On the night before results day, it can be difficult to stay calm. You might be feeling a range of emotions from excitement and anticipation to dread and anxiety. These feelings are completely normal and it’s important to understand that. But there are also some practical things you can do to manage your stress and anxiety to stay feeling more calm before results day.
Understand that it’s human to feel anxious
We have evolved from cavemen who needed stress to help them survive natural dangers that come with being a hunter-gatherer, thousands of years ago. Stress puts you into ‘fight-or-flight’ mode, causing your blood to move away from the brain and into your muscles, so you are able to run away from a threat as fast as you can. If a saber-toothed tiger was charging towards you, it wouldn’t do you much good if you started practising mindfulness techniques to stay calm…
However, in today’s world, not many of us find ourselves facing wild animals, but there are still things that act as stressors in our lives which cause the same reaction. This could be anything from moving house, pressure from your boss… or getting exam results! The difference is that although these things don’t often place us in a ‘life or death’ situation, they still trigger our bodies into reacting as if it is, which is when we may need to take measures to calm ourselves down.
Small amounts of stress can have positive effects. It can be a big motivator in helping you to complete tasks on time and if there ever was an angry wild animal chasing after you, it would help you run a lot faster! But feeling stress for longer periods of time can take a toll on our bodies, affecting our sleep, health and quality of life. Therefore, knowing how to handle stress and manage your anxiety is an important skill to develop, not just in preparation for results day but also in the world of work.
Occupy your mind to stay calm
Doing activities that occupy your mind can help to keep you in the present moment and stop you from ruminating over your results. Why not try a ‘Boost your Skills’ series of workshop videos and learn essential skills that prepare you for life after school/college. Alternatively, try listening to an interesting podcast to help you stay calm. We have a listening list full of our own favourite podcasts to inspire and motivate you to pursue your dreams!
Alternatively, if you’re struggling to get distracted, we have a number of video workshops in our ‘Healthy You’ series centered around building your mental resilience, managing stress and anxiety and building your mental health checklist that focus on helping you care for your mental wellbeing.
Journalling is a fantastic way to get your worries out and notice patterns in your emotions that can help you manage your mental health. Sometimes, simply seeing our worries and stresses written down on paper can make them seem a lot smaller. If you’re new to journaling, a good time to do it is right before bed. Getting your thoughts out on paper can also help you to compartmentalise them and help you get to sleep too.
If you’re not sure where to start, try listing 3 good things that have happened today, 3 things that you’re worried about and 3 things you’re looking forward to tomorrow. This helps you build feelings of gratitude, purge yourself of anxious thoughts for the evening and feel positive about the future.
Get a good night’s sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep may well be the last thing you expect to have the day before results day. However, getting as much sleep as you can will help you to control your emotions and stay more calm. Lying in bed at night is often when pre-results day jitters resurface as there’s nothing else to distract you from your thoughts. However, there are a few things you can do to help yourself fall asleep faster and calm that racing mind!
- Fill your day. Keeping yourself busy during the day not only helps to distract you from your anxiety but also ensures that you are fully worn out when it gets to bedtime.
- Get at least one hour of direct sunlight during the day. Our circadian rhythm (our internal body clock) is directly influenced by light and studies have shown that getting at least 1 hour outdoors in direct sunlight can play a massive role in keeping our circadian rhythms aligned and help us get to sleep and wake up feeling refreshed.
- You knew this one was coming… avoid your phone before bed! If that’s just not possible, try to avoid social media, emails, or anything else that might remind you of results day and trigger a spiral of anxious thoughts.
For even more tips on getting a good night’s sleep, we have a handy guide to more things you can do to help you get off to sleep better.
Prepare, prepare, prepare!
The main thing causing your anxiety pre-results day is the uncertainty of whether you will get the grades you need. The cancellation of exams this year has taken your grades out of your hands and will be decided based on a number of different factors. This may cause you to feel like you’re lacking control over the situation, however, the reality is that there are plenty of things you can do to combat this and own your journey. Coming up with a contingency plan for whatever outcome means there will be no cause to panic if things don’t go as planned on results day.
We have created results day kit lists to help guide you through preparing for the day and signposting you to relevant advice and guidance, depending on what your future plans are.
Access the A level results day kit list HERE
Adapt your mindset
Try practising mindfulness techniques - mindfulness is a way of separating yourself from your own thoughts so that you are not governed by them. This can help you to work out what makes you feel stressed and anxious. Try out this short activity to get started:
- When you start to feel yourself grow anxious and feel out of control, think of a random word such as ‘ocean’.
- Take each letter of the word and think of something you can see that begins with each letter.
This activity is designed to distract your mind from racing thoughts and ground you, by drawing your attention to your immediate surroundings.
The Headspace app is also a helpful tool to help you develop mindfulness and practice guided meditation.
And finally: keep breathing and stay calm
You’ll be okay! Even if things don’t quite go as planned, there are always things you can do to seize control of your future. Journeys are never straight lines, they are winding roads, with plenty of ups and downs. This results day 2020, our Fledglink app, socials, and website will be filled with training and job opportunities. Our app smart-matches you to opportunities relevant to your skills and interests so make sure you have downloaded the app, turned on your notifications and completed your dashboard in the ‘My CV’ section of the app.
Mental health hotlines to ring:
Childline (counselling service for young people): 0800 11 11
The Mix (free and confidential support): 0808 808 4994
Papyrus (anyone under 35 experiencing thoughts of suicide): 0800 068 4141
Places you can go to for help with your mental health: