Finishing exams and the summer ahead - how to manage
11 Aug 22
Across the UK, many young people have recently sat their GCSE or A-level exams. For many, this can be a stressful time and at HPFT we understand that waiting for your results may make you feel anxious, nervous or overwhelmed. Our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) has generated some top tips to help you find ways of managing until results day.
- How to check-in with yourself when you are unsure how you are feeling?
It's normal to have both positive and/or negative feelings about finishing your exams and sometimes you might not know how you feel. We can check in with our emotions in four steps:
- Normalise your emotions! Having emotions isn't weird, we don’t need to ‘fix’ them. We know about five children in every classroom have mental health difficulties, so you are not alone in feeling the way you do
- Notice your body. Emotions start in our bodies as sensations and not in our minds. Try and see if you can become aware of the sensation. Are you hot? Is your heart beating fast? Can you name the sensation? Are you able to name the emotion it is linked to for you?
- Allow the emotion. Once you have named the emotion, allow yourself to feel it without judgement. It’s okay to cry and know that feelings don’t last forever.
- Act to reduce the body sensation. Are you aware you are breathing too fast; do you need to slow your breathing down?
- Managing your worrying thoughts
When we feel stressed and overwhelmed, we might have thoughts that the worst thing is going to happen. We call this catastrophic thinking. These thoughts might be: “I have failed all my exams” and may spiral out of control. You may feel like you are overthinking and cannot think of anything else but that worrying thought. You can learn to manage these spiralling thoughts:
- Accept the uncertainty of not knowing your exam result. Thinking about this worrying thought is not going to change the outcome, but it may make you feel more anxious.
- Don’t think too far ahead. Try taking each day, hour, and moment a day at a time.
- Remind yourself of coping statements such as “I did the best I could given my circumstances” and “my school will be able to support me whatever the results”
- Plan to do things you enjoy
When we start to feel low, we might stop doing the things that are important to us e.g. seeing friends or going on a walk. When we stop doing these things, we give ourselves fewer opportunities to experience positive and rewarding activities and in turn, our mood might get lower. When you feel low the last thing you might want to do is a positive and rewarding activity, but this is the MOST important thing to try and do!
Try and plan positive and rewarding activities. What are you going to do? Where are you going to do it? What day and time are you going to do it? Who are you going to do them with? Download our planner as it may help you.
- Talk to people around you
You are really important and people care about you. Do you have someone around you that you feel comfortable sharing your feelings and thoughts with? It may be a teacher, parent, family member, sibling, friend, or CAMHS worker, they are all here to listen. It may feel daunting sharing how you feel but sometimes sharing your thoughts can help them feel a little less heavy. If you are unsure how to start the conversation you could work through the above points together.
Written by Alex Faulkner, Assistant Psychologist