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Study Well, Stay Well

The Study Well, Stay Well guide brings together information, guidance and resources on how you can balance your wellbeing with your studies.
Positive Thinking

Positive thinking refers to a mindset that focuses on optimistic and constructive thoughts. It involves cultivating an attitude that looks for solutions, sees opportunities in challenges, and maintains confidence in one's abilities and potential for success. When studying, finding ways to think positively can influence your ability to stay focused and achieve your goals. If you cultivate positive thinking, you are more likely to bounce back from setbacks.

Positive Thinking: The Basics

Positive thinking can help you build good relationships, contribute to your wellbeing and overall mental health. Positive affect, also known as positive mood, describes how much you tend to experience positive emotions and experiences impacting on how you respond in life to circumstance and how you engage with others. Happy people tend to have better physical health and being able to experience positive emotions can help you create reserves to draw on. Having such reserves enables us to be resilient and to have grit in harder times. Positive emotion puts you in a position to think more creatively, solve problems and use analytical skills.

Developing positive thinking skills is a gradual process that involves changing habitual thought patterns and cultivating a more optimistic outlook. Here are some tips and techniques to help you develop positive thinking skills: 

1. Practise gratitude

Keep a gratitude journal and regularly write down things you are thankful for. Focusing on the positive aspects of your life can shift your mindset towards appreciation. 

2. Challenge negative thoughts

When negative thoughts arise, challenge them. Ask yourself if they are based on facts or assumptions. Consider alternative, more positive interpretations of situations. Also try to cultivate positive self-talk to challenge assumptions: if you say to yourself, ‘I can’t do this assignment’, challenge the evidence. In what ways have you written successfully in the past? What strengths in study skills do you have to build upon?

3. Focus on solutions

Instead of dwelling on problems, shift your focus to finding solutions. Take a proactive approach to challenges and consider them as opportunities for growth. Find an action you can take that progresses the situation.

4. Celebrate progress 

Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. Recognising your progress reinforces a positive mindset and motivates continued effort. 

5. Learn from mistakes

View mistakes as learning experiences rather than failures. Analyse what went wrong, identify lessons, and use that knowledge to improve in the future. Avoid getting stuck in negative thinking; mistakes can be exceptions and unusual events and it doesn’t mean you will be prone to making mistakes forever. 

6. Limit negative inputs

Be mindful of the information you consume. Reduce exposure to negative news and choose media that informs and uplifts rather than induces stress. You could even limit contact with people in your circle who are pessimists or see them in small doses to ensure your mood stays uplifted. 

7. Build a support system

Surround yourself with friends, family, or mentors who provide encouragement and support during challenging times. Choose to spend time with people who are your positive supporters, who can listen, give sound advice and who always encourage your best self. 

8. Reflect on positive experiences

Remember, developing positive thinking is an ongoing process, and it's normal to face setbacks. Be patient with yourself and continue to actively work towards cultivating a positive mindset over time.

Learn more: Reflecting on your achievements

Regularly reflecting on positive experiences and achievements (no matter how small they might seem) serves as a reminder of your capabilities and past successes. Congratulate yourself and build positive self-talk to encourage yourself. 

Tracking your progress is a useful way of objectively spotting where you've taken a positive step towards your goals. Try using a daily habit tracking app or download a journal page to get started.

Develop your understanding

Explore our curated range of books and learning resources to further expand your knowledge of this topic:

Boosting your positivity

Action for Happiness is a charity promoting the science of happiness for individuals and wider society. Their website includes a wide range of free resources, articles and monthly challenges, and you can sign up for a free programme and self-coaching tips to your inbox.

Tackling negative thinking

  • Consider signing up to NHS Sheffield Talking Therapies for support with stress, anxiety and depression. On their site you will find details on the range of courses and support they offer, as well as some useful self help resources that you can use right away to improve how you are feeling.
  • Avoiding negative self-talk and developing an awareness of negative cognitive distortions can support your positivity - read more about this topic.

Further reading

Video resources

Attend a session

The following appointments and sessions offer a useful next step for identifying action to support positive thinking: