Many students have had their resilience tested during this time of COVID-19. Remote studies and facing an uncertain future has been a rough ride, but everyone can learn to bolster their own resilience.

Each and every one of us needs resilience at some point during our lives. – We don’t always know what resilience is or that it may even exist within us, but resilience means our ability to survive and recover from difficult situations such as crises or stress.

– A difficult situation can be an unexpected event or a prolonged stressful experience. Resilience helps us function and recover so that the stress does not persist, according to educational counselling psychologist Sanni Saarimäki.

Some people are more naturally resilient than others, but we all have our breaking point.

– This involves a person’s personality traits such as flexibility and openness to new experiences. Resilience can also be bolstered through experience.

Building awareness of and identifying your own emotions, taking care of your well-being, maintaining social relationships and reaching out for help from others are all vital ways to reinforce and build your resilience.

– It is also important to think about the challenges that you have previously overcome and conscientiously learn from them. We are all able to develop our resilience from our own starting points, Saarimäki says.

A sense of belonging helps

Sanni Saarimäki emphasizes that resilience is not only a resource that is used in crisis situations.

– We also need resilience in our everyday lives, but especially when we are faced with unexpected challenges and difficulties.

University studies can be a source of long-term stress for many students, and in these situations resilience is needed on a day-to-day basis. Saarimäki notes that the coronavirus crisis has required additional resilience from us all.

– Many have experienced a lot of uncertainty. Resilience can help us process and tolerate it.

Communality, or supporting each other, can help and people should also seek out the support of others when needed. According to Saarimäki it is important to realise that we don’t need to know and do everything by ourselves.

– If you notice that a friend of yours is having a difficult time, it is important that you support them by being there for them. Listen to them and ask if there is anything you can do. However, you do not have need to be able to completely solve the other person’s problems.

If a friend of yours is struggling with their studies, for example, you can help them to the best of your ability. Saarimäki emphasizes that no one has to act as a therapist for for a friend. Instead, she hopes that we would give each other more positive feedback in our everyday lives.

– Positive feedback about our strengths helps each of us survive.

Resilience is not merely survival

Resilience can also be defined through a group or community. It cann consists of goals shared by individuals – the group supports its members in achieving the shared goal.

– At its best, a good student culture promotes and maintains resilience. It contains the belief that we can get through this together, Saarimäki says.

Optimism is also a key to resilience.

– If you feel that something is important and meaningful, then overcoming challenges becomes easier. Difficulties are easier to withstand when we know the purpose of something.

Every one of us comes across unpleasant situations during studies and in work, but resilience helps us tolerate them better and helps us to move forward.

– However, this does not mean that we just passively accept wrongdoings but that we also set out to fix things.

Academic associations and student guild activities in particular allow students to work for a shared cause and strive to affect change.

– This can generate a genuine feeling of meaningfulness but it can also be stressful, Saarimäki says.

She states that most people can cope with a stressful situation as long as they know that it will pass one day. The uncertain job market is a great challenge for many.

– If the continuation of one’s employment is uncertain, especially now with this COVID-19 situation, it is stressful. The idea behind resilience is not simply survival, but to genuinely strive forward in our lives.


Text: Michaela von Kügelgen
Photo: Getty Images