Exams are done, so what now?
Updated: Jun 29
You thought it would feel great, this is what you were looking forward to right? But instead of feeling free and content, do you find yourself thinking about how you have done? Struggling to know how to fill the days and week ahead? Do you still feel some stress and anxiety which you expected to have disappeared by now? Perhaps these feelings are lingering on with concerns about results day? This day is still ages away! So how do you cope during this waiting time?
Read on for hints and tips on how to cope during this waiting time.
You have been so busy over the last few months, spent so many hours thinking about and preparing for your exams. Maybe each week or day you had some kind of schedule revolving around revision, exams or just thinking about this? You longed for the day when your exams would be over, and thought it would feel brilliant, with a sense of relief, and thinking how brilliant to have all that spare time not having to think about exams or work for the summer. It is all too common for it to not feel like this. The lack of a routine and schedule can leave a bit of a void, which can start to be filled with worries and negative thoughts about how you might have done. You mind may be making unhelpful predictions about how you have done. Our minds can do this, remember they apparently churn out on average about 48,000 thoughts per day! As this can be a stressful time I thought I would put together some survival hints and tips for what can be a challenging time.
Take a moment to consider what you are proud of. It is common to measure success purely on exam results – those numbers or letters written on the page. However, there is so much more to consider here. Are you proud of yourself that you got into the exam room, that you did the revision you could, that you maintained your focus most of the time, that you did the best you could despite any challenges you came across, that you managed to keep others things in your life going over the exam time? Take time to notice and feel proud of the specific things you have done over the last few months. What reward could you give yourself for these achievements?
Make three plans. It is likely that you have a plan for September already, which may be linked to your exam results. Even if this is the case know that you have options, there is always an alternative plan. Consider writing down three plans. Write down the best case scenario and the options it gives you, the most realistic plan and then the all-out worse case scenario. There are always plenty of options whatever the scenario. Once you have written your plans, pop them somewhere safe and know they are there if and when you need to look at them.
Accept the exams are finished, over, all done. There is nothing you can do to change your answers or ultimately how you did. Thinking about this is a waste of energy and can cause stress and anxiety. However, this does not stop our minds churring out lots of "what if", "what you should have done", "what could happen" thoughts and worries . If this happens notice these are just thoughts. To help you move away from these thoughts remind yourself the exams are over, you have done all you can, focus on the here and now moments, check out some the mindfulness ideas in my other article here (see the M in LLAMA). Know that you have considered your plans and they are there for when you need them - you can literally forget about it until your results day.
Consider things you may like to do over the coming weeks. Perhaps think about getting a job, doing some work experience, doing a bit of study or work in areas you are interested in. Perhaps consider volunteering in an area you are passionate about. These things will only be positive experiences if they come from you and represent something that fits with your values – the things that are important skills for you to develop or things you want to do or achieve in life.
Make time to look after yourself. Book some positive activities in for the weeks between now and end of the summer. These do not have to be expensive or big things. Day to day it could include a pamper session, walking the dog, catch up with some friends, watching your favourite TV show, mooching around the shops. Anything that makes you feel good about you. Keep positive routines up around eating and sleeping.
Let off steam (safely). Of course it is common to feel the need to let off some steam but please continue to look after yourselves and your friends and your long-term health and well-being.
Talk through how you feel. If you keep feeling stress and anxiety consider reaching out to others to talk, this could be to family or friends or if still struggling and anxiety is getting in the way of a joyful summer, you can reach out for support from a counselling, therapy or psychology service. If you don't find it easy to talk to others you may find it helpful to write you thoughts down in a journal - and then leave them there.
How will you Escape The Waiting Place?
I love the Dr Seuss book "Oh, The places you'll go". Amongst many things, he talks about getting stuck in The Waiting Place. Here is the full poem.
So this summer, don't get stuck waiting. I hope the hints and tips above will help you escape your waiting place. Instead of waiting, spend the summer making plans, celebrating all your achievements and focusing on things that are important to you, including looking after yourself.
Get in touch, I would love hear about how you manage to escape your waiting place. You can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me on instagram @blooming.gcses
Dr Beck x