Maintaining Optimism

Julianna Dougherty, Graduate Assistant, Contributing Writer

The mental struggle is real as a graduate student with only one week left in the semester. Incorporating optimism and gratitude into my busy life has helped me build self-care habits that helped me get through most of my first semester.

I was curious to see if other Huskies were using these strategies too, so I decided to interview one of our HuskyPAWS, Hannah, at the DAWN Office.

The BU HuskyPAWS (Peer Assisted Wellness Services) are students trained to educate peers with accurate and up-to-date information about various health issues that affect student success.

Here is what Hannah had to say:
How do you incorporate optimism into your everyday life?

“I struggle with anxiety and negative thinking, so I try to use optimistic thinking so I can get work done that I need to. I realized that with negative thinking, you prophesize it, it will happen, so I try to think positively and move on from there.”

Is there anything coming up for you that you have to keep reminding yourself to stay optimistic?

“Yes, finals. I’m sure that’s big for everyone right now. I have to try to keep an open mind and not slack at the end of the semester to finish strong.”

How do you incorporate gratitude into your everyday life?

“I am definitely thankful for the things I can still do despite COVID and quarantine. We take a lot of things we used to do for granted. I am thankful I can still go out, and I can still go to work and have a social aspect. I know it has been a struggle for everyone for the past eight months.”

Is there anything in your life currently you are specifically grateful for, and why?

“Honestly, I am really grateful for my HuskyPAWS job and the great managers I have that keep reaching out to students to create a safe place.”

How do you incorporate self-care into your everyday life?

“Before, I didn’t focus on taking care of myself, and I didn’t focus on my actual needs. Now, I treat myself a lot more by indulging in my hobbies. For example, I bought a tablet to focus on my artwork, and I realized it’s okay to want things and know your worth; it’s okay to spend on yourself. I try to make time for myself to de-stress by going on walks, jogs, and meditation. They have helped with my mental health and boosted my mood this semester. They have given me a place to calm down and relax.”

Has the pandemic affected these for you at all?

“It’s affected it in the way that a lot of the things I would commonly do aren’t so accessible anymore, like going to the gym or getting lunch on campus with friends. COVID has made it a lot harder since we’re isolated. Sometimes I get bored with what I’ve been doing because it has become an everyday thing. Things that I have enjoyed doing are starting to get bland.”

What advice would you give to students who may need help looking at life more positively?

“I would say take everything with a grain of salt, and your lowest point doesn’t define the rest of your college career.”


There are many benefits to incorporating optimism into our everyday lives; according to, optimism promotes happiness, enhances coping skills, increases productivity levels, and gives peace of mind. It can be challenging to start to incorporate a new way of thinking. Some tips for developing optimistic thinking are you can have realistic expectations of yourself and surround yourself with others who also incorporate optimism into their lives.

To see the full list and how to develop optimism, visit:

45 Benefits of Optimism

Practicing gratitude should not just be something we practice on Thanksgiving; it should be an emotion we should try to feel each day to remind us that we are enough. According to, research has shown that people who practice gratitude can increase their overall well-being and are more resilient in the face of trauma. Some ways to begin incorporating gratitude are maintaining a gratitude journal, doing an act of kindness every day, and focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses.

To see the full list for how to practice gratitude, visit:

Check out these books on Amazon that promote gratitude and optimism:
• The One-Minute Gratitude Journal by Brenda Nathan
• The Little Book of Gratitude: Create a life of happiness and well-being by giving thanks by Dr. Robert A. Emmons PhD
• Practicing Mindfulness: 75 Essential Meditations to Reduce Stress, Improve Mental Health, and Find Peace in the Everyday by Matthew Sockolov
• Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts by Jennie Allen