10 ways to improve your resilience – especially during exams

This post is written by Elizabeth Mullenger; PAPYRUS volunteer and University student.

Right now, life may feel like a rollercoaster. The moment you conquer one challenge, another seems to come along, more difficult than before. During exams, you might be feeling under a lot of pressure; stressed about your future, struggling with your confidence, or feeling isolated and exhausted by revision. Some days you may feel like you need to scream out loud, other days you might just want to curl up in a ball for hours – and both are perfectly normal ways to cope!

Although they might help in the moment, there are many other things you can do to look after yourself and strengthen your mental health longer-term. These ten tips can help you to learn strategies to build up your resilience, so you feel safer and stronger to face each challenge and grow as a person.

Watch your language

If you always tell yourself that you are rubbish, that you are struggling or that you are alone – guess how you will feel? Instead, try talking to yourself the way you would talk to a friend. Encouraging kinder thoughts can make all the difference to your emotions and self-esteem. Forgive your mistakes, learn from them and be kind to yourself.

Have coping strategies

Talk… about what is going on

Rest… and try relaxation techniques

Disconnect… from social media and electronics

Nourish… your mind and body with healthy food and exercise

Sleep… avoid caffeine and let yourself fully recover each night

Change your environment

Who do you spend most of your time with? Are they confident, supportive and inspirational… or do they upset and worry you, or encourage bad habits? Surrounding yourself with people you can relax around, and open up to, can really increase your confidence.

Stay social

If you are struggling, it can be tempting to hide away from your friends and family. But being on your own with your feelings often makes them seem ten times worse. Staying involved in people’s lives can help you access support and comfort when you need it most.

‘Fake it until you make it’

Sometimes it can be hard to stay optimistic. Perhaps you have an exam coming up which your dreading, or a uni interview you’re worried about? Take five minutes and imagine what would happen, and how you would feel, if everything went well. Then, think about what you can do if problems occur. Soon, you’ll start to fear the situation less and you’ll be more prepared if things do get tricky.

Set life goals

Write down five realistic(!) goals that you want to achieve. They can be big, small, short- or long-term. Seeing these aims on paper can remind you what is really important to you, and which problems won’t matter in a few months’ time. Share the list with a friend or loved one, so they can remind you to see the bigger picture.

Take Control

If you ever feel like life is a series of difficult and stressful events, or that you have no power over the bad things that happen, this is your time to take control. You can influence the way your life is going, simply by looking after yourself, practising positive thinking and reaching out for help and when you need it.


…on what you can change
…on what makes you happy
…on good memories
…on the present moment
…on a fun activity
…on your surroundings
…on your friends and family

…and, Reflect

It can feel like your whole world is centred around one task, one problem or one mistake. It is time to take a step back and think about what else makes you, you! Grab a pen and paper and get scribbling (doodles work well too!) Think, what are your hobbies, your passions, what annoys you on the news and what causes do you support? This is your purpose; this is who you are.

Finally, don’t be afraid to speak up:

Resilience is not about accepting situations that make you angry, sad or scared. Nor is it about avoiding things that are hard or not asking for help when you’re struggling. Here are some resources for you to access the support you need, when you need it:

HOPELINE247, call 0800 068 41 41, text 88247 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org 9am to midnight, every day of the year.

Remember: You will experience adversity in your life, you can deal with it, and you do not have to face it alone.

Find out more about volunteering opportunities at PAPYRUS, here.

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