Life as a student is filled with ups and downs and unexpected challenges, and one of the best ways you can face these challenges head-on without feeling overwhelmed is by building your own resilience. Resilience is our capacity to recover quickly from difficulties – to bounce back and adapt in the face of challenging circumstances, whilst maintaining stable mental well-being. Having resilience does not mean that you don’t struggle, make mistakes, or need to ask for help, but instead, it means that you do what you can to set yourself up for success, through being adaptable, learning from mistakes, and relying on others for support.
While some people seem to be born with naturally higher levels of resilience, these behaviors can also be learned! Whether you’re finding the lead-up to assessment time really difficult, or you’re hoping to build these skills for the future, the below techniques can help you to foster your own resilience moving forward and set you up for success.
Look to seek support
Sometimes it can feel easier to withdraw and try to conquer your challenges alone, but talking about what you're going through with others is crucial for maintaining good mental health. Pre-assessment times can leave you feeling anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed, and you may find yourself walking around feeling emotionally charged up and filled with tension. Talking can be cathartic, and connecting with others can help you get some of those difficult feelings out, to air them, digest them, and hopefully lessen them. Everyone feels the need to belong. Connecting with others can be one of the most helpful things you can do, whether it’s a professional counselor, your tutor, a friend or family member, or other students on TalkCampus.
Cultivate a sense of agency
Having more agency means taking responsibility for your life. Even when things aren’t going your way, you are always in control of your attitude and your efforts.
Over the past couple of years, we know that there have been many abrupt changes to your life and also your student journey, and there may still be some unexpected to come. Instead of focusing on these as disruptions, look to embrace them as much as you can, and focus on how you can adapt and thrive. Being flexible and adaptable is an essential part of resilience.
When disruptions happen, it’s important to resist the temptation to catastrophize. You may have no control over what you are facing, but you do have a choice about how you tackle it. Your attitude can go a long way in terms of determining how stressful a situation feels for you. Try and increase your awareness of how your emotions and beliefs may be driving your thinking. For example, try and catch yourself when you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed by something. Don’t automatically accept that emotion or dwell on it, instead pause and question it. Take some deep breaths, and ask yourself why you are feeling this way. Consciously taking control of the emotion will help put you back into the driver's seat of the present moment.
By shifting your mindset, you can let these setbacks or perceived failures help you to move forward strategically toward future success.
Grounding is a practice of energetically connecting to yourself, and getting out of your head and into your body. When external influences are causing you to feel anxious and stressed, a simple routine each day can help you to feel more stable and focused. It could be as simple as the same breakfast each day or a moment for a coffee or tea each morning; something you do each day or return to. Perhaps it’s a hobby or perhaps it’s a friend you talk with regularly. Maybe you find a bit of time each day to meditate, go for a run, listen to music, or write in a journal. Find what works for you and use it to give yourself consistency, and familiarity and to guide you through more chaotic times.
Stay focused on your goals
When there are disruptions to your plans, it can become easy to get fixated on all that is going wrong. When this happens, try instead to bring your focus back to your goals. Remind yourself, why you chose the degree you are studying. Where are you hoping to be 5 years from now? When you started your studies, it may have been because you were passionate about something, maybe there was something you identified with or there was a career that had been a dream of yours for some time. Bringing your focus back to your why will help to prevent your excitement and purpose being buried under the day-to-day struggles and demands.
Try to be Optimistic
Having a generally positive outlook on life makes someone more resilient. That doesn't mean being deliriously happy about something really hard that’s going on for you. But it does mean being able to recognize that the problem or pain won’t last forever and maintaining a sense of hope that brighter times will come.
It’s not all positive thinking, being optimistic is also about being confident in your skills and abilities to manage difficult situations. If you’re not sure what your skills are, try to think about difficult situations you’ve overcome in the past. What helped you get through them? Can you use them now?
Focusing on how you can cultivate your own resilience will help you set yourself up for lifelong success. Life will continue to throw up challenges, but you can choose to see these as an opportunity to grow, learn and change. Developing the ability to assess and determine the best ways to approach obstacles with confidence will help you to recognise that you are always capable of achieving and persevering, no matter what life or your studies may throw at you.