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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
Self Help

5 Ways To Recharge Your Energy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Salma Sakr, MindNation

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

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

3. Find time to move throughout the day

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

4. Don’t forget to practice self-care

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

5. At night, unwind properly

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

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

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

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

If you need help breaking out of bad habits or kick-starting new ones, our WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions. Book a session now via FB Messenger (m.me/themindnation) or email [email protected].  

Categories
Featured Self Help

3 Ways You Can Be More Present in Your Everyday Life

Do you spend most of days running around fulfilling one task or another?

Is your mind constantly buzzing with thoughts, plans, worries, predictions, stresses, or reactions?

Do you find yourself forgetting to eat, take a bath, drink water, or go to the bathroom?

If you answered yes to any or all of the above questions, it may be time for you to switch off your body and mind from autopilot mode and become more present and in the moment – better known as mindfulness. If you don’t, stress will overwhelm your body, leading to more physical and psychological problems in the long-run.

Here are some things you can try whenever you need to realign your focus:

1. Practice Mindful Breathing

We breathe every day, but controlled or mindful breathing is another habit we need to cultivate because studies have shown that this will help calm our minds and shift our attention towards the present moment. One of the things you can do is to practice meditative breathing in a quiet corner which will only take a few minutes of your time. Close your eyes and take slow inhales and exhales through your nose. Count your breaths and don’t fret if your mind starts to wander, that is normal; every time you catch your thoughts drifting, just redirect it back to your breath.

2. Set aside distractions

There is nothing wrong with multitasking as it allows you to accomplish more things in a given time. However, multitasking too much and too often can wreak havoc on your mental health, and this is where our smartphones and gadgets end up causing more harm than good. You may think that checking your notifications or scrolling through your newsfeeds while you are doing something else qualifies as multitasking, but in reality, you are just being distracted. If you want to complete a task faster and with more focus, cut down on the time you spend on your phone – put it in silent mode, someplace far away from you, or turn it off completely.

3. Write it down

Making a to-do list is one of the most effective steps you can take to make your day more organized and less hectic. If you want to plan for the long-term, journaling is another great way to organize your thoughts, plans, and dreams. Instead of going through the day or your life aimlessly, at least you now have targets to achieve. 

In today’s fast-paced world, we spend most of our time doing everything automatically and without putting our mind into it. It’s time to switch off this autopilot mode and start living in the moment. 

Written by Jacq of Mindnation

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Featured Get Inspired Mental Health 101 Self Help

7 Ways to Become More Mindful in Your Everyday Life

Mindfulness is defined by the dictionary as a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations without judgement. 

In today’s fast-paced world, getting many things done in the shortest time possible is seen as a benchmark of success. Slowing down and staying focused on the present is seen as unproductive and a waste of time. But practicing mindfulness has been scientifically proven to have benefits. These include:

Improved overall well-being: Being mindful makes it easier to savor the pleasures in life as they occur, it helps you become fully engaged in activities, and creates a greater capacity to deal with challenging events. By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are able to form deeper connections with others.

Improved physical health. Mindfulness can help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, and alleviate digestive difficulties.

Improved mental health. Psychotherapists have turned to mindfulness meditation as an important element in the treatment of a number of problems, including: depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, couples’ conflicts, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

How to practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is not about sitting cross-legged and meditating for hours; rather, it’s making a deliberate attempt to focus on your present thoughts, feelings, and activities. This means you can practice mindful living in your everyday activities. Here are 7 ways:

  1. Mindful eating

Mindless eating occurs when you simply go through the motions of putting food in your mouth and your thoughts are somewhere else – i.e. on the tv show in front of you, on the newsfeeds of your social media accounts, or on the difficult emotions that you are trying to comfort through food. When you eat without focus, it can contribute to physical problems like overeating and consuming too much salt or sugar.

Mindful eating is simply pay attention to what you are eating. Really see what is on your plate, so that you can check if you are eating a balanced meal. Junk foods should be taken in moderation, if not kept to a minimum. Don’t gobble everything in one go; chew the food slowly to make it easier for your stomach to digest it. Savor the tastes. Notice when you are getting full so that you can stop. When you become more intentional about what you’re eating, you’ll be better equipped to focus on fueling your body with the nutrition it needs.

  1. Mindful listening. 

When someone is talking to you, give him your full attention. Look at him in the eye instead of doing work, chores, or scrolling through your phone. Accord your companion the respect that you would also like to receive. 

  1. Mindful communication.

When you talk to someone, think before responding, especially if the subject is contentious. Don’t interrupt — wait until they finish talking before responding. 

Do not lash out in anger, as it can make the situation worse. Pay attention to how you are feeling, then see if you can give your opinions calmly and rationally.

  1. Engage in day-to-day activities mindfully.

Do you ever have trouble recalling whether you’ve brushed your teeth already before going to bed? Or do you sometimes forget why you walked into a certain room? Those are signs that you have a lot of things going on in your mind and you aren’t being mindful. The best way to focus on the present is to tune in to the physical sensations of the activity at hand, becoming fully aware of everything you do, and not thinking about anything else.

So if you are brushing your teeth, savor the feel of the warm water in your mouth, of the bristles going around your teeth, or of the minty fresh flavor of the toothpaste. If you are about to go into a room to get something, think about what the object looks like and how it will feel to grasp it in your hands. Don’t think about doing other things if you have not yet completed the task that you originally set out to do.

  1. Take pauses throughout the day

If you are having a busy day and are moving from one task to the next, it can be difficult to stay mindful. When this happens, try taking mini-breaks throughout the day to practice a few basic mindfulness exercises, like:

  • Focusing on your breath – inhale deeply through your nose, then exhale through the nose as well. The length of your inhales and exhales should be the same. Count your breaths; continue breathing in and out in an even manner until you reach one hundred.
  • Gentle stretches – chair yoga can be done without having to leave your desk, and it only takes 15 minutes 
  • Progressive muscle relaxation — work on tensing and relaxing your muscles, one muscle group at a time. With practice, you’ll learn to recognize when you’re tensing up certain parts of your body.
  1. Do one thing at a time

Many people equate multi-tasking with being productive, but the truth is when your brain is madly shifting from one activity to the next, it is losing attention and not retaining as much information as it should – so it ends up being very unproductive! The next time you are tempted to do more than one thing at the same time, bring your focus to the task that is more important. Put your phone on silent mode or log out of your social media accounts so that you will not be tempted to check every notification that pops up; set a timer for the amount of time you need to work, and it is only when time is up that you can move on to doing something else. 

  1. Accepting yourself

Lastly, the best way to stay focused on the present is to focus on yourself. This means perceiving your experience and simply acknowledging it rather than judging it as good or bad. For example, when you feel pain, whether it’s physical, (such as a painful shoulder) or mental (like depression or anxiety) don’t wallow in despair or blame yourself or others. Simply acknowledge what happened, learn what mistakes were made so you don’t repeat it in the future, then focus on things in the present that can make you happy.

Mindfulness is a “practice” because no one will get it when they first start, and no one can claim that they are living mindfully 100% of the time. It is human nature for the mind to wander and be distracted. But just keep trying and be patient; the goal is not to live mindfully all the time, but to do so more often than not. When you begin to focus on the present, you can start enjoying benefits like decreased stress, improved relationships (with others and with yourself), and greater overall happiness.