Positive psychology helps during holiday chaos

By Jill Miller

Papers. Tests. Review sessions. Final exams.

All of these words induce some kind of mental stress on a student.

During this time of the school year, almost everyone on campus is experiencing some kind of stress. Teachers are finishing regular material and moving to reviews, while students are working to complete all assignments and study for final exams.

As a result, pressure begins to build and if the stress that occurs is not handled in a healthy way, results can be disastrous. Not only can grades be affected, but health could take a downward turn as well.

“When the body is fending off perceived threats from outside, resources are diverted from our immune response and we tend to be more prone to opportunistic diseases like colds and flu,” said Paul Mayer, director of Health Services.

He emphasized that some stress is necessary and can be a good thing, such as when a task needs to be completed in a short amount of time. When procrastination is involved, however, the amount of stress can cause detrimental effects.

“Try to remain prayerful, rested, well-nourished and obedient,” Mayer said. “As Christ admonished us in Matthew 6:34, we should not be stressed about tomorrow, because today will bring its own problems.”

Alternative methods for stress control and prevention are also accessible, but may require some research to fully understand. One method is the practice of positive psychology.

A relatively new field of study, positive psychology focuses on the good aspects of life. It is about pursuing happiness that goes beyond just a satisfied feeling.

“It’s not really about stress-reduction; it’s about dealing with bumps in the road and how to move past them,” said Jinni Blalack, an associate psychology professor.

Practicing positive psychology means developing optimism and a grateful attitude, practicing forgiveness and mindfulness and savoring everyday moments.

It also goes hand-in-hand with Union’s Christian atmosphere. There is an emphasis on sharing with others, having compassion and the realization that life is not just about oneself, but about doing for others as well.

To do this takes time, but in the long run it can pay off with health benefits and longevity.

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.