Amelia Kramer-Golden Hour Country Road Trip

A New Beginning: Fostering a Positive Outlook in the Midst of Uncertainty

If you’re anything like me, you had high hopes that we’d be going back to our beautiful campus full time this Fall. You were ready to wear your cute sweaters to class, study in the library instead of your bedroom, reconnect with classmates, and say hello to your favorite professors. It was a disappointment, to say the least, to find out we’d be mostly online this Fall. And while some of us may have an in-person class here or there, we are separated by masks and a six-foot social barrier. 

For me, this has affected so many of the aspects I love most about college. COVID-19 has robbed us of our ways to connect in a time when we are craving new connection more than ever. Sitting on a bench next to a stranger and striking up a conversation is indefinitely in the past. This loss of connection to my fellow peers has only added to this increasing mindset of fear and uncertainty. Not that the future ever has any guarantees, but we have lost our reliance on some of our most basic needs for human vitality. 

Anna Schultz-Girl On Computer Stress Anna Schultz / Her Campus

Myself, like many others in the world, has had to do deep self-reflection in these tumultuous times. I battled some of my worst mental health challenges during quarantine. I have done serious reflection on my own prejudices and unlearn many things our society has taught us as we battle in the largest civil rights movement in U.S. history. This mental work does not sit easily on the heart or the mind.

This is why your mindset has never seen a more pivotal moment. If we don’t conjure up the strength to move forward with positivity and light, we are all at risk of falling victim to a loss of self. The mind is a powerful tool. Fostering a positive outlook in fearful times is no easy feat, but I’m here to tell you that you can do it (at the risk of sounding like a self-help guru). 

sign with positive messageand eyeglass Binti Malu / Pexels

Focus on the things you can control. This is arguably the most important step in helping to relieve your anxieties about the future. Stressing about the possibilities of what could happen isn’t the place to be spending your mental energy. Now that we’re back in classes, do your best to only spend your mental energy on the tasks at hand. If you’re a freshman, focus on making new friends or joining a club that you love. It goes without saying this is easier said than done, but do your best to accept the things you cannot change. We may not know what this year will look like for ourselves, or for our country, but at least we will know we have done our best.

Schedule time to take care of your mental health. For me, this means waking up extra early to have time to read and exercise before my day truly begins. I know these two things help my mental health from going off the rails due to stress or anxiety, so I ensure that I make time to do them each day. Find your “thing” that helps your brain relax and your body feel good; this could be writing, meditation, yoga, or Netflix for you. Once your mental health begins to slip, this only makes it easier for those worries and anxieties to creep in.

Person holding Mug Photo by Maierean Andrei from Pexels

Write yourself positive notes or reminders. This may seem like a futile effort, but I promise it really works. My desk area is surrounded with little inspirational quotes or notes to myself to smile and be grateful. It reminds me of the simple actions I can take to feel happy, something as simple as a reminder to smile can honestly make a world of difference in positively affecting your mindset day-to-day.

Going into my final year of college, I still haven’t lost hope that we can return to campus by the end of the year and regain our sense of normalcy. I’m sure my fellow seniors can agree that we’d prefer a cap and gown commencement over a Zoom commencement. While I remain hopeful, I am also scared for the possibilities this year could bring. It’s okay to be scared, but that is why it’s more important now than it arguably ever has been to take care of our minds, souls, and bodies.