Managing exam results day
18 Aug 22
It may feel like a long time since you finished your exams, and there has been a build-up to this ‘big day’. It is normal to feel stressed and anxious about results day and here. At HPFT CAMHS, we have put together a few tips to help you manage results day itself.
Before you collect the results:
Control the controllable
You may feel like you have worrying thoughts spinning around your head and spiralling out of control. The worries make us think we are problem-solving, but the more we think about them, the more the worries grow. We can manage our anxieties and worries by concentrating on small controllable things.
- Can you plan to do positive and rewarding activities? For example, your favourite TV show or hobby
- Can you plan a self-care night-time routine?
- Can you turn off your phone or log out of social media?
- Can you make sure you have everything ready you might need for results day? Have you planned how you will get to school? Have you identified someone who could go with you/be at the end of the phone to support you? Do you need a charger? Do you need to take clearing house information?
When we feel stressed and anxious, it can be hard to know what to do to feel better. Stress and anxiety cause tension in our bodies, which is our body’s natural way of responding to a sense of danger. Most of the time, we don’t need this danger response, and we have to be willing to try relaxation techniques to help reduce stress and anxiety. It can feel strange at first, as our mind and body are not used to being relaxed. It takes time and practice to learn to relax, so remember to be patient with yourself!
Here are some relaxation techniques you can try out, find the one that works best for you:
- Breathing techniques help slow our breathing and reduce our heart rate. Square breathing/ box breathing is one example; you may have others you have tried that also work for you. There is help on breathing techniques here.
- Getting fresh air and going for a walk. Doing some gentle exercise and getting a change of scene can be helpful. Movement causes our body to release a chemical called ‘endorphins’ these help us to feel good and energised and can improve our mood.
- Mindfulness is our ability to be in the present moment (and not think about the next hour or results day) without judging how we are feeling or being distracted from how we are feeling. Meditation exercises can help us do this. You will find some guided meditations on YouTube. The channel headspace is a good place to start.
After you have received the results and things feel unmanageable
Give yourself some compassion
Regardless of whether you get the results you wanted, it is really important to remind yourself that you have given it your best and that it is an achievement to celebrate. If this feels too difficult to do, can you think about what you might say to a friend in your situation? What might you say? Can you apply this compassion to yourself? You deserve this compassion too.
Notice your negative thoughts. Do they need to be reframed?
When we feel stressed and upset, our critical thoughts can become really powerful, they might feel all-consuming, and we might think the worst is going to happen (catastrophic thinking). We might have thoughts like, “I am not good enough”. It's important to see this is our brains being a bully and it's not based on facts. We can challenge thoughts by looking at the evidence for and against them.
Thought: “I am not good enough.”
Facts: “I have strengths, and there are lots of things I’m good at….” “I have felt like this before, and I am determined, and I am going to get through this feeling.”
If you are struggling to think of strengths, take a look at this strengths sheet as a starting point.
Use your support systems
Asking for support can feel really challenging, and you may worry about how other people perceive you. People are here to listen to you and support you through this. 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?
Social media and comparison
Social media can make us feel like we can’t switch off or get away from all the results day talk and images. Remember, you don’t need to compete with others or compare your results. It’s important to judge yourself by your own standards; you are you and not them! It may be worth logging out of your social media for a while or ‘muting’ people on or ‘hiding’ certain words on Instagram.
Written by Alex Faulkner, Assistant Psychologist