Health and Wellness Tips
Changing Your Fixed Mindset Into a Growth Mindset
At the Pathways to Success Symposium on January 23, 2018, Catherine Thrasher-Carroll, mental health promotion program director at Cornell Health’s Skorton Center for Health Initiatives, offered tips on how to develop a growth mindset to achieve success in graduate school and beyond.
Mindset is an attitude that determines how we interpret and respond to situations. On the mindset continuum, fixed mindset is on one side and growth on the other. A person with a fixed mindset is focused on being perfect, is afraid of change, and believes that abilities are innate and set-in-place, while a person with a growth mindset is continuously learning, willing to try new things, and believes that abilities are malleable. A person with a fixed mindset might think “I’m not as good as my peers, so I’m just going to quit,” whereas a person with a growth mindset will think “I’m going to figure out what my peers are doing differently and try that.”
Five skills to practice to help you develop a growth mindset:
- Be deliberate: Commit to learning skills through continued practice.
- Be vulnerable: Approach a situation with the mindset of getting better rather than looking good.
- Go all-in: Put in the time and effort.
- Keep a loose-grip attitude: Don’t be too attached to the outcome.
- Create a mistake-opportunity ritual: Use a physical gesture, like a deep breath, to rethink a situation and focus on more constructive thoughts.
Mindful meditation can be a helpful tool to reframing your mindset. See this video to learn more about mindful meditation and how it can help you. Graduate students (and anyone with a cornell.edu email) have access to free features of the meditation and relaxation app, Calm.
From the Productive Sleeper
From the Perspectives Series session September 24 with Cornell Health’s Dr. Kaitlin Lilienthal and Dr. Alicia Ventresca.
- Twelve percent of Cornell students (including graduate and professional students) do not get enough sleep!
- Productive sleep is necessary to be able to perform at your best, along with improving your emotional health and well-being (self-esteem, confidence, and social relationships). More reasons why sleep is so important for graduate students.
- There is no one-size fits all in terms of needing sleep, but strive for between eight-nine hours of sleep each night. Plan to have an additional one-hour of wind-down activity.
- Establish a regular bedtime and rising time to help maintain the sleep cycle. It is a myth that you can bank extra hours of sleep during the weekend without impact.
- Sleep is not just a biological process, but a learned behavior that you can learn to do differently.
- Create a sleeping space that is dark, quiet, comfortable, and cool. Reserve the bed for sleep, relaxation, and sex only.
- Restrict caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and stimulant drugs that can affect sleep.
- Sleep disorders, depression, anxiety, and other conditions can impact the quality of sleep and are worthwhile to talk with your health care provider.
- If you are still feeling tired after trying many sleeping strategies, please bring this up to your health care provider for further discussion.
How to Successfully Launch Your Adult Life
From the GPWomeN-PCCW Speaker Series September 26, 2018 with Cornell alumna and PCCW member Susan Anderer, Psy.D.
- Becoming an adult is a key transition for adolescents. Adulthood has many benefits including independence and autonomy, but it also comes with challenges such as financial responsibilities and crafting a satisfying career.
- To successfully navigate the adult world, emotional regulation, self control, and tolerance for failure are critical.
- View life as an experiment! Adopt a growth mindset and change what you can control. For example, use job crafting (see work by Amy Wrzensniewski) to overcome job dissatisfaction by enhancing the parts of your work that you enjoy.
- Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket! Build resilience by nurturing multiple aspects of your life (friendship, hobbies, mental and physical health, etc.).
- Setting short term goals and tracking their progress can make larger projects more tenable. Be realistic and self-forgiving. Persist and be resilient in the fact of setbacks.
How to Go From Surviving to Thriving
During the November 6, 2019 GPWomeN-PCCW Speaker Series talk, “A Conversation to Explore How to Go from Surviving to Thriving”, Allison Hill asked attendees to think ahead: When you’re 80, do you want to reflect back on a “career resume” or a “life resume”? Throughout her talk, she told participants that balance between the two is not “one size fits all” and encouraged them to take charge of their own lives using 10 primary tips.
10 Tips for a Balanced Life:
- Know who you want to be. Know what energizes you and spend more time focusing on what you find important. Draw a pie chart and allocate pieces of the pie depending on their importance in your life. No matter how large a slice you allocate to relationships, make it bigger! These are essential.
- Build and nurture your relationships. Relationships are critical to build and nurture, and they should be real and authentic. Relationships are important for unraveling, unwinding, and helping you let go of expectations.
- Lean into your strengths. Consider using the Strengthsfinder assessment to determine your “superstrengths” and make choices according to these. For example, you’ll be happiest in a job which plays to your main strengths.
- Do not compare. Everyone has a different background, different challenges, and different decisions to make. Be the author of your own life! Sometimes we get off track by making decisions after comparing ourselves to others. When this happens, make sure to course correct.
- Be ambitious with no expiration date. Stay the course on things that feel difficult! Don’t place expectations on a specific day, week, or even year. Consider the chapters in a book. Not all books will have a “fairy tale ending” and that’s okay.
- Be very strict with your time. Consider how much time you spend on social media, unproductive meetings, and with the news. Planning will help you feel more focused, happy, and driven. Consider having one to do list rather than multiple, mixing professional and personal agendas in one list. Consider what is the “best and highest use” of your time.
- Be present. Be in the moment. When you’re sidetracked, you may miss goodness in front of you.
- Accept imperfection.
- Be vulnerable. Proactively ask for feedback, seek input, and don’t conflate feedback with criticism.
- Expect the unexpected. Unexpected events will occur in your life. This is why it is important to refer back to what matters most to you. Remember: There will be times in life where you need to spend more time on one piece of your pie than others.
Tips assembled by Elisabeth Lembo.
Motivation During Crisis
Travis Winters from Cornell Health presented to over 150 graduate and professional students about Motivation During Crisis in mid-April, 2020. In acknowledging that this is not business as usual, Winters provided participants with the following recommendations…
- Try some methods to manage anxiety over the uncontrollable.
- Use temporal distancing. Five years from now… (We’ve been through disasters before, believe in resilience.)
- Be informed, but not flooded. Pick two reliable sources to check once a day and limit social media time as many more focus on the coronavirus.
- Shift your thinking from “What if?” to “What can I do right now?”
- Do something else!!!
- Depression and anxiety worsen when one does not engage in enriching activities.
- Create a concrete and structured schedule that you follow throughout the day.
- Focus on finding ways to engage into the “flow” with what you enjoy.
- Exercise every day, eat healthy, experience nature, connect with others, and regulate your sleep patterns.
- You may be challenged to think about what motivates you differently as our extrinsic motivation (drive based on expectation of external rewards) may be different. Now is a great time to dive into intrinsic motivation (drive to act based on values and internal rewards). It is often helpful to remember why you came to graduate school and what has informed you to what you are doing right now.
- Understand this chart as it relates to where you are at right now! Learning and growth is challenged when we are in the fear zone and, with the level of uncertainty surrounding us, it is absolutely reasonable that we are in the fear zone. Use these indicators to help better assess where you might be and realize that it can change throughout the day (and that is normal)!
Our Function During the Pandemic
This is an unprecedented time where it is difficult to function as one normally does, or even as in past crises. The stakes are extremely high – personally, professionally, globally – as it relates to the pandemic and there are so many variables and unknowns. The result is that we all have overwhelmed moments and are experiencing stress, decision fatigue, and loss of productivity. Here is what you can do:
- Learn to control what you can control! – Spending your limited energy, focus, and time on things within your control is an integral part of managing stress and anxiety.
- Create and follow daily routines.
- Do at least something each day that helps you feel calm.
- Do something that helps you feel productive.
- Talk to others, volunteer, or help someone else.
- Know that this will pass.
- Focus on your thoughts and challenge any negative thoughts as they will determine your reality (use the HATS method).
- Step 1 – Hear your negative self-talk/inner critic.
- Step 2 – Appreciate you have a choice.
- Step 3 – Talk back to the negative voice in your head.
- Step 4 – Seek help and access resources.
- Be aware of realistic expectations.
- Everyone will struggle in some way.
- Some people will face extreme medical, physical, or emotional challenges.
- You will have multiple conflicting demands on your time and attention that cannot all be met as you would like.
This material is taken from Supporting Yourself and Your Trainees during the Coronavirus Pandemic (April 14, 2020) with Annie Scheiner, LCMFT, OITE Wellness Advisor, NIH, Office of Intramural Training & Education – Watch the webinar.
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