How Bad Moods Are Linked to Better Grades
Happiness can be a bit of an obsession.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be happy. In fact, a positive state of mind brings about a number of benefits. Reduced stress, more resilience, a better mental health.
But that doesn’t mean that bad moods are all that, well….bad. In some respects they, too, can fill an important role.
For example, in a new study researchers have found how some bad moods are linked to better grades.
How Feeling Bad Can Help You Do Good
You might find yourself wondering how that could be. But that’s what the study, whose findings were published in the journal Developmental Psychology, revealed.
But how would negative feelings cause people to perform better academically?
Professor Erin Barker and her team answered that question by following students throughout their 4 year college career.
The researchers had participants answer questionnaires about recent emotional experiences at various points in time. Erin tells us how they then used this data:
This allowed us to identify the pattern associated with the greatest academic success: those who were happy for the most part, but who also showed bouts of elevated negative moods.
The big takeaway here?
That both positive and negative feelings are important to success. No one is happy all the time, even though that might be the face they put on for everyone. But students used those feelings to increase their motivation and meet important goals.
What To Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed
Their study also confirmed that students with high levels of negative moods and low levels of positive moods had the lowest GPAs. Which is very similar to depressive like symptoms.
You might be able to relate. But if you think you’re the only one going through something, think again. Erin says that:
Students often report feeling overwhelmed and experiencing high levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms.
Everyone has feelings of anxiety. However, when things start to feel out of control, it’s best to have a strategy to deal with those feelings – like exercise or socializing with friends.
The important part is recognizing those feelings of being overwhelmed and knowing how to best deal with it. Erin agrees:
This study shows that we need to teach them strategies to both manage negative emotions and stress in productive ways, and to maintain positive emotional experiences.
Some Final Advice
And the biggest thing to remember, is that while you might be temporarily unhappy, that doesn’t mean everything is bad. Here’s Erin’s last piece of advice:
We often think that feeling bad is bad for us. But if you’re generally a happy person, negative emotions can be motivating.
They can signal to you that there is a challenge that you need to face. Happy people usually have coping resources and support that they draw on to meet that challenge.
So next time you feel a little anxious, recognize it as your body’s way of saying that something is important to you. Then use that energy as motivation to rise to the occasion.