Welcome back from winter break! We in the counseling center hope you had a restful, rejuvenating holiday. Sometimes when I take a break from something, it helps me look back more objectively and see things more clearly. For example, I might reason that procrastinating my way through medieval European literature led to many late stressful nights and less than stellar papers. After a restful break I might have enough distance to look back and think about doing something differently next time.
And by next time, I mean right now.
Let’s take a look at your Fall semester. Was it all rainbows and fluffy kittens? Joy and delight undiluted as you sailed effortlessly through life? If so, congratulations. This article is not for you. This article is for those of us who may need to make a few changes. Perhaps your academics experienced a freshman slump. Maybe you spent more time studying for calculus than supporting your friends. Maybe you really need to get a job.
Whatever the problem, the following can help:
Accept that change is a part of life. Alas, I don’t look as good in short shorts as I did in college. I will probably not find another time in my life where I can surf every day either. I have lost some friends and gained others. I have changed colleges, majors and careers. It may be said that nothing is certain in life except death and taxes, but I would add “change” to that list. If you spend too much time focusing on what might have been, you will miss out on what is happening right now.
Accentuate the positive. If I sat here right now and thought about all the ways I am failing, all the people I have lost, all the negative things in my life…how do you think I would feel? (Hint: the answer is NOT “awesome”). Let’s look at what is good that is happening right now. The days are getting longer and I’m getting wiser by the minute. When I focus on the good parts of my life, I feel good. Basic, but true.
Face your fears. I want you to think positively about things, but I also want you to recognize where you’re feeling stuck. Are you letting your social anxiety prevent you from making friends? Are your negative past relationship experiences getting in the way of you trusting people? Owning up to your fears is the first step in banishing them for good.
Write it down. Have a list of changes you want to make? Write them down. Having clear goals helps people feel like they have a plan for moving forward. Pro-tip: set small, attainable goals first.
Share with others, and not just your money, time and toys. Sharing the burdens we face as we go through life can help ease them. Sometimes just talking can be therapeutic. Pick a supportive friend or family member and get it off your chest.
As always, if your struggles feel like more than you want to handle alone, please come see us at the counseling center. No new year’s resolution is too large or too small for us to tackle together. Happy New Year!
Joselyne Perry is the Campus Wellness Coordinator at Pacific’s counseling center on Cedar Street.