14 August 2019

Top tips to avoid stress when waiting for exam results

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It is that time of year again when students are counting down the days to exam results.  Whether it is for GCSEs, A-levels or higher education, it can be an anxious and stressful time both for the students and their families.

While it isn't possible to change the outcome of the exam results, it is possible to take steps to reduce the amount of anxiety or stress that people may be feeling.

Claire Williamson, Head of Psychological Therapies for Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) NHS Trust, said: "The summer months can be a worrying time for students and families awaiting exam results and this can often lead to raised levels of stress and anxiety. Thoughts can often move from focusing on not getting the results needed to thoughts of feeling useless and concerns about parents being disappointed. This can then result in physical symptoms, such as stomach ache, a racing heart and nausea, and can even lead to changes in behaviour, such as not even wanting to pick up the results or leaving them unopened.

"When students experience high levels of stress and anxiety, they can often forget that there are other alternatives available to them, and their family, friends and teachers can help them work through a plan B."

How can I cope with stress?

Talk to friends and family about your feelings - stress may alter the way you interact with people, so it is important to discuss how you feel with those around you. Talking about how you are feeling and the causes of those feelings will give others the opportunity to make allowances for you and provide you with emotional and practical support.

Look after yourself - skipping meals and eating foods with a high sugar content can cause sugar and hormone levels to change drastically, affecting how you feel both mentally and physically.

Get active - stress and anxiety can produce toxins in the body, which exercise can help to reduce.

Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake - it's important to get a good night's sleep and caffeine and alcohol can affect your sleep patterns, so try not to rely on them as ways of coping with stress and anxiety.

If you don't get the results you had hoped for there are other options available including an alternative course or university place, exploring the Clearing process to see which courses have vacancies, taking a year out or resitting the exams. You can speak to your school, college or careers advice centre about your options.

Claire reminds everyone to give yourself a break and be proud of what you have done: "Whether you get the results you expected or not, that's OK.  Try to celebrate what you have achieved whether that's academically or not, you've survived your exams and you deserve to be proud of that."

The Department for Education's Exam Results Helpline provides additional support to students wanting to discuss their results. The helpline is open from Wednesday 14th until Thursday 29th August from 8am to 10pm on 0800 100 900.

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