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    Mental Health

    Understanding Burnout

    Burnout is what happens when you try to avoid being human for too long.

    -Michael Gungor

    It is the middle of the work-week and yet you feel tired like you have been working for 5-straight days already. You are unmotivated to go to work because you don’t feel you are accomplishing anything. Questions pop on your head, “Why am I here in this job?”  Also, you feel as if the job you are doing isn’t for you anymore however you know that you still need to hustle in your current company because you need to feed yourself and your family. The cycle makes you feel even more miserable.

    Is this what you are going through? If you nod your head in agreement to all that I said, then maybe you are experiencing burnout.

    In this blog post, we will dive deeper into the burnout experience. We will discuss what burnout is, what are its causes, ways to prevent and recover from it.

    What is Burn Out?

    The World Health Organization defines burn-out as:

    “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

    It is characterized by three dimensions:

    • Exhaustion – wearing out, loss of energy, depletion, debilitation, and fatigue (“I can’t take it anymore”)
    • Cynicism – originally called depersonalization, negative or inappropriate attitudes towards clients, irritability, loss of idealism and withdrawal (“Socially toxic workplace”)
    • Personal Inefficacy – originally called reduced personal accomplishment, reduced productivity or capability, low morale and an inability to cope (“Erosion of my soul,” “No future”)

    Dr. Christina Maslach created an assessment tool to measure the level of burnout. If you are unsure whether it is burn-out you are feeling, you can take the old version of Maslach’s tool here. Nevertheless, I am also sharing with you the online test I took to assess how high the tendency for me to be burned-out. You can take it here.

    Am I Depressed or Am I Burned-out?

    I have been working as a counselor in the academe for years now and even though I am greatly interested in mental health, I knew that at some point in my career I also got burned-out. With the situation of mental health professionals in the country where qualifications are high and workload is heavy but very little support is offered, anyone in the field would really be at risk for burnout. This is probably the same with other professionals in the field of health care, human services and social activism who also have a higher tendency for burnout. The prevalence of burn-out in the field of tech industries and customer service is also increasing.

    During my last year in graduate school, I felt unmotivated with my career. I even thought of shifting to another field because I felt tired of trying to be qualified for the counselor position. My tasks at work and requirements for my graduate classes drained me. I also feel ineffective because I feel that I do not have the skills yet to be a counselor but I am already working as one. At that time, I remember asking myself what my purpose really is. I thought I was depressed because if you are in that position you would really feel like it.

    Depression and burn-out may feel the same because some of the symptoms overlap. For you to be able to tell the difference, I listed below the symptoms of each mental health concern:

    Difference the symptoms of Burnout and Depression

    Another difference these two have is that depression involves all aspect of life while burn-out is specifically related to the workplace or its requirements. I like Dr. Tracy Marks’ analogy wherein she said that when a one-week vacation to a beautiful island is offered where all expenses are paid by the company, tasks will be done by a willing colleague and compensation will still be given to him even if he is away, a burned-out person will go on that trip and will feel relaxed and rejuvenated while a depressed person may have all of these perks but will still feel deeply despondent.

    Whichever concern you feel, whether it be depression or burn-out, it is important to know that there is help available. Here is a list of institutions that you can reach out to. You can also call Hopeline through the contact number below. They are online 24/7.

    Hope Line Contact Number

    Causes of Burnout

    Burnout is caused by being exposed to a highly stressful and toxic working environment which is characterized by: (1) long working hours and high demands; (2) job insecurity and lack of control, and; (3) low social support and work-family conflict.

    Another cause of burn-out is Job-Person Mismatch in which six (6) areas need to be considered:

    • Workload – tasks expected to a person
    • Control – autonomy to do one’s work
    • Reward – salary, benefits and social rewards or giving appropriate credits
    • Community – workplace relationships
    • Fairness – fair administration of policies
    • Values – meaning
    If one is experiencing imbalance with any or all of these areas, burnout may occur.

    How to Address Burnout?

    There are two kinds of intervention that can address burnout. It may either through organizational level or through individual/small group level. It would be nice if the company we are working at is considerate with the needs of the employees. However, this is not always the case. There are times that it is difficult to change the existing system and the improvements may take long to happen.

    Since we do not have that much control over the system/organization, the best we can do is to focus on addressing burnout on our own level. Besides, the only person we can control is our selves.

    Here are five tips you can do to address burnout. I also apply these tips whenever I feel stressed.

    1. Recognize stress stimuli

    Because burnout is the piled-up version of the stress we experience daily, we can prevent it if we will be able to identify the signs early on and immediately take action.

    We can also identify signs of burn-out in ourselves. Sometimes when we see ourselves being a little too irritated about mundane things or when we just burst out crying because we feel so overwhelmed, these are already signs of stress. There are also times my family or my friends would tell me that I am being too pessimistic or I am quiet. When this happens, I am probably stressed about something. What I will do is to sit down and list all my stressors. I will think of solutions to address each one of them.

    2. Reframe your mindset

    There is surely something about your company that you like. If you really don’t like it, you must have resigned from there a long time ago. What are the things you are thankful for about your work? Think about these things and write it down on a piece of paper or type it on your phone.

    If you can, maybe you can focus more on the positive things that you listed so that you can regain the interest you have with your work. I did this when I first experienced burn-out. I got really tired of all the tasks I have to attend to but I tried shifting my mindset to what I initially liked about my job which are my colleagues, my supervisor and the opportunity for growth.

    However, if you feel that the stress is too much and it is difficult for you to see the positive then maybe it is time to consider speaking to your supervisor about your situation so that you can work on the necessary adjustments and make you feel less stressed. But, if you did this and you still feel burned-out because probably none of the six areas mentioned above is getting fulfilled, maybe you need to try to look for another job or apply to a new company which suits you better than your current one.

    3. Rebuild your positive habits

    When you feel stressed, you tend to fall to the exhaustion funnel. This is a concept developed by Prof. Marie Asberg who also studied about burnout.

    Image result for exhaustion funnel

    Photo from Google

    At first you would feel your life is in the biggest circle in the funnel. You feel your life is balanced and that you are able to do all the things you want. But as you get more stressed, you tend to focus more on the things that seem “important” and neglect the positive habits that you build such as eating healthy, exercising, connecting with other people or doing hobbies you love.

    The circle continuous to narrow down as our life also narrows because we only put our attention to work and our to-dos. We have the tendency to give up too many of our positive habits until none of it is practiced anymore. That is when we fall to exhaustion.

    So, to get up from the bottom of the funnel, you have to also rebuild the positive habits you have neglected. It doesn’t have to be done all at once. You can re-build it one by one until you reach the equilibrium you are satisfied of.

    4. Reach out to positive people

    Talking about your feelings to someone you trust and having the support from them is a good way to relieve stress. Social support is truly important. You may get tips from them on how you can manage your stress or you can also hear their own struggles with burn-out. Be part of like-minded individuals who can relate to you and who can lift you up. Speaking of community, I created a Facebook group for millennials who are experiencing quarter life crisis. I envisioned it to be a place where we can share uplifting resources and be each other’s cheerleaders. I will be launching it very soon and I am hoping to see you there!

    5. Rest and relax

    Sometimes, the reason for our burn-out is because we have not set clear boundaries. Our home life and our work overlap. You do not have a “relaxation zone” and is continuously in work mode. That is really exhausting. So, put that necessary limits to yourself. If you are at work, focus on your work and if you are at home, focus on your family and your self-care habits.

    If you are balancing more than work and home, like for example you are also taking up Graduate School or you have a side-hustle, I understand that finding time to relax is not easy. It is difficult but I believe it is not impossible. Try to improve the way you manage your time and set you priorities. Be sure to allot time for both work and leisure.

    Furthermore, avoid too much overtime work as much as possible. I love this video I stumbled upon on Youtube. It shows the importance of work-life balance and setting boundaries even if you are the only one doing it.

    Michael Chaskalson, author of the book Mindfulness in Eight Weeks suggested these three things to address stress: (1) do something pleasurable by being kind to your body and engaging in enjoyable activities; (2) do something that gives you a sense of satisfaction, achievement or control such as doing house chores or doing some routine work and; (3) act mindfully. Focus on the present because stress comes from not being fully in it. As what Eckhart Tolle said:

    “Stress is caused by being here but wanting to be there”

    Call To Action

    Burn-out is highly related with overwhelm. On my last blog post, I created a downloadable infographic about four ways you can overcome feelings of overwhelm. You can download it here if you are interested. The four tips are also applicable for burnout.

    How To Fight Overwhelm Infographic

    Like my Facebook Page for more mental health information. I also created an exclusive Facebook group which I will be launching very soon. Stay tuned to that.

    For more personal updates, you can follow me on Instagram. If you have any insight, comment, question or reaction you had about burnout, please do not hesitate to comment below or shoot me a DM.

    You can alsofollow my blog with Bloglovin

    Mental Health

    How To Handle Overwhelm?

    Adulting is truly overwhelming.

    A few years ago, what I have been stressing about are just school stuff (e.g. Did I accomplish all the requirements? I have not reviewed for the exam yet!). Back then I thought that it is the biggest stress I will ever encounter but oh, I was wrong. Adulting came in and it punched me on the face. Suddenly, my tasks escalated from two priorities (school work and house chores) to seemingly endless responsibilities (work assignments, house chores, graduate school requirements, budgeting, girlfriend duties, spirituality, leisure, side-hustle, passion projects and making an impact to others). Adults have so many things to attend to and it gets very overwhelming.

    However as responsible adults, we need to find out ways on how to manage everything while maintaining our sanity and fight feelings of overwhelm. In this blog post, we will discuss all about overwhelm and some of the ways to handle it.

    What is Overwhelm?

    Overwhelm is the feeling of being affected by a lot of things very strongly to the extent of not knowing how to deal with all of it.

    It could be a manifestation of anxiety or stress. There are a lot of factors that cause overwhelm. It could be due to an endless list of to-do or an emotional event such as getting married, starting a new job, pregnancy or death.

    If you are feeling overwhelmed, you may be experiencing the following:

    • Procrastination
    • Fatigue
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Difficulty sleeping
    • Difficulty remembering things
    • Withdrawal from people and previously enjoyable tasks
    • Desire to quit (sometimes preoccupation with death)

    Our feelings of overwhelm brings in our tendency to fight or to flight. Fighting the stressors means rolling up your sleeve and facing your concerns. Flight means escaping away from it. We use one of these tendencies when we encounter problems.

    There are times we need to fight and there are times we need to walk away from the problem. It actually depends on your concern. This is why it is also important to assess the situation or the task first so that you will know what action to take.

    How to overcome overwhelm caused by adulting?

    1. Get organized

    Get it out of your head and write it all down in a piece of paper. This is my ultimate solution to feelings of overwhelm.

    Most of the times, we get anxious because there are a lot of things running in our minds. We cannot identify which needs to be done first and what actions should we take in each thought.

    Do a brain dump.

    List all your thoughts in a notebook or in an app like Evernote, Notes or Excel. Then, identify which should be prioritized and which can be done later. I like Eisenhower’s matrix because it helps me with my prioritization. I was not aware of this matrix before but I realized that I have been doing this all along.Eisenhower MatrixAfterwards, sit down and generate solutions for each concern. Personally, what I like to do is to write down an outline of actions steps I need to do in each item. I get really specific of what tasks I need to do. Here is an example:

    THINGS TO DO (June 6, 2019)

    • Clean the house
      • Sweep the floor
      • Mop the floor
      • Change beddings
      • Do the laundry
    • Write a blog post
      • Outline the important points to discuss
      • Research about overwhelm (definition, causes, symptoms)
      • List down personal ways to manage overwhelm
      • Create the worksheet
      • Film a short video discussing overwhelm

    This way, I will not feel as if I am facing a huge stone that I cannot overcome. By breaking it down to small and specific steps, it will feel less intimidating.

    Moreover, it is also important to keep your space organized.

    Clutter may add to your stress. It can also delay you from doing more important tasks. I like to de-clutter my room and organize my desk first before I start working. I like what Gretchen Rubin said in her books:

    2. Manage your finances well

    Setting a budget or accounting your expenses is a must when you are already an adult.

    Learn how to do these two tasks and establish the habit of doing it as early as you can. Not managing my own finances well in my early 20’s is my greatest regret. This is the major reason for the overwhelm I am feeling at this point in my life.

    The stress of not having enough resources to finance all my needs and wants would have been avoided if I were able to save consistently and invested to things that matter in the long run instead of submitting to short-term desires.

    If you are on the same page as I am, do not lose hope. We can still do something. That overwhelm you are feeling may be a message for you to start being more mindful of where you are spending your money. You should be the one to tell your money where to go instead of the other way around.

    Another important thing is to save for an emergency fund so that you will be confident that you have a back-up resource when the time comes that you need a huge amount of money (e.g. when you get laid off from your job, when you or a loved one get sick, etc.)

    Get an insurance because you will surely need this in the future.

    I am not an agent of any insurance companies but I realized how important it is now that I am experiencing some health concerns. I am overwhelmed with huge hospital bills which take almost half of my bi-monthly salary. Whereas if I have availed of an insurance which covers my hospital bills, I would have saved a lot of money or even have access to free check-ups.

    As much as possible stay away from debt.

    If you need to you can start a side-hustle while working in a 9-5 job so that you can earn more and save more too. This is only advisable for people who are ready to experience the pros and cons of a side-hustle. If you are only pressured to do this because you see it in other people, don’t do it. It will only add to your feelings of overwhelm. Start only when you feel ready.

    3. Establish helpful routines

    Being indecisive about things also contributes to feelings of overwhelm. It is stressful to be thinking of something that you do not know what to do about. It is difficult when you are torn between options.

    Gretchen Rubin in her book Better Than Before shared what she found out to be a helpful tool to battle indecision as well as the stress the behavior entails and that is to build habits.

    By building habits, you are making the decision an automated one. Instead of stressing over your indecision to work out or not, you are making it automatic if you will build a habit of it. Decide which option you will do and do it consistently until it becomes a lifestyle.

    Personally, I like building routines because it lessens the overwhelm I feel with all the things I am thinking about. I can focus my energy in my tasks at work instead of using all my fuel into thinking whether or not I should take a shower. I believe that routines help us feel less overwhelmed.

    Take it from Gretchen’s words:

    4. Practice self-care

    I am a huge fan of self-care. If you would be looking in my IG feed or my FB timeline, most of the things I share are about self-care. I am an advocate of balance when it comes to work and leisure. Adulting is life but I believe that self-care is lifer (if there is such word as ‘lifer’, hahaha).

    I shared the things I did to manage the overwhelm I felt this week in my latest IG post. Self-care is about taking a break from your responsibilities and taking the time to care of your greatest resource: yourself.

    Practicing mindfulness may be my ultimate tool against overwhelm.

    Often, the things I am stressed about are all “what ifs.” My mind makes it seem like these thoughts are real and are all emergency. I then become stuck with overwhelm. To bring myself out of the rut, I pull my attention from the future to the present. I like to tell myself that my stressors have not happened yet and that its occurrence is uncertain. I remind myself where I am presently at in life.

    Setting boundaries is another way to practice self-care.

    We get overwhelmed because we make our tasks overlap. We do not have a set limit and this makes us feel that our responsibilities are endless. Although we cannot really get away from our responsibilities, we can surely take a break away from it so that we return to it feeling more pumped up.

    What you can do now?

    I created a pretty one-page infographic of all the things I mentioned above. Feel free to download it to serve as a reminder or a guide as you build your Anti-Overwhelm Plan. You can click the button below to download it.

    How To Fight Overwhelm Infographic

    You can follow my Instagram account where I post more mental health tips. I will be launching my IGTV channel very soon which will focus also on mental health and the language that I will be using is Filipino so that I can relate more with my kababayan audiences. If you are an international audience, worry not because all my captions in my feed are in English so you can still understand my tips.

    I also have a Facebook page where I plan to sell room decorations to help make your space be more uplifting and away from overwhelm. Be sure to like it here.

    Mental Health

    Happiness Series: How to Find Your Purpose

    We have come to the last installment of the Happiness Series. In this post, we will discuss how we can find our purpose in life and how purpose contributes to our happiness. If you want to read the two previous posts, you can click the links below:

    Gratitude and Optimism

    Resilience

    Purpose

     

    WHAT IS PURPOSE?

    Have you ever felt lost in life? Do you feel unsure of the reason why you exist? If so, you are not alone. I am sure there are also people who feel the same. I, for one, feel this way too. There are people who are saying that most of us do not really know what we are doing or if the things we are currently doing have any impact. This feeling of being lost in life is also known as a “crisis” such as quarter-life crisis, third-life crisis or mid-life crisis. The antidote to this kind of feeling, I believe, is reconnecting to one’s purpose.

    Purpose is a person’s reason for being.

    Without purpose, life would be chaotic and depressing. The feeling of meaninglessness is one of the symptoms of depression. We can overcome depression if we will be able to feel that there is still a good reason to continue with life. It will also help if we are optimistic and resilient.  The feeling of being purposeful helps us to be happy and fulfilled.

    Martin Seligman considers having purpose as a pillar of happiness. Happiness is the state of feeling positive emotions, capacity to recover from negative emotions quickly and holding a sense of purpose. The more we are able to fulfill our purpose, the happier we are.

    There are a lot of things that are attributed to purpose. Sometimes, it is related to someone’s responsibilities. For example in the Filipino culture, we take upon ourselves the responsibilities of providing for our families even when we already have our own. The purpose of Filipino children is often to get his family out of poverty. Other times, purpose is attributed to doing charitable acts towards the less fortunate. Sometimes, it is our calling or our vocation. A person’s definition of purpose may differ to the other. It is up to us on how we will define our purpose.

    MY JOURNEY TOWARDS PURPOSE

    In high school, I was this shy, insecure girl who does not know what she wants to be. My Mama suggested I should be a teacher like her while my Papa wants me to take up Accountancy because he believes it is a high paying job. Although I appreciate their suggestions, I have never thought of becoming a teacher nor an accountant. I dislike the idea of teaching noisy children as I believe that I tend to be impatient with them. I never considered taking up Accountancy because I believe I am terrible with Math and the course is filled with it.

    I was tempted to take Mass Communication because I was influenced by my cousin who took the same course. I considered it because one of my passion is writing. However, I later talked my self out of it because I dreaded public speaking. I do not believe that I would be an effective speaker.

    When I asked my friends what they would be taking up in college, they answered different courses. Some plan to take up Human Resource, some want to take up Nursing. Others want to be teachers. Again, I was persuaded to try applying for colleges and courses they applied to. I did not want to be separated from my friends because I value them so much. However, I realized that it is inevitable to be separated from them as we have different interests and goals in life.

    So, I started reading books and magazines about college life. It has been my habit to read about the things I am going to experience because it will help me prepare for it. In one section of a teen magazine, I read a column from a counselor answering a letter sender’s question about what the course Psychology is about and what jobs she could do when she finishes the course.

    Psychology.

    It was a new term for me. I even pronounced it as phy-si-ko-logi. Despite being unfamiliar with the term, I got interested with the counselor’s answer. She told the letter sender that Psychology studies about human behavior and a graduate of that program has a lot of career options to choose from. I researched more about Psychology and the more I learned about it, the more I become interested.

    I hoped that there is someone I could talk to about my thoughts and help me arrive to a decision. I even tried writing to the counselor in that magazine to help me. I read in the internet that it is a counselor’s job to help students with career problems. However, guidance counselors in the public schools in the Philippines are known to be disciplinarians. I thought I might be scolded by just reaching out to them so I did not pushed through meeting with one.

    After some serious pondering, I decided to take Psychology as my course in college.

    In college, I learned how fascinating Psychology is and that I was good at it. I excelled in class and I was a consistent dean’s lister. In my fourth year, I was greatly inspired by my professors in my major that I aimed to be an academician too. My desire to teach and guide the youth was fueled within me.  

    LIVING MY PURPOSE

    A few months after graduation, I applied to a guidance counselor position in a private university near our home. I was not expecting it but I got accepted. I was shocked because I applied to different companies as an HR associate but I was not accepted to any of it. Now, I am hired as a counselor. The realization that maybe I am meant to be in this field hit me.

    I encountered a lot of students who struggled with mental and emotional health concerns in my work as a counselor. I strived to be that person that helps students with their personal and career problems. An assistance I did not have access to when I was still studying. I realized that a lot of teens struggle with the same concerns I struggled with in high school and college. They need help and I want to be of help.

    A few months being a counselor, I realized that my purpose is to help people with their mental health concerns. I want to guide them in reaching their fullest potential and living the best life they could ever have. I want to teach them to love themselves and build their self-esteem because it is very important in achieving success.

    My goals may have evolved now but that purpose to educate people about mental health and guide them through life still remain. This is even the purpose of this blog. I am combining my love for psychology and writing in this passion project. It makes me so happy to be seeing the people I helped grow and improve.

    I can confidently say that I already found my purpose or my ikigai.

    HOW TO DISCOVER YOUR IKIGAI?

    Telling you about my story makes it look like I had it all figured out but let me tell you that is not true. I was not able to appreciate what I experienced and kept on looking for my purpose. I stumbled upon the term ikigai, which is the Japanese term for purpose and I realized after some thought that I am already living it.

    Here is a helpful worksheet from Lavendaire which I got from Pinterest. She also has videos about finding your sweet spot which I find very helpful. You can check out her channel too. She is one of my favorites.

    Find what you love

    This could be your interests and/or passions. For me, my passion is teaching or sharing what I learn. I am passionate about writing and I advocate strongly for mental health. Try assessing yourself about the things you are inclined to do.  What are the things you are interested about? What causes do you stand for? What sparks joy in you?

    Discover what you are good at

    I will not buy it if you will tell me that you are not good at anything. We all have talents. Some may be shy about it while some are not yet aware of it. But I encourage you to rationally think about your strengths. Reflect on your achievements even those small victories you had. Think about what things you excel at. Consider the things other people tell you that you are good at. Sometimes, other people can see things we are not aware of. In my view, I know that I am good in Psychology and I can work well with people.

    Learn what the world needs

    Technology have evolved in such great lengths but I am sure that not all of the problems experienced by the world are already solved. There is still something that needs to be addressed. Find that thing that you advocate about and stand up for it. Try volunteering to different causes to find out what you resonate deeply about. What services or help can you offer to others? For me, I really feel deeply towards mental health.

    If you think that the field you are interested in is already saturated and that everything has been done already, listen to me when I say that you are still needed. Do not get discouraged. I watched this video from Marie Forleo wherein she taught a very valuable reminder. There are people who are waiting for you to speak up so stand up and do so.

    Explore opportunities that you can be paid for

    Truth be told, money is an essential tool in life. It provides for our basic needs as well as our wants. We use it so that we can be of help to others and fulfill our purpose. Find out what jobs you can do that will provide you with enough financial resource.

    CALL TO ACTION

    There are things you can do to find it out. You can use the worksheet above and you will realize a lot of things. Take the time to sit down and ponder about these things. It will be truly worth it as you will not only find what your purpose is but you will also expand your awareness about yourself.

    Here are some things you can do:

    • Find out what your purpose is by using the worksheet. List down all the things that is asked for in a sheet of paper: what do you love, what are you good at, what does the world need and what can you be paid for.
    • Identify what are some of the hindrances that prevent you from living your purpose. What are some of the things you can do to break these hindrances?
    • Connect with me through my social media accounts which you can find at the top right corner of this website and let us talk about the realizations/takeaways you have obtained from this post.
    Mental Health

    Happiness Series: Resilience

    In celebration of the Mental Health Awareness month, all the blog posts for May will center on Happiness. The following topics will be discussed:

    Gratitude and Optimism

    Resilience

    Purpose

    “Life doesn’t get easier and more forgiving. We get stronger and more resilient”


    Steve Maraboli

    Have you ever felt so down because of life circumstances yet in your own little way you continue to push through with life and believe in a better future?

    If yes, then you are able to practice resilience.

    WHAT IS RESILIENCE?

    Resilience is a person’s ability to adapt to challenges and “bounce back” after a fall. This is related to happiness as resilient people tend to feel the most joy.

    When hardships fell upon resilient people, they will surely feel down but their strong belief that there is a good reason why they experience such challenge in life push them to continue on. They have good self-esteem and they believe that they have what it takes to overcome the challenge. They have a strong social support but are also highly differentiated from others. Differentiated people do not base their worth to someone or something.

    I have seen a video of the Iron Lady of Pakistan in my Facebook newsfeed last time and thought that she is a perfect example of a resilient person. She has experienced so many hardship that made her lose a lot of things like her ability to walk and conceive an offspring. However, she rose above her challenges and came out stronger. If you want to watch the video, I linked it here. You would not help but be inspired too.

    Filipino people are said to be resilient. The Philippines encounters a lot of natural disasters and experience extreme poverty but we can still smile, be happy and go on with our lives. The country even ranked 69th in the United Nations Annual World Happiness Report for 2019.

    Resilience need not be shown only in severe situations. In fact, according to American Psychological Association, resilience is ordinary. A lot of people exhibit it. May it be in a simple stressful situation (e.g. you forgot your wallet in your home while you’re on your way to school or work), or a severe one (e.g. death of a loved-one, break-up or hitting rock bottom with finances), resilience can be demonstrated by not thinking about the situation as a “paralyzing event but instead taking this situation as a learning opportunity”. With this information, we can be confident that we can also develop strong resilience in our selves.

    But why is it important to build resilience? I believe that most mental health concerns, like depression, are rooted to the underdeveloped self-esteem and self-efficacy which results to instable resilience too. Resilience is important so that we can go forth with our lives despite all the challenges we are facing.

    Resilience is also linked with happiness. Let us go back to the definition stated by Martin Seligman about happiness which I discussed in the first installment of this series. You can read the first post here.

    Happiness is the state of feeling positive emotions, capacity to recover from negative emotions quickly and holding a sense of purpose.

    One facet of happiness is our ability to recover from the negative emotions and I interpreted it as resilience.

    HOW CAN WE BUILD RESILIENCE?

    I am writing this blog post about resilience for myself just as much as it is for you, my dear reader. This is something that I am still working in myself too. I researched on this so that I will know how I can develop resilience and I am sharing with you what I learned. Here are some of the things that I learned:

    Work on your self-esteem.

    People with healthy self-esteem are confident and positive. They know their strengths well and they are accepting of their weaknesses. They trust themselves that they are capable enough to surpass the challenges they encounter

    People with low self-esteem have a tendency to sabotage their selves. They talk ill about themselves and judge themselves critically. However, when we are in a difficult situation, the last thing our selves need is another mental torture. Imagine having a friend who is grieving from a loss or a failure, how would you approach that friend? Would you bring him down further or would you support him as he thrive to overcome the adversity? You would surely choose the latter, right? Treat yourself the way you would treat that friend.

    How can we apply this tip? Take a day (or even only just a few hours) and do some self-reflection. Do a little SWOT analysis and identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Through better self-awareness, you will be confident in solving your problems and will contribute to the improvement of self-efficacy.

    Strengthen relationships.

    Social support is a very integral factor in overcoming problems. Withdrawal from interacting with loved-ones might cause feelings of loneliness and discouragement. Life is not meant to be lived alone. Nobody is an island. It is okay to share your feelings and problems with someone. It does not mean that you are adding burden to them. More often than not, people are willing to help. Just reach out to someone you trust. If you think you have no one to talk to, remember your family, friends, significant others, colleagues or even a mental health professional. There are billions of people in the world. Surely, there is someone who would listen and empathize. There is someone who would inspire or help you get out of the rut you are in. There is someone who can help.

    How can we apply this tip? Re-connect with a friend or a family member. Meet up and do a catch-up session about the current happenings between the two of you. Call someone you love and chat. If you can, hug someone. Hugs are said to be instant stress reliever. Enjoy the warmth and comfort that hug brings.

    Look forward with faith.

    Resilient people trust life. They know that life is a series of ups and downs. They have accepted that life is and will never be perfect. They are thankful with rock bottom situations as this entails the opportunity to “bounce” back even higher.

    Hope is another important thing in life. When you have hope, you believe in positive things that will come in the future. We can develop hope when we opt to look at the brighter side of life. We can have hope if we trust ourselves and the Higher Being governing us that there is truly something to look forward in life.

    Aside from hope, purpose/meaning is also very vital. When a person knows what his purpose is, he can effectively bounce back after a challenge as he knows what it is he needs to do. Positive thinking is also a key factor.

    How can we apply this tip? Set goals that you want to accomplish in the near future. Write your own bucket list of the things you want to do. Look back to these things when you feel unmotivated or down. Choose to always look at the brighter side of life.

    MY PERSONAL STORY

    Although I am still a work in progress when it comes to resilience, I had my fair share of triumph after hitting rock bottom. Let me share my own personal story. After a break-up a few years ago, I thought that life is meaningless. I thought there is nothing better for me. I was very bitter, negative and cynical. I lost hope that I would ever find love again. I believe this attitude was brought by my low self-esteem. I have nothing to look forward to. Until a church leader counseled me and he said that “the best antidote to a broken heart is giving or being charitable.” I took his advice and focused on my work as a counselor and with my duty in the church. I also reconnected with my family and bonded with my friends.

    True enough, I regained my purpose when I realized how much impact I can make to other people. I realized that the world does not end with my broken heart. Instead, I can use it to make a difference in the world. I learned how loved I am by my family and friends. I realized there is so much to life than having a romantic partner.

    The healing after a break-up was when I also felt the prettiest. I took the time to take care of myself. I worked out and I ate right. I started meditating and journaling. I started a new set of good habits and I felt great. However, I needed to work more on my mindset as I tend to be pessimistic. This was the time I read a lot of self-help articles, dived in to self-development and assessed my values in life. I held on to the belief that a friend once told me, “every heart break is a step towards the right person.” I started to find out what my values really are and what my goals are. I learned how it is I like to be treated by a future boyfriend. Finally, I realized my worth.

    During that difficult time in my life, my life saver were my friends and family members who supported me all through out. They reminded me that love never ran out of my life after that person left me. They reminded me that they are still here no matter what happens. I also held on tight to the hope that there is something better in store for me. Though it is not easy, I learned to trust the timing of my life. Finally, the new knowledge I learned about myself pushed me to be a little more confident. My purpose in life is not dependent to that person. I learned I have the capability to create it myself.

    Being okay after a rock bottom is not easy. Sometimes you will see you are moving forward, other times you will feel that you are going back to the bottom. It is normal, my dear. If you ever feel impatient with overcoming your setback, remember this:

     

     

     

     

    ANNOUNCEMENT:

    I have decided to disable my blog’s IG account and connect my personal account to this blog. I realized after three weeks of managing both the blog’s IG and FB account plus maintaining my personal accounts too is difficult. I knew I needed to lessen the accounts I am managing so that I will be able to give more value to my audience.

    If you want to follow me outside this blog, you can click on the links below. I promise to give value and positivity to your feed.

    INSTAGRAM

    • This is my personal account where I post bits and pieces about my life. I often post IG stories too about my realization on things as well as my advocacies (e.g. mental health and environment).

    FACEBOOK

    • This is where I post recent blog posts as well as other uplifting posts. If you are looking for a break from a toxic feed full of rants, horrible news and other things, you will surely enjoy the things I post here in the FB page. Like us now and tell your friends about it!

     

     

     

    References:

    Philippines A Happier Country in 2019, Says UN Study. Retrieved from https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/03/21/19/philippines-a-happier-country-in-2019-says-un-study

    Resilience in Positive Psychology: Bouncing Back and Going Strong. Retrieved from https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/resilience-in-positive-psychology/

    The Road to Resilience. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/road-resilience

    Mental Health

    Happiness Series: Gratitude and Optimism

    In celebration of the Mental Health Awareness month, all the blog posts for May will center on Happiness. The following topics will be discussed:

    Gratitude and Optimism

    Resilience

    Purpose

     

    “How to be happy”

    “How to increase happiness?”

    “How to find happiness?”

    If you will check my Google search history, you will see that these are some of the topics I searched for. I did this because of three reasons: (1) I am curious about happiness, (2) It is a topic I was assigned to talk about in a seminar, and (3) it is a pep talk for me whenever I feel down and lonely.

    Happiness is the summon bonum, meaning it is humans’ ultimate goal. We work hard for money because we want to be happy. We aim for fame because we want to be happy. We search for freedom and for love because we want to be happy. All our goals lead to our desire to be happy.

    WHAT IS HAPPINESS?

    We cannot achieve happiness if we do not know what it means to us. We can set our own definition of what happiness is ( sometimes food means happiness, right?) but Martin Seligman, a psychologist and pioneer of the Positive Psychology theory, defined happiness as:

    The state of feeling positive emotions, capacity to recover from negative emotions quickly and holding a sense of purpose.

    If we will break down the definition, there are three things that define happiness: positive emotions, recovery from the negative and sense of purpose. I believe that if we will work on these three aspects, we will be able to increase feelings of happiness.

    In each blog post this month, we will digest each of these three aspects. For this first post, we will discuss about positive emotions.

    Positive emotions are considered “tiny engines” of Positive Psychology. To feel positive emotions, gratitude and optimism are key factors. Researching about happiness, I saw this list of things we can do to increase happiness that Sin & Lyubomirsky (2009) enumerated (they are both positive psychologists). They listed expressing gratitude and thinking positively about the future (a.k.a optimism) as two of the three things we can do to be happier.

    WHAT IS GRATITUDE?

    Harvard Medical School defined gratitude as:

    “a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives… As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature or a higher power”

    This is the definition I have shared because it captured the whole essence of what gratitude is. But in simple terms, gratitude is feeling and expressing thankfulness.

    I believe that cases of depression and anxiety increase because people do not practice gratitude as much as they should. We tend to compare ourselves to others and we focus on things they have that we think we do not have. The things we believe we lack are magnified to us by our own minds and we feel inadequate.

    I have been a victim of the Comparison Trap myself.

    I would see other successful people who seem to have it all and I would compare myself to them. Instantly, all the good things I have, all the blessings I received and all the achievements I gained seem non-existent. This has lowered my self-esteem. The fear of not being good enough has taken over me. It prevented me to experience things which I would have enjoyed and learned a lot of things from.

    Convinced that I need to improve my mindset, I decided to journal the things I am grateful for each day. It could be big things or mundane things, tangible or intangible. I just list it all down. By doing so, I am able to reflect on my day with “positivity” glasses on. Gratitude journaling also helped me realize my skills and talents which make me feel more confident and happy with myself.

    GRATITUDE BREEDS OPTIMISM

    Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

    If you feel grateful and you appreciate that your glass has water in it, you will take the half-full mindset. You will think that you are blessed no matter how much content there is in your glass.

    We live in the world we think we live. Our mindset affects how happy we are in life. If we hold a pessimistic mindset, what we will see are all negative, dark and sad. But if we work on seeing the positive, our lives will feel happier and lighter. Plus, optimism can be contagious too. You have the power to have that positive influence to others.

    The concept of manifestation and law of attraction are created through the practice of optimism. Believers of this concept think that if we set our mind into that thing we want or if we behave as if we are already in the place we are dreaming of, our desires will manifest into reality. In addition, optimistic people are more likely to live longer because they feel less stressed than their pessimistic counterparts. There are truly a lot of benefits in just taking a positive mindset.

    Moreover, cognitive psychologists also believe that our mind is a very important factor to what we feel and how we behave. Therapies like Cognitive Behavior Therapy center on reframing the negative core beliefs of a person to more positive and helpful beliefs. It is challenging to change and improve our mindset but it is certainly doable.

    What can we do then? Choose gratitude and optimism every day.

    CHOOSE TO BE POSITIVE

    One thing we can do to improve our mindset is to consistently choose to be grateful and optimistic. When you hear your inner critic reprimanding you for not being good enough, try to think of counter arguments that do not support the lies it is telling you. Acknowledge your skills, talents and achievements. Be grateful of even the most mundane things. Do all this consistently until it becomes a habit.

    But I know this is not easy. It needs consistency and determination to really change our mindset. Good thing is we can start small.

    CALL TO ACTION

    I lost my habit of journaling a few months ago. This time, I want to re-build habits I think will be helpful for me to live my life to the fullest. I want to do journaling again and list down all the things I am thankful for. I want to be more mindful and more optimistic. Journaling would be one habit I can do to develop these traits.

    I invite you to join me in this week’s challenge. You may choose one (or you can choose all three) action below and do it for seven (7) days straight.

    What can we do to develop gratitude and optimism?

    • Start a gratitude journal where you can list and write about all the things you are grateful for each day
    • Reflect on your skills, talents and achievements. Write it all down on a notebook. Then create a mantra you can tell yourself whenever doubt and pessimism knocks.
    • Post in your social media accounts (Facebook timeline, Facebook My Day, IG feed or IG stories) about the things you are grateful for. You can post at least one thing per day. Use the hashtag #GratefulOptimist so that I can see your posts (and I will know I have accountability partners! Yay!) or tag The Uplifting Space to your posts.

    Start cultivating a happy mind and you will see that success will follow.

     

     

     

    References:

    Positive Emotions and Well-Being by Dr. Marianna Pogosyan. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/between-cultures/201611/positive-emotions-and-wellbeing

    TED Talk: How To Make Stress Your Friend by Dr. Kelly McGonigal

    The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

    The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha

    What is Gratitude and Why is it so Important. Retrieved from http://positivepsychologyprogram.com/gratitude-appreciation

    Personal, Self-Development

    Why Start a Blog in 2019?

    Writing has always been a passion of mine.

    Written anecdotes of people, whether famous or not, interest me as they seem to have an eternal legacy because they have survived hundreds and thousands of years. As a young child, I would write notes and my personal experiences in my diary. Then, I would bury it in our little backyard thinking that people in year 2030 might stumble upon my notebook, read it, find it valuable and store it in a museum. This is really how I imagined it to be. *embarrassed laugh*

    Growing up, writing has been a tool for me to express myself and document my experiences in life. I still do it with a pen and a paper but now I type more of my thoughts in the web.

    This is not the first time I created a blog. Back in 2008 when Friendster is still a thing, I wrote short articles about my teenage life in the Notes page. I also had a Live Journal account. When Tumblr came in, I did not let the opportunity pass to create my own account, re-post pretty typography, create my own gifs and share my thoughts to my approximately 300 followers. After graduating in college, I outgrew Tumblr and moved to Blogger. However, life got in the way and I was not able to focus on blogging anymore. Also, times have seem to change and the attention went from blogs to vlogs.

    Two years ago, my love for writing/blogging resurfaced which prompted me to create my first WordPress account. I blogged about food and wrote poems. However, I was in the middle of my graduate school practicum that time and I was not able to really focus on building my blog.

    So now, why am I back to blogging?

    I have three main reasons.

    First is that I want to build a business. I thought of immediately setting-up an online store that sells bedding and home decors because I want to address a personal problem of finding quality, simple-designed and inexpensive bed sheet. I believe that it is important for people to design their homes or bedrooms (which I’d like to call comfort spaces) in a neat and simple way that would contribute to feelings of inner calm.

    However, there are a lot of other online stores selling bed sheets and home decors. Some are even very successful now. How would I be unique?

    I realized that the factor which would make me unique from other online stores is my own story, my own “why.” I want to share to my possible clients the reason why I want to sell beddings. I want to tell my clients about the importance of the environment to one’s mental health. I want to empower people to take charge of designing their own comfort spaces and take care of their psychological wellness.

    I planned to create a website where I can write my thoughts and at the same time sell products. But, after a few days of planning, I realized that setting both the blog and the store simultaneously is quite tedious. So, here I am choosing to build my brand and audience first before I launch possible products.

    Second, I created a blog as a way to develop my skills. My writing skills seem to have rusted and I want to re-polish it again by writing blog posts consistently. I also want to learn Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop so I would be able to post pretty visuals in this blog and in my Instagram account.

    Moreover, I am trying to build my resume as I wish to work as a Social Media Manager in the near future. I believe that I will only be qualified to such position if I am able to run a blog successfully and market it to social media sites effectively. This is also a way for me to try out the things I learned from the articles and books I have read about social media.

    My third and last reason is to establish an online space that discusses positive, substantial and helpful topics. Nowadays, the internet is filled with a lot of different stories about people’s daily experiences: where they have been and what they have been doing. Although I have nothing against these kind of subjects (I still watch and read these stuff too), my soul is looking for more meaningful content . I want to see blogs and vlogs where I can learn something valuable about life and teach me skills I could develop in myself. I am wishing for content creators who will take time to build deeper connections with their readers or viewers. Sadly, there seem to be a lack of people talking about this kind of content as most social media personalities are inclined to talk about the same topics. Some are inclined to give more importance on how much profit they would gain and how famous or viral they will be instead of creating content that would cause a positive impact to others.

    What is this blog about? What can you expect?

    In this blog, I will write quick-read entries (you can finish one blog post in more or less 10 minutes) about mental wellness, personal development and productivity/ organization. I will be sharing stories, personal experiences and practical tips about the three topics I mentioned.

    This will also be a medium for me to document lessons I have acquired from the books I read and videos I watched. I will be able to strengthen the knowledge I gained by teaching my readers about the information I learned.

    Also, I plan to interview people about different significant topics and feature them as guests in my blog. By doing so, I will be able to give the limelight to other amazing people who have strong advocacy and important message to share.

    This blog values authenticity, optimism, meaning/purpose and sense of community. If you want to read more about this blog and the author, you can check the About page.

    Call to Action

    If you have resonated with the things I discussed above and would want to see more, I invite you to:

    • Read my weekly post here in my blog. I promise to post inspiring and meaningful entries every single Monday morning.
    • Follow this blog’s Instagram account and participate in the post’s comment section. Share you answers to these questions: What are your big goals/ passion projects this year? What goal has already come true? What are your plans to make your goals real?

    In this time when a lot of different voices online demand for your attention, it seems difficult to speak up about your own ideas. You might take the false assumption that your content is invaluable. But trust me, your unique insights are very much needed. It is never too late to start taking action towards our goals. Who knows, there might be someone waiting for you to speak up too.

    If you are looking for a sign to start a passion you have been planning about, this is the sign you are asking for.

    Remember, your voice and your story matters. Don’t hide it. Don’t keep it to yourself. Instead, share it and let the world see how amazing you are.