Being a university student is tough. There’s coursework, midterms, papers, part-time jobs, and extracurricular commitments, all while attempting to maintain a social life and stay healthy! How do you deal with juggling all of that without getting too stressed? Why are some people able to handle everything life throws at them while some of us have a harder time adjusting? One reason is your resilience.
What is resilience?
Resilience is basically the ability to cope with and adapt to new situations. Being resilient means you’re more likely to bounce back from minor and major setbacks in your everyday life—everything from school-related stress to personal tragedies.
Why is it important?
It’s vital for maintaining balance through difficult and overwhelming times and can serve as a protective measure against deteriorating mental health. This is especially important for university students because having resilience helps students deal with life’s transitions and uncertainty.
There are a lot of “firsts” students encounter as you go through your degree. Whether it’s your first time being away from home or first time ‘adulting,’ there’s going to be some stress associated with these new changes. Being resilient to the ups and downs of university life is essential to your overall well-being and success. Yes, it can make you healthier! Being resilient is also a quality that employers look for in their employees. So it can also help you big-time with your future career!
And the best part: resilience can be learned. Here’s how:
1. Build a support system
Build and maintain relationships with people who will be there for you when everything goes wrong. Joining a group on campus can also be a great form of social support.
2. Don’t look at crises as unconquerable problems
In the words of Miley Cyrus, it’s not about how fast you get there, it’s about the climb. Accepting your lack of control over stressful events in university can be shockingly helpful. Move forward by making a realistic plan of how you will tackle the issue. You’re not going to make every goal you set, and there will be times when you make mistakes. Honestly, it’s the only way you can really grow.
3. Accept that change is part of life
It’s easy to get carried away with to-do lists in university. Accept that some goals you make may be unattainable. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals for the future so you’re not stressing about not achieving the impossible. Setting goals will help make any daunting task feel more manageable.
4. Move toward your goals
Even completing a small goal can reduce your stress levels significantly. Ask yourself if there’s one thing you can accomplish today that moves you further in the right direction.
Note: Taking time for yourself to de-stress is 100% something that counts as an accomplishment. Make sure your mental health is coming first.
5. Take decisive actions
It’s tempting to give up in the face of a challenge, but it will help improve resilience if you take action in stressful situations rather than detaching completely. Remember that avoiding the issue and refusing to make a decision is a decision in itself.
6. Look for opportunities for self-growth
People who have experienced adversity often say they learned something about themselves as a result of their struggle. It often leads to better relationships, a greater sense of strength, and increased sense of self-worth.
7. Nurture a positive view of yourself
Think back on all of your accomplishments, write them down if you have to. It’s important to recognize everything you’ve already achieved. If you trust your instincts over time you will become more sure of your ability to bounce back, because you’ve been there before and look where you are now! And that is resilience.
8. Keep things in perspective
When you encounter a stressful event or situation it’s important to take a step back and look at things with a broader perspective. Think long-term to avoid blowing the event out of proportion (e.g. does failing one assignment mean I’m going to fail the course—probably not!). Will this matter in two months? Two years? If not, it’s probably not worth stressing about.
9. Stay positive
Try visualizing the outcome you would like rather than the outcome you’re worried about. Now how do you get to that outcome?
10. Take care of yourself
Before all else, your health comes first—physical, mental, and emotional. Do things you love and take time for yourself. Take a deep breath and relax. Hang out with your friends. Read for pleasure. Go for a walk. Go to the gym. Do what makes you feel happy.
Being resilient doesn’t mean you won’t experience hardship, but it decreases the impact a distressing event will have on your overall health. It means the hardship will only make you stronger.
Dal’s new Resiliency Project, a partnership between the Dalhousie School of Health & Human Performance and Vendura Wellness, is a project that helps you build awareness, stay accountable, and learn about resilience. There are different videos to watch, an interactive journal component, and “companions” to help guide you through. It takes about an hour a week over 9 weeks, and you’ll receive certified resilience training for your resume and Co-Curricular Record. Registration opens soon!
Ainsley surrounds herself with positivity.
Delainey gives herself lots of pep talks.