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Mental Health

Managing Workplace Anxiety: Coping Strategies (3)



Building And Reinforcing Teams (14)


Akindotun Merino

We have all experienced work-related stress at one time or the other. Different occupations have their stressful elements.  Even if it’s the job of your dreams, it can still be challenging and stressful. But when work stress becomes chronic, it can be overwhelming—and harmful to both physical and emotional health. Here are a few coping strategies:

Sometimes our anxieties can get the best of us simply because we let them by welcoming in the negative thoughts they bring with them. But when we use positive thinking and words of encouragement, we can change how our anxieties grab us. Phrases such as “I’m going to faint!” and “I can’t do it!” can negatively affect how we handle a certain situation or problem and can make anxieties worse. But to counteract these thoughts, we can focus on calming and soothing positive thoughts that can make us feel better about ourselves and whatever situation we have to face. By putting a stop to thoughts that can lead to anxiety or stress and replacing them with positive and encouraging thoughts, we are conditioning ourselves to permanently adapt our brain to this type of behavior and improving the way we handle difficult situations.

READ ALSO: Managing Workplace Anxiety: Recognizing Symptoms (2)

Sample positive thinking phrases:

  • “I can do this.”
  • “These feelings may be uncomfortable, but they won’t last.”
  • “I will not fail and others will see my success.”
  • “My anxiety cannot make me lose control.”

When we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, it is important that we have a place we can go to that is just for us or a ‘me’ place. Whether you are at home or work, find a spot where you can go to be alone and take a few minutes to think to yourself. Sometimes this can include your desk or office, if in a private spot, or maybe you have a secluded table in the break room you can retreat to. At the end of the day you might go home to a cozy chair in the living room or retreat to a couch in the den where you can relax.

Having a ‘me’ place helps us feel better about our anxieties because not only do we know that this place is meant only for us, but we can be ourselves in this special place and release any pent up feelings (this also makes a great place to keep that journal we started!). So next time you walk into your office or go home at the end of the day, take a few minutes to find your ‘me’ place and designate it as such. Set it up with a couple of relaxing books, music or aromatherapy candles. It is your space, so customize it with things that will help you the most.

Setting goals for ourselves is always a good practice and it is especially true when coping with our anxiety. But we want to ensure that our goals are not so large and daunting that we scare ourselves away from trying to accomplish them. Focus on goals that you can realistically achieve and set attainable expectations for yourself. Start with small steps, such as changing the way we view a situation or how we react to something, and then make later goals to go from there. Keep in mind that some things you cannot change (like how you have to give a weekly presentation in front of the whole office), but you can make goals to change how you handle them (such as being well prepared and taking deep breaths).

Tips for setting attainable goals:

  • Start small – you can work up to the big stuff later.
  • Decide what you want to change or obtain now.
  • Determine what is in your power to change or control.

Keeping some sort of diary or journal is a great way to cope with episodes of anxiety or distress. Writing in a journal allows a person to write freely and openly without having fear of being judged or criticized, as it will not be seen by anyone. This can provide an outlet for our pent up feelings and allows us to express them in ways we may not be able to do in front of others. A journal is also a great place to document things such as goals, thoughts, wants and desires that we may not share very often. Some people choose to keep their journal in one spot, such as at home or in a desk drawer, while others opt to carry it with them wherever they go. Whichever you choose, be sure to write in it often and don’t let feelings of anxiety build up before you can write them all down again.

READ ALSO: Managing Workplace Anxiety : Identifying Mental Health Challenges (1)

We understand that you may not have shared with the entire world that you have an anxiety problem, but chances are you have informed someone close to you and sought help from them. Speaking with our family and friends about our anxieties and how they make us feel is a great way of gaining support and feeling better about your problems. Since you are among loved ones and people that know you personally, feel more available to open up to them without a fear of judgment or criticism. Feel free to seek their advice and help, especially since they know you better than anyone else. Chances are, you may find one of them suffers from the same problem (or something very similar) as you do and can offer advice and help that you haven’t tried yet.

As a fast-paced and busy working individual, we often overlook the benefit of a good night’s sleep. We end up sleeping less when we stay up late to finish a project or get up early to try and get our errands done. Sleep replenishes our body and gets us ready to face each new day by revitalizing our minds, but only if we are getting a fair amount of uninterrupted sleep each night. Without the recommended eight hours of sleep each night, our mind does not have the strength or ability to keep up with our coping strategies and can often ‘give out’ on us, which can only make our anxieties worse over time.

Tips for getting more sleep:

  • Designate yourself a specific bedtime and stick to it.
  • Remove distractions, such as a television or computer, from your sleeping area.
  • Help yourself relax with soothing smells or sounds at bedtime.
  • Invest in an eye mask or black-out curtains to help darken the room while sleeping.

Some anxiety can occur from chemical imbalances in our body, which is why eating well and getting plenty of exercise can help improve our general anxiety symptoms. When we eat well, such as getting plenty of vitamins and minerals as well as drinking lots of water, we are fortifying our body by improving our immune system against stress and anxiety. In addition, getting regular exercise helps improve our mental clarity and concentration, which can be diminished when we are focused on our anxiety and anxiety symptoms. Exercise has even been proven to help prevent anxiety problems from reoccurring over time since it helps us improve focus and our ability to deal with stressful situations that can increase our heart rates. So pick up a piece of fruit and go for a long walk!

When coping with our anxieties, we know we have to start somewhere. Where do we start and how do we reach our ultimate goals?

When we decide to change our behavior or find a better way to handle it, start with a small, attainable task to focus on. Once we’ve accomplished this, we can set another, slightly larger goal to strive for. Once we’ve reached this one, we continue in this same pattern until we have achieved our ultimate ending goal, whatever it may be. For example, you have made a goal to overcome your anxiety of speaking in front of large groups. Start small with something you can achieve first, such as practicing your speech and verbal skills. Then maybe you can practice speaking in front of a few people, such as family and friends. Ultimately you’ll find yourself able to speak in front of a large group of people, such as while giving a presentation or a speech. The key is in knowing that you can achieve your goals, and having the patience as well as motivation to work toward them.

Tips for setting challenges:

  • Start with small steps and plan the larger ones for later.
  • Determine what the first step would be and work toward that.
  • Know what you can change and what you can’t. Focus on what you can change.

READ ALSO: WHO Urges Screening For High Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar, Others To Check Stroke

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology and a Mental Health Commissioner in California. She is the President of Jars Institute.  Feel free to share your successes and challenges:

Prof.  Akindotun Merino

Jars Education Group

Instagram: @drakinmerino:    Twitter: @drakindotun


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Mental Health

Strong Mental Will: A Tool For Fulfilment Of Dreams 



The Futility Of A Marital Chase
Dr Hope Nwawolo

By Hope Nwawolo

As a young girl in a boarding school many years back, l found myself interested in reading articles and novels. One day, l picked a piece of torn paper from the ground and a particular sentence caught my attention.  It read, “…whatever you are as a young girl will determine what you become as an adult’’.  Without giving a thought to the fact that situations and people could change according to circumstances, my young mind went to work immediately, particularly on how l wanted to look as a woman years later. At that time, l was on the fat side. I told myself that l would not want to develop a bulging tummy as a woman. I never even gave thought to the changes women go through as a result of child bearing. However, my young mind knew l needed to do something immediately in order to achieve what l wanted many years after.  I took my house dresses and school uniforms and used my hands to take in the sides so that l had to tuck in my tummy any time l wore them.  Somehow l felt l could control my tummy from getting bigger if l kept it tucked in most of the time. And of a truth l did and needless to say that some students liked my style and did same to their uniforms. Talk about setting the pace!

At the time of taking the decision, l never even knew it was lady-like to tuck in your tummy. All l was seeing was me as a woman in future, without a bulging tummy. It never crossed my mind that child bearing or any abdominal surgery could discourage one from tucking in the tummy at will. And years later, after having four births, of which two where through caesarean sections, I have maintained the habit of tucking in my tummy and this has helped in sustaining a moderate waist line even as l increase in years.  

Another striking instance was when l went in for my masters’ degree. I told myself l would not stop my academic education until l had my doctoral degree. Sadly, before l finished the masters’ programme, l came across several doctoral students who had been on the  programme for upward of six years and were not near completion. I got discouraged and quietly finished my programme and did not look back. My mental will bowed to the discouraging sights of struggling doctoral students. Luckily, years after, the dream came alive again and l began to nurse it. Even after a professional masters’ programme, eight years after my first masters, l was still nursing the idea of a doctoral degree. Finally, fifteen years after my first masters’, I was going through the newspaper in my office when l came across a postgraduate admission advert of a private university. There and then, a strong desire to apply for a doctoral degree came over me and was so strong that l did not tell anybody so as not to get discouraged, particularly because of the high school fees. As a matter of fact, being a civil servant should have been my worry, but l just felt strong in my mind that it would work out itself.

Honestly, from the time of my sending my application to getting admission, I did not have the money for the first year of the four and half years programme and l did not want to further stress my husband who was paying school fees for my sons in private secondary school and private university. All the same, l was strongly determined to start it with complete trust that God would make the way as l went through the journey. With an undaunted mental will, He did beyond my expectations, with awesome colleagues, lecturers that were as interested for us to complete the programme as at when due as we were. 

One may want to ask how l was able to overcome the initial financial hurdle. Like l said, with the burning passion in me and a complete trust in God to provide the necessary fees, my eyes became open to certain opportunities of side hustle with two of my friends, which gave me added income to my salary. I immediately cut down on certain expenses like buying new clothes and frivolous social outings, and prioritised my needs, particularly as the school allowed for instalment payment of fees, over the semesters. 

To become mentally strong, is about shifting your whole perspective, since it is human nature to be afraid of things that we cannot control or to crumble in the face of difficulty. It is the fight or flight response that is embedded in who we are. Unfortunately, once you are in that mind-set you are giving your mental power away to a circumstance and the only power that you have is really the power of perception. And when you shift your perception and just feel like: I can handle this, I can do this,  I can turn this around, I can use this to my good — then you gain that ability. 

Mental strength is about knowing that you are creating your reality, just like l did as a young girl in secondary school. We create our reality by our thoughts, our beliefs, our actions, our habits. And sure, sometimes things happen out of our control, but most of the time, we do not go far away from achieving our dreams.  

 Nwawolo, PhD, writes in via


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Mental Health

How To Identify Fake Friends



Prof. Stella Roy-Omoni

Most people surround themselves with fake friends who are killing them subtly and are smiling with them. You need to identify the genuineness of your so- called friend before he/she destroys you.

Identifying a fake friend can involve noticing certain behavioral patterns:

1. Lack of Support: They might be absent or unsupportive during your challenging times, showing disinterest or avoiding your needs.

2. One-sided Relationships: They tend to benefit more from the friendship without reciprocating care or effort.

3. Gossip and Betrayal: Fake friends might gossip about you behind your back or betray your trust.

4. Inconsistent Behavior: Their actions and words may not align consistently, making it hard to trust them.

5. Conditional Friendship: They’re around only when it suits their interests or when they need something from you.

6. Manipulative or Self-centered:They may manipulate situations for their benefit or constantly talk about themselves without considering your feelings or experiences.

Being mindful of these traits can help distinguish between genuine friends and those who may not have your best interests at heart. Trusting your instincts and observing behaviors over time often reveals the authenticity of a friendship.

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Mental Health

Building And Reinforcing Teams (3) (16)



Building And Reinforcing Teams (14)

By Akindotun Merino
When you find yourself excessively self-oriented, this is a sign that you need to deepen your humility and refocus on serving others. Here are some ways to help you foster a greater sense of humility:

Allow others to be first and foremost. Insisting on being the first in line, the first to raise your hand in a class, the first to get the parking spot, and so on, has a tendency to inflate one’s sense of self-importance. However, when you allow others to have the spotlight or be first, it gives you a better vantage point to appreciate their gifts and what they are able to bring to the table. And when you can do this, you actually find yourself in a better position to lead others because you understand how they can best contribute.

Don’t insist on being right. Nobody likes to be wrong, including other people. When you are wrong it puts you in a vulnerable position, which can be scary. However, vulnerability is often what makes a person beautiful and appreciable. Allowing others the legitimacy of their beliefs without correction from you is a charitable act.

Listen to what other people think more than telling them what you think. Dale Carnegie once said that the sweetest sound to anyone is the sound of their own voice. Really paying attention to what other people have to say without having to correct or undermine them helps you to stay oriented outward rather than being self-absorbed.

READ ALSO: Building And Reinforcing Teams 2 (15)

Try not to judge others. An old saying goes like this, “When you point a finger at someone else, you have three fingers pointing back at you.” While it is tempting to judge another person, to assess what they are doing and how they are doing it, when you do so, you are presuming that you know better. Unfortunately, unless you have lived the experiences of another person, you cannot know what is best for them. Your grasp on another person’s situation will always be incomplete because you don’t have the complete picture.

Finally keep your balance. Throughout the whole process of becoming a more effective leader and a more effective human being, two tools can help smooth the way. The first is developing a greater sense of gratitude. When you wake up in the morning, or while you drink your coffee or eat breakfast, either write down in a notebook or type on your computer a list of five things for which you are grateful. If you keep this gratitude journal every day, it will have a cumulative effect on your keeping a positive outlook.

The second tool’s importance cannot be understated. No matter how much you have on your plate at any given time, it is important that you take the time to play. Whether this is a hobby such as painting or an activity such as playing video games, make a point of scheduling play time for yourself at least two to three times a week. This will help you to balance out all the stress you have in your life.

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology, CEO of Jars Group and Mental Health Commissioner in California. Feel free to share your successes and challenges:

Prof. Akindotun Merino
Instagram: @drakinmerino 

Twitter: @drakindotun


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