Exams are stressful for many young people. Teenagers may feel a lot of pressure to do well or to meet certain targets. They may feel that their results have a big impact on their future, affecting where they live, what jobs they do, and their well-being. For some young people, the stress can become overwhelming.
If your child or another young person is struggling with results day stress, there are a few things you can do to help. This blog offers some tips that may help young people to keep things in perspective and manage feelings of stress, as well as advice on the best way to offer support.
What Causes Results Day Stress?
While results day can be stressful for any young person, some things may make it worse. Young people may:
- Compare themselves to others, feeling like they have to perform as well as their friends
- Experience pressure from parents, teachers, or others around them
- Put pressure on themselves to meet certain targets
- Worry about getting into university, finding a job, or other parts of their future
- Be affected by life changes, like moving schools or friend groups
- Struggle with other difficulties, such as family issues or relationships
- Live with mental or physical health concerns that make daily life more difficult to manage
There are lots of other factors that can make a young person feel stressed around results day. Whatever a young person is experiencing, it’s important to listen to their concerns and offer support and care.
How Can Results Day Stress Affect Young People?
Stress can affect young people in many ways. It can be physical as well as mental and impact the way they think, act, and interact with others. If a young person is feeling stressed, they may:
- Experience a big range of emotions, including anxiety, frustration, disappointment, hopelessness, or embarrassment
- Feel physical sensations, such as shaking, headaches, changes in breathing, or stomach pains
- Change their daily habits, like how and when they eat or sleep
- Feel afraid of failing or disappointing others
- Believe that everything is bad or wrong
- Lose interest in activities that they usually enjoy
- Struggle to manage daily life
Stress before results day may last for several weeks and can have a big impact on a young person’s well-being. In some cases, these periods of stress can continue to affect a young person even after results day is over. Exam-related anxiety and stress can also make young people more vulnerable to developing mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression.
If you think that your child may be experiencing exam stress or finding daily life difficult to manage, remember that you’re not alone. While prolonged stress can have harmful consequences, there is plenty of help available to help young people cope with their feelings and feel better in the long term.
How Can Young People Manage Results Day Stress?
As results day approaches, there are some techniques that young people can try to reduce feelings of stress and help them to navigate the days or weeks ahead. We’ve listed some of them below, but there are many more strategies out there. It’s important for each young person to find out what works best for them.
Relaxation Exercises and Self-Care
We feel stress and anxiety in both the mind and body. We experience worry and fear throughout our central nervous system, in our muscles, and in the way we breathe.
Certain physical and mental exercises can help relieve stress in a given moment, immediately calming the mind and body down. Regularly practising relaxation exercises can also help to reduce stress over a longer period. Some relaxation techniques include:
- Mindfulness meditation
- Deep breathing exercises
- Progressive muscle relaxation
Relaxation exercises are one way that young people can take time to care for themselves. Practising good self-care can help young people stay calm in day-to-day life and improve their overall well-being. Other self-care practices include:
- Maintaining regular sleep schedules
- Eating nutritious, balanced meals
- Spending time with friends
- Exploring creative outlets like music, cooking, or art
Coping With Pressure
If a young person is feeling a lot of pressure, it can be useful to explore where the pressure comes from and what helps them feel better. They may like to think about:
The Source of the Pressure
Does the pressure come from their teachers, parents, the school, or themselves? Sometimes, it may come from multiple places.
Understanding the source of the pressure can help young people to keep things in perspective, identify unrealistic expectations, and focus on what matters to them. If the pressure comes from others, it can help for a young person to explain what they feel like they can achieve and that their expectations may be different.
Focusing On Themselves
Often, young people’s self-worth is influenced by those around them. Focusing on their own abilities, avoiding comparisons with others, and trusting themselves can help relieve pressure and build self-esteem.
Putting Things in Perspective
It’s important to remember that exams aren’t everything. Young people have many talents, interests, and values, and school only makes up one part of their life. They may like to reflect on the value of their friendships, family, other hobbies, or their contributions to the lives of others. Young people can go on to take part in and achieve incredible things, regardless of their exam results. For some teenagers, getting grades that are different from what they expected might even put them on a life path that is more fulfilling for them and closer to what they really want to do.
Just because a young person gets a lower grade than someone else, it doesn’t mean they are less worthy. It may just mean that they find a certain type of exam more difficult. Exam results are not an assessment of how valuable a person is – they only reflect a very specific and narrow set of skills that make up a small part of a much bigger life.
Changing Negative Beliefs to Positive Ones
For some young people, negative beliefs and thought patterns can contribute to feelings of stress. It’s also normal for people to become more self-critical during anxious times. Identifying these negative patterns and changing them into more positive ones can help them feel better about themselves and the future.
For example, they may change thoughts like:
“I’ve failed all my exams” to “I know it was hard, but I did my best”, or
“I won’t get into the university I want” to “Whatever results I get, I will find a path that’s right for me”
Planning for Results Day
Some teenagers may find it helpful to make a plan for the day that they receive their results. They might like to go with another person, such as a friend or family member. At the same time, there is no need to share their results with other people if they don’t want to.
Planning for a stressful experience can help a young person imagine what it will be like and decrease negative feelings. They might like to focus on what they want to do and try to avoid doing what they think others think they should.
Reaching Out for Support
Results day stress can be intense and sometimes overwhelming. Speaking to other people about their worries and fears can make things feel more manageable. Young people may want to speak to friends, teachers, family members, or other people that they trust.
If results day stress is seriously affecting their everyday life, they may want to speak with a mental health professional. Seeking professional support can stop results day stress from developing into longer-term mental health concerns and help young people to explore issues that are underlying their anxieties.
Supporting a Young Person Before Results Day
If your child or another young person is struggling with stress as results day approaches, it can help to have an open conversation about what they’re experiencing. Remember to listen to what they have to say and ask them how they would like you to support them.
If they’re looking for advice, you may like to share some of the above tips and techniques. Make sure that you validate their feelings and let them know how valuable they are as a person, regardless of the results that they achieve.
The Wave Clinic – Specialist and Sensitive Care for Young People
The Wave Clinic offers expert-led mental health care, dedicated to the needs of young people. Our programs create a safe haven for teens and adolescents where they can begin journeys of personal growth and heal from within. We offer a supportive and sensitive environment for both young people and their families, caring for the needs of each person in our community.
At The Wave, we take a whole-person approach to mental health support. We combine exceptional clinical care with education, social responsibility, and a gap year experience, helping young people to rediscover their dreams – and develop the skills to follow them. We offer young people the space to explore different skill sets and life paths, so they can find the future that’s right for them.
If you have any questions or would like to start the admissions process, contact us today. We’re here to help.