Finishing the Semester Strong: the Principles of Resilience and Positive Psychology

Ypsilanti, Daniel

Tired. Overwhelmed. Burnt out.

These are common phrases you might use to describe how you’re feeling at this point in the semester. These feelings can have a significant effect on your emotions (discouragement), which in turn impacts your thoughts (“How will I get this all finished?”), behaviors (avoidance), and physiology (muscle tension). Although this struggle is common among many students, you probably know someone who seems to persevere and thrive despite their stress. This ability to positively adapt, cope, or bounce back from stress is called resilience.

What is Resilience?

Resilience is a process you can utilize by choosing to engage with your environment in beneficial ways. By identifying and utilizing relevant physical, social, cultural, and psychological resources you can become an empowered and active participant in your life. Learning to view problems as manageable opportunities for personal growth can increase your quality of life, mental health and ability to perform under stress.

How to Be Resilient

  • Identify what you have control over and what actions you can take to improve your situation. A good way to accomplish this could be writing a to do list and prioritizing your most important task of the day. While you’re at it, think about how to make a task better (perhaps studying in a new location) or see if you can get help from a friend.
  • Reflect on the impact this task will have on you in the long term. We can be prone to exaggerate the importance of a task so try putting it in perspective by talking with a friend or family member.
  • Consider your stressful situation within the larger context of your life (such as work, relationships, physical health). How does what you’re experiencing now compare to how you manage other parts of your life? For example, you may be struggling with your Chemistry homework, but you do a fantastic job when it comes to healthy eating habits.
  • Decide to grow from this situation, and be aware of what lessons you can and are learning. Remember, you have survived every hard day so far. Something is growing out of what you are going through, and it is you.
  • Adopt an optimistic outlook, anticipate things working out, and visualize yourself achieving your goals.

About Positive Psychology

The field of Positive Psychology encourages practicing techniques to boost feelings of discouragement or worry. These can be as diverse as creating a daily record of things you are grateful for, sending a letter of thanks to someone in your life, meeting a friend for lunch, taking a walk around campus, visiting the Butterfly Museum or attending salsa dance classes. To achieve the greatest benefits from these activities it is important to space them out before you repeat an activity. This prevents the satisfaction you receive from diminishing over time.

You’ve got this, Gator!

Be purposeful in practicing resilience. Intentionally build time into your schedule to help you slow down. This will assist you in completing the semester with a sense of pride and accomplishment. You can finish strong!