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Mental Health 101

Ease The Anxiety: 4 Ways You Can Cope With Fear And Worry

In a survey of more than 6,000 Filipino employees conducted by MindNation between September 2020 to April 2021 on the state of their well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic, more than half (53%) of the respondents said they felt varying degrees of anxiety mainly due to fears of the COVID-19 virus, financial pressure, and personal matters..  

“Anxiety is defined as distress or uneasiness caused by fear of danger or misfortune, as well as excessive worry,” says MindNation psychologist Jessa Mae Rojas. While a little bit of anxiety is normal and can be helpful in signaling danger —  for example, it reminds you to practice social distancing policies when you are in a populated space — too much anxiety can leave you feeling weak, tired, irritable, or find it difficult to concentrate on tasks. You can even experience physical symptoms like gastrointestinal problems, insomnia, hyperventilation, and heart palpitations. All these can affect your productivity at work and relationships with loved ones. 

Managing anxiety
While we cannot stop anxious thoughts from entering our minds, there are things we can do to control our reactions to them. “Always remember to keep calm,” Jessa reminds. This means:

  • C — Cultivate positivity.
    Negative thoughts produce more unnecessary anxiety, so always practice positive self-talk. “Instead of saying ‘I can’t do this,’ say ‘I can do this,’” Jessa suggests. “Another thing you can do is stand in front of the mirror every morning and tell yourself that you are smart, beautiful, confident, and that you can do anything.”

    Additionally, try to develop a story with positive outcomes. When you reframe an experience, it turns something stressful or traumatic into a challenge that can be overcome; or, it can turn a really bad day into a mildly low point in overall wonderful life.  Just be careful not to fall into the trap of toxic positivity, or the assumption that you should always be happy despite being under difficult circumstances. “All our feelings are valid, and suppressing negative ones can lead to increased anxiety, depression, and overall worsening of mental health,” Jessa points out.
  • A — Allocate time for worrying.
    Jessa advocates the Worry Time Technique, which involves designating a specific time, place, and length of time each day solely for worrying.” Anytime you become aware of a worry during the day, write it down on a piece of paper and put it in your pocket or somewhere out of sight; since you will have time to think about that worry later, there’s no need to get anxious over it now,” Jessa instructs. “Then at the end of the day, when your worry time comes around, settle yourself down at the worry place, pull out the scraps of paper, and reflect on your worries.” Journaling can help at this point; just write out whatever is on your mind, instead of ruminating. 

“The Worry Time Technique makes worrying less intrusive in your life and allows you to manage your anxieties effectively, giving you a greater sense of control,” she adds.

  • L — Label your emotions.
    Giving emotions a name (i.e. “I feel angry,” or “I feel confused”) provides a deeper understanding of what happened, how it affects you, and helps you see the possibilities for what to do next. Instead of your emotions spiraling out of control, you feel less anxious and triggered.

    Start by writing down the event that activated your anxiety: “I made a mistake at work.”

    Then, write down what that event made you believe about yourself: “I am such a failure. I should always do a perfect job.”

    Name the emotion you feel: “I’m worried I’m going to get fired.”

    Finally, dispute this belief: “I usually do a good job but I am not good at everything. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. My boss was very happy with my report last week. I will learn from this and perform better next time.’ 

    By labelling your emotion, you are able to understand what is going on through your mind more clearly, and build a road-map to address the problem. This makes you more relaxed and confident.
  • M — Meditate regularly.
    “Mindfulness meditation —  or the type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment — is an effective strategy for managing anxiety,” Jessa shares. By training your brain to stay in the moment, whether it’s through focusing on your breath or your five senses, you let go of regrets of the past as well as anxieties about the future.

If you notice a team member struggling with anxiety, you may want to refer them to a professional for help. Mental Health professionals can help with streamlining the process of identifying triggers, maintaining long-term strategies through behavioral therapy, and more.

The MindNation CareNow Plan provides your team access to 24/7 teletherapy sessions with MindNation psychologists and WellBeing Coaches through sms chat, video chat, or voice call. Email [email protected] today to inquire!

Categories
Employee Wellness

4 Ways To Build A Compassionate Workplace

A 2020 MindNation survey pointed out that 53% of Filipino employees are currently suffering from varying degrees of mental health challenges. The top sources of their anxieties are fears about the COVID-19 virus, financial problems, and work performance pressure. It’s predicted that these numbers will continue to worsen and have a long term impact on work environments, health, and work-life balance.

“Business leaders need to be more understanding about how the pandemic is affecting their team members and provide new and different ways of supporting their employees,” says MindNation psychologist Jessa Mae Rojas. “One of the ways they can do that is to be more compassionate; that is, creating a work environment in which employees feel safe and comfortable to express their needs.”

“Business leaders need to be more understanding about how the pandemic is affecting their team members and provide new and different ways of supporting their employees.”

Jessa Mae Rojas, MindNation Psychologist

According to Monica Worline, Executive Director of the CompassionLab at the University of Michigan, a research scientist at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University, and co-author of Awakening Compassion at Work, organizations that operate with compassion enjoy the following benefits:

  • Increased employee retention.
    Employees who receive empathy, understanding, and help from their colleagues and superiors are likely to stay in the organization for a long period of time and direct all their efforts for the benefit of the organization.
  • Stress reduction.
    Employees in a compassionate workplace can vent out their professional troubles to each other and socialize in the office. This lets the stress dissipate and increases the likelihood of being more productive.
  • Stronger interpersonal bonds.
    Leaders and managers who follow compassionate approaches at work have employees who will want to reciprocate the goodness they receive. This will lead them to form healthy and strong professional relationships with their team members. 

Lack of compassion at work, on the other hand, results in more absenteeism (the practice of regularly staying away from work without good reason), presenteeism (showing up for work without being productive, generally because of ill-health) unhappiness, and disengagement from work. “All these lead to less productivity and increased employee turnover, both of which are bad for the company’s bottom line and image,” points out Jessa. 

As a business leader, you can express compassion in the workplace by:

  1. Initiating difficult conversations with team members on a one-on-one level if you notice they are in pain or undergoing some personal stressors. Regular check-ins are essential so that you get to know your employees on a deeper level and can spot signs that something is amiss in their work or persona lives. And when they do confide in you, communicate understanding and support so that they feel secure and comfortable enough to tell you their needs, whether it’s extra time off or even financial assistance. “Even just telling the person you care and that you’re there for them can be good,” says Jessa.
  2. Actively listening to others without judging them.
    A great place to start is to start a meeting by asking the attendees “How are you?” or other open questions related to their well-being and not saying anything until they’ve completely finished responding. And if a team member is not being forthcoming, just keep reiterating that you are always available to listen whenever they are ready.
  3. Carefully stating criticisms in a constructive manner, so that someone who is underperforming or made mistakes will not take the negative feedback personally.
    In an empathetic work environment, leaders and co-workers treat each other with respect no matter what designations they hold. Additionally, they are open to negotiations and not dictatorial, and ready to lend assistance should anybody need a hand.
  4. Offering learning opportunities such as webinars and resources that focus on mental health. Sometimes, people are not even aware of what it is they need, i.e. self-care or self-compassion until it is already too late. Additionally, leaders may not be properly equipped to conduct mental health first aid or engage in difficult conversations. So partner with a mental health and well-being company that can create a customized program for your employees, making sure that services are geared towards achieving holistic health. 

Emotions and mental well-being influence productivity at work. No person who is undergoing depression or other mental health challenges can work with the same efficiency if they are stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed. Leaders who push for a compassionate workplace culture can directly foster advancement and help distressed employees become capable again.

MindNation can help you develop a more compassionate workplace culture. We hold training programs to help team members to become more empathetic, active listeners, and build emotional resilience. Partner with us to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Visit www.themindnation.com or email [email protected] to know more about our services. 

Categories
How To

5 Ways To Effectively Communicate With A Loved One

Do you have difficulty telling your partner you are frustrated at them? Do a friend’s annoying habits trigger you, but you choose to stay silent to keep the peace? 

This is where knowing the difference between constructive and destructive criticism comes in. 

“It’s important to relay feedback to a loved one even when it’s negative because we want to help our loved ones to become better versions of themselves,” says MindNation psychologist Jessa Mae Rojas. “Additionally, when we are able to go through difficult communications with our partners unscathed, the relationship becomes stronger.” 

This does not mean you have to call them out about every little annoyance; some things are better left unsaid. “As long as what you are saying helps the person improve and does not make them question their self-worth or self-confidence, then that is constructive criticism,” Jessa says. “Everything else is just nitpicking.” 

Ready to have the constructively critical conversation? Here are some do’s and don’ts for relaying feedback to your loved one:

“It’s important to relay feedback to a loved one even when it’s negative because we want to help our loved ones to become better versions of themselves.”

Jessa Mae Rojas, MindNation Psychologist

DO:

  1. Time it right. Don’t do it when they are tired after a long day, or if YOU are tired after a long day. And especially do not get into the conversation when you are angry because you might end up saying something destructive instead. If tempers are high, step out of the room for awhile, take deep breaths, or do activities to distract you until you calm down. 
  2. Focus on specific behaviors, not on your partner’s whole personality. Don’t just say, “You’re just no fun.” Get specific instead by saying, “I’ve noticed that you don’t seem to enjoy online parties with my friends. Can you tell me why so I can understand better?”
  1. Give your partner a chance to explain or offer feedback. You have had your chance to speak, now it’s to sit back and listen. Remember that you are having a dialogue, not a monologue. 

DON’T

  1. Diagnose your loved one. “I think you have mental health issues,” or “Wow, your childhood really messed with your brain” will only deviate the conversation  from the main issue. 
  2. Make “You” statements. If you say, “You are impossible to talk to and you just don’t listen,” your partner will justifiably feel defensive. “I sometimes find it difficult to talk with you,” is a much more positive way to broach the subject.

If despite your best efforts your criticism is received in a negative light, don’t fan the flames by responding angrily. Instead, seek to understand why your loved one is acting this way. “Have a heart to heart talk; ask them ‘How would you want me to talk to you about this next time? Would you rather I write it down or send you a text message first, instead of talking to you about it directly?’” Jessa suggests. “These can help pave the way for more productive conversations in the future.”

If you and your partner are having difficulty communicating with each other, MindNation psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available for teletherapy sessions 24/7 to help you build a stronger and lasting relationship. Message https://bit.ly/mindnationchat to book a session now!