How to Reset Your Mindset This Mental Health Awareness Month

Estimated reading time ~ 4 min
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cc: Jopwell Latinx Photoshoot | Yarminiah Rosa

Money and financial wellbeing are necessary to live but beyond that, our minds are our biggest tools. Think about how easily a small frustration, unkind word, or difficult moment can totally shift the way our days go. You might be high-flying in the morning and crashing under the weight of stress by the evening. Rollercoasters of emotion can make getting through our days, especially workdays, particularly difficult. If you’re an underrepresented professional in the workforce, you might have very specific fears and concerns that consume your mind. Do you doubt your self-worth? Feel undervalued or invisible? Worry that you can’t trust peers or might be excluded? Are you afraid to speak because you think your voice will go unheard? All of these worries can make being our best selves at work incredibly difficult.

If these (very common) thoughts have crossed your mind at any point, it’s time to reflect, reevaluate, and reframe your mindset. A peer once asked me, “How do you always see the brighter side of things?” I was surprised by the question but replied that I try to maintain an optimistic mindset. Optimism isn’t the same thing as naivete. It’s about not jumping to the worst outcome, judgment, or fear as soon as I encounter a moment of doubt or a wall.

We can’t control how other people treat us or even the thoughts that filter through our minds every day, but over time, we may be able to shift the impact of those thoughts on our wellbeing. Drop one negative thought a day, and see how your views elevate. Here are some tips for you to reset your mindset this year.

Develop a routine that inspires you

Some people start their days with exercise. Others need music and a wake-up shower. Others don’t get going until the first hit of caffeine enters their system. Rather than just blasting through each day with little thought, be more intentional about how you structure your time. What energizes you each day? What makes you feel clear-headed and relaxed? Are there tasks you can complete early in the day that give you a sense of accomplishment and that can power you through less exciting duties? Rather than being controlled by your schedule, take control over it. Doing so, might just leave you feeling less cloudy-headed, scrambled, or tired.

Focus on the good

In a recent article on The Well, “The Skeptic’s Guide to Setting Intentions”, my colleague Tiara Budd, talked about the power of manifesting and visualizing goals. Rather than writing off those ideas as New Agey or unrealistic, she learned that by speaking her goals into existence and then backing those desires up with action, she got farther in her career, faster than she imagined. Being open about what you want is hard — even if you just say it to yourself. But if you try it and work towards it, you mind find that over time, your words become reality.

Assume good intentions

A great thing about work is meeting different people. A difficult part of work can also be meeting different people. Each person is at the center of their own world, so if you feel slighted in some way — by an offhand comment, a suggestion you disagree with, a frustrating meeting — remember that most people are doing their best and are rarely "out to get you". You may not become best friends with every single person at your job, but trying to take things less personally and investing a little less energy in small slights, perceived or deliberate.

View challenges as opportunities

A common suggestion for people who face nerve-wracking tasks at work is to reframe fear as excitement. In part, that’s because our bodies’ fight-or-flight impulses can make it difficult to distinguish non-lethal stress from more modern pressures. That heart-racing breathlessness is also a physiological response tied with excitement. Shifting your mindset from fear to, “I’m just really excited, aren’t I?” Similarly, viewing challenges as opportunities and chances to shine, rather than moments of imminent failure can help you stop looking at the worst-case possible. Break your worries down into small bits that you can digest and figure out how to tackle each one.

Be kind

Some people equate goodwill with being a doormat, but simple gestures go a long way. Smile when you walk into work before you dive into your duties. Say “good morning” even if you aren’t up for a full conversation. Ask about your peers’ and colleagues’ lives (even if it’s just about their weekends). Nominate your peers and recognize them by letting them know they did a good job. We spend most of our days at work and showing kindness can do a lot to bring a human element back into the workplace.

Embrace failure

Embracing rejection or failure isn’t the same thing as being “happy” with it. It’s more about not giving up because of setbacks. If you don’t get a job callback, were denied a promotion or a stretch assignment, didn’t get into a program or school you wanted, or fell short on a project, do take time to feel that disappointment. Then, do your best to move on in a thoughtful way. You don’t have to pretend to be unfazed and you shouldn’t ignore things you learned, but you can keep going, armed with a fresh perspective. This is not the end!

Explore gratitude

Many people forget to be grateful for the things we have in life and focus on scarcity. It’s okay to be ambitious and aspire for more, but “more” or “better” doesn’t happen all at once. Our expectations and desires often increase over time, so take time to reflect on how far you have come, what you have learned, and how much more prepared you are to take on new experiences because of challenges you’ve faced in the past. Whether you use a gratitude journal to reflect on those benchmarks or share those realizations with close friends, take time to explore gratitude. You might realize that you’re better off than you thought.

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