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To Whoever Needs to Hear it…

For many, it’s exam season which means stress is running high and time is running out.

I not long ago handed in my dissertation, which I am still so happy about, and although I don’t feel it was perfect I am proud of the hard work I put in. I sacrificed a lot of time and sleep and now it’s a waiting game to see what I get. In the meantime, it’s another essay and an exam to revise for!

I’m seeing all over my social media people complaining about how stressed they are, how anxious they are feeling and how hard they are working. This turned my attention to how we feel about ourselves during this stressful time.

The thing I hate most about exams is that I don’t feel they are a true representation of a persons abilities and hard work. Learning just to excel at an exam and learning because you enjoy the subject and want to explore it more are unfortunately two different things. I feel in today’s society the education system (right the way from secondary to university) forces everyone to learn to pass an exam. The sheer volume of stuff you have to cover just in order to pass an exam now (especially A-levels) is ridiculous.

But to whoever needs to hear this, don’t let your exam results define you. You may be chuffed or you may feel disappointed with the outcome, but you should never let your results change the way you think about yourself. After all, they are not a true representation of your abilities or the hard work you have put in. Maybe I’ve been in education for too long, but there is far more to life than letting a grade alter your self-perception and making you feel worthless. It’s just a grade. It will not hold you back from achieving what ever you dream of in the future. Don’t be disheartened.

Keep things in perspective. Admittedly, the deadlines placed upon students make it easy for a healthy perspective to be lost. It forces you to push everything to the side and fixate on that one thing until it’s complete. Although this is a good mentality to get things done, its also very mentally draining. Every year after uni I feel so burnt out and need a week where I do absolutely nothing apart from gym and eat good food! I’m needing a lazy week!

The exam stress will all be a distant memory soon. Work hard but remember to keep things in perspective,

Jazzy B ❤

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Self-image – From a psychology students perspective.

If you’re frequent user of social media you’ll be no stranger to the negative comments and feelings of inadequacy that can come about through using it. A few people I follow have used the platform to expose some of the comments they receive on a daily basis, and the harmful effect it has had on their confidence and self-esteem. This made me think about self-image and just how fragile it really is.

According to Self-perception theory, as proposed by Bem (1972), self-image operates on both an intrinsic and extrinsic level. We learn about our own attitudes, beliefs and emotions through observing our own behaviour and thoughts (intrinsic). These beliefs are then reinforced or challenged by the feedback that we gain from others (extrinsic) – it’s here that the vulnerability arises. Depending upon certain factors such as resilience, confidence and self-esteem will determine the extent to which we allow the feedback of another to challenge the view we have of ourselves.

Self-perception is more like a process as opposed to a fixed state, and so naturally we will encounter individuals throughout our lives who can be detrimental or beneficial to our self-image. The view of ones self is particularly fragile amongst adolescents, as this age group is more vulnerable to the effect of poor self-image and regulating irrational thoughts (O’Keefe & Clark-Pearson, 2011). There is also research to highlight the negative effects of self-image, and they’re pretty serious! For example, a frequent negative self-image amongst adolescents has been linked to symptoms of depression, social anxiety and even suicidal behaviour (Savilahiti et al, 2018; Schreiber , F., & Steil, R. 2013; Sitnik-Warchulska 2016).

Furthermore, there is research that directly links social media to contributing to a negative self-image (Mclean et al., 2015). Social media provides the perfect environment for challenging a persons self-perception. You chose to put yourself out there and so you will inevitably be judged (or even scrutinised) by others, potentially challenging the current view of yourself, leading to mental discrepancy.

It’s obvious from the research that a negative self-image can have detrimental effect on mental health, so whats the solution? To me, I feel it comes down to resilience. It is easier let the views of another tamper with something as fragile as our self image, but first we should consider a few things. Start by questioning the intentions of the person who is giving you their opinion of you. How much do you value their opinion? Nine times out of 10, you won’t know the person nor their intentions, and so in this case ignore their viewpoint. Why should we even consider letting someones view on ourselves be tampered with when we don’t know why they have said this comment in the first place? I’m not saying to disregard everyone’s opinion and views on yourself, but instead give yourself the power to be selective about who’s opinion you let influence your self-image.

Be resilient, believe in yourself and If all else fails…there is no better feeling than cutting out the haters from your life :’)

I could write so much on this, but I wont give you an essay to read this time 😉 If you’d like me to write more posts in this style just let me know! Thank you for reading,

Jazzy B ❤

References:

Bem, Daryl J. “Self-Perception Theory.” In Advances in Experimental Social Psychology. Vol. 6, edited by Leonard Berkowitz. New York: Academic, 1972. Print.

O’Keeffe, G.S., & Clarke-Pearson, K. (2011). Clinical report: The impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families. Pediatrics, 127(4), 800-804. doi:10.1542/peds.2011-0054

Savilahti, E.M., Haravuori, H., Rytila-Manninen, M., Lindberg, N., Kettunen, K., & Marttunen, M. (2018). High beck depression inventory 21 scores in adolescents without depression are associated with negative self-image and immature defense style. Psychiatry research, 263, 61-68. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2018.02.040Get rights and content

Schreiber, F., Steil, R. (2013). Haunting self-images? The role of negative self-images in adolescnet social anxiety disorder. Journal of Behaviour Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. 44(2), 158-164. Doi:
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbtep.2012.10.003

Sitnik-Warchulska, K. (2016). Self-image and suicidal and violent behaviours of adolescent girls. Healthy Psychology Report, 4(4), 303-314. Doi:
https://doaj.org/article/367ae2de3ede4f55a0ad21a7e36c84e8

McLean, S.A., Paxton, S.J., Wertheim, E.H. & Masters, J. (2015). Photoshopping the selfie: self photo editing and photo investment are associated with body dissatisfaction in adolescent girls. The International Journal of Eating Disorders, 48(8), 1132–1140. Doi: 10.1002/eat.22449 h

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Live In the Now.

Recently I’ve been thinking about my motivation towards university, as admittedly it’s been a lot lower than what it usually is. Although this doesn’t worry me, because I know my determination will see me through, it made me question why I feel the way I do.

The other day on my Instagram I read a quote which made a lot of sense to me;

If you are depressed you are living in the past. 
If you are anxious you are living in the future. 
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”


― Lao Tzu

I think there is a lot of truth in this, especially as I have been feeling anxious recently due to deadlines, dissertation uncertainty etc (all things which concern the near future). When relating this back to my own motivation levels, I think it can be said that I’m living in the future, instead of appreciating where I’m currently at. I’m so excited and ready for what the next chapter holds after uni, that sometimes it negatively affects how I’m viewing the present moment.

Living in the future is something I think we all do at times, especially if you’ve been in full-time education for what feels like a lifetime! As much as I have enjoyed my degree, I do believe that our education system encourages anxiety due to the silent pressure and expectation placed upon students to know what they want to do with the rest of their lives upon graduating. I’m very much somebody that when I have a goal in mind, it’s all I think about. Although this can have its benefits, it can also cause anxiety and a lack of appreciation for where I’m at now.

Of course, living in the future doesn’t just relate to education, it’s far broader than this. Every year most of set new years resolutions (goals which we believe will better ourselves or another in the future), we work hard and save for something we want in the future, we do so much to benefit our future selves.

But what about now? 

It’s so important to stop, take time out, and reflect where you’re at now. Having goals and a future incentive to work hard in the present is great for motivation but we have to know when to stop living in the future. A little appreciation for where you’re at now will go a long way! This is exactly what I’m trying to do – I have a clear plan for what I would like to do when I graduate, and I’m so excited to get to work on making this a reality, that I feel it’s becoming a distraction to what I’m currently trying to achieve.

Just live in the now – you never know what will happen tomorrow or next week and that’s the beauty of it. The future might not be all that it cracks up to be, and then you’ve set yourself up for a lot of disappointment, whereas right now we have the power to make each day exactly what we want it to be. Look forward to the future, cherish the past, but most importantly live in the now…

Thank you for reading,

Jazzy B ❤