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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Solution to sophomore slump could simply be to smile more

“Sophomore slump” is a phrase many, if not all, college students have heard. When the excitement and nervousness of freshman year wears off and the realization that you still have three more years at your university sets in, this so-called slump usually begins.

Countless articles from different news outlets, from BuzzFeed to the New York Times, have come out with ideas to combat this blasé feeling. Too often though, the most obvious and basic ideas go unshared.

The simple, do-able act of sharing a smile with those you encounter can help brighten your days and your life. It seems silly at first and many would argue that the complexities of college stress cannot be undone with a simple physical gesture.

That may be true, but students do not realize they can be their own worst enemies. Drowning in anxiety over upcoming tests and becoming a hermit for days while trying to cram might sometimes seem like the only option. But if, on that walk to class or the library, you look up from your cellphone into the world and smile at other people, you might just sense relief.

A USA Today article offered three ways to combat the slump: interning, seeing your advisor or getting involved with something you aren’t already a part of. Though the author means well, all three suggestions seem like they would bring more stress than relief. While interning and getting involved are wonderful ideas, a more direct daily fix is required to combat such a constant, looming sensation.

Often times, this feeling hits students early, even during freshman year. It seems as though only the glorified moments of the first year of college are what the majority of people like to share. They tend to avoid bringing up the piles of homework and occasional boredom that plague many students.

As cliché as a positive attitude is, it is not to be overlooked. Whether in your first year at the UA or struggling to get through your last semester as a senior, certain aspects of your day are universal.

From scientists to monks, overwhelming evidence proves that smiling can boost your mood.

Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh has a philosphy. “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy,” Hanh says.

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to believe this.

A recent study done at the University of Kansas showed that the act of smiling alters your stress response and decreases perceived levels of stress in the body.

So even though those upcoming exams might not be reschedule-able, the overwhelming anxiety that comes with them is.

Follow Stephanie Shaw on Twitter.

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