The Girls Getting Well Guide to Grad School

What You Missed: Girls Getting Well At Work

Last time, we opened up the Girls Getting Well at Work series by talking about:

1 | how to tell if it’s time to quit your job +

2 | how to improve your current job if you don’t want to quit.

(If you missed it, be sure to check out the post for the full deal!)

 

 

Hopefully, you now have a pretty good sense of whether you want to stick it out at your current job or move on to something new.

So, today we’re going to move on to the maybe exciting/potentially anxiety-inducing next step: Figuring out where the fuck to go from here.

 

Great, So, Let’s Talk Grad School!

If you’re like an increasingly large number of adults, you might be wondering if grad school is a good option for you.

Like deciding to quit your job, deciding whether or not to enroll in a demanding, time-consuming, and expensive academic program is not something to take lightly. Especially if your mental health is a concern.

 

So, before you make the leap into academia, let’s discuss:

  • how to tell if grad school is a good choice for you

  • how you can keep your mental health in check if you do decide to go back to school

 

 

Ready? Let’s go.

 

Q: Is grad school a good option for me?

 

A: If you’re committed to a career change that requires grad school (like becoming a doctor, veterinarian, or college professor), and you have a solid mental health treatment plan in place, then you do you, boo. Go get it!

If you see grad school as an opportunity to explore a subject you love, and the balance in your bank account is just a number to you, then, again, go get it! (Also, what?) But if you’re just trying to get out of working a big kid job for a few years and don’t really know what else to do, then there are better ways to spend $57,600.

 

 

Here’s the deal: There are valid reasons to go to grad school. If you’re curious if your motivations make the grade, HuffPost has a quick quiz to help you figure out whether grad school is a good option for you right now.

However, grad school can also cost you more in money, time, and missed opportunities than its worth. Here are a few reasons you might want to skip grad school and brave the job hunt instead.

 

Mental Health + Grad School

If you’re in it for the right reasons and are still thinking about doing the whole grad school thing, it’s a really good idea to get your mental health in check as much as possible before enrolling (I know, I know, easier said than done). Grad school is often a highly stressful and isolating experience for students.

Because of this, mental health problems often develop or worsen while students are working on obtaining advanced degrees. One study found that, when compared to the general population, grad students were more than six times as likely to experience depression and anxiety.

 

 

It’s worth repeating: Your mental health is the most important thing you have. So, yes, weigh the personal and financial pros and cons of going to grad school. But make the choice that best supports your mental health recovery, even if that means delaying grad school or pursuing a different career altogether.

 

Work Smarter, Not Harder

If you don’t feel like you can safely handle the stresses of graduate school but still want to work in a field like healthcare or law, you can look into careers in your chosen field that require less education. My little brother just finished up a certificate program in Medical Assisting at a local community college, and he’ll start his first job at a medical clinic next month. (So proud!)

If a compromise sounds like something that might work for you, do your research to find opportunities that get to the meat of what you really want to do. And in the meantime, be realistic and gentle with yourself about what kind of workload you are willing and able to take on, both in school and your chosen career.

Mental health recovery can feel like its own full-time thing. It’s okay to make space in your life to manage your mental health, even if it means prioritizing your wellbeing over your work.

 

 

TLDR

If you do decide that grad school is the way to go, you definitely want a solid mental health treatment plan and support team in place before you enroll. Which brings us to…

 

Q: How can I manage my mental health better while I’m in grad school?

 

A: The boring answer? Mental health management pretty much comes down to two things: (1) Balance and (2) Structure.

Your academic program is going to affect both (duh), so look for a program that will help you pursue your academic goals while maintaining some semblance of work-life balance and structure in your life. If your program is kind of fucking you over mental health-wise, though, let’s chat about what you can do to balance your life and add structure to your time.

 

Work Toward a Balanced Life

 

1 | Adjust Your Outlook

Maybe you don’t “believe” in work-life balance and are about to skip ahead toward some greener, more realistic pastures out there. Well, buckle up, buddy, this section is for you.

In my unscientific opinion, most people who end up in grad school suck at finding a balance between work and Everything Else. Why? Because you, a current or aspiring grad student, are probably an ambitious, hard-working smarty-pants who has built up an identity around Being the Best and Doing the Most. No shade – that’s my default MO, too. But it kind of sucks working yourself stressed and sick sometimes, right?

So, let’s work on accepting the fact that work can be a meaningful, fulfilling part of our lives, but work, on its own, can’t create a meaningful, fulfilling life. Balance is everything.

 

 

Okay, great, thanks for humoring me. So, you ask politely after waiting around awkwardly for a bit, How does one actually, you know, make the balance thing happen?

 

2 | Balance Your Calendar

Mental Health America has you covered with a pretty comprehensive list of practical ways you can start to find balance in your life. Clearly, the usual advice, like take breaks, exercise, unplug, and manage your time well, applies here.

But the one piece of advice that has helped me – a recovering workaholic and lifelong perfectionist – the most in this area is this: Schedule time for friends, family, and fun.

 

 

You’re already amazing at managing tasks, checking off to-do lists, and doing more things a day than you probably *should*, so use those strengths to help you fit more good stuff into your life.

Redefine positive, stress-reducing, meaning-making activities as productive if that mindset helps you make space in your life for, well, your life. Who am I to judge if making balance a competitive sport helps you restructure your life for the better?

For me, regularly-scheduled activities that I genuinely look forward to tend to help the most.

 

Here are some ideas you could try:

  • Weekly classes that you take just for fun (athletic, artistic, or anything else!)
  • Daily phone calls or texts with your bff, SO, or mom
  • Monthly volunteer shifts at a local animal shelter, school, or any non-profit that floats your altruistic boat
  • Friday night Chopped-style cooking competitions with your roommate
  • Daily walks with your pup (and a friend?)
  • Weekly movie nights with your SO or fave film nerd (I’ve heard good things about the AMC Stubs A-List subscription if you want to see all the films but aren’t a fan of MoviePass)
  • Monthly dinner parties or potlucks with your favorite people (if you want to amp up the do-good vibes while you’re at it, check out how you can host dinners for your friends that raise money for a cause you love)
  • A solo morning or evening routine that’s just for you – writing in a gratitude or bullet journal, following a skincare routine that makes you feel amazing, reading, killing a 15-minute workout on Youtube, whatever pushes your happy buttons

 


Quick shoutout to babes with depression or other mood disorders who are having a hard time “looking forward” to anything rn:

It’s okay to struggle with things that *should* feel easy, like having fun. You’re not broken, you’re getting better. Be patient with your progress, and practice being gentle with yourself.

 

 

To get the ball rolling when it comes to learning to like things again, start with low-commitment activities with a quick payoff. A period of depression is arguably not the best time to take up, like, ballet if you’re apt to get frustrated and bored with slow progress. Doing things you know you’re good at, even if you haven’t done them in a while, can help you feel better about yourself.

If you’re coming up blank, try an activity you used to love as a kid, even if it’s something “silly” like coloring or playing dress-up. It’s literally okay if you spend your chill time sitting on your patio, watching cars drive by if that’s something that feels good to you. But look for things that are (or might become) fun or interesting to you, and gradually start to carve little chunks of time for them in your life.


 

Wait, Was This Supposed To Be This Hard?

 

 

Okay, so, maybe you’re on board with the idea of a healthy work-life balance, but, try as you might, you can’t make it work. After all, time doesn’t grow on trees.

Well, not to sound like your mom here, but you could probably use some more structure in your life. If you missed that day in school where everyone else learned how to structure their days effectively (lol jk, most of your friends are struggling, too), don’t worry. You can keep reading to learn more.

 

Structure Your Life

 

1 | Stop Treating Structure Like a Dirty Word

If you don’t think structure is *for you*, let’s chat for a minute before you give up on it completely.

First of all, it’s true that establishing and maintaining structure comes more naturally to some people than others. But you can still learn to use structure-building tools effectively, even if the process doesn’t come naturally to you. The trick is to remember that tools should work for you, not the other way around.

It’s also important to remember that structuring your life more effectively can and will help you be more productive. However, the goal isn’t just to get more done.

 

Structure can also help you:

  • Prioritize what’s really important to you

  • Practice physical and emotional regulation

  • Create efficient and effective daily routines

 

Basically, structure is going to help you make the most out of the 24 hours you get each day. That’s huge when you’re drowning in grad school commitments and trying to balance your life. Plus, not to sound like your mom (again), but learning how to structure your time effectively is an important grown-up skill that will help you, literally, for the rest of your life.

So, ready to give this whole structure thing another go?

 

 

 

2 | Stock Your Toolbox

 

Technology

Some people swear by apps to help them improve their productivity or build better habits. Just remember that a tool that works really well for someone else might not work for you, so don’t feel bad for jumping ship if a popular app doesn’t do it for you.

Your needs might also evolve over time. That’s okay, too. When I was in school, I loved using Todoist to help me keep track of everything going on in my life. But now that my life is calmer and more consistent, my phone’s calendar function does more than enough.

 

 

Bullet Journal

If you prefer managing your tasks and tracking your habits by hand, you might want to look into starting a bullet journal. You’ve probably seen bullet journals featured on Instagram, Pinterest, or Buzzfeed that intimidate the fuck out of you. Don’t stress just yet.

The foundation of bullet journaling is a simple task management system called Rapid Logging. Seriously, you can learn to do it in two minutes. Once you’ve gotten the hang of things, you can spend as much or as little time on your bullet journal as you want. (Yes, seriously. A bullet journal without decorative page dividers is still a bullet journal.)

 

 

Behavior

I also love this unique list of productivity tools from writer Ann Latham. In the article, Latham emphasizes the power of behavior-based tools, like saying “no” when you need to, prioritizing your physical health, and developing clarity. Fucking yes, girl. 

 

 

Hakuna Matata

At the end of the day, there are a million tools out there to help you structure your life more effectively. If something works, use it. If it doesn’t, toss it and try something else. No worries.

 

3 | Regulate Your Schedule

It’s not a secret that keeping a consistent schedule is best for your mind and body. It’s easy enough when you’re working a 9-5 to maintain a regular routine (at least during the week), but it can get a bit more challenging when you’re in grad school to stay on track.

 

 

Here are a few suggestions to help you regulate your schedule more effectively in grad school:

  • Take advantage of teaching opportunities: Like a 9-5, your teaching gig will help add structure to your week
  • Show off your work at conferences: You’ll benefit from the structure of the conference prep and presentation process (not to mention the outside feedback)
  • Set a regular work schedule: If you have a lot of independent work on your plate and not a lot of external structure, set regular work hours for yourself and then stick to them
  • Talk to your advisor if your schedule still isn’t working for you: Honestly, not every advisor will be willing to help you shift your schedule, but you won’t know if you don’t ask

 

Real Talk Alert

Honestly, guys, this stuff is hard. No one was born knowing how to prioritize their tasks perfectly or knowing which time management tools work best for them. It’s a lot of fucking information, and I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed or think that you’re doing it wrong, just because it’s not easy or automatic for you.

Please remember that, when we talk about adding structure to your life, we’re describing a tool to help your life run more smoothly, not a destination. 

If something sounds helpful, try it out. If it works for you, keep doing it. But if not? That’s okay. There are a million and three more ideas out there for you to try. And you have all the time you need to figure out what works for you.

 

 

 

School’s Out!

That’s it for today! If you loved this post, feel free to share it with your friends and subscribe to stay in touch.

In the next part of the Girls Getting Well at Work series, we’ll go back to work to help you find a job you love (and avoid stumbling into a job you hate). 

Until then!

♥ Meg

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Should I Stay Or Should I Go? – Girls Getting Well at Work

Mental Health + Work

You can tweak your daily habits all you want to get happier, but if you hate the place you spend 40ish hours a week at (every gd week), your mental health is going to suffer. That’s why today we’re talking about work and how you can make your job a positive part of your mental health recovery.

We’ve got a lot of ground to cover here, so stay tuned for the rest of the Girls Getting Well at Work blog series (coming soon)!

 

Should I quit my job? Girl typing on a laptop at her desk.

 

 

Goal: Stop Hating Mondays

Jobs are definitely not a one-size-fits-all situation, so we’re not going to focus on the “perfect” job for people with depression/anxiety/OCD/etc. (Hint: There isn’t one.)

Your mental health disorder doesn’t determine your interests, strengths, or qualifications, so why would a single job title fit every person with a certain diagnosis?

 

Should I quit my job? Colorful desk with flowers and floral arrangement tools.

 

Instead, we’re going to work through some questions that might pop up on your journey to building a work life you love. Namely:

  • Should I quit a job that’s bad for my mental health?
  • How do I make my current job suck less?

 

And next time, we’ll tackle some questions you might have if you decide your current job isn’t working out for you, like:

  • What about grad school?
  • What should I look for a new job? (and what should I avoid?)
  • I’ve never quit a job before (please, someone, help me)
  • I can’t get an interview (wtf?)
  • I got an interview! What next?

 

Ready to stop hating Mondays? Let’s go.

 

Q: Should I quit a job that’s bad for my mental health?

 

A: Probably, but let’s chat first.

 

Should I quit my job? Two women talking at a table.

 

First of all, is your job actually causing problems, or are your problems just following you to the office?

Before you do anything, make sure you’re not confusing the source of your mental health angst. People have a tendency to change their external circumstances when the real problem is internal (think: a clinical mental health disorder). Do you think a superficial change is going to fix a problem rooted deep in your brain chemistry, genetics, and upbringing? Probably not.

Just ask 18-year-old me if moving to California for school fixed her depression. Then, check in with 21-year-old me to see if studying abroad in Europe cured her eating disorder. If 21-year-old me doesn’t pick up the phone (hint: she won’t), call 22-year-old me and ask if her substance abuse issues got better or worse when she moved to work for Disney?

If your work life is actively creating mental health problems in your life – like negative stress, burnout, or sleep issues – then it might be time to move on. But be honest with yourself. Are you chasing an external fix for an internal problem? Or are you genuinely looking to swap a harmful work environment for a positive one?

On my end, I recently left the early education field (don’t get me started on that fucked-up industry) to become a nanny for a cuddly, funny, and razor-sharp little girl. I make twice as much money now, work fewer hours, and successfully cut my work stress by about 10,000%. A thoughtful job change can be life-changing. But quitting your job is a big decision. Make sure to think it through.

 

Should I quit my job? Woman working on a laptop at a restaurant.

 

 

Okay, so your motivations for quitting are on-target. Does that mean it’s time to pack up and peace out?

Not quite.

If you’ve been at your current job for 6 months or less, hold off on writing your letter of resignation.

It typically takes at least six months to adjust to a new position, so it’s completely normal to feel unsettled, uncomfortable, or out of place while you’re learning your responsibilities, adjusting to workplace routines, and forming relationships with your new supervisors and co-workers.

That being said, you know yourself and your limits best. If your experience feels more genuinely intolerable than gently uncomfortable, do what you need to do. Your mental health comes first, always, always, always.

I’ve found it helpful to practice distress tolerance skills to get through not-so-great days at work, so you might want to copy down any skills that you think might help you cope at work and whip them out when you need them. (Practice makes progress, friends.)

 

Should I quit my job? Woman holding a cup of coffee.

 

However, if you’ve been in your current position for a while, and you’re still spending your lunch break crying in the bathroom, let’s be real: You’re probably ready to gtfo. 

Yay! Making the decision to quit (or stay) is the first step to making your work life work for you. Word of caution: You want to think more tortoise than hare when it comes to changing jobs. Take the time to think through your decision and make sure it’s the right one for you.

Still feel good about your choice? We’ll get into how you can find a job you love next week!

Not sure yet? Keep reading to find how you can make your current job a better place to be.

 

Should I quit my job?

 

Q: So, I decided not to quit. How can I make my job suck less?

 

A: I’m so happy you asked! So, in every job, you have (1) things you have to do, (2) people you have to work with, and (3) an environment you have to work in.

 

You can make your job suck less by:

  • Maximizing the time you spend doing things you like to do
  • Spending more time with people who energize you
  • Upgrading your workspace to reduce stress and increase positive feelings

 

(Ready to unpack all that?)

 

How can I make my job better? People working on laptops.

 

 

So, you want to do more things you like (and fewer things you hate) at work?

How you do this is obviously painfully dependent on what your specific job is. But here are some general tips for you. Feel free to pick and choose what might work for you based on your particular position, industry, and company culture!

  • Delegate tasks you don’t like to other people
  • Volunteer for tasks and projects that excite you
  • Become the best at the things you love to do at work (so you get the opportunity to do them more often)
  • Pitch ideas and projects that allow you to use your strengths and explore your interests
  • Have an honest conversation with your supervisor – let them know what you love about your job and what you don’t enjoy as much (they might be willing to help you out!)

Bonus Tip: Find someone who excels at your least favorite task. They might help you learn to look at a not-so-fun task in a new way (or maybe even swap you for a task you like more)!

 

How can I make my job better? Aesthetic desk with coffee cups and notebooks.

 

You may not work with John Krasinski or Jenna Fischer, but you can still find someone cool to hang out with at work.

Here’s a simple formula: Put more energy toward people who make you feel good and less energy toward people who make you feel like shit.

Cool, nice co-worker you’re collaborating with for the first time? Sure, jump over the moon for them. Invite them to grab coffee. Build up those friend points.

Annoying co-worker who talks shit behind your back to your boss? Not worth your energy. Avoid when you can, or hit her with a tight and polite CEO-style email when silence isn’t an option.

Workplace drama is always going to exist, but you can choose not to be a part of it. Eliminating negative social stress and increasing positive workplace interactions will work wonders when it comes to making your job a better place to be.

 

How can I make my job better? Two women smiling together in the sunlight.

 

Upgrade your workspace like you’re hosting a new show on HGTV.

The right workspace set-up can do fucking wonders to balance your mood and boost your productivity. Here are a few tips (from science!) to help you make desk a better place to be:

 

1. Prioritize Better Lighting

You can’t control the terrible overhead lighting in your office or your desk’s proximity to natural light (which is, naturally, the best source of light.) But you can buy a desk lamp that simulates daylight to help improve your mood, increase your concentration, and boost your energy levels while you’re working.

As a PNW native, I’m a huge advocate for light therapy, especially during the Dark Months of fall and winter. I personally own and use the Circadian Optics Lumos 2.0 Light Therapy Lamp at home, which works like a dream for this girl with both regular old depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder, but there are tons of models available if you want to upgrade your desk lamp. (This is all totally non-spon, by the way. I just love this lamp.)

Ideally, you should position your banging new desk lamp about a foot away from you with the base of the light source hitting you around chin level in order to maximize effectiveness and minimize eye strain.

 

How can I make my job better? Light-colored desk with books, lamp, and desk art.

 

2. Adopt a Plant (or Two)

Don’t get me wrong – I’m a plant killer, through and through. But research suggests that plants can reduce tension and fatigue in the workplace while increasing productivity and creativity by 15% a piece! Plus, you benefit from nature’s OG air purifiers and sound absorbers. Never a bad thing in a shared space.

PS. If you’re plant-challenged too, I’ve heard great things about peace lilies, bamboo, and succulents.

 

How can I make my job better? Desk with lots of plants and laptop.

 

3. Pay Attention to Color

You’ve probably heard some chatter about the psychological effects of color through the grapevine. Color theorists argue that yellow can cause feelings of anxiety, blue is soothing, red is stimulating, etc. While existing research doesn’t fully support color theory, you still want to work to achieve a balance in colors in your workspace. Here are some tips to help you play nicely with color:

 

White can feel clean and fresh, but too much white can be perceived as harsh and sterile.

(Dude, let me tell you how often I heard that complaint in my preschool-teaching days. Parents love a good wall covered floor to ceiling in children’s scribble drawings.) When it comes to your space, you definitely want to add touches of color to avoid that whole hospital aesthetic.

Black is classy AF, but can feel heavy.

It’s fine to anchor your space with black accents (I mean, there’s a good chance your desk is black already, so, hey, what else can you do?) But, again, touches of color will help you lighten up your space (and hopefully your mood).

You probably want to avoid red, but small doses of pink can be soothing. 

People act with greater speed and force (read: less restraint) when exposed to the color red. Red is also associated with poorer test performance in students. So, probably not the color you want dominating your space while you’re trying to get things done effectively. Pink is a good alternative if you’re partial to colors on the warmer side of things.

Predictably, blue and green are probably still your best bet when it comes to dressing up your desk. 

The psychological effects of color may not be as significant or long-lasting as color theorists would like you to believe. However, research does suggest that blue environments can increase productivity, while certain shades of green can promote relaxation. (And if you follow through on adopting a desk plant, your job is already halfway done when it comes to adding soothing shades to your space.)

No matter what color theorists say, your individual preferences are actually the most important factor at play here. 

Your relationship with color is, above all, shaped by your personal experiences. If you had a traumatic experience while watching Blue’s Clues as a child, you might not find blue so soothing. On the flip side, maybe the color white reminds you of daisies and you thrive in an all-white room.

Use the research to inform your interior decorating choices if it helps you. But if it doesn’t? You do you, dude.

 

How can I make my job better? Pink laptop screen surrounded by plants.

 

4. Cut Clutter

If you’re like most people, you spend about 4.3 hours every week searching for papers and muttering under your breath, I know it’s here somewhere – I just had it yesterday. (Did it grow fucking legs and walk off?) Yeah, not the best use of your time. Do yourself a favor and give your workspace a good spring cleaning. It will reduce your stress levels (which we could all use, tbh) and increase your productivity.

 

How can I make my job better? Minimalist well-lit desk.

 

5. …But Own Your Space

Don’t get confused: The opposite of clutter is not a bare desk. Infusing your workspace with a few personal touches (like plants, photos, and art) can boost your productivity by 17%. If you’re coming up short on ideas to help you decorate your space, this list from Bustle has you covered.

 

How can I make my job better? Desk with books, laptop, and coffee.

 

Got it?

So, let’s check in.

  • You’re starting to do more stuff you like at work ✓
  • You’re putting more energy into people you like being around ✓
  • You’re optimizing your workspace so it’s brighter, cleaner, and more you

Basically, you’re killing it. Now, give it a few weeks. See how things go. And then feel free to reassess. You spend the majority of your waking life at work, so make sure your work life is, you know, actually working for you.

PS. You totally got this.

 

How can I make my job better? Woman typing on a laptop in brick building.

 

Still not feeling Mondays?

Don’t get stuck working a job that fucks with your mental health. If you’re ready to move on from your current workplace, let’s chat next time. We’ll cover:

  • How to decide if you should go back to school
  • How to find a job that you love
  • How to quit your job gracefully
  • How to apply for jobs more effectively
  • How to interview like a champ

See you then!

♥ Meg

 

 

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7 Small, Everyday Ways to Deal with Depression

Drink More Water (Just Kidding)

When it comes to depression, pretty much anyone with a heartbeat has something you need to try! (Did you know that hydration is key? Oh, you did, and you’re still depressed? Well, maybe you’re not drinking enough water.)

Let’s get real: A blog post won’t cure your depression. But these tips might make living with depression a little easier. With all that extra energy, you’ll be smiling and nodding like a champ the next time you’re forced to sit through another fucking lecture on hydration.

 

7 Small, Everyday Ways to Kick Depression’s Ass

 

1. Challenge Yourself

Try to do one thing every day that challenges you, even if it’s just washing the dishes. Accomplishing something you didn’t think you could do will help you build the confidence to take on other, bigger challenges. Check out this list for ideas to help you stretch your comfort zone (heads up: it’s totally okay to start out small and work up to scarier stuff. Start as small as you need to, as long as you’re starting.) If you need a little inspiration, you can read Michelle Poler’s blog 100 Days Without Fear – even if you’re not planning on jumping off a cliff anytime soon.

 

 

2. Shower

Baths get a lot of space in the self-care conversation, but showers will get you upright, engaged, and refreshed. Try a shower bomb to really up the “self-care” feel while you get cleaned up. (Pro tip: citrus and lemongrass are good options to wake you up when you’re dragging!)

 

 

3. Get Social

Plan some kind of positive social interaction every day. Spending time with people you like and care about – even if it’s just a quick text to say hi – will help you feel better overall. If you missed it, check out my list of the four types of friends you need in your social support squad (and feel free to send your besties a quick thank you text!)

 

 

4. Have Fun

Schedule at least 30 minutes for fun every day. This can mean time to play video games, work on a passion project, or spend time with your pup. Whatever it is, do something you actually like every day, as often as possible.

 

 

5. Make Your Bed

A clean, uncluttered space will help your mind follow suit. You’ll start the day off feeling productive and get to come home to a tidy space. Win-win. (If you’re not sold yet, check out what the author of The Happiness Project wrote about the happiness-boosting potential of making your bed.) Don’t feel like you need to dress your bed up too much, either – slap on a fitted sheet, a comforter, and a few pillows, and you’re golden. (For proof that flat sheets are unnecessary garbage, look no further.)

 

 

6. Treat Yourself

This doesn’t have to break the bank. Keep your favorite lotion stocked in your bag. Listen to your favorite album while you get ready for work. Find little ways to make daily routines a little brighter. If you’re stuck, here’s a list of ways you can treat yourself (without stuffing your face or spending all your rent money at Lush).

 

 

7. Make a “Did-It” List

To-do lists can drain your confidence on those days you just don’t get everything done. Make a “did-it” list of everything you accomplished during the day. Tracking your achievements will help retrain your brain to notice your everyday successes, not just your struggles. (Learn more about why tracking what you’ve done can be more useful – and more fun – than a to-do list.)

 

 

Share Your Secret

What do you do to make living with depression a little easier? Share your go-to techniques in the comments.

 

 

If you want more ideas to help you improve your mental health, you can check out my very first post here to learn more about the changes I’ve made in my life this year (so far!) and how they might help you.

♥ Meg

 

P.S. Because Pictures Are Prettier…

Here’s a handy lil infographic. (While you’re here, let me know if you want more visual content like this!)

 

Seven small everyday ways to deal with depression

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Make Up Your Mind(set): 6 Tips to Help You Develop a Growth Mindset

Here’s What You Missed:

Last week we talked about how your mindset can impact your life. We also discussed how you can tell which kind of mindset you’re working with – fixed or growth. (If you missed it, you can catch up here!To recap, a growth mindset is basically like a Fastpass for Space Mountain. Sure, you can ride without one if you really want to wait in line, but why not make it easier on yourself?

Okay, cool, you say, So, where’s the line to get a growth mindset? And can I actually just skip to the front? My friends are up there already. 

Well, bud, the line is here (and, no, you monster, I know your friends are gonna pull the same shit once you get up to the front. Just drain your phone battery playing Heads Up in line like the rest of us.)

 

 

Anyway. Here are my top 6 tips to help you start living that sweet growth mindset life:

 

1. Embrace the Spectrum

You may relate more to one type of mindset, but the truth is everyone is a mix of both types. So, let go of the idea of having a 100% growth mindset, 100% of the time. Because, yeah, that’s not a real thing. What you can do is move toward using a growth mindset more frequently.

So, here’s your first challenge: Think about mindset change as a process, not a product. Take the pressure off of yourself to “perform” a growth mindset and make room for yourself to experience more of the real thing.

 

 

Old mindset: I need to use a growth mindset 24/7, or it doesn’t count.

New mindset: I’m working on using a growth mindset more often. 

 

2. Track Your Thoughts

Many unhelpful thoughts pop up in your brain out of habit. Remember neuroplasticity? By thinking the same types of thoughts over and over again, you strengthen those connections in the brain.

It’s like any other bad habit, except this one affects everything you think, feel, and do. (No pressure?)

Luckily, like any other bad habit, the first step is to realize, oh, gee, I’m doing this one thing a lot, and I don’t think it’s doing me any favors. Start paying attention to your brain’s mean little catchphrases and when they tend to pop up in your head.

By tracking your least favorite thought patterns, you can train your brain to pay more attention to them. Once you gain more awareness of your negative thought patterns, you can start working to challenge and change them.

 

 

Old mindset: I suck at meeting new people.

New mindset: Wait, I feel like I tell myself that a lot when I’m having a bad mental health day.

 

3. Effort Isn’t Everything

If you stop at, “Hey, at least I tried,” you’re missing the point. Putting in effort without intent is like earning attendance points – it’s somewhere to start, but not enough to pass the class. So, yes, try. But don’t get stuck trying to pedal a stationary bike cross-country. If what you’re doing doesn’t work, try harder, smarter, or different. 

P.S. If you’re feeling stuck, try the ol’ phone-a-friend method! It can help to get an outsider’s POV when you feel like you’ve tried everything.

 

 

Old mindset: I can’t figure out this math problem. Fuck it, I’m gonna go catch up on Westworld.

New mindset: I think I need to try something else to figure this problem out. Maybe I can text someone from class for help?

 

4. Name the Voice

Growing up, my dad used to tell me that girls couldn’t play sports (yes, this actually happened, and yes, this was in the 2000’s). I eventually said fuck it and started doing sports anyway. But that fun little voice still pops up in my head sometimes.

If you just thought, Oh my God, me too, except it was ______!, write it down. You can make an inventory with two columns: Unhelpful thoughts + the name of the person who put those thoughts in my pretty little head.

Then, the next time that particular thought decides to drop by to ruin your day, you can say, “Okay, sure, Dad,” and get back to killing your workout.

 

 

Old mindset: I’m not good at writing.

New mindset: My English teacher used to say that I wasn’t a writer, but I know I can get better with practice.

 

5. Don’t Underestimate the Power of This Word

“Yet” is a little word that can make a big difference. When you catch yourself thinking, Ugh, I’m not good at this, throw in your new favorite word at the end. I’m not good at this isn’t gonna help you get better. But I’m not good at this, yet leaves room for you to grow.

 

 

Old mindset: I don’t feel comfortable talking to strangers.

New mindset: I don’t feel comfortable talking to strangers, yet.

 

6. Aim to Fail (Yes, Really)

Think of this as exposure therapy for your fear of failure. When you’re working on a project or practicing a skill, schedule time to fuck up. And don’t just fuck up a little. Work on becoming the best at fucking up.

Say you’re trying to write a novel. During your designated writing time, give yourself a few minutes or an hour to play with failure. Try to write the worst page of fiction ever written. Use as many cliches as you can think of. Leave spelling and grammar errors scattered across the page. Have (messy) fun!

Playing with failure will help you get to know it better while you’re in a safe environment. Then, when the real thing jumps out at you from behind a bush, you’ll be able to laugh, say, oh, you, and get back to work.

 

 

Old mindset: Every time I try to draw something, I mess it up.

New mindset: Okay, what is the weirdest-looking thing I can draw today?

 

Okay, Go Have Messy Fun Now.

 

Here’s your takeaway for today:

  • You have everything you need right now to change the way you think and feel
  • Be patient with yourself – you’re learning (always)
  • Make the best fucking mess you can

Kay, now go play!

♥️ Meg

P.S. Let me know what kind of mess you made today!

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Does Your Mindset Need a Makeover?

Think about the last time you messed up.

I don’t mean a small mistake, like you forgot to return your library books for a week and racked up a few bucks in late fees.

I mean, something huge. Like, you wrote a series finale for a beloved sitcom. But instead of leaving things on a positive note, you wrote something that completely unraveled the entire character arc of the protagonist and rendered the whole series unwatchable.

(No, I’m not over How I Met Your Mother yet. Grieving takes time, guys.)

 

Girl typing on a laptop

 

Quiz Time:

 

After the episode bombed (or whatever), how did you react? Did you…?

A. Sink into a bottle of wine, spend the night calling yourself mean names, and decide that writing isn’t for you. Maybe you’ll go back to school and become an accountant or something?

B. Take a deep breath and give yourself a break. Accept that the finale didn’t turn out how you (or anyone else) hoped it would and use the experience as a learning opportunity.

 

Why Do I Ask?

Well, research suggests that the way you approach failure is more important than the fact that you messed up. So, let’s unpack that.

 

 

What Is a Fixed Mindset?

 

If you related to option A more in our little scenario, you’re rocking a Fixed Mindset.

 

You might agree with a handful of these statements:

  • I’m just not good at math.

  • I’m not a creative person.

  • I’m pretty smart, so I usually do well on tests.

 

Are you catching on to a theme here? If you have a fixed mindset, you believe that your strengths and weaknesses are – you guessed it- fixed. You’re always been good at baking and bad at soccer, and you always will be.

You probably believe that your traits are pretty much locked in at birth, too. You’re creative, stubborn, and sarcastic. End of story.

 

 

More importantly, you are deathly afraid of failure. You would rather bake that one chocolate chip cookie recipe your family loves for the hundredth time than try out that lemon souffle you saw on Pinterest that might fall flat.

You value the safety of sure success over the risk of taking on a new challenge – and maybe not nailing it.

 

Okay, So What’s a Growth Mindset, Then?

 

If you’re more an option B kind of girl, you are the lucky owner of a Growth Mindset.

 

You might throw out a few of these phrases in your daily life:

  • I’m not too happy with how I did on this test, so I’ll study more for the next one.

  • I can’t run for very long yet, but I’ll get better with more practice.

  • It sucks that that guy from the gym didn’t want to go out, but I’m happy I pulled myself together enough to ask.

 

Do you see a few key differences here? People who have a growth mindset aren’t delusional. They accept the fact that they’re good at some things and not great at others. But they also know that they can get better.

 

 

Having a growth mindset means that you:

  • Accept your potential to change

  • Embrace the magic of meaningful effort

 

If you have a growth mindset, you’re not afraid to take a risk because you’ll either achieve something amazing or learn something from your failure.

 

Does Your Mindset Actually Matter?

But wait. A growth mindset might make you popular on Instagram (#inspiration), but can your mindset actually impact your life? Actually, yes.

Research suggests that people with growth mindsets are more likely to take on new challenges than people with fixed mindsets. They also have better attitudes toward failure. Actually, they don’t tend to perceive themselves as having failed. Instead, they see setbacks as learning opportunities.

To watch a growth mindset in action, please do yourself the favor of watching or reading Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture, which includes countless gems like this one:

 

Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.

 

 

Can You Change Your Mindset?

Are you firmly planted in the fixed mindset camp and feeling a little salty about this whole glorification of the growth mindset? Don’t worry. If your mindset isn’t doing you any favors, you can learn to develop a growth mindset (and start reaping the benefits, too.)

Thanks to neuroscience, we know that it’s possible to change the actual physical structure of the brain through dedicated practice. (Science is so cool, you guys. This is called neuroplasticity if you want to learn more!)

 

 

I sense a follow-up post…

Want to learn how to start developing a growth mindset? Feel like this whole thing might be a bit more nuanced than it looks at first glance? You’re so right. You can learn more here.

 

♥ Meg

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