Rising Above: Four Ways to Keep a Positive Mind During Finals

It is that time of year again! Final essays need to be written, projects need to be finished, and textbooks need to be read again and again. Deadlines are creeping up, and it can be a challenge to make it through without losing your mind. It is easy to succumb to feelings of stress, anxiety and negative thoughts. For tips on keeping a positive mindset through all of the madness, check out these four methods.

1. Journaling

If you are feeling stressed, write your feelings out in a notebook. Let all of the negative emotions flow out of you through your pen. Write what your thoughts are and why you are upset. After you have rid yourself of discouraging thoughts, write about something uplifting. Write about the things you like about yourself, about school and about your major. List things you are excited for or dreaming of. Sure times are hard, but it is not all bad.

2. Mindfulness

My cat Mittens as a kitten, which is the image that often comes to mind when I use my safe word.

Recognize harmful thoughts when you have them. It is the first step to getting rid of them. Where does your mind wander when you have time to think? As you are eating, does your mind go back to all of the projects you have yet to complete? If you are busy doing something else in the moment, you should not be make yourself anxious about upcoming deadlines. You will get it done, but the more you worry, the worse you will feel. If you tend to worry a lot, create a safe word to bring yourself back to the present when you have a thought that you do not like. For example, my word is “kittens.” How can you worry while thinking about kittens?

3. Passions and Hobbies

Although you are working hard to meet your goals and due dates, you need to make time for your favorite pastimes. Studying for finals should not consume you. If you schedule time for reading, movies, coloring, socialization or however it is that you like to spend your time, you will be much more content. Practicing your passions will allow to you to focus better when you return to studying.

4. Positive Self-Talk

How are you speaking to yourself in your mind? Are you tearing yourself down? Or are you encouraging and reassuring yourself? The perspective of that little voice in your head can make an impressive difference on your overall perspective of who you are and how you handle your daily workload. If you find yourself using words like “useless” or “stupid,” it may be time for a change. Instead, make a conscious effort to remember that you are trying your best, and that the effort you are putting in is good. Tell yourself that you did a good job, and remember that it’s okay not to be perfect. Once your thoughts are positive, your mind can be.

Source: Interview with Michelle Brzezinski, Counseling Center Intern, phone (414) 930-3022

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