Are you raring to go in this new term? If you’re not feeling as optimistic as you’d like, here are some tips from a student to help you get in a positive frame of mind
It’s great to welcome the New Year with a strong sense of renewal and positivity. We set our goals, feel newly motivated and embrace the opportunity for change. Or do we? It’s also normal to also be entering the New Year feeling stressed and anxious, already feeling heavy under the pressure for self-improvement or still fatigued from the challenges of 2021.
Whatever your current mindset may be, there are steps you can take to help reclaim a more positive attitude for the year ahead.
One idea is to acknowledge small wins. At the start of the year, we tend to set ourselves goals when feeling our most productive and motivated. Naturally, some of those goals end up being more difficult to stick to than others. When working towards fulfilling them, it is easy to associate slow progress with inadequacy and failure. But try not to be discouraged and give up! Praise and reward yourself for taking even a small step in the right direction. Whether it’s learning to drive, developing a language skill, saving a certain amount of money, or even trying to drink more water every day – break things down into smaller chunks and celebrate the achievements along the way.
Practicing gratitude is another step to achieving a positive mindset. It is easy to focus on the aspects of your life that you wish to change or ‘improve’, while forgetting all your present accomplishments. Gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness, helping people to relish good experiences, improve health, think more positively, and build healthy relationships. How can you ‘practice gratitude’? Remember to express appreciation out loud to others, or keep a gratitude journal. It’s a great habit to get into, and can help you become more appreciative of even the ‘small’ wins and overcome feelings of disappointment and negativity.
The Medway Chaplain, Lynne Martin, has a YouTube channel called “Taking Ten with Lynne” and one of her videos points out the empowering and positive effects of being kind. She explains that kindness values others, it promotes trust, boosts productivity, and aids genuine compassion. Committing to a simple act of kindness not only enhances the well-being of others but also causes the release of feel-good hormones in our own bodies. This, in effect, enhances your mood and boosts self-esteem. Being kind to others provides us with a sense of purpose – something we all long for.
Your environment also has a huge impact on your state of mind. When you surround yourself with positivity, you’re more likely to adopt empowering beliefs and view life in a positive light – positivity really is contagious. If you notice your environment is instead dragging you down, whether that’s friends who are very negative, or a social media posts that make you feel angry or hopeless, think about making conscious decisions to invite more positive people and ideas into your life and giving less airtime to the negativity. If you don’t know where to start, why not look to the University of Kent for support? There are many events and opportunities to meet others and develop mindfulness, resilience and positivity – check out the Student Support and Wellbeing Calendar for full details and booking information.
It’s okay to feel low. Although we all want to feel positive and have a great start to the year, we do also have to acknowledge that life can be really tough, and sometimes there’s just no smiling through it. If you feel you’d benefit from professional help to discuss difficult feelings, you can contact the University’s Mental Health team for free specialist support, online or in person.
Written by Ellie Panayiotou, second year student, on 17.01.22
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