Essay Question 1

This paper reflects the research and thoughts of a student at the time the paper was written for a course at Bryn Mawr College. Like other materials on Serendip, it is not intended to be "authoritative" but rather to help others further develop their own explorations. Web links were active as of the time the paper was posted but are not updated.

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Women Living Well - 2004

Student Papers

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Essay Question 1

Johanna Segal

Professor Cassidy talked about the idea of a positive mental state; a positive mental state is very important and useful when trying to balance your life. Professor Cassidy told us that a positive mental state not only makes a person happier, but also a better student; this might seem contradictory since you are presumably taking extra time for fun or relaxing activities, however by doing this you can concentrate better on the work you do. A positive mental state effects all aspects of your life; it means being physically healthy from exercise to eating right, leaving time for academics and also leaving time for fun, social activities. By doing this and achieving a balance we can feel much more positive in out everyday lives. Dr. Jones talked about positive and negative stress. Negative stress is stress that either makes us sick, is chronic or makes us feel constantly overwhelmed. Positive stress on the other hand can help to motivate us to do work or take care of other important tasks.

A positive mental state may be one tool that can help us keep our stress positive rather than negative. When you keep the overall picture in perspective it is much easier to manage your time and not get stuck in a pattern of being stressed about work but not doing it. Negative stress also might hinder one's ability to obtain and keep a positive mental state. I think that it is very important to understand how these two states interact; it really would demonstrate to people that it is not only good for you emotionally but also academically to have this positive mental state. I think to move the student population and culture toward that point we must involve both faculty and students. If students could be assured that although academics are important, that their mental health is equally valued then there would be a lot less pressure on students. That is, college is a place not just to grow academically, but also as a person. I feel that one way to foster this would be that freshman year (at least the first semester) grades would be pass/fail. That way you could learn not only how to do the work and what is expected of you, but it would also take the pressure off of freshman and therefore create a more positive environment, which in turn would make Bryn Mawr an environment which supported positive mental states. I think that this student culture would realistically be very shaky (it could easily relapse into the current state where negative stress predominates). It would be necessary for this environment (positive mental state one) to be constantly affirmed and nurtured by both students and faculty until it becomes the natural state on campus. Another thing I think could help is to have more off campus activities, this way people could get off this campus, which can feel very closed, and explore new things.

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