But at the start of 2021, with vaccinations rolling out and spring on the horizon, students have reason to feel a little more optimistic. Protecting mental health is more important now than ever before, and thankfully, a little self-care and stress management can go a long way. Here are some affirmations that can inject a little positivity and hope into a difficult time.

“I can always focus on the things I love and care about”

With the near-constant diet of doom and gloom coming at students via the news and social media, it can be hard to remember that there are good things in life, and much to be grateful for. Research is now showing that shifting your perspective towards the things you love and appreciate can have impressive benefits for your mental wellbeing.

It’s all a matter of mindset. If you can regularly remind yourself that you have the power to pay attention to the good things, you can moderate the effect of focusing too hard on the bad things. Ask what gives you strength, makes you happy, and calms you down – and then focus on that.

“I will not worry about the things I can’t control”

During the pandemic, many people are facing anxiety particularly because they feel so powerless and out of control. The fact is, however, that none of us is 100% responsible for how life pans out. It’s worth regularly asking what you have scope to change, and what is simply not under your control.

It can be empowering to turn your attention to those stressful parts of life that you can actually do something about. Housemates annoying you with arguments about shared bills? Use a bill-splitting app like ours to sort it out so there’s one less thing to worry about. Keep worrying about money? Take action by making a sound budget. When you let go of worrying about what you can’t control, you have more energy to put towards the things you can.

“This too will pass”

Yes, it’s a little cliche, but this old nugget of wisdom is as relevant today as it ever was. The thought that things are bad and will always be bad is naturally going to cause anxiety. But the truth is that nothing is permanent, and that no matter how challenging the present moment is, it will pass. A daily meditation or mindfulness practice is not just great for stress relief; it also teaches us that even when extremely negative emotions rear their heads, they do dissipate again, with time. If you’re having a particularly hard day, try to remind yourself of a time that was difficult in the past, and how it didn’t last forever – even if it felt like it would at the time!

“The challenges I face are an opportunity to grow and improve”

Though adversity often feels unfair at the time, we can often look back at it with some appreciation for everything it taught us. A shift in perspective can allow us to look at the hardships in life not as a mistake or something to regret, but rather as a chance to better ourselves. When you ask what a stressful situation can teach you, you change your attitude and give yourself the chance to be proactive. Take a moment to appreciate how well you’re doing – are you learning to be more patient, to be kinder to self and others, to be more frugal, resourceful or resilient? Try journaling to put down some of your thoughts as you go.

“I choose to have compassion for myself and others”

It’s a little ironic how hard we can be on ourselves precisely when we most need a little kindness and understanding. For many people during lockdown, it’s no exaggeration to say that the world has been turned upside down. So, it’s not reasonable to expect that we carry on as though nothing had changed at all. Especially for students, it might be a better strategy to make accommodations for stress, to cut yourself some slack and to practice self-care instead of self-judgment when you’re not coping well.

Similarly, it might feel better right now to realize that you can extend this kindness to others – if someone close to you is having a hard time, try to have a little empathy for their situation. No matter what happens, we can always be kind to ourselves, and be our own best friend!