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  • Making Your Way Towards Self-care amidst the Filipino Culture

    Over the years, I have witnessed the shift of mental health towards the awareness of people. From being taboo and kept discreet or toppled over excuses to define the situations and emotions we go through, people and myself have transitioned towards a better mindset of receiving education about these matters and taking care of others and ourselves. This is where self-care comes in. Usually, people’s idea of self-care is about getting pampered in the salon, going on vacation, staying at home and binging on that insanely good series on Netflix, and so on; and because of this common ideation, it seems like self-care is challenging to attain as it may sound luxurious or time-consuming, and one might think “I don’t have time for that” (saying you don’t have time to rest or saying you don’t need rest). Otherwise, you’d feel like you’re only procrastinating. But, people don’t see that it’s not only about the self or making impractical choices. In the Filipino culture, we have the impression that taking care of ourselves has a negative connotation. Usually, we get labeled lazy, selfish, and rude when we refuse to favor others, especially family members and acquaintances. For the longest time, we have become ignorant and insensitive not to other’s needs but to ourselves. But thankfully, times have changed, and people have become more aware of prioritizing themselves to give more in quality shape. Fresh eyes on Self-care Self-care is not merely about rewarding oneself with material things, but it’s about creating a relationship with the self. Yes, it may sound cliche, but it’s part of the job and the responsibility for oneself. Being at peace is incredibly hard nowadays, considering how we’re battling with duties at home, at work, in school, for our families. In this pandemic, we even extended ourselves a bit more just to help those in need. Because of all these at hand, we think that the easiest way to handle things is to sacrifice ourselves. When we believe it's the best choice, but it’s the worst. The habit of self-care, of course, doesn’t happen automatically. It takes constant practice for us to adapt to it. It is not individualistic, nor is it selfish. RatherInstead taking care of oneself is also to taking care of others. The habit of lowering and sacrificing oneself for others does not give many benefits. It may lead to burnout or fatigue where it won’t be healthy enough to be done long-term—your result in making efforts and decisions to gain none in return. The holistic approach thoroughly evaluates and treats the human as a whole, including physical, mental, and social factors. This is what self-care is all about - putting oneself first to provide quality to those who need us. How do you take self-care into practice? Limit yourself. This is an important habit to learn. In the Filipino culture, we always tend to think about our debt of gratitude (utang na loob) - a concept of owing someone favors when they gave things for your benefit at first. This is common in families and sometimes even strangers. Limiting yourself does not necessarily mean restricting or depriving yours to know what you want especially and need - if you can’t grant favors for others because you already have much on your plate, say it; if you don’t have the energy nor are you in the right mind to give your friends advice, say it. Communicate. Acknowledge your emotions. This is a hard-to-swallow pill. This is where the abuse of toxic positivity comes in. We tend to say “kaya mo yan” or “maliit na bagay lang yun” and other typical lines to cover up what needs to be addressed. In acknowledging the situation and emotions you are currently feeling, it will help you gain relief and be a better head state, so you can only plan your best actions. Ask for help. Sometimes we’re either too proud or too shy to ask for help, even in times that we need it most. This is again where the concept of utang na loob comes in. Many Filipinos are hesitant to ask for help in fear of “needing” to grant favors for the other next time. But, setting that aside, it is vital to recognize that you can only handle so much. Fix your eyes on the prize. We have a habit of living as if we’re running a race to win over others as a sign of victory, but in the end, it will only tire us out. I say, know your reasons and know what or whom they are for. The people around us so pressure us that we tend to forget what we’re aiming for. There are plenty more ways to practice self-care, but it already sounds a lot each of the points given. But, to tell you honestly, by incorporating these five (5) points little by little, you may come to realize how inexpensive and efficient self-care is, as they are not attached to material things. Still, it is a responsibility for oneself—learning to set boundaries, knowing what makes you happy and comfortable, labeling your feelings and asking for help, and aiming for what’s good for you. Then, you may only realize how far gone you have helped not only yourself but other people as well. Live your best and authentic life. References: Baratta, M. (2018). Self Care 101 10 Ways to take better care of you. Psychology Today. URL: |Self Care 101 Glowiak, M. (2020). What is Self-Care and Why is it Important For You? Southern New Hampshire University Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program URL: Su, A. (2017). 6 Ways to Weave Self-care into Your Workday. Harvard Business Review. URL: 6 Ways to Weave Self-Care into Your Workday

  • Digital Psychotherapy

    The Ascent of Digital Therapies Since 2000, technology had been evolving, making our lives simpler and faster. Aside from that, technology is now revolutionizing even our health care services. We are introduced to telepsychology and online consultations from the traditional and most common face-to-face appointments and sessions. It also changed the way we deal with different mental health issues today. Examples of these techniques include Exposure Therapy via Virtual Reality (VR) which other clinicians use in their treatment for cases such as trauma-related disorders, phobia, etc. Artificial Intelligence (AI) also appears to be the next frontier for psychology but is not being used in the mainstream as of the moment. (Gottsegen, 2019) However, some of these new technologies actually were present way back, but only a few included this in their practice and were only popularized because of this pandemic. A new form of technology emerges, providing web-based applications and software that will help clinicians and clients tackle their mental health issues. The Digital Space WOEBOT Woebot was created in 2017 by Standford psychologist and AI experts. It was then considered the world’s first chatbot designed to help improve mental health. The chatbot used an accessible medium in the form of Facebook Messenger. It was designed as a conversational chatbot that uses Cognitive Behavioral techniques to provide solutions and help people suffering from less severe mental health issues. Studies have already shown that the Woebot works in relieving depression and anxiety (Fitzpartick et al., 2017). It also showed potential to help with Post-Partum symptoms (Suharwardy et al., 2021 & Ramachandran et al., 2020) and may also help reduce substance abuse (Prochaska, 2021) Woebot Health created WB001, a digital therapeutic designed to reduce Postpartum depression. Recently, it was granted the Breakthrough Device Designation to the company’s digital therapeutic to treat postpartum depression (PPD) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (Woebot Health, 2021) SLEEPIO and DAYLIGHT Both were developed by Big Health and use Cognitive Behavior techniques as a 6-week intervention. Sleepio was designed for insomnia and is lead by an animation in The Prof, the virtual assistant and expert on insomnia, and his narcoleptic dog, Pavlov. These two help with the intervention; Theseet et al., studies have shown a significant improvement in the symptoms of individuals who completed their course. (Barnes,, 2017; Luik,, 2017) On the other hand, Daylight is used to help with worry and anxiety. It was designed to provide strategies that reduce symptoms of fear and anxiety. Similar to Sleepio, Daylight has studies that show a reduction of symptoms to those who were able to compete with 6-week intervention. (Big Health, 2020) PEAR THERAPEUTICS reSET, reSET-O, and SOMRYST Pear Therapeutics developed these apps, which are considered the First prescription digital therapeutics for disease treatment cleared by the FDA. These can only be prescribed to the client and use under the supervision of their clinician. reSET works well with individuals with substance use disorders. The app works as a medium to track the individual’s progress, usage, triggers, and cravings. On the other hand, reSET-O is a variation used for opioid-used disorders. While Somryst is used to help treat chronic insomnia. Unlike with the previous apps, Somyst is intended for individuals aged 22 above and has a grade 7 level. A study presented in Virtual Sleep 2020 supports that Somyrst was able to improve the individual’s sleep and reduce symptoms of depression and insomnia (Batterham et al., 2020) Other mental health and mindfulness apps are also starting to make noise in the digital stream and download from any app store. Unlike the others, clinicians sometimes use these apps and don’t need a prescription to use them. Today, technology continues to develop and emerge new ways to improve health services even, towards psychological services. Digital Psychotherapy has so much potential to be explored to help future clinicians and patients deal with psychological issues. However, despite the advantages that are present, there are also limitations that clinicians and experts need to address, especially towards ethics and legal concerns such as confidentiality and privacy issues, as well as regulation of the laws towards these programs, and raising awareness and educating both patients and clinicians on these innovations. SOURCES: Barnes CM, Miller JA, Bostock S. (2017). Helping employees sleep well: Effects of cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia on work outcomes. J Appl Psychol. 2017 Jan;102(1):104-113. DOI: 10.1037/apl0000154. Epub 2016 Oct 3. PMID: 27690480. Batterham, P.J., Christensen, H., Thorndike, F. P., Ritterband, L.M., Gerwien, R., Enman, N., Botbyl, J., Maricich, Y. (2020). Web-delivered CBT for Insomnia Intervention Improves Sleep Among Adults with Insomnia and Depressive Symptoms. Virtual SLEEP 2020. Broudy, M.S., (2019). How is Technology Changing the Study of Psychology?. Online Psychology Degrees. Retrieved from: Fitzpatrick K., Darcy A., Vierhile M., (2017). Delivering Cognitive Behavior Therapy to Young Adults With Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety Using a Fully Automated Conversational Agent (Woebot): A Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR Ment Health 2017;4(2):e19. URL: DOI: 10.2196/mental.7785 Gottsegen, G. (2019). Psychology and Technology: How is Tech Improving Mental Health. Retrieved from: Luik, A., Bostock, S., Chisnall, L., Kyle, S., Lidbetter, N., Baldwin, N., & Espie, C. (2017). Treating Depression and Anxiety with Digital Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia: A Real World NHS Evaluation Using Standardized Outcome Measures. Behavioral and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 45(1), 91-96. doi:10.1017/S1352465816000369 Prochaska JJ, Vogel EA, Chieng A, Kendra M, Baiocchi M, Pajarito S, Robinson A. (2021) A Therapeutic Relational Agent for Reducing Problematic Substance Use (Woebot): Development and Usability Study. J Med Internet Res 2021;23(3):e24850. doi: 10.2196/24850PMID: 33755028PMCID: 8074987 Ramachandran et al., (2020). Acceptability of Postpartum Mood Management Through a Smartphone-based Automated Conversational Agent. DOI: Suharwardy et al. (2020). Effect of an automated conversational agent on postpartum mental health: A randomized, controlled trial. DOI: Woebot Health. (2021). Retrieved from:

  • Gaining Independence

    The Philippines is a country that heavily values family above all. This means that individuals are forced or pressured into sacrificing themselves for the family’s sound more than it should be happening. We often fail to see the importance of self-care and giving our own feelings priority at times. This is partly because the Philippines is a collectivist country. This means that we value the group (our families) more than the individual (ourselves). This is in no way a purely negative aspect of being Filipinos. If anything, this is something we Filipinos should be incredibly proud of. However, just like most things, too much of one thing is almost always not a good thing. If we were to completely ignore our individual needs and wants for the good of our families, this could lead to so many problems like our own mental health suffering. Each one of us, at one point in our lives, needs to become our person. For most, it is considered becoming an “adult.” However, becoming an adult is a challenging step in our lives as there is no set blueprint as to how to be an adult and what adults need to do. One of the final steps people take when they consider themselves to be adults and independent is the start of detaching themselves from their families to make their own and flourish. However, given the nature of Filipinos and how much we value our families and relationships with them, this may pose an issue to some. Often, this attempt to grow and become a better person is taken by some family members as disrespect or, even worse, cutting them off. This leads to conflict, which will make things worse. We can do many things to mitigate or avoid problems arising between our family members and us while becoming our person. The most important one would be communication. A lot of issues stem from miscommunication or lack of communication. The lack of communication leads to misunderstandings and misplaced feelings, which could have been easily avoided. In this case, if we were to explain that we are doing what we are doing because we want to grow and better ourselves rather than abandoning our family, it could help avoid misunderstandings. Setting boundaries is also crucial in terms of finding ourselves. We will be unable to grow if we keep ourselves in the same situation for all our lives. By setting boundaries, we create changes and new norms in which we will function differently. However, finding the balance between too many limitations and too few boundaries is something each individual has to figure out, as pulling away too much or too little from our families is problematic. Mutual respect between the people around us and us is critical in developing into healthy individuals. References: Munsey, C. (n.d.). Emerging adults: The in-between age. Retrieved March 23, 2021, from What About The Philippines? (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2021, from

  • Relationships and Connection Amidst the Lockdown

    For most people, the pandemic and the lockdown has been a life-changing event. It turned all our worlds upside down in the blink of an eye. We are all forced to face a new normal which none of us could have predicted. A lot of people’s daily lives are entirely different from what they were before the pandemic. Professionals are now forced to work at home with little to no physical interaction with other people. Students now only see their classmates and peers through a computer screen. The little time we spend with people outside our homes is limited by social distancing. The amount of people I used to see and bond with regularly has been nearly zero. Among these bonds are even with strangers and passersby we encounter daily. Simple interactions such as smiling at the cashier when I order my food at a fast food place were small things that made my day just a little bit better. Having these things taken away from me has been a toll that is becoming more obvious as the day goes by. The effects of the pandemic on all of us may be different from one person to another, but it is there. These are all completely reasonable responses to the pandemic, given its nature. However, the effects of these on our mental health as well as our relationships are undeniable. Socializing is not just something that makes us “happy.” Social connections with other people help form and shape our lives. Multiple studies show that social connectedness and our relationships with other people affect our mental health and other aspects of our personalities. Sometimes we may not notice it but interacting with other people, forming relationships, and maintaining these relationships help us keep ourselves. Something so simple as looking forward to greeting your co-worker when you arrive at work or having a chat over coffee in the break room are situations we no longer experience in our new “normal” lives. We toil away for hours in front of our monitors and keyboards with barely any breaks in between; we jump from meeting to meeting, all this without a pause like cracking a joke with a friend. This is bound to heighten and increase our fatigue and even the likelihood of burning out. It is vital to take our level of social connectedness into account when thinking about our mental health. Given our current situation, physical activities such as meeting up with a friend to have dinner or going out of town with our “barkada” are out of the question. We can’t just give up and accept our fates and wait for everything to go back to normal before COVID happened. We need to try and at least buffer or minimize the effects of COVID on our relationships and connections with other people. A viable option for maintaining social connectedness would be through digital and virtual means. We are blessed to have been born in a generation where we need to talk to our friends or even see them using our phones and the internet. The ability to set time away from work and taking the time to connect or reconnect with friends and family is an invaluable experience we should not take for granted. We have access to social media to keep up with our friends’ lives and keep in touch whenever we need to. Yes, hopping into a video call with a group of friends to talk to each other about your week is far from having dinner together, but it’s something that will remind us of the people around us and our relationships with them. References: Boucher, E. M., McNaughton, E. C., Harake, N., Stafford, J. L., & Parks, A. C. (2021). The impact of a digital intervention (Happify) on loneliness during COVID-19: Qualitative focus group. JMIR Mental Health, 8(2), e26617. Casagrande, M., Favieri, F., Tambelli, R., & Forte, G. (2020). The enemy who sealed the world: Effects quarantine due to the COVID-19 on sleep quality, anxiety, and psychological distress in the Italian population. Sleep Medicine, 75, 12–20. Lee, R. M., & Robbins, S. B. (1998). The relationship between social connectedness and anxiety, self-esteem, and social identity. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 45(3), 338–345.

  • Boundaries: When you think you don’t need them

    As defined by Merriam Webster, a boundary is something that indicates or fixes a limit or extent. It can be applied to objects, distances, relationships, thoughts, beliefs, and emotions. Collectively, these can be categorized into physical, mental, and emotional boundaries. For Cloud & Townsend (1992), the boundary is defined as what is me and not me. It is where the possession of “I” ends and someone else begins. Different people have different boundaries because these were developed as a combination of culture, judgment, personal experiences, principles, and accumulated knowledge. For one, our sense of comfort differs from one person to another. We can be used to hugging a childhood friend but not an office acquaintance. Or sharing an intimate gesture with a special someone but not with a good friend. Dr. Ryan Howes, a clinical psychologist, and author explained that a healthy boundary is knowing what you want and need while meeting those goals and not feeling bad about yourself or others. Setting a healthy personal boundary is very important since it plays a crucial role in our interpersonal relationships, self-care, safety, decision making, self-expression, and the quality of life in general. When we have healthy boundaries, it is easier to identify and feel if our boundaries were crossed by someone else or crossed someone’s boundaries already. Without it, it will be difficult for us to navigate our choices, nurture our self-identity, regulate our emotions and ensure self-growth. People with loose boundaries are predisposed to other people’s suggestions, over-giving to the point of exhaustion, and are always taken advantage of by other people. On the other hand, clinical psychologist Dr. Mark Dombeck pointed out that people with rigid boundaries are isolated, have detached relationships, and are so entangled with duty and honor. When were the times you felt your boundaries were crossed? What did you do to address your concern? Here are some practical ways to set your boundaries. Saying No. Do not be afraid to say “no” (or “yes”) every time you want to. You are free to say “no” if you are uncomfortable with certain requests or if it is against your own beliefs or moral values. Conforming to the majority, just because your opinion is different lessens your individuality, creativity, and critical thinking. By confirming, you are also giving other people the capability to control your life. Adding your boss on Facebook. In today’s digital world, social media sites are now your personal, public, and working space altogether. Because of this, people who want to keep their personal lives private will have difficulty doing so. Some will constantly release their emotional stress through social media sites, so sending or accepting their boss’s friend request might be a bad idea after all. By doing so, you are not limiting your connection but guarding your intellectual and emotional space against intrusion. After all, your work life should be separated from your work life. Oversharing. Many times, we share our own stories with other people. However, there is danger in how much information we can reveal to other people. Oversharing can be problematic, especially for people who have loose boundaries. They are more likely inclined to share too much personal or confidential information as well as humiliating or embarrassing stories. Burning bridges. We are expected to stay in touch with our relatives, friends or sometimes past lovers. Usually, it is good advice. But for people who are in toxic relationships, not too much. Staying connected with an overly dependent friend, a past lover who manipulated you, or a relative who feeds on drama will burden you emotionally and physically. Always remember that you are not responsible for the happiness of others as they are also not responsible for your own. Unsolicited advice. Well-meaning people help others by giving them advice. However, repeated, unwanted, and insistent advice is also a form of intrusion. If they are adults, they are responsible for making decisions for their good. And if you must give some advice, ask their permission first. Some people have developed their boundaries earlier than others, while some did not. Nevertheless, setting boundaries can be learned. With self-awareness and conscious repetitions, you will set a healthy boundary for yourself and other people. References: Cloud, H., & Townsend, J. (1992). "Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No, To Take Control of Your Life.” Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530 Soghomonian, I. (2019, September 23). Boundaries – Why are they important? Part 1. The Resilience Centre. Dombeck, M. (2021). Boundaries and Dysfunctional Family Systems. Center Site LLC. Tartakovsky, M. (2014, March 30). Signs Your Boundaries Are Too Loose or Too Rigid. PsychCentral. Boundary Definition. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster. What Are Personal Boundaries? How Do I Get Some? (2016, May 17). PsychCentral. Liles, J. (2019, May 27). On Boundaries: Defining Boundaries. Out of My Mind. What Are Boundaries? (n.d.). Metta Psychology Group.

  • SELF-CARE: Your Essential and Holistic Wellness Kit

    By: Maymosa Jinang In a viral video posted on many social media sites last month, we were challenged to define what is considered “essential.” To where do we draw the line of what is essential or not? In what circumstances? This dilemma is also true when it comes to the idea of self-care. For some people, it is a matter of life and death. For others, it’s just an indulgence. According to Beauchamp & Childress (2001), self-care is a deliberate act of giving sufficient attention to one's own physical and psychological wellness. According to Elizabeth Scott, a wellness coach and author, there are five types of self-care: physical, social, mental, spiritual, and emotional. These are common or ritual activities that we do every day to achieve a healthier and satisfying life. The elements of self-care are different from person to person. What is considered a self-care activity for one person may not be the case for others. Tonya Dalton, a productivity coach & strategist, explained that it is the idea of nourishing yourself, on every level, where encouraging creativity can promote that feeling of well-being. Usually, we only prioritize our physical health. However, our emotional, mental, social, and spiritual needs are entirely and equally significant. In his study, Dr. Pinit Ratanakul noted that this perspective is also reflected in Buddhism’s holistic health. The focus is on the whole person because human beings are not merely physical creatures but also mental, emotional, social, and spiritual beings. Because of this, we must have a continued oversight of all domains of our life. Below are some of the self-care tips that may improve our well-being. Physical self-care. These are the things you do to keep your physical body healthy. This may include getting a good quality of sleep, exercising regularly, eating healthy balanced food, drinking plenty of water, avoiding smoking, alcohol, and drugs, getting enough sunlight, and having regular check-ups and doctor appointments. Establishing positive physical health habits ensures your body works properly, decreases chances of getting sick, lowers stress levels, and guarantees an energy boost to get you through the day. Emotional self-care. Improving your emotional wellness is possible by learning how to recognize, process, and channel your own emotions. Some healthy activities that can help you process and reflect your feelings is to create “a daily quote in a jar” for inspirational and motivational quotes, keeping a daily journal, and positive self-talk. Jen Sincero, a life coach and author, cited that how you view yourself and the language you use when talking to yourself is very important. Patting yourself on the back, telling yourself “good job,” and celebrating little victories will go a long way for you. Mental self-care. Just like your body, the quality of your thoughts or the things you do with your mind matters. Some of the goals of mental self-care habits are to reduce stress by putting things in order, easing your mind of worries, and stimulating your intellect. Organizing and planning your tasks for the day will help you manage your time efficiently. And while you’re doing that, it is also recommended by researchers to take short breaks after several hours of focused work. Both Korpela et al. (2016) and Geurts et al. (2019) found that taking short and lunch breaks prevents stress, builds energy at work, and lessens exhaustion. Decluttering and creating a functional workspace system can also be beneficial because it makes a conducive, safe, and healthier working space. Enjoying a hobby or a leisure activity improves well-being by creating a positive mood while learning a new skill provides you a sense of achievement. Social self-care. As a social being, the quality of interpersonal relationships you have is essential. We make efforts to connect and improve our relationships with our family, friends, and loved ones. Some of these activities are having quality time with family members, going out with friends, or going on a date. Depending on one’s social needs, you should allocate a certain amount of time to be with your friends and acquaintances for a healthier social life. Spiritual self-care. Studies found that people who are generally religious or spiritual have positive mental health and wellbeing. Spirituality is the sense of connection with a higher power, a sense of meaning or purpose, and contact with the universe (Lim & Putnam, 2010; Scott, 2020). According to Vishkin et al. (2016, 2019) and Ramsay et al. (2019), people who live spiritual lives have a more positive appraisal of their lives. McCullough et al. (2000) added that spiritual people live longer lives, have more satisfying and meaningful lives, and have lower rates of depression. Spiritual activities may include meditation, breathing techniques, walking, or strolling around nature, relaxing, and praying. References: Beauchamp, T. L., & Childress, J. F. (2001). Principles of biomedical ethics (5th Ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. Ratanakul, P. (2004). Buddhism, Health and Disease. Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 15. Korpela K, Kinnunen U, Geurts S, de Bloom J, Sianoja M. Recovery during Lunch Breaks: Testing Long-Term Relations with Energy Levels at Work. Scand J Work Organ Psychol. 2016 Geurts S., et al., (2014). Recovery from demanding work hours. An Introduction to Contemporary Work Psychology, 196–219. Available from: Scott, E. (2020, August 3). 5 Self-Care Practices for Every Area of Your Life. Verywell Mind. DiGiulio, S., & Millard, E. (2021, March 23). 61 Top Self-Care Tips for Taking Care of You During the Coronavirus Pandemic. Everyday Health. Physical Wellness Toolkit. (2019, September 10). U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Saporita, N., & Krstic, Z. (2020, December 2). 40+ Lab-approved Solutions to Creating the Ultimate Self-care Routine. Good Housekeeping. Https:// Pursuing a hobby can improve your mental health. (n.d.). Connect Health & Community. Shannon-Karasik, C. (2018, November 13). 25 Ways You Can Practice Self-care Every Single Day. Women’s Health. Six Types of Self-Care. (n.d.). Planned Parenthood. Villani, D. et al. (2019, July 9). The Role of Spirituality and Religiosity in Subjective Well-Being of Individuals With Different Religious Status. Frontiers in Psychology. Miller, K. (2021, March 30). The Science of Spirituality: 16 Tips to Build Your Spiritual Practice. Positive

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