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Mental Health Month | Blog #1

Read the first Blog for MHM by your VPW! Resilience is a word you may have heard thrown around when talking about people who aren’t, or are, coping well with a situation. Having good, strong, or high resilience essentially means you are better prepared for bouncing back from difficult situations.

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Blog #1 | RESILIENCE

Resilience is a word you may have heard thrown around when talking about people who aren’t, or are, coping well with a situation. Having good, strong, or high resilience essentially means you are better prepared for bouncing back from difficult situations. This might mean anything from bouncing back from a bad grade, to bouncing back from a bereavement. So – how do we build our resilience? I met with Aston Universities Interim Counselling and Interim Mental Health Managers to find out.

Resilience can be built over time if we enable a growth mindset. You aren’t going to become more resilient in an hour, so you must be ready to put in the work with this one. Below are 25 tips for building resilience (from qualified mental health specialists!) and we will break down some of those in this blog.

 
  • Acknowledge and embrace imperfections. Hiding from your weaknesses means you’ll never overcome them.

  • View challenges as opportunities. Having a growth mind-set means relishing opportunities for self-improvement. Learn more about how to fail well.

    As university students, we are so unbelievably privileged. Our greatest challenges are often due to our greatest opportunities. It is important to stay humble and remember that whilst trying to find that grad job or get that 2:1 is difficult, it’s truly one of the nicest problems to have.

  • Try different learning tactics: There’s no one-size-fits-all model for learning. What works for one person may not work for you. Learn about learning strategies.

  • Follow the research on brain plasticity: The brain isn’t fixed; the mind shouldn’t be either.

  • Replace the word “failing” with the word “learning.” When you make a mistake or fall short of a goal, you haven’t failed; you’ve learned.

  • Stop seeking approval. When you prioritise approval over learning, you sacrifice your own potential for growth.

  • Value the process over the end result. Intelligent people enjoy the learning process and don’t mind when it continues beyond an expected time frame.

  • Cultivate a sense of purpose. Dweck’s research also showed that students with a growth mind-set had a greater sense of purpose. Keep the big picture in mind.

  • Celebrate growth with others. If you truly appreciate growth, you’ll want to share your progress with others.

  • Emphasise growth over speed. Learning fast isn’t the same as learning well, and learning well sometimes requires allowing time for mistakes.

  • Reward actions, not traits. Tell students when they’re doing something smart, not just being smart.

  • Redefine “genius.” The myth’s been busted: genius requires hard work, not talent alone.

  • Portray criticism as positive. You don’t have to use the clichéd term, “constructive criticism,” but you do have to believe in the concept.

  • Disassociate improvement from failure. Stop assuming that “room for improvement” translates into failure.

    I find this really interesting. As people, we find it easy to focus on the negative, often because it can trigger sad and strong emotions. But if we take the time to process that ‘room for improvement’ means that the work was good and could be even better, suddenly the glass is half full. A lot of resilience work in layman's terms can often just be seen as looking on the bright side.

  • Provide regular opportunities for reflection. Let students reflect on their learning at least once a day.

  • Place effort before talent. Hard work should always be rewarded before inherent skill.

  • Highlight the relationship between learning and “brain training.” The brain is like a muscle that needs to be worked out, just like the body.

  • Cultivate grit. Students with that extra bit of determination will be more likely to seek approval from themselves rather than others.

  • Abandon the image. “Naturally smart” sounds just about as believable as “spontaneous generation.” You won’t achieve the image if you’re not ready for the work.

  • Use the word “yet.” Dweck says “not yet” has become one of her favourite phrases. Whenever you see students struggling with a task, just tell them they haven’t mastered it yet.

    You don’t have a placement...YET. You don’t have a grad job...YET. You don’t understand that theory...YET.

  • Learn from other people’s mistakes. It’s not always wise to compare yourself to others, but it is important to realise that humans share the same weaknesses.

  • Make a new goal for every goal accomplished. You’ll never be done learning. Just because your midterm exam is over doesn’t mean you should stop being interested in a subject. Growth-minded people know how to constantly create new goals to keep themselves stimulated.

  • Take risks in the company of others. Stop trying to save face all the time and just let yourself goof up now and then. It will make it easier to take risks in the future.

    I ADORE this. It is so important for learning to let go and be willing to make mistakes. None of us would have learnt to walk without falling over. Nobody gets things right on the first try, and if you surround yourself with a positive support network, you’ll find on the times you do fall over the people around you will pick you right back up again.

  • Think realistically about time and effort. It takes time to learn. Don’t expect to master every topic under the sun in one sitting.

  • Take ownership over your attitude. Once you develop a growth mind-set, own it. Acknowledge yourself as someone who possesses a growth mentality and be proud to let it guide you throughout your educational career.

    Number 25 is so important – especially outside of an educational setting. People are so often unwilling to admit they are wrong. Whether this is down to pride, or fear. We are all on a learning journey, and the people I have the most respect for are the people who own when they make a mistake, they apologise, and then they get it right the next time. Honestly, it’s a green flag for me.

 

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