in a difficult conversation because things can be lost in translation when written,” says Salma. “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.”
  1. Don’t point fingers, be sarcastic, or call them names. This is especially true when the other person’s words care are racist, homophobic, or misogynistic, thus inflaming our emotions. Call the person out politely and don’t be mean. “Empathize,” Danah advises. “Ask questions and find out why they feel that way. Maybe they were traumatized by a certain race, or those characteristics are the only things they see on tv.” Then respectfully counter these generalizations with your own experiences, such as telling them that you know people from this race who are not what they think them to be. 
  1. Let them share their perspective. When a loved one says or does something that does not sit well with you, ask questions first so you can find out where they are coming from. Danah recommends asking things like “How are you?” “What’s going on?” “I heard you say this, did I hear it correctly?” It’s possible the person only said those words in a moment of heightened emotions or because he or she was confused. 
  1. Use “I” statements. Statements like “From my perspective,” or “The way I see it…” or “I feel __ when you said ___” make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not making accusatory assumptions about the other person’s intentions or behavior. When the other party does not feel judged, emotions de-escalate and a proper conversation can ensue. 
  2. Don’t  lose focus.  If you find yourself facing a lot of resistance, and the person is veering into unrelated matters, Salma suggests a few statements to help get you back on track: 
  • “I understand where you are coming from, but right now we are talking about …”
  • “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.” 

“By doing this, 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. Agree to disagree. “In today’s society, there is so much polarization going on in the form of ‘If you believe this, we cant be friends,’ or ‘If you don’t agree with me, feel free to unfriend me on social media,’” points out Danah. “But when you start living in a bubble of like-minded people, you become out of touch with the reality that there will always be people who think differently than you. We don’t have to fear the people who oppose our views. Instead, offer to meet halfway, and know that you can both walk away from that conversation not hating each other.” 

Now, if the other person is insistent on his or her views, end the conversation politely but with affirmation. “‘I really love how passionate you are about this,’” Danah role-plays. “‘But I don’t want to argue with you, so let’s just agree to disagree.’”

  1. Create accountability. “When wrapping up the conversation related to work performance, make sure to put a deadline within which you want to see the behavior or results changed/improved,” suggests Salma. “Ask them to book it in your calendar so you can reconvene and assess progress. That will ensure they remain accountable to the changes you have requested.”
  1. Don’t expect to change their minds. “Everyone is entitled to their opinion and at the end of the day, it’s not our job to fix other people’s way of thinking,” Danah says. “Always go back to the relationship; know that the two of you can be extremely different but still love and respect each other. Instead of cutting them off from your life because of differing opinions, use these difficult conversations as an opportunity to practice empathy, patience, and emotional intelligence.”
  1. Do set boundaries for future encounters. Anytime a difficult conversation with a loved one feels overwhelming, know that it’s okay to take a step back for your own mental and emotional health. “Some people can be tolerated only in small doses and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Danah points out. 


It is possible to transform difficult conversations into constructive exchanges. We may not be able to control how others think and react, but we can control our own emotions, thoughts, and responses so that the relationship 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. If you want us to conduct this training for your team, email us at [email protected]

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

5 Ways Managers Can Care For Their Mental Health

Take care of your wellbeing first so that you can provide care and support for your team members and subordinates

Work is inherently stressful, but working in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought on unprecedented pressures in the workplace. 

“Uncertainty breeds anxiety, and we are living in uncertain times. Between rising numbers of Covid-19 cases, questions about whether or not to reopen economies and businesses, unprecedented months-long lockdown measures, and the economic fallout of the pandemic, we don’t know what will come next. And that’s taking a toll on our mental health, including at work,” says Monique Ong, founder of MindNation, a mental health and wellbeing company. 

It’s not just the rank-and-file who are feeling the strain; even workplace leaders are bearing the brunt of isolation, loss of work-home boundaries, and work overload that leads to mental health concerns like depression and anxiety. This is concerning because according to a 2015 article by Canadian Business, “even sub-clinical levels of depression are enough to detract from transformational leadership.” The article adds: “The negative effects on leadership go further: Both sub-clinical levels of depression and anxiety are linked with higher levels of abusive supervision.” 

If you are an executive or manager, it’s important that you take care of your mental health first, not just because it affects your leadership but also because it sets the tone for the rest of the team’s wellbeing. “It’s much like the rule in an airplane about putting in your own oxygen mask first before assisting others; you have to take care of yourself so you can do the same for everyone else,” says Monique. 

Here are some ways you can improve your mental health: 

  1. Know the difference between the things you can control and those that you cannot. “When you focus too much on what you can’t control (i.e. difficult co-workers or the neverending piles of paperwork) you take energy and attention away from the things that you CAN control (i.e. how you respond to the co-worker or how you manage your time),” points out Monique. “This makes us less effective and potentially leads to the outcomes we fear the most, such as arguments with the colleague or not achieving work-life balance.”

So the next time you find yourself worrying or feeling uncertain about a particular area of your life, try using the questions below to clarify where you have control, where you don’t, and how to focus on what matters: 

  1. Think of an ongoing unresolved situation in your life. Write a brief outline of the facts and why it feels unresolved for you.
  2.  What can you control in this situation? Make a list.
  3. What can’t you control in this situation? Make a list.
  4. Be honest with yourself — on which of the above things are you spending most of your energy and attention right now?
  5. How can you focus more on the things you can control? What would that look like?

“Once you know that you are doing as much as you reasonably can to create a healthy happy space in your mind, the more at peace you will feel about all the variables outside of your control,” says Monique. “This does not mean that you are free from nerves or anxiety, but that input and effort can give you deeper self-trust and veer away from feelings of hopelessness and anxiety.” 

2. Reframe your thinking. This means identifying your negative and unhelpful thoughts and replacing them with more positive or adaptive ones.Examples of negative thoughts include:

  1. Limiting beliefs, i.e. “I am not good enough to head this project”
  2. When you wish that something acceptable were better a.k.a the fear of missing out “

The next time a negative thought enters your head, replace them with positive ones by:

  1. Using milder wording. “I hate that guy” will only make your anger worsen; “I’m not a fan of that guy” sounds better.
  2. Ask yourself ‘What can I learn from this?’” This way, every obstacle becomes a learning opportunity.

3. Practice self-compassion. This means being understanding towards yourself during times that you feel inadequate, unsuccessful, or are suffering. Instead of beating yourself up with self-criticism, treat yourself gently and recognize that you are only human. “Nobody is perfect; all humans suffer and make mistakes, so self-compassion means recognizing that problems and trials are things that everyone in the world goes through and not just you alone,” says Monique.

4. Prioritize self-care. Focus on yourself and do activities that nurture your physical, mental, and emotional health. “It seems easy and simple, but it’s the first thing that people forget about when they become busy,” reminds Minique. “Practicing proper self-care habits will keep you from reaching the point of exhaustion, helping you function normally under stress, and refocus to help you perform better.”

5. Seek help. “The truth is we’re all going to struggle at some point. We’re going to have moments when we can’t find the strength to stand, or when we just can’t do it alone. And in those moments are when we have to know that it’s okay to lean on others. It’s okay to seek assistance and love outside of ourselves,” says Monique. “Strength does not always have to come from your body. It can come from surrounding yourself with people who love you, and from people and resources outside of your expertise.” If you are feeling anxious and overwhelmed, a good place to start to get help would be MindNation’s 24/7 chat helpline, which is available for FREE on FB Messenger. All conversations are kept secure and confidential, and the staff is trained to ease anxieties. 

Stay Afloat!

By taking care of your own mental health, you become a more effective, empathetic, and perceptive leader and by extension create happier, healthier, and more productive teams. 

Fore more information about MindNation’s products and services, visit www.themindnation.com

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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

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

Categories
Employee Wellness Financial Wellness Get Inspired Work in the New Normal

8 Ways to Improve Employee Loyalty

These days business success is no longer achieved by just hiring the best employees — you need to be able to retain them as well.

Employees are considered loyal if they are devoted to the success of their organization and believe that being an employee of this organization is in their best interest. Not only do they plan to remain with the organization, but they do not actively seek for alternative employment opportunities.

Loyalty benefits a business because a low employee turnover rate positively impacts morale, productivity, and even company revenue. This is because everytime you lose an employee, you need to spend time and money replacing and training someone else. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, a professional human resources membership association based in the United States, the average replacement cost of a salaried employee is equivalent to six to nine months’ salary. So for an employee earning USD60,000 per year, for example, that totals approximately USD30,000 to USD45,000 in recruiting and training expenses, including but not limited to:

  • Hiring costs: advertising, interviewing, screening, and hiring
  • On-boarding costs: training and management time
  • Lost productivity: new employees may take one to two years to achieve the productivity level of the exiting employee
  • Customer service and errors: new employees are often slower in their work completion and less adept at solving problems in the initial stages of employment

Clearly, instilling loyalty in your employees is worth it. So how can you make sure that your top talent stays happy, motivated, and devoted to your company? Here are some ways:

  1. Keep communication lines open. Never assume how your employees are feeling. Create a high feedback environment in which employees feel that their opinions are valued. 
  2. Invest in professional development. Provide staff with training, education, and meaningful work, as well as an opportunity for advancement within the organization in terms of pay, recognition, and responsibility.
  3. Give employees more control. When employees are micromanaged, they feel distrusted and have low self-esteem. On the other hand, companies that have employees who are engaged — meaning they make decisions rather than simply follow orders, experience lower turnover rate. The easiest way to increase employee engagement is to have them set their own working hours and decide whether and when to work remotely.   
  4. Clearly communicate policies. Expectations should be communicated through an employee handbook, and policies should be consistently enforced.
  5. Do not tolerate abuse or infractions committed by staff. Do not expect employees to feel happy or loyal to the company if management tolerates co-workers who make the workplace miserable to everyone else. These team members greatly increase stress (and therefore turnover) even among those who aren’t immediate victims. So have policies in place to discipline errant staff, and immediately  transfer or terminate those who display unwillingness to change their behavior.  
  6. Understand why employees leave. Conduct exit interviews and consult online reviews to learn what former and current employees are saying about the company, as information an employee shares online may be information they did not feel comfortable addressing during their employment or in the context of an exit interview.
  7. Provide competitive compensation and benefits. Offer competitive pay, meaning the salaries are “at market” or above. If you can’t provide that, make up for it by being generous in other categories, such as healthcare benefits (physical and mental), paid time off, and retirement savings plans.
  8. Improve company culture. This is defined as the interaction between management and employees and the personal interaction between employees — in short, how well everyone in the company gets along. As a manager, it is your responsibility to keep your finger on the pulse of the company’s culture by constantly going through the strategies listed above and finding ways to create an environment that is free from discrimination and stigma and supportive of one’s overall well-being. 

You don’t have to implement all the above practices art once. Start with small good behaviors and work up from there. Loyalty is not built overnight — rather, employees gradually respond to changes in behavior, management style, and company performance. Every little positive action, every improvement, every appropriate response to a challenge adds up.  So take stock of where you’re at, where you want to be, and how you plan to get there, then act. 

For more information on how to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams, visit www.themindnation.com

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before leaving the office:

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

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

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

Outside of work: 

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

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

–Written by Jac of MindNation

Categories
Featured Get Inspired Mental Health 101

4 Psychological Benefits of Family Meals

Family mealtimes are not just for rest and sustenance; research has shown that when families eat together, the members reap gains that go beyond better physical health.

Below are 4 research-backed reasons why eating together as a family can contribute to improved mental and emotional well-being:

1. Children tend to be happier.

Because eating together improves parent-child relationships, children feel more stable, secure, and are less inclined to engage in risky behavior like suicide and unsafe sex practices. They are also less likely to have mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. The same is true for adults — studies show that mothers who ate with their families often were also found to be happier and less stressed compared to mothers who did not.

2. It’s easier for parents to monitor and protect the kids from bullying.

Bullying and cyber-bullying have become ever present threats to school-going children. Although parents can do little to avoid bullying from ever occurring, conversing over meals can help them find out if their child is being bullied and help him respond to the situation.

3. Children do better academically.

Scientists have found that when parents converse with their children during mealtimes, the child will have a better vocabulary than children whose parents don’t have a sit down meal with them. Children also seem to score academically better on an average when they eat regularly with the parents – possibly since mealtimes are a great opportunity for parents to discuss projects, identify weak spots, and encourage strengths in the child’s academic progress

4. Better parent-child relationships.

Parents and children who eat regular family dinners seem to share a better relationship. They are more honest and open with each other, and the parents are more likely to know what is happening in the child’s life. Studies also show that children from families who eat together regularly felt that they could share their problem with their parents and turn to them for advice and support. On the other hand, teens from families that did not eat together regularly were more likely to feel isolated from their parents.

When eating together:

  • Focus on enjoying each other’s company, not on what or how much each child is eating.
  • Keep conversations positive. Encourage children to talk about their day. This helps to develop more communication between family members.
  • Schedule difficult or disciplinary conversations for some time other than meals.
  • Turn off distractions like the TV, computer, tablets and phones during mealtimes. Keep toys and books off the table.

Family mealtimes provide parents and children a great opportunity to socialize, relax, and improve their mental health. If conflicting schedules do not allow for everyone to be together in the evening, then schedule family meals at breakfast or lunch; just pick a time when everyone can be together in a relaxed setting, and do it regularly.

We can all help prevent suicide. If you or a loved one is in distress, MindNation connects 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