4 Tips to Stay Positive During the Semesters 

Jiaqi Jin headshot
Jiaqi Jin

The life of a graduate student at Newhouse can be both exciting and challenging with a variety of thrilling courses and events. When things add up, deadlines can sometimes lead to stress and anxiety, holding us back from our goals. How to keep ourselves feeling chill during the semesters? I would like to share several tips for maintaining a positive mindset! 

1. A well-marked calendar: relieve your burdens to memorize trifles 

One of the first steps to staying positive during your graduate studies is to keep a well-marked calendar. During the graduate study, we may have a whirlwind of activity for our multiple roles of student, teaching assistant, intern, job seeker, etc. Having a clear visual representation of your assignments, events and deadlines can help you stay organized and reduce anxiety. By writing down your tasks, you free your mind from constantly worrying about what is due and when. 

Simply writing down the events and deadlines is mind-relieving, but you can even make the calendar even more helpful. Firstly, create a color-coded system to differentiate between diverse types of tasks and events. This way, you can easily prioritize your most important work from different sessions and allocate time efficiently. You can also mark an estimated time needed for every activity and other details. Regularly reviewing your calendar at least two weeks ahead will ensure that you have sufficient time, allowing you to tackle each task with confidence. 

2. Setting small goals: celebrate your achievements 

Breaking down your long-term goals into smaller, manageable tasks can effectively benefit your mindset and work efficiency. Setting achievable milestones along the way brings you a sense of accomplishment and encourages you to keep on going. For example, when you want to finish a thick book, set goals to read several pages or chapters during a brief period instead of asking yourself to finish it in the long term. Small goals reduce our burden to start and help us eventually achieve our big goals. 

an animated graphic of people greeting each other under orange trees
Image by Jiaqi Jin generated with Midjourney

Whenever you achieve a goal, no matter how small, take a moment to celebrate your success. A straightforward way to do that is to write down your assignment on your calendar, tick it after finishing it and draw a smiley face for yourself! You can even write down the daily tasks-like doing laundry or cooking a meal-to acknowledge that you make efforts in your life. Positive reinforcement can boost your motivation. By acknowledging your efforts and progress, you will maintain a more positive outlook throughout the semester. 

3. Prioritize physical and mental health: exercise regularly 

Physical and mental well-being are essential components of staying positive during the semesters. Exercise in your routine can have a profound impact on both aspects of your health. Engaging in physical activity releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. 

Whether it is a brisk walk, a yoga session or a visit to the gym, find an exercise that suits your preferences and schedule. Not only does it help reduce stress, but it also enhances your feeling of self-care. Prioritizing your health will enable you to approach your studies with a clear and positive mindset. 

4. Seek support: talk to someone you trust 

At times, we may be trapped in bad moods, like frustration, stress, sadness or even anger. During such moments, it is crucial to have a support system in place. Reach out to someone you trust, whether it is a family member, a friend or a counselor at the Barnes Center. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with others can provide emotional relief and help you gain perspective on your challenges. They may offer valuable advice or simply lend a listening ear, reminding you that you are not alone in your journey. 

Maintaining a positive mindset during semesters is essential for your well-being and success. By implementing these four tips shared, I feel better equipped with confidence and optimism. I believe that we can always find ways to take good care of ourselves and to embrace the journey ahead. 

Jiaqi Jin is a graduate student in the advanced media management program at the Newhouse School.