Posted on: November 9, 2021 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

The COVID 19 pandemic has created a surge in “toxic positivity,” which Medical News Today defines as “an obsession with positive thinking. It is the belief that people should put a positive spin on all experiences, even those that are profoundly tragic.”

This way of thinking is incredibly harmful to all age groups, but it is especially hard on college students. We have a lot of expectations on us, and there are rarely times where we are not under some form of stress or worrying about an upcoming deadline. UCLA neuroscience professor Alex Korb said that toxic positivity is likely subconsciously appealing to college students for this reason.

Rosie Finnegan

Opinion Editor

Forcing yourself to be positive 100 percent of the time is ultimately more harmful to your mental health in the long run. For positivity to be helpful and healthy, it needs to have some basis in reality. When you stifle negative emotions that you’re feeling, you only allow them to fester and get worse, and they end up resurfacing eventually.

According to psychologist Susan David, diminishing your negative feelings is a form of gaslighting. You are trying to convince yourself that what you are feeling is not justified, when in reality it is, and you should instead allow yourself to be miserable for a little bit.

Creator: Jose Luis Navarro Copyright: CC BY-SA 4.0

The same goes for others that you interact with. If you are ever venting to someone and they try to give unwanted advice such as, “It could be worse!” or maybe, “At least you didn’t completely fail the test!” stand up for yourself and explain that you do not need to be told your emotions are not valid, and that you were instead just looking to complain, which is completely okay!

If you feel sad on a rainy day, or you are really nervous for an upcoming exam, allow yourself to experience those emotions fully.

To avoid toxic positivity, you can speak to trusted people, such as friends or even a therapist. You can also work on naming negative emotions and becoming comfortable with them instead of trying to avoid them.  

Overall, the important thing is to not push yourself to your limit. You deserve to have off days, and trying to constantly be the “perfect” version of yourself will most likely end up hurting more than helping.