Finding Gratitude in College

College students utilizing gratitude journals.

There are many periods of life that can be stressful — and college ranks high on that list. It doesn’t matter if you’re a young adult launching out into life on your own for the first time or you’re an older adult that is balancing a family and career while attending classes, the strains and general busyness of life can be overwhelming when you’re pursuing higher education.

While the stress is normal, that doesn’t mean you have to let it fester. Depression, anxiety, and feelings of burnout and overwhelm are far too common amongst college students. If you find that you can relate, here are a few suggestions for ways to stay focused on gratitude and an overall positive attitude as you navigate your academic career.

College students utilizing gratitude journals.

Embrace an Attitude of Gratitude and Thankfulness

First and foremost, if you want to find and cultivate gratitude while you’re in school, you need to embrace it. Seriously, these things don’t just happen on their own. In fact, with so much going on, you can rest assured that your natural reaction isn’t going to be thankful so much as overwhelmed.

In order to contradict this tendency, look for ways to infuse gratefulness into your mindset and lifestyle. Start with the small things. Obvious activities like breathing, eating, and even waking up each day are easy to overlook yet critical life functions that you should always be grateful for.

From there, begin to look for more nuanced things. Express thankfulness for the ability to choose your own clothing, interact with friends, have a smartphone, or even attend college in the first place. As you do this, consider either speaking your thankfulness aloud or writing each item down to help you process your gratitude in a more complete manner.

College students utilizing gratitude journals.

Stay Organized

It may not be obvious, but one of the simplest ways to maintain your gratitude while in college is to stay organized. Clutter and messiness have often been linked to increased stress. In other words, if your life is disorganized, it can negatively impact your mental health.

With that in mind, look for ways to stay more organized. This can include a variety of different areas of life, such as:

  • Keeping your courses and homework assignments clearly scheduled out in a calendar.
  • Planning your long-term finances through reducing your debt, consolidating student loans, and other positive financial activity.
  • Cleaning and organizing your dorm or other living spaces consistently.

If you can maintain a sense of organization in your life throughout your time at college, you’ll be able to reduce that stress and focus on the positive more often.

College students utilizing gratitude journals.

Be Kind to Others

Kindness is another critical aspect of sustainable gratitude. It’s easy to find aspects of joy within your own life. To extend that happiness and thankfulness to others is a bit more challenging. That’s why it’s so necessary.

Look for those in your life that you are grateful for. Don’t just identify them, either. Actually reach out to them and thank them for all of the ways that they’ve positively impacted you.

Take Time to Journal

Journaling is a tremendous way to maintain gratitude. Internal dialogue is often fleeting and soon forgotten. Taking the time to write something down can help you gain perspective and see things in a more holistic manner.

This applies to everything. If you’re feeling depressed, write down what you’re thinking to better understand your thought processes. If you’re struggling with your student loan payments, write down the reasons that you can’t pay them to better understand your options.

From deep emotional reasoning to practical activities, journaling should always be an option while you’re in school.

Listen to Something Relaxing

Another way to stay grateful is to try to stay relaxed. You can do this by taking some time for yourself. Even if it’s just half an hour once a week, schedule in time for basic self-care.

This can be anything from taking a shower or eating something healthy to tapping into some healing sounds by listening to some chill music and letting it impact your mood.

College students utilizing gratitude journals.

Maintain Perspective

Finally, remember to always maintain perspective. Whenever you feel that pessimistic mindset closing in around your thoughts, fight to step back and consider the bigger picture. 

For instance, if you’re feeling doubts about attending school, force yourself to remember that there are many excellent reasoning that you’re attending college. From financial independence to laying the foundation for a quality career to enhancing skills, you’re attending school for a reason.

Finding Gratitude in College

Gratitude isn’t something that comes easily. On the contrary, it requires purpose, focus, and cultivation to truly take root in your life. If you’re dealing with the pressures and strains of college, gratitude can feel impossible to find, let alone maintain. 

And yet, if you take the time to seek it out and foster it in your thoughts and deeds, it truly can revolutionize your academic journey. So review the list above, pick something out, and start utilizing it today in the name of a more positive tomorrow.


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