If stress burned calories, students would be supermodels

How to save the wellbeing of millions of students during the corona pandemic?

Stress among students is increasing during the current corona pandemic. Improving their wellbeing is essential for themselves, but also for the economy and labour market. Improving wellbeing can be done by increasing ‘feeling good’ and ‘functioning well’ of students. When your wellbeing increases, it results in, for example, better employment, better relationships, better health, and better personal finances.

Positive psychology interventions (PPIs)

An effective way to increase wellbeing is with the so-called positive psychology interventions. These interventions include activities that increase positive emotions and experiences.

Lambert and colleagues implemented such PPIs to test the efficacy on 268 university students from the United Arab Emirates. The students entered a 14-week happiness 101 program, in which they practiced 18 different PPIs. All the PPIs were based on either positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, or participants’ accomplishments. An example is writing a gratitude letter concerning relationships. ‘Feeling good’, ‘functioning well’, overall mental health, happiness beliefs, and religiosity were measured before the 14-week program, directly after the program, and after three months.

Practicing PPIs increased the ‘feeling good’ and ‘functioning well’ of the students. Also, after three months, the students still experienced increased life satisfaction and positive feelings. On the other side, their fear of happiness and the belief that happiness is fragile decreased.

In conclusion, to improve students’ wellbeing during this corona pandemic, universities may invest in these effective positive psychology interventions.


Lambert, L., Passmore, H., & Joshanloo, M. (2019). A positive psychology intervention program in a culturally-diverse university: boosting happiness and reducing fear. Journal of happiness studies, 20(2), 1141–1162.

Written by: Anouk Blanken

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