Written by Hunter Samuelson
By the end of the fall semester, negative emotions tend to spoil the everyday lives of college students, so a new semester calls for a mindset makeover.
According to a Huffington Post article, most of us see a new calendar year as a clean slate for moving on and improving your life. So, forget about your GPA from last semester, because it’s time to revisit, refresh and recommit to your priorities. What better way to kick off 2016 than rewiring the brain for meaningful life changes?
Here are five ways students can have a happier semester:
- Stop obsessing over your GPA.
This doesn’t mean students are allowed to spend the rest of their college career Netflix-ing in bed and binge-eating Nutella (well, maybe the weekends are okay for these activities). As heavenly as that sounds, students do need to work hard, but there is a difference between working hard and being obsessive.
Students are much more than their GPA. Do employers believe that the number typed on a resume is the truest representation of a student’s intelligence and creativity? Not necessarily. So what if you got a C on an exam because of a late evening at your internship conducting competitive analysis.
- Resist comparisons — someone’s success is not your failure.
It’s human nature to feel distressed by other people’s success. It’s like when your best friend gets a boyfriend, and you begin to feel even more single. When we compare ourselves to others, we stop appreciating ourselves, and we can’t live a positive life if we do not appreciate who we are.
When fitness blogger and Mason freshman Hannah Hardison feels unhappy with who she is, she writes down all the things she loves about herself. “It sounds cliché, but the more you tell yourself something, the more you start to believe it,” Hardison said.
- Surround yourself with the right people.
Think about a friend you have who is in a relationship. Do you ever notice how that friend acts more and more like their significant other as the relationship progresses? This is because we tend to become like the people we surround ourselves with. It’s is easier to be happy around positive people, and it is easy to be miserable around negative ones.
Analyze your the circle of friends and figure out who is making your life better or worse. If you want to improve your relationship with your significant other, surround yourself with people in successful relationships. If you want a better GPA, surround yourself with people who work hard in their studies. You are a product of your environment.
- Believe in the power of rest.
Your brain works just like your body — it needs rest and relaxation in order to perform at its best. If you work out at the gym too hard without taking rest days, you’re actually undoing your progress. The same goes for studying: study too hard and your brain burns out.
Take breaks, go out with friends, order a pizza or watch Netflix. Instead of trying to work your life around your schoolwork, learn to work your schoolwork around your life.
- Talk it out with a professional.
As usual, television, movies and the general human ignorance have created a stigma that those who seek therapy are crazy and socially unacceptable.
First, your well-being and happiness in this world should be more important to you than what people think of you. Second, your friends do not have to know that you have a counselor. It can be a secret. Check out Mason’s CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services), a group of professionals who offer free consultations to Mason students. This may the only time in your life you will be offered free counseling, so you might as well take advantage of it.
Dr. Robyn Mehlenbeck, director of Mason’s Center for Psychological Services, agrees and wants students to know that seeking professional help is completely normal. “Everyone experiences stress at different times in their life,” Mehlenbeck said. “There are evidence-based treatments that teach skills to people so that they can manage their stress, anxiety, or depression. This helps people grow and feel better about a lot of things in life.”
It is a priority for counselors to help those with mental illnesses, but they also believe psychological help for those without a specific condition is just as important. “Everyone can benefit from the skills that are taught in therapy,” Mehlenbeck said.
As college students, we might as well learn how to manage our stress before we enter the chaotic world of adulthood. To learn how to cope with stress, depression or anxiety, students can schedule an appointment with CAPS by calling 703-993-2380.