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Mental Health

Maintaining Perspective, Reducing Stress

As the school year winds down and summer approaches, work and end-of-year stress are definitely not slowing down. Constant tests, projects, papers, and novels to read, plus figuring out housing for next year doesn’t make this time of year relaxing. Plus, many of us are trying to find summer internships, jobs, or activities to fulfill us during the summer months. Needless to say, this is a time where tensions can run high.

It’s easy to lose perspective when feeling overwhelmed, and I am no stranger to thinking my life is ending as I struggle to study for an exam or finish a paper. Recently, I’ve found that maintaining perspective throughout times of stress is very beneficial for my positivity, and really helps me calm down when I am overcome with anxiety. Here are a few reasons why perspective is so important:

 

The Opportunity of College

For many affluent and privileged Colby students, college after high school is the expectation. However, there also a great number of people in the country, and globally, who don’t have the means to attend an elite school, or any school at that. At schools like Colby, it’s easy to forget how lucky we are to be receiving a great education, which provides us with amazing opportunities in the future. I certainly have seen school as a massive burden when I’m stressed and sleep-deprived, but it’s important to keep perspective. I’ve found that just remembering how fortunate I am to be receiving a Colby education has greatly helped my anxieties over schoolwork and has helped me calm down during moments of high stress. Remembering it is a privilege to be doing this schoolwork in the first place has helped me stay positive even as work piles up.

It’s All a Mindset

Whether it is drama with friends, organizing housing, or not feeling well, there are inevitable moments during our college experiences that will pose themselves as obstacles. It used to be very easy for a small obstacle to take over my thought process and bring down my attitude.

Recently, one situation where perspective has been helpful is choosing housing. As my friends and I plan for junior year, housing preferences and logistics have presented us with issues.  I was feeling very stressed as some of my friends started looking off campus, while others got singles on campus, and I wasn’t sure where I wanted to live at all. A year ago, this situation would have brought me down. But this year, even though I have no idea where I am going to end up, I have come to realize that no matter what, it is all going to work out. I know that at the end of the day, living anywhere on this campus is something I should be grateful for.

Basics We Shouldn’t Take for Granted

You know when you wake up with a really, really sore throat and you realize how good you had it when you felt perfectly healthy? It’s really easy to forget those moments when we do feel perfectly healthy and take this for granted. Obviously, this is an extremely small scale example. When I had surgery on my collarbone, I was so jealous of everyone who could easily move their left arm for about two months. Again, relatively minor, but next time you’re spiraling into the black hole of self-pity over a relatively insignificant problem try to remember how lucky we are to be young, mostly healthy, and able to pursue the opportunities we’re being given.

 

None of this is to say that self-pity and the occasional wallowing is a bad thing. It’s not, and it’s important to let out emotions. Keeping things in perspective is merely a coping strategy that has really helped me stay calm and positive during stressful times. While this time of year can really bring out stressors and annoyances, recognizing the privileges we do have can go a long way.

Olivia is a sophomore at Colby College and is a Government major and Sociology minor. Olivia loves her hometown, ~historic~ Concord, Massachusetts, and is a pro scooper at the local ice cream store (her favorite flavor is coffee oreo). She was once an avid horse girl, is currently an avid fan of the Bachelor, and loves the "Star is Born" soundtrack. She loves to travel (esp. to Europe), but unfortunately is afraid of flying (she has embarrassingly fainted on multiple flights). She is the eldest sibling yet is constantly looking to her twelve year old sister for wisdom and advice. After graduation, Olivia hopes to live in an apartment in Boston with friends, spend too much money at restaurants, and become a better Boston sports fan. :-)
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