Hi, everyone! My name is Gretchen Gatan and I’m a writer and editor based in Quezon City, Metro Manila. I’m also a millennial wife and first-time mom. If you’re new here, welcome to Greta’s Junkyard—a dumpsite of my favorite things! I started this lifestyle blog in 2013 where you’ll find many articles on beauty, travel, home, and more. Recently, I posted a photo on my Instagram of our Christmas Belen and a lot of people messaged to ask where I got it!
Because our space was limited in the studio unit, we couldn’t set up a Christmas tree. So our only decoration was the cutest Christmas Belen, which I bought from S&R in 2019. Since then, I would display it every Christmas season!
Where to Buy a Similar-Looking Belen
I’m not sure if S&R still sells this Nativity Set. After all, it’s been three years. However, I discovered that Papemelroti has similar-looking ones—like the Bethlehem Nativity Set.
I’m a big fan of the brand, which is why I ordered my Christmas gifts from them as well. It’s part of my tradition of supporting local businesses. Feel free to explore their website because there are so many nice, practical items you can get for yourself or your loved ones.
I hope my article helps you find your very own Christmas Belen! If you have any questions, feel free to comment or send me a direct message on Instagram at @gretchengatan. Please follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, too! This way, you can stay updated on all things beauty, home, lifestyle, and more.
Hello! My name is Gretchen Gatan and if you’re new here, I’m a writer and editor based in Metro Manila, Philippines. Greta’s Junkyard is a dumpsite I started in 2013 where I like to write about my favorite things! These include topics on beauty, lifestyle, travel, and more. I’m also a millennial wife and a first-time mom. As someone who enjoyed Halloween growing up, it was definitely something I looked forward to doing with my husband Cayo and baby girl Cambria. This year, we went with a classic cartoon for our family costume!
Halloween Through the Years
Before Cayo and I got married, we would already celebrate Halloween and go trick-or-treating together. We’ve gone as Wednesday and Pugsley Addams, Cookie Monster and Arno (from Assassin’s Creed), Hogwarts Students, and during one year when we attended the Yule Ball, we went as Hermione Granger and Viktor Krum!
Last year, while I was seven months pregnant with Cambria, I took advantage of my belly and went as Thor!
Family Costume: The Flinstones
This year, Cayo and I were really excited to celebrate Cambria’s first Halloween. We actually have so many family costumes that we want to do. But most of them, we’re saving for when Cambria is walking already. So this year, our family costume was The Flinstones!
Cayo went as Fred, I dressed as Wilma, Cambria was Pebbles, and our pets, Booboo and Bellatrix, were Dino and Baby Puss.
We had so much fun going around our village. I also learned that if you wear a family costume, you get more treats. And if you have an extra sociable baby who says hi to literally everyone, you get even more treats! Truly a win for us parents who ate all the treats. Haha!
This year was definitely a success—at least because Cambria powered through almost three hours of trick-or-treating. She was lively and smiling the whole time! So I can’t wait for us to dress in another family costume next year and celebrate Halloween together.
If you liked this article, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube at @gretchengatan to stay updated!
Hi, everyone! My name is Gretchen Gatan and if you’re new here, I’m a writer and editor based in Metro Manila, Philippines. I’m also a first-time mom to a beautiful baby girl named Cambria. October is quite an eventful month for my family. The first of the month is my husband Cayo‘s birthday. This is followed by my sister’s on the ninth. Then, my goddaughter (and Cambria’s cousin), Kara, celebrates her birthday on the 23rd. Lastly, my sister-in-law (Kara’s mom) ends the family birthdays on the 31st. Anyway, ever since Cayo and I brought Cambria to the beach for the first time to celebrate our third wedding anniversary, we’ve been looking forward to bringing her to more places! This time around, as a way to celebrate Cayo’s birthday, we drove up to Tagaytay and stayed a night in Hotel Kimberly Tagaytay.
Lunch at Bag of Beans
But first, before we checked in, we had lunch at Charito by Bag of Beans. It was our first time in this particular branch and both the view and ambiance mesmerized us. We sat in a quiet corner overlooking Taal Lake, where we enjoyed some pizza, fresh fruit juices, and a slice of caramel cheesecake. After lunch, we headed to Hotel Kimberly Tagaytay, which was about ten minutes away.
Hotel Kimberly Tagaytay
I first discovered Hotel Kimberly Tagaytay through several friends on Instagram. They posted about feeding ducks and rabbits with their children, which I also wanted Cambria to experience—especially because we’ve been reading a lot of books about farm animals.
After our lunch in Bag of Beans, we arrived a little after one in the afternoon. However, since check-in was still at two, we killed time and visited the petting zoo right away. (As much as I wanted to bring Booboo and Bellatrix with us since the hotel is pet-friendly, it’s quite challenging to take care of two pets and a baby. So maybe next time if we have help!) As soon as our room was ready, we settled in so that Cambria could take a nap.
Deluxe Room at Hotel Kimberly Tagaytay
Though the hotel’s interiors look and feel a bit dated, the friendly staff and list of activities truly make up for it. We booked a spacious Deluxe Room with a queen-sized bed. It came with a balcony, too. The room comes with the usual amenities such as towels, a vault, a mini refrigerator, slippers, and complimentary water, coffee, and tea. To save on plastic, you’ll need to call housekeeping to request some toiletries—which includes a dental kit and soap. The shampoo has a fixed bottle on the wall in every bathroom. Again, to save on plastic. I actually liked and appreciated this movement towards sustainability. Another thing I appreciated was that they offer cribs for guests with babies—so we availed! Two of the housekeeping staff set up a pack-and-play type in our room.
The rooms all have a TV that’s equipped with a Mi Box. So we were able to catch some episodes of Bling Empire on Netflix while Cambria was asleep! One detail I found nice was that there’s a Netflix profile specifically for children. Out of curiosity, I checked it and the first shows you’ll see are Blippi, Blue’s Clues, and other popular educational shows.
I booked our room directly through Hotel Kimberly’s website and discovered that the hotel gives P500 credits, which we used to offset our merienda.
Hotel Kimberly Tagaytay’s Petting Zoo
After Cambria’s afternoon nap, we proceeded to the petting zoo to feed rabbits and watch other guests feed ducks and chickens. Apart from these animals, there were horses, goats, sheep, and peacocks. The hotel offers horseback riding, too. But since Cayo felt like Cambria was still too small, even if one of us rode with her, we decided to wait until she is big enough. (All the more reason to come back!)
Feeding the rabbits cost us P50, which was charged to our room. The staff simply picked out fresh lettuce from the hydroponics garden in the same area.
Other Activities at Hotel Kimberly Tagaytay and Subtle Details That Count
Once we finished feeding the rabbits and going around the petting zoo for the second time (Cambria had so much fun watching the ducks and chickens running around!), we headed to the pool area to have merienda.
There are two pools—a kiddie pool that’s about two feet deep and a bigger pool for older children and adults. Both of these are heated. On the other side is an Aqua Slide, which is basically a playground with a fountain. The kid guests truly enjoyed this! Next to the Aqua Slide was a big team-building area, which had obstacle courses.
Merienda by the pool
On the side of the kiddie pool was a grilling station where the hotel sold halo-halo, hotdogs, pork barbecue, and other inihaw favorites. We ordered the halo-halo, a stick of hotdog, and two sticks of pork barbecue for our merienda, which we enjoyed on one of the outdoor tables. Fortunately, since the hotel prides itself on being a top family-friendly destination, they had a lot of high chairs available. We always requested one for Cambria every time we ate.
A little after merienda, we headed to the big open area where a bonfire was being prepared. This is something Hotel Kimberly Tagaytay does daily for its guests. They serve unlimited marshmallows on a long stick so that families can roast them on the bonfire. Again, since Cambria couldn’t appreciate this yet, it was Cayo and I who actually enjoyed.
As soon as we were done roasting marshmallows, we decided to have dinner inside the hotel. However, we had a good view of the outdoor movie (just beside the pool area) where they played Disney’s Brave. This is something the hotel does regularly as well. And though Cambria was too young to watch the movie, I’m sure the older kids had a lot of fun. We noticed a lot of families dining at the outdoor tables while watching.
Before heading back to our room, we went around and found that Hotel Kimberly Tagaytay has a game room. There was a billiards table, a foosball table, a couple of arcade hoops, and an area for babies and toddlers to play in.
Complimentary milk and Oreos
Back in our room, after giving Cambria a bath, we requested additional pillows since our queen-sized bed only had two. This was free of charge. Moreover, we were surprised that one of the staff knocked on our door to serve complimentary milk and Oreos. And again, since Cambria couldn’t eat these yet, it was me and Cayo who took advantage!
The following morning, we woke up a little after eight and headed down for the breakfast buffet, which came with our room. The selection isn’t as extensive as the hotels in Manila. Nevertheless, I indulged in their tsokolate eh and tocino. There were a lot of guests dining as well, which made me a little nervous, to be honest. But I guess this is the new normal and people are itching to go on family vacations just like us.
Swimming at the kiddie pool
When we finished our breakfast, we took Cambria to the Aqua Slide. However, the fountain intimidated her. So we ended up in the kiddie pool, which she preferred more. The weather was a little cool and it drizzled once in a while. Good thing the pool was heated so Cambria didn’t feel cold. Hotel Kimberly Tagaytay provides guests with towels as well—but you need to return them to the lifeguard before heading back inside.
Lunch at Hillbarn Cafe and Restaurant
After our swim and taking a bath, Cambria took her morning nap, which allowed us to start packing. She woke up just before it was time to check out. As usual, the end of our weekend getaway in Hotel Kimberly Tagaytay felt bittersweet. Cayo and I told each other that we’d bring Cambria again when she’s bigger—so she can appreciate the activities more.
Before heading back to Manila, we made one last stop for lunch. We initially wanted to try Farmer’s Table but it was fully booked and the waiting time was an hour. So we went to our next option, which was Hillbarn Cafe and Restaurant. Incidentally, it was just five minutes away from Hotel Kimberly Tagaytay.
Families Will Definitely Love Hotel Kimberly Tagaytay
I had so much fun during this trip that I kept telling Cayo and my family we needed to go back. I’m sure both Cambria and Kara will create a lot of happy memories here with everyone! To know more about Hotel Kimberly Tagaytay, you can visit their website or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
If you liked this article, I hope you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube at @gretchengatan to stay updated with all things beauty, travel, lifestyle, and more.
Sometimes, it’s so hard to believe that our baby girl Cambria is now 6 months old. Time flew by way too fast! It seems just like yesterday that I gave birth to her at The Medical City Ortigas. She used to be so light and tiny that I could easily carry her with one arm. Nowadays, she weighs 17 pounds and none of my family members can last carrying her for a long time. Meanwhile, my arms have become numb. Haha! In fact, I’m actually back to my pre-pregnancy weight and I didn’t even have to try. Carrying Cambria all the time and exclusively breastfeeding her made me lose weight naturally. Anyway, to celebrate her half-monthbirthday, I decided to have a photo shoot at home. This way, I can commemorate the milestone! If you’re looking for birthday shoot ideas, maybe you can take inspiration from these photos.
Birthday Shoot Ideas from Cambria’s Portrait Shots
Taking care of a baby with no yaya, working a full-time job, and managing a household. These things leave me with almost zero time for myself nowadays. Luckily, I have a supportive and hands-on husband who helps with our 6-month-old baby girl Cambria. We’re also fortunate enough to have a helper who focuses on laundry, feeding and bathing our pet dog and cat, Booboo and Bellatrix, and cleaning the whole #FraggyHome. On top of this, technology makes it more convenient for me to do things with just a few quick taps! And this includes doing the grocery. On days I forget to plan our meals or have nothing inside the refrigerator, I just open the Supah app on my phone. Supah is a grocery delivery app in the Philippines that delivers everything to your doorstep in 15 minutes.
Pioneers of 15-minute rapid grocery delivery in the Philippines
Supah guarantees quality grocery items delivered within 15 minutes. They cover a range of popular snacks, condiments, beverages, fresh produce, frozen goods, and more. Since Cambria started eating solids already, we’ve been feeding her vegetables daily. One time, I had no more fresh vegetables left and Supah came to the rescue. Thanks to their speedy service, I was able to prepare a broccoli purée. On the other hand, my husband and I enjoyed a healthy stir-fry broccoli dish.
This new grocery delivery app puts tremendous value on its customers’ time and needs. It makes doing the grocery effortless, time-saving, and economical. So it’s possible to attend to other things. It’s definitely perfect for busy people like me! They have an efficient ecosystem of suppliers, vendors, and riders to help them fulfill the 15-minute delivery without fees. However, should they miss the 15-minute promise for whatever reason, they are ready to compensate customers with a P500 rebate.
Where does Supah operate?
Supah operates daily from 7 to 2 in the morning. For now, they cover the following areas in Metro Manila: Makati City, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Pasig City, Mandaluyong City, San Juan City, Binondo district in the City of Manila, and both New Manila and Timog areas of Quezon City. To download the Supah app, visit linktr.ee/supahph. Meanwhile, to know more about this new grocery delivery app in the Philippines, visit their website at www.supah.ph. You can also follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.
It has been a little over a year since we moved into our “fur-ever home” (aka the #FraggyHome) and one of our struggles (even while we lived in a condo) is keeping the sofa clean. Our pets, Booboo and Bellatrix (an 11-year-old Shih Tzu and a 4-year-old Persian Doll Face), are way too spoiled and love staying on the couch with us. Booboo’s saliva, in particular, leaves marks all over (whenever he licks his paws)—so I try to deep clean the sofa as often as possible.
My mom taught me her way of doing it (baking soda + color-safe bleach). But ever since I gave birth and started working again, I haven’t had the time or energy. Our helper tried cleaning the couch recently using my mom’s formula. But there were just too many saliva stains to remove.
Deep Clean Your Sofa with Ate Girl PH
So I decided to hire professional cleaners! My kabarkada recommended Ate Girl PH. They sent an Ate and a Kuya to deep clean our Candrea Sofa Bed from Home Suite and my husband Cayo’s recliner. They vacuumed, shampooed, and dried both furniture in 3 to 4 hours. And they weren’t as expensive as I thought they would be!
Protect Your Sofa with Scotchgard Fabric Water Shield
After everything, I sprayed what I usually spray every time the couch is clean again—Scotchgard’s Fabric Water Shield. It protects our couch long enough before Booboo’s saliva starts staining it again.
Anyway—I just wanted to share how happy I am with how Ate Girl deep cleaned our sofa. I’ll probably hire them quarterly to keep our couch immaculate and constantly free from Booboo’s saliva!
Liked this article about how to deep clean your sofa? Stay updated with all things beauty, home, motherhood, pet care, and lifestyle. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Until my next article!
Hello! My name is Gretchen Gatan and if you’re new here, I’m a writer and managing editor based in Metro Manila, Philippines. I’ve been a fur mom for 11 years now. I got my Shih Tzu dog, Booboo, in 2010 and my Persian cat, Bellatrix, in 2017. Whenever people ask me for advice when it comes to getting a pet, I always tell them that it’s more than a responsibility. It’s a commitment. Recently, I read that owning a pet in the Philippines costs about P12,000 to P50,000 a year. And I couldn’t agree more! Though I don’t spend on Booboo and Bellatrix’s food because they’re ambassadors of a premium pet food brand, I do invest in their bi-annual visits to the vet, vitamins, treats, and grooming.
If you’re looking for ways to keep your pet and finances ready for whatever life may bring, you might want to check out Life by Petto. They’re the first app-based pet insurance service in the Philippines that provides affordable subscriptions to support your dog or cat’s health and wellness.
Plan Ahead with Life by Petto
Life by Petto is founded by pet parents who share the similar dilemma of wanting to be ready no matter what. Their pet health plan services offer reasonable subscriptions from partner veterinarians, clinics, and hospitals around Metro Manila.
They aim to provide preventive and quality care for pets—especially since there is a gap in the local market for pet health and wellness services despite the massive increase in pet owners in recent years.
Covering the Basics
For only P1,200 a month, you can get Life by Petto’s basic health plan. It covers your pet’s primary health and wellness needs including diagnostics, vaccines, common illnesses, and accidents. These are definitely services that most pets and their owners can greatly benefit from.
If you want more coverage, the My Petto Plan Add-ons let you top up on the basic plan to cover additional services. These include minor to major surgeries such as dental or spay/neuter services, cancer treatment, hospitalization, and other non-common illnesses.
An Inclusive Pet Insurance in the Philippines
Life by Petto accepts cats and dogs from three months onwards regardless of the breed. So even aspins and puspins are not left out—as long as they’re in good health upon registration.
Through the app, you can customize the plan you want for your fur babies. You can get even get multi-pet plans if you have more than one pet. Moreover, you can manage your balance, check available vet clinics, and file claims whenever and wherever you are.
The Cupcake and I recently had a babymoon staycation in Makati—particularly in The Peninsula Manila. It was something I really wanted to do ever since our trip to Cebu last September got canceled due to the lockdown. That, plus he’s not comfortable with me flying anymore while I’m pregnant—which I completely understand. And since a lot of nearby beach resorts don’t allow pregnant women at the moment (we fall under people with comorbidities), it was either I booked a hotel or an Airbnb. In the end, after inquiring from different establishments, it was The Peninsula Manila who said via Facebook Messenger that they allowed pregnant women to book a staycation at their hotel.
Our Babymoon at The Peninsula Manila
The reason I really wanted to push through with a babymoon is that it’s the last time the Cupcake and I will get to spend some time together before we become a family of three! Five—if you count Booboo and Bellatrix. Haha! The pandemic forced us to cancel our honeymoon last 2020 as well and to be honest, I miss traveling and going on adventures and food trips with my husband. I can’t wait for the day we can experience new things together again!
For now, a staycation was something we were able to do. If you’re wondering what the requirements are, The Peninsula Manila requires all guests to present their vaccination cards. Since the Cupcake and I are fully vaccinated, we just showed them our vaccination cards and valid IDs. Meanwhile, unvaccinated guests (including kids) need to present negative RT-PCR results taken at least 48 hours prior to check-in.
Despite arriving two hours before standard check-in time, The Peninsula Manila accommodated us and gave us our room right away. We booked a deluxe room with a king-sized bed and that had a decent view of the swimming pool. The last time I stayed at Manila Pen was probably in 1999. My family and I checked in to celebrate New Year’s Eve! After that, it was usually just attending events or having dinner with my family at The Lobby.
Food Trip at the Pen During Our Babymoon
Lunch at Spices
For lunch on our first day, we ate in Spices and ordered their Pad Thai, Chicken Satay, and Palak Paneer. I enjoyed the Palak Paneer with rice so much! After lunch, we took a quick walk around the pool area before watching Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in our room.
Merienda by the Pool
Later that day, we had merienda at the pool bar. We ordered an All-Meat Pizza and shared a mocktail! The tables were well-distanced, and we stayed furthest from families who were eating in the same area. As much as I wanted to swim, I decided not to—since there were a few kids and their parents swimming in the pool.
In-Room Dining for Dinner
Dinner was fun because we ordered from room service instead. I enjoyed the Risotto Alla Milanese while the Cupcake had the Peninsula Wagyu Beef Burger together with French fries. For dessert, we helped ourselves to the Halo-Halo Harana and a Chocolate Decadence Cake. If you want to see the full menu of the hotel’s in-room dining, it’s available on their website!
Breakfast at The Lobby
The next day, we had breakfast in The Lobby since this was included in the room we booked. Fortunately, there weren’t too many people eating so I felt safe. I also knew that the hotel took their guests’ safety very seriously. For breakfast, I had Smoked Salmon Wholewheat Bagel while the Cupcake ordered Eggs Benedict. It came with unlimited coffee, bread rolls, and butter. I only had one cup of coffee since my OB only allows me to drink one cup a day.
A 5-Star Babymoon Experience
Other things I took full advantage of were our room’s bathtub, where I was able to indulge in a bubble bath, and the hotel’s pillow menu. I requested Tempur orthopedic pillows to sleep on! I also appreciated that the reception extended our check-out time the following day to two in the afternoon. So after our late breakfast, we weren’t in a hurry to pack up. Moreover, Manila Pen allows guests to do self-check-out. We didn’t have to line up at the reception anymore. We just called the concierge to inform them we were leaving and left our key cards in the room. I forgot to mention that parking is free for checked-in guests. You just need to ask for a car pass from the reception. We requested one the night before.
A Memorable Babymoon Staycation
So that was our babymoon staycation in Makati to relax and unwind before our baby is born! I hope that more and more people get the vaccine so that this pandemic can end soon. I really want our baby to enjoy and experience the outside world without fear and without me being paranoid and scared.
For more articles like these, visit the Motherhood category of my blog. Plus, don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube to stay updated with all things beauty, home, pet care, and lifestyle.
Sleeping is such an important part of our day. In fact, it’s as essential as eating, drinking, and breathing. It also helps maintain good mental and physical health. The benefits include better productivity and concentration, depression prevention, and a stronger immune system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average adult requires about 7 hours of sleep. But just as important as the number of hours is the quality. So if you’re looking for tips on how to sleep better and how to sleep instantly, here are some of my tried and tested home remedies!
Invest in a Quality Mattress
When we moved into our forever home, my husband and I agreed to invest in quality mattresses for our room and extra bedroom. This was especially crucial for me since I have scoliosis. I wanted a mattress that was comfortable and could provide relief. Luckily, Emma Sleep reached out and sent a single-sized Emma Original Mattress for our extra bedroom! It’s designed in Germany and is Europe’s most-awarded mattress. They use the latest foam technology to fit various sleeping postures and support the body firmly. Each mattress ensures the perfect sleep! Use my exclusive code GRETA10 to avail of a 10% discount until July 28, 2021.
To test the mattress out, I’ve been taking naps in our extra bedroom every afternoon ever since I got pregnant. (The extra bedroom will eventually be the nursery room where the baby and I will stay often.) I noticed that my naps have been so nice and comfortable! The mattress is so snug that even my two fur babies, Booboo and Bellatrix, love sleeping on the Emma Original Mattress with me. It’s become Bellatrix’s favorite napping spot, too.
Buy Good Pillows
Just as important as the mattress are your pillows. When my husband and I got married in 2019, my mother-in-law bought Sleepcare’s Anti-Dust Mite and Anti-Bacterial Queen Pillow bundle from Gourdo’s. My husband and I each have two: one for the head and one for hugging. I love the softness of the pillow and how the thickness is just right.
Have a Mattress Protector and Pillow Protectors
My mom is a huge advocate of using mattress and pillow protectors. They help reduce stains, prevent allergies, and protect against bed bugs. Best of all, depending on the brand and type of protector, it can upgrade your bed and provide additional comfort. My mom recently gave mattress and pillow protectors that make our bed feel like it’s a 5-star-hotel’s bed!
Choose High-Grade Sheets
Another thing that can really improve your quality of sleep is by having extra comfy bedsheets. We currently have three sets that we rotate. Two of the sets were gifts from abroad, and I enjoy how soft and cool they feel against my skin. The third set is from a local brand called Doyle & Furnham. They’re a retail segment of Premium Linen, a wholesale hotel supplier that offers beddings to hotels. Their mission is to bring hotel sheets to everyone’s homes at an affordable price. During one of their sales, I ordered a Core Set, which included a fitted sheet, flat sheet, and two pillowcases. I bought another set of pillowcases as well for our extra pillows. True to their tagline, they really are the holiest sheets ever!
Change Sheets Often
I think it’s a given to change your bed sheets regularly. Following my mom’s routine, we change our bed sheets every 15th and 30th of the month. Failure to do so can cause asthma, eczema, and allergic rhinitis according to studies.
Clean Mattress and Pillows Regularly
Every time we change our bedsheets, we also clean our mattresses and pillows with the Deerma Anti-Dust Mites Remover CM800. It has a powerful suction to vacuum dirt, mites, and dander away. It’s also equipped with a UV-C lamp to sterilize our mattresses and pillows. Ever since I bought this, I always look forward to using it! Once a month, I use it on our sofa, too.
I hope that these tips on how to sleep better and how to sleep instantly have helped! If you have any questions about the products or tips mentioned, just comment below. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube to stay updated with all things beauty, home, pets, and lifestyle.
It’s crazy whenever I think about the fact that I’ve been working for almost a decade. In the last nine years, I’ve worked for a total of five companies. It’s definitely been an eventful career journey, but I can still recall specific instances when things became difficult. Sometimes, it was because of the challenges brought about by upper management. Other times, it was dealing with a toxic client or work environment. Then there were times I couldn’t find fulfillment or purpose in what I was doing. And even though I genuinely loved some of my jobs (or at least, the people I worked with), there were days I still found it hard to wake up and get ready. So, in case it helps, I decided to write about how to manage stress when you’re getting burned out from work.
These are habits I consciously do when I’m feeling demotivated. To be honest, I’ve been feeling low these past few months. So I thought it was timely that I wrote an article on how to manage stress—not just for my readers but also for myself. Burnout was previously defined as a state of vital exhaustion. But in 2019, it became classified by the World Health Organization as a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. A sense of exhaustion or depletion, mental distance from work, and decreased effectiveness are some of its characteristics. It’s more than just a bad day or a challenging week since we all experience those. Feeling burned out is when the demands of your job exceed the resources you have, and your tank is completely empty.
Purpose and Passion Over Compensation
I was furloughed from my previous company at the beginning of the pandemic. I was then a managing director of a content marketing agency while I simultaneously led its sister company’s online beauty magazine as editor-in-chief. This experience put things into perspective for me and in May 2020, I decided to resign. I started focusing on things that gave me fulfillment—like helping run my mom’s backyard business, Mama Jessie’s Kesong Puti. I also enjoyed creating more content for my own platforms. In September 2020, I launched a long-time dream of having my own online shop, Greta’s Junk Shop, a curation of my favorite things under fashion, lifestyle, and pet care.
Around the same time, I got an unexpected job offer from a global company. It seemed perfect on paper and I was lucky that the setup was work-from-home. I was hesitant to take it at first because I knew that my shop and mom’s business would take a backseat. But as with most life decisions, there were pros and cons. I took the job because of the compensation and because it would give me the chance to learn and grow more. But after a few months, I started to see things for how they truly were and I found that my mental health was slowly declining.
It was then that I decided to take a step back, think about my priorities, and in the end, I chose to submit my resignation.
How to Manage Stress When Burnout is Real
These past few months were definitely a challenge for me. But practicing some of these habits has helped fill my tank or as I’d like to put it, increase my mental bandwidth.
1. Take Your Time in the Morning
It took me a while to adjust to a work-from-home arrangement at the beginning of the quarantine. The pandemic is perhaps partly (or mostly) to blame for the stress and anxiety. But as the quarantine went by, there were times I’d wake up exactly when I had to report to work. I’d wait until lunch break to take a shower and change into new clothes. I eventually realized that this wasn’t healthy for me. So nowadays, I wake up an hour earlier to prepare coffee, eat breakfast, feed my pets, and have a few minutes of quiet to myself.
2. Surround Yourself with Your Support System
I belong to a very tight-knit family and whenever I’m feeling down, I simply turn to them. I don’t necessarily vent to them but little things like watching a show on Netflix together or ordering our favorite milk tea drinks bring me comfort. Having chat groups with my trusted friends where I can easily share things helps, too. And sometimes, even the nicest strangers from online communities provide solace.
3. Hug Your Pet
Scientists from Washington State University recently conducted a study that cuddling with your pet for just a few minutes can reduce cortisol levels. If you have a dog or cat at home, take some time to hug them. It’s a win-win situation for sure! I’m lucky that I have both Booboo and Bellatrix to embrace whenever I feel like it.
4. Know When to Take Breaks and When to Ask for Help
At the start of my role for the global company, I was doing so many things that I sometimes didn’t have time for lunch or dinner. I would eat in front of my computer just to simultaneously get things done. I knew that it wasn’t something I signed up for and that it wasn’t healthy either. But at that time, I didn’t have a choice. I had no other teammates to help me, and I was getting task after task directly from the client. Looking back, I now realize that I should have known to still take the breaks I deserved. I also should have spoken to my line manager to ask for help. It was only when I was at my breaking point that an intern was assigned to help out, which was a huge relief.
5. Find a Support Group in Your Workplace
Since I work for a global company where most of my colleagues are based in Indonesia, Malaysia, or Singapore, it took me a while to find a bunch of Filipinos who ended up being my support group. We created a chat group where we would vent about our day and make each other laugh. This was also very helpful since they were the only ones who really understood the company culture. I got close to my line manager as well, who I’m so thankful for. We had quick daily meetings so that she could understand my hurdles and from there, tried her best to find solutions that would help me become more effective. If you can, try to find even just one or two people in the company that you can trust. It helps to have someone understand the company culture and empathize with you.
6. Work Out Regularly
According to Harvard Health, exercise is key for your head just as it is for your heart. It reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones and stimulates the production of endorphins. These are chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. I have to admit—sometimes, I get lazy or have a hard time finding the motivation to work out. So I try to find something that I enjoy doing—such as walking around the village with my husband and our dog, biking, or doing yoga.
7. Treat Yourself
When I know that my day is going to be long, I sometimes order or make myself an iced coffee. It’s something simple that I find joy and comfort in. Prior to the pandemic, I used to get massages at my favorite spas. But because of the situation, I just bought a massage belt from Lazada that I like to use at the end of a tiring work week. I also have my regular weekly mask nights where I take a sheet mask, place it inside the refrigerator for a few minutes, and enjoy the cool feeling while wearing it. After removing the sheet mask, I massage my face with a gua sha or rose quartz roller. On some afternoons, I apply makeup for fun—even if I’m not going anywhere. Things like these may seem small but I do believe they have a positive impact on my mental health.
8. Play a Game
Playing a game at the end of the workday or during weekends helps me forget about the woes of work temporarily. It’s my way of telling myself, “Work hours are done. Get off your computer and do something fun.” This is especially crucial since working from home makes it so easy for clients and bosses to cross boundaries. I guess this is my way of putting those boundaries into place. A game I’m obsessed with is Animal Crossing on Nintendo Switch. I started playing Project Makeover on my phone, too.
9. Indulge in Your Guilty Pleasure
I can’t highlight enough how important this is as well. Since we’re currently limited to things we can only do at home, I find that indulging myself in certain guilty pleasures helps increase my mental bandwidth for work. In my case, I love reading Dramione fanfiction for hours. There are times it’s all I do on weekends! And it’s something I try not to feel bad about when I think it’s unproductive because guilty pleasures help relieve stress. So if doom-scrolling on TikTok helps you relax, go ahead and do it!
I’m not the most religious person but I do believe in the power of prayer. I pray for the health and safety of my loved ones. I pray that the decisions I make bring me closer to who God wants me to be. And I always pray to say thank you. Because despite the difficulties I encounter, I’m still so blessed.
How to manage stress from work will definitely vary from person to person. But I do hope that my tips and habits help! If there’s anything that you’d like to get off your chest, feel free to share them in the comment section (anonymously, if you prefer). I’m just here to listen.
How to Manage Stress: Things I Do When I’m Burned Out
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