Atlanta, GA

Professor in the School of Psychology of Georgia Tech taught his students about stress and happiness

Sophie-Ann McCulloch

ATLANTA, GA — This summer, Eric Schumacher, Professor in the School of Psychology, held a course about stress and happiness. Students who joined the class were encouraged to involve in a discussion regarding how to overcome disappointment, have better study habits, and improve their general well-being.

During the Covid-19 pandemic situation, various things in our life—including how we work, study, and play—have changed. Therefore, to get rid of the stress caused by the pandemic, people are now likely to try to find something that enables them to be happier.

Schumacher explained in his course that it is actually possible to improve one’s happiness level despite their situations and circumstances.

He said people usually think that external factors are the ones that play the biggest role in determining their happiness. For example, when people are stressed about how they can manage to pay their taxes, tuition fee and whatsoever, they will eventually think if only they had more money, they would be happier.

However, according to research, happiness that resulted from changes in financial status will not hold for long. Therefore, the essential point is not how to change the external factors that we think are the cause of our stress, but how we frame the way we think about stress itself.

“I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for a long time and thought the class could teach me new outlooks and skills for handling stress,” said Madeline Berns, a third-year neuroscience major who also joined the class.

She said from what she learned in the class, stress is a body reaction when it’s trying to help us out. Sometimes physical activity can be one solution to calm it down.

According to her, the class was particularly meaningful in teaching long-lasting strategies for viewing and handling stress, since it also taught the students various meaningful activities that are helpful in reducing stress, including mindfulness and meditation, forgiveness prompts, and paced breathing.

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