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“We are living in unprecedented times.” How many times have we heard that over the last two months? I think I’ve even said it here on the blog. It’s going on fifty-plus days of quarantine and while states are slowly lifting restrictions at varying levels, it’s worth taking a look at our emotional, mental, and physical health and addressing some of the ways we can continue moving forward in a growth mindset, even in this historic, difficult, and yes, unprecedented time.

I’m pivoting back here to a discussion we’ve had several times surrounding New Year’s resolutions because the same principles apply when we address how we are challenging ourselves to grow during this time of isolation.

What is a Growth Mindset?

First, in case you are new here, just a quick primer on the growth mindset. Simply put, people with a growth mindset learn to love challenges, are intrigued by mistakes, and intentionally seek out new challenges. They have learned that their circumstances matter less than who they are.

“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” – Carol Dweck.

So how does that apply here? We must start by remembering that while we have no control over the current situation with regard to Covid-19, we are in control of our actions and reaction to our environment and the circumstances in which we find ourselves. We’ve talked about ways to stay physically healthy here and here, but whatever you are attempting to navigate, the following five principles will help you do so with a positive growth mindset, which in turn contributes to an emotionally and mentally healthier you in the long term.

Five principles of maintaining a Growth Mindset in quarantine.

  1. Set small goals. Choose something that can be achieved in only 30 days or less. People say that if you can do something for 30 days, it will become a habit. For the quarantine, I am working one week at a time. Setting new routines with children, accomplishing new ways of schooling and balancing work. All may need adjusting at different times, but five days at a time doesn’t feel overwhelming, especially when there is no set end date in sight.
  2. Make the goals measurable and incremental. Whether you are setting a physical goal or a self-improvement goal, make sure you set markers to celebrate. A lot of people say they want to lose weight. If you want it to stay off, then set the goal at 1 pound per week. That’s the healthy way to do it.
  3. On that note, Track your wins. Celebrate your success, make a note of your failure, and adjust accordingly. Applying a growth mindset works here, just like everywhere else.
  4. In that vein, don’t be discouraged by failure. Individuals with a growth mindset see mistakes as temporary setbacks, something to be overcome. Reflect on what you can learn and apply that learning when attacking your goals. Quarantine is a marathon, not a sprint.
  5. Surround yourself with support. This looks wildly different now, but find an accountability partner, a coach, a mentor, a friend. Sometimes a little motivation from an outside source can go a long way in helping you to achieve your goals. The internet has provided a myriad of ways to connect, from online meetings to social media groups, or even just a quick text. Connection is more important now than ever before.

One quick note to finish as you face your week with a positive mindset. First, don’t get sidetracked by others’ goals. Focus on what you can achieve, physically and mentally. If making time to shower and setting aside 20 minutes a day to walk is all you can reasonably achieve, then we are here to celebrate you. If you are a marathon runner and you’ve kept up your training, way to go! If you are learning a new instrument, we can’t wait to hear it. The only person you are competing against here is yourself.

*Note: While we are fierce advocates for swimming and exercise as having significant positive mental health benefits, neither the growth mindset or exercise alone is a substitute for professional mental health treatment. If you are experiencing the signs and symptoms of depression, please reach out to a mental health professional. No one should suffer in silence.

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