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

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

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

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

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

  1. Take note of the timing

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

  1. Start off on a positive note. 

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

  1. Ask and listen before reacting. 

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

  1. Rephrase the disagreement in the form of a suggestion

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

  1. Respect the final decision. 

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

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

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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

10 Tips For Handling Difficult Conversations At Work

How to manage contentious exchanges at work without making things worse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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

10 Signs Your Company Has A Healthy Workplace Culture

Healthy workplaces tend to exhibit a common set of traits that foster excellence, productivity, and camaraderie.

Mentally healthy workers are happier, more productive, and more loyal. As a manager, you must make sure that your company has policies and practices that support a culture of growth, employee engagement, and prevention of mental illness. Does yours fit the bill? Below are 10 characteristics of a workplace that prioritizes wellness:

1. Relaxed and productive atmosphere

People enjoy going to work and do not feel stressed or afraid. They do not have to worry about being bullied, harassed, or intimidated by co-workers. Managers encourage them to be creative and think outside the box. 

2. Staff that’s committed to excellence.

Because employees feel good about the company they work for, they stay focused and strive to deliver top-quality products and services. 

3. Low employee turnover.

If staff retention rate at the entry or mid-levels is somewhere around 10 percent, that signifies that the employees are satisfied and the company is doing something right. This is particularly true if they are in the retail, hospitality, or IT industry, where the turnover is traditionally high. 

3. Frequent, open, and honest communication across all levels. 

Senior managers have an open-door policy and juniors are welcome to voice their opinions without fear of reprisal. Ideas are frequently exchanged during meetings. Difficulties are resolved in positive ways. Feedback is viewed as an opportunity for growth and not taken negatively. 

4. Team members that cooperate, support, and empower each other.

Co-workers are close, loyal, and trust each other. They joke around a lot and laugh often. Everyone works smoothly together and does not engage in office politicking or backbiting. 

5. Diverse and inclusive. 

The workforce is composed of people of different backgrounds who are valued for their individual strengths and experiences. Employees feel that they belong but at the same time know that they are also unique among their peers. 

8. Flexible and innovative.
Employees are encouraged to find new and better ways of doing business, even if the old ways are just fine. Management is also brave enough to do away with policies that do not work. .

9. Positive reinforcement

People need acknowledgement, appreciation, and gratitude to be motivated. A positive company thanks employees regularly in the forms of rewards, bonuses, raises, promotions, and certificates of achievement.

10. Emphasis on health, happiness, and well-being

The company trusts the employees enough to allow them to work on a flexible schedule so that they can lead more fulfilling personal lives without sacrificing work commitments. And when team members face challenges such as accidents, illnesses, or personal tragedies, everyone goes the extra mile and treats them with understanding, compassion, and respect.

Job stress cannot be avoided, but a healthy workplace culture can make the stressful atmosphere easier to manage and yield positive outcomes like lower employee turnover rates, reduced absenteeism, and increased productivity. Regularly ask for feedback on how your workplace could be improved, and remember to deal with problems as soon as they occur.


If you need help creating a mental health and well-being program for your company, MindNation is an innovative mental health and wellbeing company that partners with like-minded organizations to build healthier, happier, and more productive teams. Its program is based on an individual’s holistic dimensions of wellness to ensure that services provided suit his or her unique requirements and objectives. Email them at [email protected] to learn more about their products and services.

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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

6 Ways To Support Employees With Mental Health Problems

As mental health in the workplace becomes an increasing priority, business leaders must do more to care for their staff

Despite an increased awareness of mental health issues, many employees still struggle in silence because they either do not know where to go for help or they fear that they will encounter stigma and discrimination at work.

This lack of action can have serious implications for any organization’s bottom line. According to the World Health Organization, the estimated cost of depression and anxiety to the global economy is US$ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity. On the other hand, workplaces that promote mental health and support people with mental disorders are more likely to reduce absenteeism, increase productivity, and benefit from associated economic gains.

So how can business leaders manage and support their employees with mental health concerns? Below are some ways: 

  1. Make mental health training mandatory for managers and supervisors. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine revealed that of the 2,921 managers who had access to mental health training in their workplaces, all displayed an improved understanding of mental health overall, with half  reviewing the responsibilities of their staff in an effort to prevent possible mental health issues and 57% of them starting discussions with their employees to improve their understanding of anxiety and depression.
    Managers are in the perfect position to help colleagues in the workplace because they are the ones who have a better understanding of an employee’s day-to-day well-being and can provide a direct line for inquiries and support. Note that training does not mean instructing team leaders to diagnose and treat mental health concerns; instead, it’s teaching them what to do if they see signs and symptoms of emotional distress in their juniors, including how to obtain help.
  2. Support employees through listening rather than telling. The most meaningful and helpful way to fight the stigma of mental illness is to encourage all members of staff to be willing to listen when a colleague is talking about their experiences — and to listen with empathy. According to Rob Stephenson,  founder of InsideOut, a social enterprise working to end the stigma of mental ill-health in the workplace — “We don’t need to understand every condition, or every person, to be good, human listeners. We just need to become better active listeners in the workplace, so we can say ‘OK, I can see you’re struggling here, let’s have a…chat and you can tell me about it.”
  3. Establish an employee assistance program (EAP) and encourage employees to use it. While many companies use an EAP to support workplace mental health, a 2017 study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information revealed that only 1%-5% of employees of a company avail of the benefits of an EAP due to stigma, shame, and concerns about confidentiality.
    Here are some things you can do to assuage their fears:
  • Communicate — during onboarding sessions and through visuals or email reminders — what EAP services are available and how these can help employees respond to personal or work issues. Emphasize that the services are confidential and free of charge. 
  • Provide direct access to mental health professionals via phone, email, or chat. This allows an extra layer of comfort and privacy.
  1. Use communication to reduce stigma and increase access to mental health resources. Don’t wait until Mental Health Awareness Month (May) or Suicide Prevention Month (September) to talk about mental health, EAP benefits, and other resources. 
  • Promote them frequently, such as in monthly newsletters, weekly departmental meetings, or even in casual virtual catch-ups. 
  • Ensure that your executives mention emotional well-being every time they talk about recruiting talent and building an inclusive culture that helps employees bring their best selves.
  • Offer webinars so employees can learn more about mental health and resilience.
  1. Promote holistic well-being. Mental health is more than just one’s state of mind; it involves several factors, including physical, social, emotional, and cultural wellness. Business leaders therefore need to integrate all aspects of this by:
  • Building as much flexibility as possible into all employees’ schedules so that they have opportunities for work-life balance. A 2019 survey conducted by UK-based event management company Wildgoose discovered that 39 per cent of those who worked flexibly had benefited from better mental health and increased productivity.
  • Promoting or offering access to apps that can help with stress reduction, sleep, and meditation such as Headspace or Calm. 
  • Offering fitness center memberships, subsidies or reimbursements for fitness classes. Ultimate Kronos Group, an American multinational technology company, set up virtual fitness classes for employees and their children in the middle of 2020 and even held a competitive company-wide step challenge in October.
  • Encouraging employees to use their vacation time, such as by limiting the amount of vacation employees can carry over into the next year
  • Providing accommodations and developing a return-to-work process so that employees who need to take a leave of absence because of a mental health issue feel supported when they come back. An example would be letting the returning employee resume work step-by-step, gradually increasing work hours and task complexity until the symptoms of the mental health concern have subsided.
  1. Make work interesting, social, and fun. Create opportunities for employees to build connections with each other, such as through virtual social events and electronic message boards. When team members have strong positive relationships at work and  are able to tell their co-workers and managers what they struggle with and how they can best be supported, it opens communication and smooths out many misunderstandings, paving the way for higher productivity. 

It is an employer’s responsibility to create a workplace where people feel they can be open and supported. Helping employees who are unwilling to talk about their struggles is a daunting task, so it might be a good idea to partner with a mental health and well-being company to help you craft a mental health program for your workplace. MindNation (www.themindnation.com) is a one-stop shop for all your well-being needs. Their program is based on an individual’s holistic dimensions of wellness to ensure that services provided suit his or her unique requirements and objectives. Email them at [email protected] to learn more about their products and services. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

Categories
Featured Get Inspired Mental Health 101

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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

8 Ways To Improve Diversity And Inclusion In Your Workplace

A diverse and inclusive team positively impacts creativity, innovation, and the company’s bottomline 

Workplace diversity refers to a company that employs people of varying characteristics, such as gender, age, religion, race, ethnicity, cultural background, sexual orientation, languages, education, abilities, etc. Such a team brings diverse viewpoints and perspectives to the organization, all of which can help you develop great new products or services and ways to cater to customers. 

A diverse workforce has many direct and tangible benefits, such as:

  • Higher revenue. Companies that have more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue.
  • More innovation. Inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market.
  • Better decision-making. When diverse teams made a business decision, they outperformed individual decision-makers up to 87% of the time.
  • Higher rates of job acceptance. 67% of job seekers said a diverse workforce is important when considering job offers.
  • Better performance than competitors. Racially and ethnically diverse companies outperform industry norms by 35%.

Hiring a diverse team, however, is just the first step to success. The next thing to do is to create an inclusive culture, one where people from all backgrounds feel welcome. Inclusivity can contribute fully to the organization’s success, and is the key to maintaining diversity in the workplace. 

Below are ways you can support inclusion and diversity in your workplace: 

  1. Make sure your management team models diversity and inclusion. The makeup of your top executives speaks volumes about your culture and sends a strong message not just to your employees but also to customers, partners, and shareholders . Are men and women equally represented? What about people from various cultural and religious backgrounds?
  1. Observe diverse traditions, celebrations, and holidays from other cultures. The easiest and most fun way to do this would be to create a culturally diverse holiday calendar in the office. Encourage your colleagues to get involved and find appropriate ways to celebrate these different traditions. It can be wonderful for team-building and a great way for colleagues at different levels of the organization to connect. 

When larger organized celebrations are not practical, make it a point to personally acknowledge a significant religious or cultural holiday. Even just sending a greeting via email can mean a lot to a colleague especially if he or she is far from home. 

Apart from celebrations, be sensitive to your colleagues’ cultural or religious practices. For example, avoid scheduling client lunches during a time of fasting or holding meetings during a time of prayer.

  1. Foster diverse thinking. This is important because different people from different backgrounds and generations sometimes have vastly different perspectives on all sorts of issues, from how they compose an email to how they receive feedback during employee reviews. Make sure that team members cultivate their empathetic skills, so that they are able to understand how other people at the company think.
  1. Strengthen anti-discriminatory policies. Explicitly prohibit offensive behavior (e.g. derogatory comments towards colleagues of a specific gender or ethnicity), and reprimand, demote, or terminate offenders depending on the severity of their act. By protecting your employees from offensive and harmful behaviors, you promote a positive and inclusive work environment. 
  1. Be aware of unconscious bias in the evaluation process and promotion opportunities.

Some ways to do this include: 

  • Rewriting job descriptions so they are gender neutral and use words that strike a balance of gendered descriptors and verbs
  • Creating a blind system of reviewing resumes so you don’t see demographic characteristics
  • Setting diversity goals as an organization, so that you can keep track of your progress.
  1. Segment employee engagement surveys by minority groups. An annual pulse survey is common among companies, but many neglect to segment that data according to gender, generation, ethnicity, etc. By only looking at total numbers, you might miss the whole picture and an opportunity to identify issues pertaining to those groups.
  2. Have an open-door policy. One of the best ways to learn what employees care about is one-on-one talks with their manager. In order for these discussions to truly be effective, managers must have an “open door” policy so that workers feel comfortable in speaking their mind honestly and openly.
  3. Offer diversity and inclusion training. This helps employees understand how cultural differences can impact how people work, and interact at work. It can cover anything from concepts of time and communication styles to self-identity and dealing with conflict. 

Promoting inclusiveness and diversity within your workplace is one of the best ways to foster an open-minded, global company culture. Not only does this make good business sense—helping your company to better understand colleagues, clients, and customers around the world—it also makes the workplace a more interesting and personally enriching environment for everyone.

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

Categories
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

Categories
Mental Health 101

5 Ways To Help Teens Find Their Passion And Purpose In Life

New year, new goals — how are your teenagers doing in this area? Perhaps it’s time to nudge them into thinking about what they want to do with their lives, i.e. finding their purpose. Do they want to be professional athletes? Social media influencers? Or do they simply want to raise a good family? Or spend their lives volunteering? Whatever the scale, it is important for people to have a life purpose because studies have shown that it will make their lives meaningful and — by extension– happier.

There is no rule that says teenagers need to find their life’s calling at this age. Some do, but others find it only upon reaching young adulthood. “The adolescent stage is all about exploring and experimenting with one’s identity and eventually reaching a commitment to that identity,” points out  Dr. Cara Fernandez, the Executive Director of the Ateneo Bulatao Center (www.ateneobulataocenter.com). 

But while we should not expect young people to identify their passion right away, adolescence is the perfect time to help them examine their options and guide their choices. below  are some ways:

  1. Open a dialogue. How do you know what your child is interested in? What does he or she want to do with their lives? Some questions that you can ask to get your young adult reflecting on purpose:

— What’s most important to you in your life?

— Why do you care about those things?

— Do you have any long-term goals?

— Why are these goals important to you?

— What does it mean to have a good life?

— What does it mean to be a good person?

— If you were looking back on your life, how would you want to be remembered? 

“During such conversations, [parents are reminded to be] good listeners as well as good interviewers, probing children to elaborate on their views, frequently asking the ‘Why’ question, and encouraging them to think more deeply about the things they find noteworthy and interesting,” writes Prof. William Damon of Stanford University in his book ‘The Path To Purpose: How Young People Find Their Calling In Life.’ “[W]e become better able to hear their first murmurs of purpose; and in this way we provide the nurturing conditions for further exploration.”

  1. Let them explore. Because teens do not yet have the experience to know what excites them, it is the job of the adults around them (parents, extended family, and educators) to create opportunities for them to be exposed to new things. “Introduce them to different areas — the arts, music, reading, writing, religion, politics, sports, etc,” advises Dr. Fernandez. Let them talk to relatives or friends whose careers they find interesting. “If they show an interest in something, deepen it with positive reinforcement and encourage them to look further into it,” she adds. 
  1. Mind your biases. “If your teen says he or she likes to do X or Y, but you want them to consider Z because you think it’s better, there’s nothing wrong with that,” Dr. Fernandez says. “But be aware of your tone and the kind of encouragement you give. Be upfront and tell them that ‘I am biased for Z but it’s up to you, tell me if you think I am pushing.” This assures your child that he or she is free to tell you if they are feeling pressured into doing something that they do not like.  
  1. Be encouraging but offer realistic expectations. What if your teen’s passions are headed towards a path that you have reservations about? For example, “I want to teach underprivileged children” is a noble purpose in life but not a financially secure one. In this case, Dr. Fernandez advises parents to counter not with rejection but with information. “Explain to your child that certain life paths will result in certain lifestyles,” she suggests. “If they want to devote their lives to teaching, show them data about how much money a teacher makes, what the job will entail, and what lifestyle they will most likely follow. Then show them how different the situation is if they follow another life path. The purpose of doing this is not to discourage them, but to make sure that they go into the situation with their eyes open.” And if your child insists on his or her first choice, then accept it (as long as the goal is not criminal or destructive). “Ultimately, I know that parents value their child’s happiness,” Dr. Fernandez says. “If you tell them that this is going to be their life, and they are okay with that, then just be supportive.”

The purpose of [setting realistic expectations] is not to discourage them, but to make sure that they go into the situation with their eyes open.

Dr. Cara Fernandez PhD
  1. Convey your own sense of purpose and the meaning you derive from your work. “Parents should share their own goals and sense of purpose with children,” writes Prof. Damon. Discuss as a family how what you are doing is meaningful to you, whether it be as a company manager or as a homemaker. You can share that what you are doing helps others, contributes to society, is your means of self-expression and personal growth, or even because it provides jobs to others. “It is motivating and inspiring for children to hear why their parents find their daily efforts significant,” he adds.

Despite the above efforts, there is always the possibility that your child might end up not having any passions at all. Dr. Fernandez assures that this is also okay. “There are people who are not really strongly inclined towards anything,” she points out. “They are the ones who graduate from college and apply for work anywhere and everywhere, and wherever they land is okay. These are people who are simply accepting of life, who are spontaneous, and open to different opportunities — and that’s fine. We need people like them in society too.” 

Ultimately, our teen’s life choices are theirs to make. As parents and educators, all we can do is cultivate a nurturing and supportive environment that will allow our children to choose the better options. It’s more important that we inspire rather than demoralize them, so that we provide them with a lifelong sense of wellbeing that will translate into confidence, security, and happiness. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

Categories
Featured Get Inspired Mental Health 101 Self Help

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

Categories
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