Feeling anxious about results day?

Waiting for your A-level or GCSE results is always a nerve-racking for young people (and even their families!), especially after curriculum and exam changes this year due to CIVID-19. Find out how to deal with the results day nerves:
anxious student

Most people have to cope with worries at one time or another and it can be helpful to have strategies to try out when things seem difficult.

Try to stay 'in the moment' 

You have probably heard of ‘mindfulness’, which some people practise as a way to reduce worries and improve their well-being. This is about trying to spend more time thinking about and noticing where you are right now, rather than thinking too much about the future and its uncertainties.

This helps you focus on things that you can see, feel and hear that you enjoy. It might be something as simple as listening to your favourite music, playing a video game or taking a walk. Make a list of all the things that you enjoy doing and think about planning some of these into your days.

Develop a positive approach

Although we hope for the best, there are always times when things don’t work out, when it helps to have a positive approach:

  • it isn’t ‘the end of the world’ if you don’t do as well as you’d hoped. Disappointing news can feel like a setback, but there will be a new – and sometimes better - way forward. Your teachers are on hand to give you advice
  • take one step at a time. After results day, you don’t need to plan the rest of your life. Start by finding out who can help and then once you’ve got all the information you need, plan for next term or next year. Things will change – they always do – so sometimes it’s actually good not to make long-term plans too definite, as that can give you more to worry about
  • there are a lot of people in the same boat. During Covid-19 and lockdown, people have been reassured by things which connect them to others who are going through the same thing: for example, meeting friends on Zoom, checking in on social media, or going for socially distanced walks. People often feel reassured when they can talk to each other about their experiences and hear how other people are trying to find ways to cope. In the same way, talking to others in your year group who are also waiting for their results can be useful.

You’re not alone, and if you need help to cope during this uncertain time, talk to your friends, parents or carers, teachers or to a professional counsellor.

How do I support my child with results day anxiety?

The first thing that parents need to do is to try to identify the signs of difficulties with results day anxiety as early as they can. These include trouble sleeping, low attention span, being fatigued and restless, excessive worry about different things, low-self confidence and irritability.

Normalise these feelings - It can be useful for children or young people know that it is OK to feel anxious as it is part of being human. Anxiety, though normal, becomes a problem for us when it persists and becomes so intense that it starts to affect our daily functioning. For this reason, it’s helpful for young people to learn techniques that help them manage their anxiety over the next few days.

Some of these strategies include breathing and meditation techniques to slow their heart rate down, talking to them about their thoughts and fears and helping them manage their fears of failure. Distraction techniques such as listening music, mindful drawing, arts and crafts and games can also help to pass the anxious wait for results. If they like writing, introduce them to journaling and invite them to write down their thoughts and feelings.

You could also encourage them to exercise and stay active this weekend, so they can reap the benefits of mood-boosting endorphins.

Most importantly, reassure them that whatever the outcome, they will be OK, but speak to your GP if worry is starting to affect their day-to-day life.

What if results don't go according to plan?

Parents should openly discuss the emotions associated with things not going according to plan and normalise the upset. Regardless of the result, let your child know how proud you are of them, that it is not the end of the world and that despite the pain, things will be OK.

It might also be helpful to suggest possible options and solutions they could take as their next steps, to stop them from feeling overwhelmed. Above all, let them know that you are there if they need to talk through things.

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