It’s 8 am.
You wake up and immediately feel sluggish. You're not refreshed at all.
You had a long, stressful day yesterday cramming for today’s big exam.
Nevertheless, you force yourself out of bed, put on your gym clothes and prepare a healthy green breakfast smoothie in the hopes of jump-starting your body.
“No,” you think. “Today is not the day you are going to let the stress that comes with college jeopardize your health!”
You love the attitude. In fact, your mind and body appreciate it, too.
There are multiple studies that correlate an individual’s overall level of happiness and optimism about life with his or her health status.
A study conducted by Yale University assessed 660 elderly people’s longevity by determining their overall attitude about aging.
Those who held the most positive attitude toward aging lived 7.5 years longer than those with more negative perceptions about their "worth."
Positive mental health is also directly tied to one’s level of stress, which, if sustained over long periods of time, can eventually lead to illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
To shed greater light on this, consider a 20-year long study of 6,000 men and women at Harvard School of Public Health.
The study found those who possessed “emotional vitality” (i.e. the ability to remain enthusiastic and hopeful while on the crazy roller coaster ride we call life) appeared to have a reduced risk of coronary heart disease.
The study indicates people's mere ability to sustain their optimism can ultimately grant them longer, fuller lives.
I mean, this almost sounds too simple, right? Keep a more stress-free schedule, and your body will thank you.
I know you're thinking, "That's great, but didn’t you say college stress is inevitable?"
The knowledge and experience gained during one’s collegiate life are precious, but they often come at a high cost.
Ironically, the very thing that keeps us busy and is offering us the ability to grow may also be the root cause of our generation’s heavy stress.
Millennials reported an average stress level of 5.4 on a 10-point scale (when the healthy stress level was 4.0), making us the most stressed age demographic in the United States.
However, all generations have one thing in common.
The American Psychological Association CEO and Executive Vice President, Norman B. Anderson, said:
These concerns are especially great when all college students are focused on is their education, which is directly tied to their future financial standings.
Cue the optimism.
Sure, there is a mountain of stress that comes naturally with college, but we can manage it by controlling our attitudes.
Possessing the ability to be happy with whatever you do and having an overall positive outlook on life can increase happiness and, thus, decrease the amount of stress.
According to Dr. George Vaillant, the principal investigator of Harvard’s Grant Study, the 75 years and $20 million expended on the study points to the conclusion, "Happiness is love."
Other ingredients to happiness revealed by the study include self-worth and dedication to one’s passions.
Little mind games such as smiling at yourself in the mirror have proven to trick your brain into releasing endorphins.
And if our favorite Harvard grad, Elle Woods, taught us anything, it's that endorphins make you happy.
Generation-Y may very well be the most stressed in America, but there is hope.
Do your mind and body a favor, and take it upon yourself to channel that inner optimism.
Just by telling yourself to be happy and healthy, you're already taking positive steps to relieve stress and have an overall happy lifestyle.
Whether it's smiling at yourself in the mirror every morning after dragging yourself out of bed, or telling someone you love just how grateful you are to have him or her in your life, there are so many ways you can naturally boost your mood and decrease your stress.
There is a lot to be grateful for and happy about, and often, it’s the little things that have the greatest impact.
Happiness is a choice, so choose it.
And if that doesn't work, you can always go back to deceiving your mind.