Categories
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!

Categories
Employee Wellness

#RESHAPE21: How top companies 3M and Bloomberg are addressing Mental Health in the Workplace

Last September 15-16, MindNation had the privilege of being part of Insider’s RESHAPE 2021, the world’s largest leadership and experience summit, sharing the global stage with no less than US President Barack Obama and other top business and thought leaders.

MindNation Chief Marketing Officer Cat Triviño presided over a panel discussion about mental health in the workplace with Alisha Fernando, Head of Diversity & Inclusion for APAC of financial, software, data, and media company Bloomberg, and Kevin McGuigan, Vice-President & Managing Director for SEA of multinational conglomerate 3M.

“Even prior to the pandemic, mental health has already been a global concern, with anxiety and depresison at all time highs and even suicide being the leading cause of death in many countries,” Cat pointed out in her opening statement. For instance, a 2018 survey by the City Mental Health Alliance in Hong Kong revealed that 37% of respondents claimed to have, at some point in their lifetime, experienced mental ill health while in employment. Other research revealed that 25% of working people in Hong Kong showed levels of depression and anxiety that are 2.5 times the global average.

Not surprisingly, these numbers have risen this past year because of the psychological effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Philippines, particularly, results of a Pulse Survey conducted by MindNation of over 5,000 workers found that mental health challenges are affecting 1 in every 3 employees, leading to productivity losses that cost companies up to PHP7 million per year (for every 1,000 employees).

Companies must take an active approach to mental health to combat mental health problems in the workplace. “At 3M, we strongly believe that there is no one that should struggle with mental health alone,” Kevin says. “As an employer, it is our responsibility to ensure that all of our employees feel that they are working in a safe place, that they’re comfortable to be themselves.

Here are some ways 3M and Bloomberg are building a company culture where mental health is valued, accepted, and supported:

  1. Keeping lines of communication open. “We encourage our managers and employees to find a way to connect with each other in ways that are not just tied to work,” Kevin explains. “When I start one-on-one meetings or group meetings, I go out of my way to spend the first few minutes just talking to the individual or the team and asking them ‘How are things going? How’s your family doing?’ This is my way of really striving to make people feel comfortable to express themselves.”

    Additionally, Kevin hosts frequent roundtable sessions and town hall meetings, as well as put out regular Pulse Surveys, in order to get feedback from his team. “These build trust and show that we are able to have candid conversations about what’s working and what’s not,” he says.
  1. Normalizing conversations regarding mental health. “Storytelling is such a powerful tool to address [the stigma surrounding mental health],” Alisha shares. “Everytime I tell someone ‘Hey, I suffer from anxiety and I am getting professional help for it,’ they are shocked and surprised at first, but when we talk about it some more and they see that I am able to live a normal life and have a good job, they realize that having mental health challenges is not shameful or taboo. Sharing personal stories is one way we can shift the way people view mental health.”
  2. Providing flexible work programs. “At 3M, we have a ‘Work Your Way’ program, which not only says you can choose WHERE you want to work — 100% remote, 100% onsite, or a hybrid mode — you can also select the hours you want to work,” Kevin says. “This is because we know that people have been [affected] throughout the pandemic, and allowing them to take two hours off work to go to a therapy appointment, for example, is one way we want to make things easier for them.”
  3. Not viewing mental health treatment as a one-size fits all approach. “No two people experience a mental health challenge the same way; for example, some people thrive on stress and can work really well, but others don’t thrive under stress and it impacts their productivity,” Alisha shares. “So addressing mental health in the workplace comes down to knowing the employee as an individual , understanding what they need, and figuring out how we can best support them,” Alisha points out.

Bloomberg and 3M’s efforts to actively address mental health at work are paying off. “Interestingly, Bloomberg has performed remarkably well over the last 18 months of the pandemic,” she shares. “I credit that to all of the support that we have been providing so that our leaders know how to take care of our people better. Now, not only are our people thriving, our business is as well.”

MindNation 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!

Categories
Featured

Piril Yagli: Bringing Mental Health In The Workplace Front And Center

Piril Yagli started her career in Insights and Analytics 15 years ago at multinational corporation Procter & Gamble, where she conducted consumer research on the preferences, attitudes, motivations, and buying behavior of people buying fast-moving consumer goods.

In 2020, she joined MindNation as its Chief Insights & Analytics Officer, this time surveying the preferences, attitudes, and motivations of clients towards work and their mental health. Thanks to the data that she and her team are able to gather, MindNation is able to customize its Employee Assistance Program to meet the specific needs of an employee in an organization, a rarity in the mental health care industry where most EAPs only offer fixed packages. 

“I believe that a true mental health and well-being program is and should go beyond just providing a standard one-size-fits-all service,” Piril explains. This is because the people who comprise an organization have different needs and challenges, depending on their age, gender, educational attainment, or even socioeconomic background. 

“In a company, you have all kinds of employees — from white collar to blue collar, from members of GenZ to GenX, all  with completely different challenges that need to be addressed,” she points out. “For instance, our data shows that young, less experienced employees in a business process outsourcing company would like to learn about curbing loneliness during the lockdown or avoiding burnout. On the other hand, more seasoned employees are more interested in finding out how they can work better with younger team members or how they can provide better guidance or support. A one-size-fits all approach cannot fully cover all these needs.”


The importance of Pulse Surveys

MindNation gets its data through Pulse Surveys, biannual online surveys that are conducted the moment the client signs up with the company. “Through Pulse Surveys, we try to extract three types of information. The first is how employees feel about their mental health and well-being status, and if they feel satisfied with their company’s efforts,” Piril enumerates. “Next is to establish a benchmark so that we can track progress and revise the program accordingly. Lastly, we want to figure out the key stressors that employees are facing and what remedies they are after so that we can address the challenges directly.”

The MindNation Pulse Survey differs from the surveys of other EAP companies in two ways: first of all, MindNation created a proprietary Company WellBeing Score©,  a single sum generated from the different variables in the survey. “We use this score to track, measure, and compare one company to another,” Piril explains.

Which brings us to the second unique feature of MindNation Pulse Surveys — comparisons. “MindNation is able to compare data and scores of different companies because of our extensive database, which has responses from over 15,000 employees and growing, ” Piril proudly shares. “This allows us to tell a company ‘This is the state of your team’s well-being versus those of others in the same industry,’ and then follow-up with suggestions on how they can do better.” 


Wake-up call

That being said, business leaders should not feel disheartened or question their leadership skills if their companies get a low score in the Pulse Surveys. “A big portion of employees in every company, across all industries, are facing mental health and well-being challenges during this pandemic,” Piril points out. “Business leaders should not take alarming Pulse Survey results as a poor reflection of themselves. Instead, they should treat it as a wake-up call, as an opportunity to immediately correct ‘mistakes’ and provide resources so employees can have better well-being.” 

For Piril, what is important is that leaders be open, listen, understand and act in urgency to meet the needs of the employees, whether it’s providing access to psychologists and WellBeing Coaches or tailoring webinars to topics that interest their team members.

“From our analysis, we found out that on average 8% of the employee population in the Philippines has suicidal or self-harmful thoughts,” Piril reveals.

They especially need to be proactive in addressing the needs of employees who are suicidal, of which there is an increasing number. This is according to the analysis of suicidal thinking employees in the MindNation Pulse Survey database. “From our analysis, we found out that on average 8% of the employee population in the Philippines has suicidal or self-harmful thoughts,” Piril reveals. “Assuming that there are 41 million active employees in the Philippines, this means that around 3.3 million employees need immediate help.” 

Importance of suicide prevention policies in the workplace 

Employers need to provide help because suicidal employees are the ones facing more productivity loss, taking more sick leaves, and thinking about quitting the company more than the average employee. So by prioritizing the mental health and well-being of their organization, leaders are not only saving 8% of their workforce, they are also improving productivity, and positively impacting the bottom line. 

Organizations can do this by paying attention to and making mental health services a basic benefit for all employees, stopping stigma in the workplace by cultivating a safe space for mental health discussions, and ensuring that each employee has someone to talk to curb their feelings of loneliness especially during these times of isolation and uncertainty.

Download the MindNation Suicide In the Philippine Workforce 2021 toolkit now to learn not only about suicide prevention, but also enhance your capacities to support employees who may be struggling with varying mental health issues and suicidal ideation. http://bit.ly/mn-suicide2021

How is your team doing lately? Message [email protected] to find out how we can set up a Pulse Survey for your organization.

Categories
Mental Health 101

8 Reasons Why People Don’t Seek Professional Help For Mental Health Concerns

Despite mental health being more visible than ever and care being more available, only a few people seek professional help for their mental health concerns; according to the World Health Organization, up to 80 percent of people with mental health issues do not seek treatment. 

Up to 80% of people with mental health issues do not seek treatment.

World Health Organization

Why is this the case? Based on a poll conducted on MindNation’s Instagram page last March 2020, below are the eight most common reasons people avoid therapy. We asked MindNation People and Operations Head Kevin Quibranza to comment and share how we can overcome these thoughts and fears:

  1. Shame. (“I don’t want to be labelled ill or crazy. If word got out that I was seeing a psychologist, it could negatively impact my career, relationship, or other life goals.”)

    “Being afraid to do what needs to be done because of what others think is detrimental to your health,” says Kevin. “Don’t be ashamed to seek help.”

    When confronted with these negative voices, the best thing to do is to tune them out. If they harangue you, keep your replies short (i.e. “I see,” or “Okay”) and resist the urge to expound or explain yourself. Switch the topic if you have to. With nothing to continue on, the naysayer will stop there.

    Lastly, surround yourself with enablers. Think about the people who are supportive or would be supportive of your plans to seek therapy if you told them. “Many people nowadays are open-minded with mental health problems and it is no longer as taboo for them as it used to be,” says Kevin. And if you don’t have any such people in your life, it’s okay. There are people out there in the world who are doing what you want to do, so increase your contact with their works, such as their books, their interviews, their TV shows, and so on.
  1. Practical barriers like cost (“Therapy is expensive. I’d rather talk to my friends, at least that’s free”) or inaccessibility (“My Internet connection is not stable;” “I don’t know how to use video conferencing apps.”)

    Reaching out to friends and family is free and highly recommended when starting your mental health journey. However, there will be cases in which your loved ones might also need to set boundaries when on the receiving end of concerns. The end goal of therapy is not to have you dependent on it, but to build your resilience so you can approach life and its obstacles as a stronger, better YOU. Mental health professionals are trained to do just that.

    TIP: As part of MindNation’s mission for accessible mental healthcare for all, psychologists and WellBeing coaches onboard are available for teletherapy sessions 24/7, and an initial session costs only P1,500 (for psychologist) and P500 (for a WellBeing Coach).

    MindNation sessions are available through video call, voice call, SMS/chat, and Care Assistants will be able to guide you every step of the way.
  1. Hopelessness. (“I tried it once, I didn’t feel any better. I guess it’s not for me.”)

    “Just because one psychologist’s approach did not work for you does not mean that another’s approach won’t,” explains Kevin. “Ask a friend, colleague, or doctor you trust to recommend another therapist who might be a good fit for you, although be mindful that you may have different therapy needs and goals than the one giving you the recommendation.”
  1. Distrust. (“I don’t like confiding in a stranger.”)

    “It might sound paradoxical, but the best person to talk about our problems are strangers,” points out Kevin. “They don’t have the biases that you or your immediate family might have, which can stop them from guiding you or giving you the best advice, plus they can offer a fresh perspective on a situation that may have trapped you for a long time.”
  2. Denial. (“Why should I go to therapy, there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m fine, everyone goes through what I’m going through; just give me a few days and I’ll be able to snap out of this funk that I am in.”)

    People usually resort to denial as a way of coping with anything that makes them feel vulnerable or threatens their sense of control. It could also be a defense mechanism against the fear of stigma mentioned in item #1.

    “Denial is never helpful,” says Kevin. “If you have mental health problems, you need to go to therapy right away to stop it from becoming something more serious. Those few days that you are asking for to ‘snap out of it’ can be addressed in a one-hour session.”
  1. Lack of awareness. (“My family thinks it’s a bad idea.”)

    This is usually said by older family members who do not understand the nature of mental health; the younger generation, thankfully, do not have such limited awareness. “At the end of the day, do what is best for yourself, because it will be you alone who will carry that burden,” advises Kevin. 
  1. Anxiety. (“I don’t know where to go. How can I be sure I won’t be scammed or the organization is legitimate?”)

    “Ask friends and other trusted sources for referrals, or follow the company’s social media accounts to read the reviews, comments, and see for yourself the work that they do,” suggests Kevin. 
  1. Other priorities. (“I just don’t have the time/money;” “I’m so busy with so many things.”)

    “Work can wait, your mental health cannot. You need to put your well-being on top of your priority list because everything else revolves around it; if you are mentally unwell, you cannot perform tasks as effectively, thereby affecting your productivity levels,” points out Kevin. 

Seeing a psychologist or WellBeing Coach for mental health issues should be as natural and automatic as seeing a doctor for broken bones or other physical ailments. “When you burn your hand, your first and natural reaction is to put it under cold water,” Kevin says. “Going to a professional to treat mental distress should also be a priority.”

Lastly, don’t think of therapy as an expense; treat it as an investment. By getting help now, you generate returns in the long-run for yourself, your family, your community, and your business. 

To book a session with MindNation’s psychologists and WellBeing Coaches, message http://m.me/themindnation or email [email protected]

Categories
Self Help

How To Cope With Never-ending Bad News

Bad news and negativity on social media is almost inescapable. As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its second year and newer, faster-spreading variants emerge, stories about surges in infections and deaths, announcements about renewed lockdowns, and posts about vaccine anxiety are dominating our newsfeeds.

Add into this mix the stressors carried over from last year (i.e. financial stress, isolation, and fear) and it’s no wonder that people are experiencing more mental health challenges than ever.

“Self-care is self-preservation.”

Kevin Quibranza, life coach

What should we do when we feel as if we can’t take it anymore? This is where self-care comes in. And while it may initially feel ludicrous to think of taking a break when there are so many problems that need to be fixed, we are actually duty-bound to take care of ourselves. “Self-care is self-preservation,” says Kevin Quibranza, life coach and MindNation People and Operations Head. “Everything in our lives — our goals, financial security, relationships with others — are dependent on our level of health, and self-care acts ensure that we stay healthy enough to achieve positive outcomes in all of them.” If we fail to take care of ourselves and get sick — whether physically or mentally — then we risk financial uncertainties, damaged relationships, and even our lives.

With this in mind, here are some things you can do to take care of your well-being when it all seems too much to bear:

Don’t forget the self-care basics. Prioritize sleep, eat mindfully, exercise, and stay in touch with loved ones. These promote not just mental health but also our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being, enabling us to feel less stressed and more resilient in anxiety-ridden times like these.

Reduce social media use. While social media is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends as well as stay informed about the latest news, studies have shown that excessive use can fuel feelings of depression, anxiety, and isolation. And if your newsfeed is becoming an obituary these days, it’s time to modify your habits so that you improve your mood. “You may not have control over the things you see on social media, but you are in control of the amount of time you expose yourself to it,” Kevin points out.

Some things you can do:

1. Use anti-distraction software. “I will only check social media for one hour each day” is easier said than done because social networks were deliberately designed to be as addictive as possible by some of the smartest people in the world. The solution — use tools that enforce discipline. Focus apps like Forest, Focus To-Do, and Pomodoro Timer can block the websites or apps that you want for an amount of time that you set, and can be a bit cumbersome to disable so you think twice about “cheating.”

2. Adjust who you are following. You don’t need to follow every news outlet or every famous journalist — limit it to just two or three so you are not bombarded with the same bad news in a short period of time. And if you have friends or relatives who regularly post fake news or propaganda that raises your hackles — that’s what the “Unfollow” function is for.

3. Institute a social media free day each week. Pick one day a week to go without your phone or social media, and it will go a long way to giving your mind the space it needs to slow down and rest.

Give yourself permission to express and feel your emotions. Apart from fear and anxiety, guilt and shame are two other emotions experienced by many during this pandemic. It is frequently felt by those who look at the infection and death tolls and wonder how they were spared, as well as by those who recovered after being infected. And while these feelings are normal, they can lead to longer-term mental health issues if left unresolved. If you are feeling survivor’s guilt, try to manage them by doing the following:

4. Practice being kind to yourself. Instead of asking “Why me?” try “Why not me?”

Meditate, breathe, journal. These mindfulness activities can provide a much-needed break from the barrage of bad news that tends to worsen your guilt.

Use compassionate self-talk. Accept that what you are feeling is part of being human.

Drop some responsibilities. Stress is caused by an imbalance in the different aspects of your life (i.e. work, relationships, “me” time) so analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. “If your body and your mind are both telling you that you need a break – listen to it. Stop what you are doing and indulge in activities that can boost your happiness or gratitude,” Kevin says.

5. Find ways to help others. Studies have shown that happiness and life satisfaction increases when we volunteer or help others,” shares Kevin. “It might seem hard to do while maintaining social distancing, but simple acts like talking to and empathizing with friends who are in need or helping your family with chores at home can really change your perspective.”

6. Talk to a mental health professional. You don’t hesitate to see a doctor if you feel pain or discomfort in your physical body, so neither should you delay talking to a psychologist or WellBeing Coach if you are feeling stressed, empty, alone, afraid, or overwhelmed. And even if you are not struggling, there’s no harm in checking-in with an expert. At the end of the day, we all benefit from knowing that someone will always be there to listen.

MindNation offers 24/7 online sessions with licensed psychologists and WellBeing Coaches in the Philippines and (for a limited time) in the Middle East and North Africa. Book your slot now through http://m.me./themindnation or email [email protected].

Categories
Featured Get Inspired Self Help

5 Books That Teach Empathy and Kindness

We’ve got a mix of world literature, Pulitzer-Prize winning novels, a non-fiction recommendation, and even something for kids. Take your pick! 

  1. Wonder by R.J. Palacio

What it’s about: 10-year-old Auggie Pullman has a facial disfigurement that makes him the target of bullying when he attends school for the first time.

Why we recommend it: “Wonder” is packaged as a children’s book but the situations presented are things that even grown-ups can relate to, such as the  anxieties that come with trying to fit in and the desire to be accepted for our differences.

Quotable quote: “We carry with us, as human beings, not just the capacity to be kind, but the very choice of kindness.”

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

What it’s about: An African-American man is wrongly accused of a crime, and his Caucasian neighbor steps up to defend him despite opposition from all fronts

Why we recommend it: The themes and lessons of this book are as important today as they were when the story was first published in 1960. We need to be reminded that despite increasing awareness and belonging to a “woke” generation, racial and class discrimination continue to affect many people around the world today.  

Quotable quote: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.”

  1. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

What it’s about: A father and son travel on foot across a post-apocalyptic land and in the process encounter a variety of people — some good, many bad. 

Why we recommend it: At first glance, killing, stealing, and committing acts of unspeakable cruelty seem to be the only ways one can survive in a cruel world. But the father constantly reminds his son to “carry the fire” — to act with kindness, compassion, and decency no matter how terrible things are. 

Quotable quote: “All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one’s heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”

  1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

What it’s about: This is the first Afghan novel written in English. The main character, Amir, seeks atonement for betraying a friend. 

Why we recommend it: Amir spends much of the novel plagued by guilt, and it is only through empathy that he finds redemption and self-forgiveness.

Quotable quote: “Not a word passes between us, not because we have nothing to say, but because we don’t have to say anything.”

  1. Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About The People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell

What it’s about: Studies the miscommunication, interactions, and assumptions people make when dealing with those that they don’t know. 

Why we recommend it: How many times have we avoided talking to people who think and act differently from us, resulting in conflicts or misunderstanding? By using real-life examples, Gladwell teaches us how we can bridge this divide and avoid failure of communication.
Quotable quotes: “The first set of mistakes we make with strangers…has to do with our inability to make sense of the stranger as an individual.”

Do you have your own book recommendations? Share them in the comments below!

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

Categories
Get Inspired Mental Health 101 Self Help

8 Things To Do When Someone Is Mad At You

Being face to face with an angry person can be scary or frustrating, but there are ways to soothe the situation. 

Despite your best intentions, there will be times when you come across someone who is upset, frustrated, or angry with you. If you do not know how to handle this situation, you may end up feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, or angry as well. On the other hand, when you respond to anger in the right manner, you quickly restore normalcy, reduce tension and stress, and, in some cases, even make the relationship stronger. 

Below are 8 things you can do when someone is mad at you:

  1. Listen, listen, and listen. In his book “Anger: Taming A Powerful Emotion,” Dr. Gary Chapman, a well-known marriage counselor and author of the bestselling book “The Five Love Languages,” lists down three important steps for dealing with an angry person. “First, listen. Second, listen. Third, listen,” he writes. “The best thing you can do for an angry person is to listen to his story. Having heard it, ask him to repeat it. Having heard it a second time, ask additional questions to clarify the situation. Listen at least three times before you give a response.” By having the angry person retell his or her reason for being upset, you are making them realize that you are taking their concerns seriously as well as giving them ample time to calm down. 
  1. Don’t dismiss their feelings or concerns. “Seeking to put a cap on another person’s anger is perhaps the worst way to respond to an angry person,” states Dr.Chapman. “We may not like the way the angry person is speaking to us, but the fact that he is sharing his anger is positive. The anger cannot be processed positively if it is held inside. It needs to be expressed, even if it is expressed with a loud voice.”
  1. Be calm but assertive. Even if the other person is already shouting expletives or throwing things around, do not respond with a raised voice or physical violence. “When the angry person is spewing out words and you engage in argument with him, it is like throwing gasoline on the fire,” says Dr. Chapman. “An angry person can burn all night if you continue to throw gasoline. But when you listen as the anger burns, eventually the fuel of his anger will burn out.” 

So when talking to an angry person, keep your tone even but maintain assertive body language like standing straight and maintaining eye contact. Don’t slouch or cross your arms because these convey that you are bored or not open to the communication. Don’t stand too close either; leave about a 3-foot distance between you and the other person so that you do not come across as too aggressive. 

  1. Acknowledge the other person’s anger. Anger is often a response to feeling misunderstood or ignored, so even if it’s the last thing you want to do, let the person know that you get that he or she is upset. “Put yourself in her shoes and try to view the world through her eyes.,”Dr. Chapman advises. “Ask yourself, ‘Would I be angry in the same situation?’” This is called empathy. It doesn’t matter if the person was the one at fault or if the reason for the anger is irrational. Whether one’s interpretation of the situation is correct is not the issue at this point. “This is not the stage in which to argue with the person about his interpretation. What you are trying to do is to understand his anger so that you might help him process it,” Dr. Chapman advises. 
  1. Be an active listener. Show that you are engaged with the other person by making eye contact, nodding, and using phrases like “uh-huh” and “mm-hmm.” Also, avoid using the word “but” (i.e. “I understand what you are saying BUT___”) When people hear “but,” they tend to get angry again because all they hear is “You’re wrong, I’m right.” Instead, use “and” statements like “I see your point AND I think we can fix this by ___.”
  1. Accept responsibility and offer a solution.  “If you realize that the angry person’s anger is definitive; that is, you have genuinely wronged her—intentionally or unintentionally, what you did or said was unfair and hurt her deeply—then it is time for your confession and efforts to make right the wrong you have committed,” Dr. Chapman advises. “Ask for forgiveness .”
  1. Try to find common ground between you and the angry person to help redirect the hostile situation into an amicable solution. For example, you can say something like “I understand fairness is important to you. It is to me as well. May I suggest we try ___.” This helps communicate to the other party that you are working towards the same goal. 
  1. Thank the other person. If you have been able to resolve the conflict, wrap up the conversation with a word of thanks. You can tell a customer “Thank you for allowing me to make this problem right” while you can tell a loved one “Thank you for sharing your problem with me, I now know what to do and not to do next time.”

As a final word: If you constantly find yourself fighting with a significant person in your life (i.e. a spouse, parent, sibling, or child), or he/she constantly flies off the handle at the slightest provocation, you may need to seek the services of a therapist or psychologist. Not only can these professionals mediate the situation, they can also teach both of you effective problem-solving and communication skills including how to overcome  angry feelings, strategies for expressing emotions, ways to recognize negative thought patterns that cause anger, and ways to relax and handle stress. 

Anger is a universal emotion, so no matter what you do or where you are, it is important to know how to deal with angry people calmly and firmly. Be empathetic, and always remember to stay composed and rational so that you can resolve the problem as smoothly and efficiently as possible. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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Get Inspired Mental Health 101 Self Help

8 Ways To Help Teens Increase Their Self-confidence

It’s hard being a teenager. On top of dealing with the major physical and emotional changes that come with puberty, they must also grapple with being accepted in friendship groups and fulfill the roles expected of them in school and at home. Successes or setbacks in these areas can affect how they view themselves, which in turn can impact their self-confidence.

Confidence is defined as the belief that one will be successful in a particular situation or at a specific task. For teenagers, having a healthy dose of confidence is important because: 

  • They display more emotional resilience — even if they don’t have all the skills and knowledge required to overcome a particular problem, they are assured of their abilities and resourcefulness to acquire what they need. 
  • Confidence helps teenagers make safe, informed decisions. They can avoid people and situations that aren’t necessarily right for them, and find those that are.
  • Lastly, teens who are confident are also more likely to be assertive, positive, engaged, enthusiastic, and persistent.

Self-doubt

On the other hand, teenagers plagued by self-doubt will feel that they are incapable of accomplishing tasks. They may be afraid to recite in class or try new activities. But don’t panic if your child occasionally displays self-doubt. “Having a certain level of self-doubt is not necessarily a bad thing,” assures Joyce Pring-Triviño, actress, philanthropist, and host of the Adulting with Joyce Pring podcast (https://open.spotify.com/show/0GVJ57XsbtgwRW7TJxNI0c). “A person has healthy self-doubt when even though he or she feels that they are not good at something, they are challenged to do better instead of outrightly giving up.”

That said, parents should be on the lookout for signs of unhealthy and persistent self-doubt, because if left unidentified or unresolved, it can lead to problems such as:

  • Negative moods like feeling sad, anxious, ashamed, or angry 
  • Relationship troubles
  • Low motivation
  • Poor body image
  • Earlier sexual activity
  • Drinking alcohol or taking drugs to feel better

Developing confidence

There are a number of things that you can do to help teenagers develop their self-confidence: 

  1. Don’t let them be defined by their failures or successes. Teenagers often see the world in black and white. If they get a low grade in a subject, they feel that they are not smart students. If they don’t win at sports events, they think that they are poor athletes. If a romantic relationship fails, they bemoan that they will never find love again. “But life should not be measured by one’s successes or failures,” Joyce advises. Assure your teen that he or she is not just a student, an athlete, or a boyfriend or girlfriend; they are also so many other things, including being sons, daughters, cousins, someone’s friend, a budding artist, etc.  
  1. Prioritize self-improvement. “‘Life is an infinite game,’” Joyce says, quoting from the book “The Infinite Game” by motivational author Simon Sinek. “There is always the opportunity to become better. If you did not do well today, you can always do better tomorrow.”
  1. Praise effort instead of outcome. While your teen cannot control the outcome of an exam, he or she can control how much effort they put into studying for it. If they get a low grade as a result, don’t berate them; instead, refer to the tip above and tell them to pay attention to the mistakes made so that they can do better next time. And if they get a good grade, praise them for all the studying they did instead of getting the high marks (i.e. “Your efforts really paid off!”). By doing this,  they will feel that they can always develop their abilities to become better or persist when the going gets tough.
  2. Teach your teen to speak up for himself or herself (in an appropriate manner). Assure them that it’s okay to ask for help when they don’t understand school work, rather than stay quiet, preserve their pride, but end up falling behind. Encourage them to speak up if they feel they are not being treated right by others — this will make them less likely to be treated poorly by peers. When they grow up, they will have the confidence to ask for what they need in a more direct manner, and protect themselves from untoward situations. 
  3. Encourage your teen just try. This is especially true when your child needs to step out of his or her comfort zone, like performing onstage or participating in a sporting event. “The only thing that keeps us from being confident is taking that first step to try,” Joyce says. Don’t focus on whether or not the attempt ends in success, because as we mentioned in tip #1, one should not be defined by what he or she did or did not achieve. But the very act of trying new activities is already a win because your  teen will end up discovering hidden talents, challenge himself or herself, or master a new skill — all of which can help grow his or her confidence. 
  4. Promote body positivity. Basing self-worth on superficial things, external circumstances, or other people leads to a lack of confidence in the long run. For example, if your teenage daughter only feels good when she fits into a certain size of clothes, this can have an effect on her body image and self-esteem. If your son feels anxious because his latest social media post is not getting many “likes,” he is basing his worth on other people’s opinions. Help your teen build a healthy and stable foundation for self-worth. Emphasize your values and teach that true self-worth is about living according to those values. For example, help them see that it’s more important to be kind and caring rather than thin or attractive.
  5. Avoid being a helicopter parent. When you micromanage your teen’s life, you will only reinforce that he or she can’t be trusted to make good choices on their own. Guide them when they make decisions, but also allow them to make their own mistakes and learn from them. Over time, they’ll develop increased confidence in their ability to make healthy choices.
  6. Avoid comparison. “One of the reasons self-doubt is so prevalent is because we tend to look at other people and how good their life is, instead of looking at ourselves and how good our life is,” Joyce points out. “Start life with an attitude of gratitude instead of from a place of comparison and entitlement. The more we expect our lives to be as perfect as others’, the more unhappy and disappointed we will be.” 

When you nurture your child through supportive words and actions, you nurture his or her self-esteem and give them the confidence needed to face any challenges that come their way.  “The key to developing your teen’s self-confidence is to make sure that he or she is grounded in the more important things of life,” Joyce says. “One is the unconditional love of the people around them. Another is the acceptance that life is not perfect. As long as they are able to give their best at everything, then they are doing the right thing.”

–Written by Jaclyn Lutangco-Chua of MindNation

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Partnership announcement: MindNation & Workbean

Mental health awareness and support in the workplace is about to get an even bigger boost

Back in the day, job seekers would choose which companies to work for based simply on what was available or how much financial compensation could be gained.
But as the demand for more multi-hyphenated, digitally-skilled workers rose, employees who fit the bill started to become more selective in which company they would join. The workplace culture became a dominant factor in decision-making — top candidates now want to work in environments that suit their personalities and capabilities, and whose policies allow them to be creative and empowering. In the same vein, companies found out that if they placed emphasis on camaraderie, inclusivity, and nurture, they can attract great talent. 


“People are spending more time at work than they do at home,” says Kassandra Monzon, CEO of Workbean, soon to be Asia’s largest directory of company cultures. “And with the current COVID-19 pandemic amplifying whatever stresses or anxieties they may already be experiencing, employers have the responsibility to support and care for the mental well-being of their staff because they are the ones spending so much time together.”


This is why it is important for companies to have a workplace culture that is supportive of mental health. “Most mental health risks in the workplace relate to interactions between the people, the organizational environment and culture, and the availability of support for employees to carry out their day-to-day tasks,” says Kana Takahashi, CEO of MindNation. “So a way to achieve a healthy workplace is through the development of company-wide mental health programs and policies that protect the health, safety and well-being of all.

With this partnership, MindNation and Workbean hope to increase awareness about the importance of having a workplace culture that supports mental health, as well as provide a platform for job seekers looking to find a workplace that cares for their well-being. In addition, Workbean-affiliated companies that have existing mental health programs and policies in place but want to know how to more effectively implement them can reach out to MindNation for guidance. 
“When a workplace culture is inclusive and supportive, people will be more free to express their mental health concerns and seek help when needed,” says Kana. 
For more information, click on www.themindation.com and www.workbean.co

— Written by Jac of MindNation