Categories
Relationships

Got Stressful Parents? 4 Things You Can Do As An Adult To Improve Your Relationship With Them

The parent-child relationship can be regarded as the most important relationship an individual can experience. Those who grow up with a secure and healthy attachment to their parents stand a better chance of developing happy and content relationships with others in their life. On the other hand, adult children who are constantly stressed by their parents can experience poor mental and physical health, including fatigue, decreased motivation, depression, irritability, as well as the inability to sustain healthy routines, choices, and relationships. 

There are many reasons why adult children find their parents stressful. It could be emotional baggage carried over from childhood, a mental/generation gap in terms of thinking pattern and current trends, or because parents overstep boundaries and continue to treat their adult offspring as children by interfering with their decisions and life choices. And while it’s easy to put physical and emotional distance between ourselves and a peer that we find stressful, it’s harder for those raised in an Asian culture to have frank and difficult conversations with parents. “Our culture places importance on honoring parents, so telling them they are stressful is  tantamount to being impolite, disrespectful, or ungrateful,” explains Rac General, a psychologist for MindNation and mother of two grown children. 

“When you know your parents’ triggers, you can be more mindful of your words and actions that will potentially cause them stress”

Rac General, MindNation psychologist

Fortunately, there are steps we can take to improve our relationship with our parents and minimize the stress. Here are some of them:

  1. Find out why your parents are the way they are.

Do some research into your extended family and what your parents were like in school — these helped shape them into who they are today and can help you understand why they think and act in certain ways. “Also involve yourself in your parents’ day to day activities, including their work or workplace, and even get to know their friends and team members. These will give you a better understanding of their context and mood,” Rac says.  

  1. Understand the state of their physical and mental health. 

Both affect emotions, behavior, and mood.  “Also, when you know your parents’ triggers, you can be more mindful of your words and actions that will potentially cause them stress” advises Rac.

Finally, find out what their self-care routine or relaxation outlets are and join them so that you can bond.

  1. When talking to them, do it politely.

Conflicts often start and are fueled by our choice of words. When we’re angry with someone, we’re likely to tell them exactly what they’ve done to upset us and start arguments with “you” — “You did this!” or “You always/never ___!” More often than not, this leads to a defensive response, and once someone becomes defensive, they lose the ability to listen and understand other perspectives. Instead, try to frame the conversation in terms of how the issue impacts you by using “I” statements such as 

  • “I feel ___ when ____.”
  • “I’m upset/hurt/nervous that ___.”
  • “I don’t understand….”
  1. Ask for help from third parties.

If you really feel that you can no longer manage your relationship with your parents on your own, politely ask grandparents, trusted members of the extended family, or even your parents’ friends for advice or help. They will either offer you a new perspective that you can consider, or mediate on your behalf. However, never, ever suggest to a parent that they should seek the help of a mental health professional, even if you are certain that their stressful behavior is the result of a mental health concern. “It will be taken as an insult and they will get even more angry with you,” Rac points out. “Instead, politely ask a trusted relative or friend to be the one to relay your concerns.”

5. Seek professional help. 

If your situation is worsening, and you are having trouble dealing with stressful relationships, it is advisable to seek help from professionals. Mental health professionals can help if you are struggling with anxiety and mental distress.

MindNation psychologists are available 24/7 for family therapy sessions or if you are struggling with anxiety and stressful relationships. They can help you get to the root of the relationship problem, improve your communication, assist you with setting/ enforcing boundaries, and help you find a solution that is beneficial for you. Book a session now at https://bit.ly/themindnatonchat

Categories
Food and Nutrition

7 Strategies To Manage Stress Eating

Do you find yourself turning to food for comfort — whether consciously or unconsciously — when you are facing a difficult problem, feeling stressed, or even feeling bored? If yes, then welcome to the world of stress eating.

  “The purpose of eating is to have energy,” says nutritionist-coach Timothy Jeffe Ting, RND (www.timnutrition.com). “Stress eating occurs when you consume food for another purpose, which is to regulate your emotional state.”

 Occasionally using food as a pick-me-up, a reward, or to celebrate isn’t a bad thing. But when eating becomes your primary emotional coping mechanism, it can impact your health in many ways. Obviously, physical health would be the first one affected. “You stress eat because you have problems — would you really want to add becoming overweight and increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease to those problems?” asks Timothy. “Then there is also your mental health. When you reach for food as a reaction to stressful stimuli, you are exhibiting impulsiveness; you use food to fill your emotional needs instead of finding healthier outlets.” In addition, while eating may feel good in the moment, the feelings that triggered the eating are still there. And you often feel worse than you did before — even ashamed and guilty — because of the unnecessary calories you’ve just consumed. 

While it is possible to stop stress eating, Timothy suggests that a better alternative would be to curb it. Here are some strategies.

  1. Don’t label food as “good” or “bad.” “Food is food,” he points out. “When we start to label a particular food, we shift focus from overall healthy eating patterns, which is what really defines a person’s well-being.” 

After all, while vegetables do have a better nutritional profile, eating them all day, every day will not be good for you. On the other hand, depriving yourself of ‘bad’ or ‘forbidden’ food like ice cream or pizza will only make you crave them more intensely.

  1. Tame your stress. While Timothy is not a mental health expert, he shares the following stress management tips:
    • Practice time management. “Most of the time, we feel stressed because we are not available to fulfill our tasks at work or in school efficiently,” he says. “So find ways to plan and control how much time you spend on specific activities.” Some ways you can that include:
      • Not spreading yourself too thin. When someone tries to draft you in to take on an additional task, say “no” more often than you say “yes.”
      • Prioritizing your “Most Valuable Activities” (the tasks you excel at) over “Less Valuable Activities” (other responsibilities that can be delegated to others).
      • Avoiding back-to-back appointments so that you have time to relax and breathe. 
    • Do cognitive reappraisal. “If you were told that you were not accepted for the job that you applied for, would eating an entire pizza help you get another job?” Timothy asks. “No, right? So instead of feeling like a failure and reaching for food for comfort, treat the rejection as a learning opportunity or as redirection.” When you reframe your mindset this way, you will no longer be triggered by the stress.
  1. Take away temptation. Don’t keep hard-to-resist and unhealthy comfort foods within easy reach. “We are all designed to be lazy,” Timothy points out. “If you surround yourself with cakes, cookies, and ice cream, then you will definitely eat them often. And don’t just think about yourself — even if YOU are able to exercise willpower and avoid eating them, what about the rest of your family members?”
  2. Make healthier food alternatives more convenient. We all have fruits and vegetables at home, but no one eats them because they still  have to be washed, peeled, chopped, and, sometimes, cooked before we can eat them. “Compare them to a bag of chips that you can just rip open in one second — of course you will eat the chips,” says Timothy. 

So rearrange the items in your pantry or refrigerator. Place the junk foods on the highest shelf of the cabinet and the ice cream at the very back of the freezer; then put the fruits and vegetables within line of sight and easier reach.

  1. Add, don’t subtract. Don’t deprive yourself of treats. “If you want to eat a chocolate bar, go ahead, but eat a piece of fruit afterwards,” advises Timothy. “Then next time, try eating the fruit FIRST before the chocolate.”
  1. Eat in moderation. How to define what is moderate? Timothy suggests the 70-30 rule. “If you eat four meals a day, make the three meals healthy, filled with veggies, fruits, and lean proteins,” he shares.
  1. Snack healthy. If you must eat for comfort, choose wisely. Timothy shares his list:

Best foods to eat when stressed:

  1. Anything that’s warm, like hot teas. “Green and black teas contain L-theanine, which has been proven to improve mental focus and increase relaxation,” he says. “Hot drinks also force you to slow down and take deep breaths before drinking them, which can lower your stress.”
  2. Dark chocolates. Not only are they a lower-calorie alternative, they also contain theobromine (which combats the oxidation in the body caused by stress) and magnesium (which helps people to  relax and fall asleep).
     
  3. Quality carbohydrates like root crops, potatoes, or corn. “Air-popped popcorn — the ones you cook on the stovetop, not the buttered ones they sell in cinemas — is extremely low in calories and high in fiber. Eat it plain or put in some salt and herbs for flavor,” shares Timothy.
  4. Bananas, because it also contains magnesium.
  5. Other fruits. “Anything high in Vitamin C will be helpful in reducing stress levels, because the stress hormone cortisol is mitigated by Vitamin C,” says Timothy.
  6. Whole nuts like pistachios and almonds. According to Timothy, these contain B-vitamins that help unlock energy, since tiredness may also cause stress. 
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

On the other hand, think twice before reaching for these foods for comfort:

  1. Anything caffeinated. “Caffeine is a double-edged sword,” points out Timothy. “It gives you an energy boost when you want to get out of a tight spot, but the problem is you will develop a tolerance for it; eventually, you will need increasing amounts of caffeine to give you energy, and when you don’t get you fill, you might experience an energy crash.”

The solution: drink in moderation. “If you drink one cup of coffee a day in a week, try not to drink on Sundays. If you are on vacation and not feeling stressed, don’t drink at all. Also, try to get your energy from whole foods and good sleep,” Timothy advises. 

  1.  Alcohol. “Alcohol gives you a buzz so you don’t think about your problems, but the problems are still there,” says Timothy. It also lowers your inhibitions, so you end up eating mindlessly, which leads to a lot of health problems in the long run.”
  1. Anything with a huge amount of carbohydrates and fats together, without protein, such as pastries, refined goods, cookies, cakes, pastries, pizza, etc. “These are very high in calories, very easy to overeat, and will lead to a lot of problems down the line if you are overweight,” Timothy cautions.

Emotional eating tends to be automatic and virtually mindless. Before you even realize what you’re doing, you’ve reached for a tub of ice cream and polished off half of it. But if you can take a moment to pause and reflect when you’re hit with a craving, you give yourself the opportunity to make a different decision.

If you need help building better eating habits, schedule a consultation with our WellBeing Coaches now. They are available 24/7 and rest assured that all conversations are secure and confidential. Book now through FB Messenger http://m.me/themindnation or email [email protected]

Categories
Featured Get Inspired Self Help

7 Things You Can Do to Effectively Deal with Unexpected Situations

Some of the unexpected things that we encounter in life can be pleasant – surprise birthday parties, random acts of kindness from strangers, or a rainbow appearing after a downpour.

But distressing things can also occur without warning — traffic accidents, the loss of a job, or the death of a loved one.

As human beings, our instinct is to respond to these events with panic, anger, fear, or frustration. There is nothing wrong with feeling bad, but when we let these negative emotions get the best of us, we cause the executive network of our brain (which is responsible for problem solving) to constrict and work less effectively.

So instead of running around in a panic or falling into despair, we should try our best to keep ourselves calm and be patient so that our brain can come up with solutions to these problems.

Below are some ways can we control our response and channel positive emotions in the face of unexpected stress:

1. Accept that unexpected events are a part of life

As humans, we thrive on routine and predictability; but not only are the occasional mishaps unavoidable, they are inevitable. Once you begin to learn how to acknowledge this fact of life, you will find unexpected events and experiences less troubling, and you will become more receptive to deal with them when they happen. 

2. Keep calm

When faced with an unexpected twist of fate, try your best to resist the instinct to launch into a tirade or run around in a panicked state. One shift you can do to keep yourself calm is to practice mindful breathing, you can do this by first closing your eyes, then begin taking a deep breath, and followed by exhaling slowly. Do this for 10 counts. Once you noticed that you were able to slow down your heart rate, open your eyes and try your best to take on the situation with a fresh mindset. 

3. Look at it from another point of view

Maybe what happened is just a minor incident that’s not as bad as you initially thought? Maybe it’s something temporary that can be fixed in the long run? Getting fired from work could even turn out well, as you might even find a better and more satisfying job. Even if what happened is unequivocally a major disaster, like your house burning down, taking a pause will at least abate your temper or panic and help you calm down long enough to formulate a better response.

4. Don’t take it personally

When something happens, do not immediately label it as “good” or “bad”; it is your response to the situation that determines whether the event becomes positive or negative. For example, if your partner breaks up with you and you blame yourself, become despondent, or think that no one will ever love you anymore, then the break-up becomes something negative. But if you accept that it was not the right relationship for you, maintain a positive attitude, and believe that some good will come your way, then the break-up becomes a blessing in disguise. You never know what will come of a situation, so rather than assuming a situation is bad, which only generates a lot of unhelpful, negative emotions, make an effort to look ahead with optimism.

5. Focus on the solution, not on the problem

When you get hit with unexpected bad news, give yourself time to understand what you need to feel. Then pick yourself up and shift your attention to finding solutions. The moment you ask yourself what you can do to make something better, you have taken the first step in turning a bad event into a more positive outcome. You will also start to feel better because you have regained control over the events.

6.  Believe in yourself.

If you are in an unexpectedly difficult situation, think back to all the other times you encountered challenges and obstacles and ask yourself, “What did I do to get through those events?” If you lack self-confidence, ask someone who knows you well to give you a boost. When you know that you have what it takes to handle the problem, you will start to feel better. 

7. Train yourself to welcome the unexpected

Once in a while, take a different route when you go jogging. Order something else from your favorite restaurant. When deciding what to watch on Netflix, pick a genre that you have never tried before. Doing these small but trivial things will help you become more accepting of change and cope more easily with surprises and unexpected events.  

There is nothing wrong with getting flustered or upset when something unexpectedly bad happens to you. But you must find a way to rise above the stress and turmoil so that you can come up with solutions to the problem. By following the above-mentioned tips, you will feel less agitated, find composure, and be able to manage difficult situations better.

Written by Jacq of Mindnation

Categories
Featured Self Help

6 Ways to Cope with Politically-Induced Stress

How do you keep cool when your beliefs, ideologies, and convictions are put to the test?

Politics will always be a polarizing topic, hence the constant reminder by etiquette experts to “never discuss politics or religion in social gatherings.” But because of social media and the 24-hour news cycle, many of us find ourselves unwittingly barraged by information that, depending on our beliefs and ideologies, can be distressing. What should you do if you find government policies upsetting? How can you keep from feeling guilty or betrayed if close friends or family members have political views that are contrary to yours? How can you keep trolls from pushing your buttons? 

To help avoid these negative effects to your mental well-being, here are some recommended ways to deal with politically-induced stress:

  1. Limit the time you spend engaging with political content

How many times a day do you check the news or the social media pages of your favorite politicians? If you are constantly looking at your phone to stay up to date, you are also increasing the likelihood of feeling anxious, angry, or sad over what you see or read. As a solution, try going online only a few times a day, preferably not in the morning so that you do not start your day with upsetting news. Also try to follow only fact-based, reputable, or primary sources so that the information is provided accurately and not biased in favor of a particular set of beliefs.

  1. Do not feed the trolls

A “troll” is internet slang for someone who deliberately posts inflammatory comments and argumentative messages online in an attempt to provoke, disrupt, and upset others. “Feeding” means responding to said comments, which is counterproductive because you are only giving them the attention that they crave. So instead of giving them the satisfaction of an angry reaction, remind yourself that they are just deliberately baiting you, and that the best way to shut them down is to ignore them.

  1. Be mindful of your surroundings when sharing political opinions 

How do you talk about politics with your friends, family, or coworkers? While sharing thoughts on a certain political topic can hep broaden minds, it can also cause tension or bring up uncomfortable feelings if people do not think or feel the same way as you. So never make assumptions about other people’s beliefs, even if they are close friends or family members. Again – do not bring up politics during social gatherings.

  1. Be open to learning about other points of view

Now what if SOMEONE ELSE brings up politics? Instead of feeling dread, try to reframe the discussion as an educational opportunity to find out why others think differently from you. Their opinions might have been shaped a certain way because they were raised in an environment or encountered life circumstances different from yours. Choose to keep quiet and just listen; but if you want to engage, be sure to keep your questions balanced and respectful. Remember that the personalities and issues being talked about will change by the next elections, but your friends and (especially) family members are here to stay, so you need to maintain harmonious ties with them.

  1. Know you can always step away

If the conversation is really making you uncomfortable, you can either try to change the subject or step away from the table to preoccupy your mental space with something else. Go to the bathroom, or pretend you need to make an emergency phone call; either way, come back when you are feeling more collected. 

  1. Get involved

Mahatma Gandhi said it best – “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Being helpless over what is going on around you can be stressful and depressing, so try taking an action on an issue that you care about to exert some control over a situation. Volunteer with a community group, make donations, participate in activism, or write a letter to your city’s local officials – all these won’t necessarily solve the problem, but they can help you feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose. Just remember to stay safe at all times, and always assess how the added responsibilities are affecting your mental health.

It is possible to find calm amidst the political storm. Just limit the time you spend reading the news, know when to engage and when to back off from discussions, and find ways to do your part in making the community better. 

Categories
Employee Wellness Mental Health 101

10 Tips to Manage Stress when you Work From Home (WFH)

Working from home (WFH) may seem like a dream come true in the beginning, but when you also have to manage the kids’ needs, home chores, and/or have to deal with co-workers who think being home means they can call you 24/7, the situation can quickly turn into a nightmare.

Here are some ways you can put in some order (and sanity) in your WFH set-up:

1. Set office hours and make sure everyone knows it

When you are working from your living room or bedroom, it’s easy for family members (especially kids) to assume that you are not working at all and just badger you for attention any time. The same is true for colleagues who think that there is nothing inappropriate with calling you up at midnight for a work-related query. Make it clear to workmates that you are only available during certain hours of the day, and that you will respect their time as well.

2. Establish your territory

Whether your workspace is a small table or a whole room (lucky you!), make sure it is used exclusively for work. This way, you can still separate “work life” from your “personal life.” In addition, furnish your space with pens, papers, and other materials that will be used solely for the “office.” This saves you the time (and stress) from constantly carrying materials back and forth, or misplacing them.

For your kids and other household members, instruct them that your working hours are sacred and you absolutely cannot be disturbed. Or if they do need to talk to you, they should knock first instead of barging in.

3. Discuss and delegate

If your spouse has free time to take over babysitting duties, perfect (don’t forget to return the favor when it’s his or her turn to be busy). If there are no other responsible adults around, have a serious discussion with your children beforehand about the importance of your “work hours”. This gives you peace and quiet to focus on your work but also the assurance that your children are safe and productive.  

4. Manage your deadlines by breaking them into chewable amounts

It is easy to procrastinate when you are working from home, so resist the temptation. Break down large projects into smaller steps, and set deadlines to complete each stage; this will make the overall output less overwhelming to do.

5. Make a to-do list

This might sound pretty basic, but it works! Start each day with a list of the tasks you need to accomplish at home and for work. Rank them according to importance, and organize your day so that you finish these to-do’s as soon as possible. Should you run out of time to do the less urgent tasks, don’t stress! You can always do them tomorrow.

6. Dress the part (even if it’s just the top-half!)

Unless you are mandated to dress up (i.e. you need to do a video-chat with upper management), you can pretty much wear whatever you want at your home office. But while there is no law against wearing pajamas all day, it might be the very thing making you feel sluggish and unmotivated. Better to slip into something that’s comfortable but at the same time semi-professional, comb your hair, put on some makeup – you’ll end up feeling more inspired to work.

7. Keep the Water Cooler Breaks

Don’t you just miss that walk to the water cooler and the talks with your office buddies? Take virtual lunch or coffee breaks together, and chat about non-work related matters. This helps ease the feeling of isolation, and will make you look forward to “going to work.”

8. Actually, just take breaks in general!

You do not have to be chained at your desk the whole time. Take a snack break or do some stretches every now and then. Come back to work when you are feeling more relaxed and refreshed.

9. Clock out and “go home”

Because the office desk is just a few steps away from the bedroom, it’s tempting to just keep working because your think you can stop anytime (which is actually counterproductive). Ignore the urge to work overtime! When office hours are over, shut down your laptop, keep it away, and ready yourself for home duties so you can properly rest. Your mind and body will thank you for it.

10. Practice gratitude

At the end of the day, the an attitude of gratitude will set you up to a calmer and more positive mood. While our situations vary greatly at home, we must always focus on the now, everything that went right, and how we can be better and do better tomorrow!

With the COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of letting up, working from home is now becoming the norm for many. The set-up will take some getting used to, but by prioritizing your needs and building your mental resilience, you can settle into a comfortable routine in no time.

How do you practice calmness and routines when working from home?

Written by Jacq of MindNation