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10 Ways to Stay Positive in College

By Tab Olsen

College can be an intimidating experience. Ups and downs are inevitable. But even when you’re having a bad day, it’s probably not as bad as you think. I’ve determined from my experience that you will be successful in college as long as you make the best of it. Staying positive in college is the key to success.

Believe it or not, everyone’s brain has a greater sensitivity to negative stimuli. Human beings are hard-wired for it. So regardless of whether our personality is that of a pessimist or an optimist, we have a natural tendency to focus on the bad because it’s easier. What this means is, we can get overwhelmed at times with things that are disappointing or depressing or angering.

For that reason, it’s always a good idea to regularly pause and take stock to actually think positively about things. When you find yourself upset about something, stop and remind yourself how fortunate you are in other areas. This helps to put things in perspective.

So try to stay positive in college. The difficult times don’t last forever, and there are ways to get through it. If you’re feeling down and don’t like the way things are going, just remember that a positive attitude will lead you out of the darkest of times.

Here is some advice on how to stay positive in college for those of you headed to college or if you are struggling in college right now.

1. Find happiness in little things.

Appreciate the little victories. You did well on a test you weren’t expecting to pass, someone holds the door open for you, or you finish your homework early. When you appreciate the smaller things, it paves the way for bigger successes.

2. Help others.

Helping others makes you feel good about yourself. If you’re a first year student, befriend other freshmen who might be just as lost as you and help each other. Find a local place to volunteer. Give someone a compliment, hold the door open for someone, or pick up something they’ve dropped. You might be the one bright spot in someone else’s bad day.

3. Reach out to people.

There is nothing that will make it or break it for you more than having people to lean on. Offer to help a classmate study. Who knows, you might just become friends. Branch out to a new group of people through a class or club you’re in. Find people you relate to, and grow from there. Above all, don’t be afraid to seek the advice of a college counselor.

4. Stay away from people who are emotionally draining.

In college, you can find your best friends. Unfortunately, you will also run into people who are bad influences. Don’t waste your time on these people! Your happiness is what’s most important. If people put that at risk, don’t feel guilty about making changes in your friendships. Just like you shouldn’t feel intimidated by the “party scene.” College isn’t all partying and going out with friends. So if you’re not a party person, don’t force yourself to be. Pretending to be someone you’re not is exhausting. Standing up for yourself is the best way to earn the respect of others.

5. Join a club.

Joining a club is a great way to step out of your comfort zone, meet new people, and feel connected. Can’t find a club that you like? Guess what! Colleges let you make clubs. Form a club about something you’re passionate about! Being a leader or officer in a club on campus can provide you with a great sense of responsibility and appreciation. When people look up to you, you begin to look up to yourself as well.

6. Embrace your school spirit!

Basketball, football, baseball – you name it, and your college likely has it. Dress up in your school colors and head to a sporting event with a group of your friends. Cheering for your favorite team will cheer you up at the same time.

7. Work out.

Going to the gym makes you feel great, inside and out. Your attitude really does affect your health. Keeping your body healthy is key to maintaining a positive outlook, simply because you’ll feel more confident about yourself. Exercise is also a good way to work out your frustrations. Find a gym buddy, or even join a fitness class like Zumba or yoga.

8. Take advantage of opportunities.

You’d be amazed how many college events are free for students to attend. Go see a play, a music recital, or an art show. This lets you find out more about the culture on your college campus besides just what is in your classes. Look for adventures off campus, too, many of which offer student discounts.

9. Take time for yourself.

I know you’re busy, but you also need to take time for yourself, to relax and enjoy some alone time. Especially if you’re feeling stressed, it helps to have some breathing space to collect your thoughts. Go for a hike. Go on a nature walk. Go to a movie. There’s nothing wrong with staying in on Friday nights and binge-watching Netflix, either.

10. Do your homework.

The sooner you’re done with your homework and the assignments are turned in, not only will you feel better about the quality of your work because it wasn’t rushed at the last minute, but you’ll have more time at the end of the week to do the things you really want. So don’t procrastinate!

Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Everyone deals with setbacks at some point in their life, but it’s important to keep your eyes set on your goal. Working hard and staying positive in college will guide you toward success, despite the challenges you meet along the way.

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