Changes and challenges are a normal part of life, and resilience is the capacity in which we adapt to changes and recover from challenges. We may even find ourselves growing from these experiences and improving our lives as result.

Resilience isn’t an extraordinary trait that only some people have. It involves thoughts and actions that can be learnt and developed in us all. While we may all have a different starting point in how resilient we feel, these are the tools that you can use to build and develop resilience. Think of it like a gym session for your psychological immune system! Considering the reslience facilitators or following the ABCDE model can help to build resilience.

Resilience facilitators

Embrace positive emotions

Experiencing positive emotions such as optimism, and being able to embrace change, will allow you to tackle problems in a helpful and resilient way. Similarly, having perspective on a situation will help to rationalise your thoughts around it. Practising gratitude and accepting the things you can't control, are some of the ways that you can experience positive emotions.

Using our gratitude journal and savouring journal will encourage positive thinking. 

Connection with others

Connection with others and having a social network that offers support can allow you to feel more resilient. This is because talking can help us to feel less stressed when we are under pressure or facing adversity as it can facilitate a change in perspective and normalise a situation.

Visit our Connect page for ideas on how to nurture relationships. 

Energy and wellness

Looking after yourself and feeling well, will help you to have more energy and feel ready to face any challenges that you might encounter. There are a number of ways that you can do this, for example by keeping active or eating nutritious food. Keeping active will make you feel more energised throughout the day, and sleep better at night. Eating nutritious food will help you to feel more alert and think clearly.

Visit our Be Active page for ideas on how to incorporate movement into each day, and our sleep page for other ways to improve your sleep. Our nutrition page also has lots of recipe ideas and useful resources.

Sense of purpose

Having a sense of purpose and being aware of your goals, will help you to move forward during times of adversity as you are more likely to be proactive and take control in your responses. Having a sense of purpose will also help you to look for opportunities of self-growth in certain challenging situations or times of change.

Our goal and activity planner is a good place to start writing down your goals.


ABCDE model

The ABCDE model developed by Albert Ellis, aims to strengthen resilience by encouraging people to recognise that they are capable of adjusting or changing their emotions around an event or circumstance. If you are struggling with something in particular you could try writing down the ABCDE model and work through the different elements below, by recognising each one in relation to the particular situation. 

A - Activating event 

The activating event or adversity that causes the stress, worry or change in emotion. This could be something small or something significant.

B - Beliefs 

The beliefs about the situation. For example, if the activating event was an upcoming exam, the beliefs might be 'I am really bad at exams. This exam will go badly'.

C - Consequences

The consequences are the emotional reaction to the beliefs. These could include feelings of stress and worry.

D - Disputing beliefs

Review and challenge the current beliefs. Where is the proof for the belief? Does the belief make common sense? Is there any over generalising that is supporting these beliefs?

E- Effects 

The effects of challenging the self-defeating beliefs. The effects are likely to be improved self-belief and new habits that promote positive change.


Academic resilience

Academic resilience is a specific type of resilience that refers to the ability to achieve academic success whilst facing environmental adversity, and it is also the ability to learn from mistakes and failures when things might not go as planned. Instead of viewing mistakes or disappointing marks as an indicator of low ability, someone who is academically resilient will reframe this and instead view these as an opportunity for learning and growth. What matters is how you respond to disappointment, and learn for the future. The good news is that academic resilience can also be built and developed. Considering 'the four C's' can help to build academic resilience. 

The four C's

1. Confidence: when we feel confident in our abilities, it means that setbacks won't affect us as much. To build confidence:
-  Try breaking down your projects into small chunks. Successfully completing these smaller tasks will give you a sense of achievement and self-belief.
- Whenever you doubt yourself, you can think back to something you did well for reassurance.

2. Control: Gaining control over our learning can allow us to feel more comfortable with our academic tasks. Some of the following tips may help:
- Use My Learning Essentials to brush up on your study skills.
- Check your feedback from previous work and write down how to improve for the next time.
- Arrange feedback meetings with your lecturers.

3. Commitment: Sometimes when we face setbacks, it's tempting to just give up. Reinforcing your ability to stay committed even when times are tough can make you more resilient. Try the following:
- Use a goal planner to keep track of your aims.
- Reward yourself for even small achievements.
- Talk to your coursemates to encourage each other through difficult periods.

4. Composure: This relates to minimising the impact that disappointments have on our mood. There's a few important points to remember:
- Mistakes are an important part of learning and being a student, they help us to grow.
- Experiencing a setback does not change your worth as an individual.
- Success is personal, don't compare yourself.

Check out these videos for more tips on academic resilience

Tips for building academic resilience

Dealing with dissapointing results (on campus)

Useful resources