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
Relationships

Strategies To Strengthen Your Relationships During The Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting our lives in many ways,  including our interactions (and lack thereof) with the people close to us.

At home, the combination of financial stress, anxieties, the pressures of working from home, and restrictions in leisure outings are causing most of us to become irritable and short-tempered with our partner and our kids.

We’re missing our social groups — the co-workers, school friends, and yoga/running/spinning/hiking buddies — whom we usually turn to if we need to destress and decompress. 

Lastly, many of us have also started neglecting ourselves. After all, it’s hard to squeeze in self-care when there are just so many social, financial, psychological, and physical stressors surrounding the pandemic.

But it is precisely because of all these challenges that we need to take better care of the relationships we have with our loved ones and with ourselves. “Having healthy relationships can provide us with meaning and a sense of hope and support during difficult times like now,” says Aiza Tabayoyong, a family and relationship coach at The Love Institute, a pioneering company equipping couples, parents, and individuals with skills on how to have fulfilling relationships with those dearest to them. “The lockdown is actually giving us a unique opportunity to identify the things and people that are most important to us, so let’s use the time to get to know them better and enjoy them.”

    Below are some ways we can strengthen and support our relationships:

1. With our spouse or partner

  • Schedule weekly date nights. If you are at home, find a corner in the house where you and your partner can be secluded and have a romantic moment together, whether it’s just binge-watching your favorite Netflix show or having a nice meal. And whether your dates are at home or done virtually, make sure you use the time to have fun, focus on each other, and build each other up. “Do not use this time to write down a list of what errands to do, what repairs need to be done, or discuss problems in the relationship,” instructs Aiza. “Have a separate day to talk about home management concerns or relationship issues.”
  • Frequently tell the other person how much you love and appreciate them, whether it’s verbally, through text messages (even if your home workstations are just a few feet away from each other), or by leaving little notes in their drawers.
  • Know your partner’s love language to make it easier and more efficient to meet their needs.

2. With your children (if any)

Just like with your partner, schedule one-on-one time with your child. Make the conversations light and fun. “This is the time to listen to them and be curious about their interests. Don’t use this time for scolding them or pushing them in the direction that you want,” Aiza reminds. “The stress of remote learning has unavoidably turned your parent-child relationship into a teacher-child interaction, so you need to balance this shift by letting your child see that you are still fun to be around. When that happens, your connection becomes stronger and you have more leverage to better influence them.”

3. With your friends

“Once a week or when your schedule permits, schedule a get-together with people who can lift you up during these tough times, either through virtual platforms or at restaurants that provide al fresco dining options,” advises Aiza. Maintaining ties with friends is crucial because they provide you a safe space to decompress from the stresses of home. It also assures you that you are not the only ones with problems, so make sure each person is given an equal opportunity to vent his or her concerns. 

4. With yourself

This is the most important relationship of all. “Nourishing yourself is actually prerequisite to nurturing all your other connections,” says Aiza. “Make time for self-care, and remember that it is not selfish. Adopt the mindset that ‘I need this, I deserve this, and doing this will benefit everyone else.’” 

  • Remember to get enough sleep and to eat well. 
  • Ask your partner or eldest child to give you massages or haircuts
  • Schedule regular quiet time. “Use it to do deep breathing exercises, to meditate, or for prayer time to connect and communicate with your god,” suggests Aiza.

Self-care also goes beyond meeting one’s physical needs for rest. It involves looking beyond the bad days we experience and viewing ourselves in a kinder light. So remember to: 

  • Reframe negative self-talk. “Always remind yourself that you are valuable as you are, and that you deserve the same kind of love you give others,” says Aiza.
  • Practice self-compassion. “Instead of being your harshest critic and saying things like ‘I’m so stupid,’ or ‘I can’t do this,’ replace these statements with ‘Oh well, that’s not my strength, I’ll just find someone to help me,’” advises Aiza.
  • Celebrate your achievements. “If you don’t hear enough affirmation from other people (probably because they are going through something themselves), you have to give it to yourself,” Aiza suggests. “Look in the mirror and tell yourself ‘I am amazing, I am capable, I am loved.’”  

Maintaining relationships may seem time-consuming, but the key to success is to make sure you plan properly. “Having a calendar will help you properly schedule and balance your must-do’s for home and work and your dates with the people most important in your life, including yourself,” advises Aiza. 

If you are feeling isolated, overwhelmed, or need advice on how to manage your relationships better, feel free to reach out to MindNation’s Care Hotline on FB Messenger. The FREE service is available 24/7, 365 days a year,  and rest assured that all conversations will be kept completely confidential. 

Categories
Featured Self Help

Note to Self: Committing to Self-Care

There is more to self-care than just sleeping in during the weekends or coloring your hair in an attractive shade. Real self-care is the consistent practice of caring for not only your physical needs, but also your emotional, and psychological well-being; when you take care of all these aspects, you are physically healthy, more confident, more productive at work, and can better manage life’s stressors more effectively.

Unfortunately, today’s society values productivity over taking rest; any attempt to slow down, seek assistance, or do anything for one’s self is regarded as a luxury or, worse, as being selfish. But the busier you are, the more self-care should be a priority; otherwise you will end up feeling overwhelmed, tired, and stressed.

The Self-Care Plan

A Self-Care Plan is a written guide, created by yourself which is filled with your favorite self-care activities and important reminders. It aims to help you balance your mental, physical, and emotional needs and bring you back “home” whenever you are feeling lost and overwhelmed.

Other benefits of a Self-Care Plan include:

  • It’s a preventive measure. Make the self-care plan when you are NOT stressed, anxious, or angry, so that you are calm enough to be able to properly reflect on what you may need or have access to when you are going through a tough time. When the said time comes, at least you already have an idea of how you can cope or feel better.
  • From a mindfulness point of view, having a self-care plan helps you respond instead of react to the situation at hand. When you have a plan in place, you’ll feel that events are controlled and less chaotic.
  • Having a plan helps you establish routine, so you don’t wind up feeling isolated,unsupported, or unloved.

How to Create a Self-Care Plan

Step 1: List

List the different parts of your life that you need to show care. For example — Work, Physical Fitness, Emotional Life, Spiritual Life, etc.

Step 2: Categorize

For each of these categories, write down the activities, strategies, or coping mechanisms that you feel will help you manage stress better or contribute to your overall well-being.

For example:
For self-care in the workplace
  • Engage in regular supervision or consulting with a more experienced colleague.
  • Set up or join a peer-support group.
  • Set up stricter boundaries between yourself and clients/customers.
  • Attend professional development programs.
For self-care for the body
  • Sleep and wake up by a certain time
  • Eat more of a certain food group, less of another
  • Take a one-hour lunch break, which includes time for a walk after eating
  • Exercise regularly
For emotional or psychological self-care
  • Keep a journal
  • Engage in a hobby
  • Turn off your email or work phone by a certain time at night and/or weekends
  • Talk to your friends/family/mental health professional when you are going through a hard time
For spiritual self-care
  • Meditate
  • Go for walks, hikes, trips to the beach, or anything that puts you closer to nature
For relationship self-care
  • Aim to arrive at work and leave at a certain time every day
  • Prioritize close relationships in your life i.e. with partners, family, and children
  • Attend the special events of your family and friend
Step 3: Share Your Self-Care Plan

When you share this plan with your closest friends and loved ones, they can help you in giving reminders (i.e. “Did you remember to meditate today?”) as well as hold you accountable (i.e. “You’re extra irritable yesterday because you stayed up all night watching Netflix instead of going to bed early.”)

Step 4: Remind

Keep your plan in a place where you can see it every day. Doing so will help you commit to the strategies you listed.

Step 5: Practice the activities regularly.

Just like an athlete doesn’t become fit by merely ‘thinking’ about fitness, you also can’t expect to perform effectively without putting into practice all your plans for your well-being.

Step 6: Assess your plans regularly.

Remember that your Self-Care Plan is not written in stone; you are free to make changes or adjustments depending on your life circumstances. Learn to find what works for you.

A Self-Care Plan can help you enhance your health and well-being, manage your stress, and maintain good relationships with others. Learn to identify activities and practices that support your well-being and help you cultivate self-love.

Written by Jacq of Mindnation