Last fall I was at the lowest point in my life. Major anxiety attacks occurred daily, I never went out, I hardly had a full night’s rest and my grades were dropping rapidly. There was a major lack of control over my life which I desperately needed. Yet with all the negativity and helplessness I felt, there was a little voice that told me to stay positive.
For most of my life I have been an optimistic, glass half-full kind of person. It is this characteristic that allowed me to get through this difficult time in my life. Of course, positivity was not the only factor in my growth, but it was a major aspect which I still put emphasis on in my day to day life.
Now, a year later, I am the happiest I’ve been in a long time. However, college is brutal on mental health for many people, and making time to be positive isn’t on everyone’s calendar. We face hours of homework, extracurriculars, relationship struggles, financial problems and more. To combat these negative thought-inducing subjects, there are several ways to stay positive.
The first and most important way to be positive is to be a friend to yourself. This idea came from my therapist and has made a major impact on how I face the world. It’s about making time to reframe our habitual negative thoughts. A friend will hype you up or tell you when you are being irrational. They highlight the best parts about you. So when you are feeling down, ask, “What would I tell a friend if they were in the same situation?”
Write down the problem and analyze it from an outside perspective. Search for the good, just like your best friend would. For example, if you go on a date and they don’t text you back, you could accuse yourself of being weird or ugly, or you can be a friend to yourself and realize it’s their loss because you’re awesome. You can also write notes from a “friend” and leave them where you will see them. I hang my notes on my desk so they are the last thing I see when I leave my house and tackle the day.
Another way to stay positive is to allow for time to be negative. Nobody can be positive all the time. We all have problems and sometimes we just want to be mad about it. Take time after a long day to express yourself. Some of my favorite ways to release negative energy is by keeping a journal, making pottery, working out and going to therapy.
I also feel that using social media, shopping and playing video games are not effective in generating positive energy. These activities enable us to compare ourselves to others, spend money we don’t have and engage in mindless violence. These are activities don’t ease our minds, but rather add stress.
So take a break. Express yourself. Be a friend. And stay positive.