Seven ways to stop freaking out about results day

How to keep your cool ahead of the big day

With exams a distant memory, you've probably been enjoying a break from constant studying. But if results day is nagging away at the back of your mind, and the nerves are building - well you're not alone.

Even the most confident students can find it nerve-wracking to wait for results, according to Dr Andrew Clements, psychology lecturer at Bedfordshire University.

"It's normal to feel nervous about results day," he says. "The anxiety you feel is a reflection that you've worked hard at your exams and you're taking the results seriously."

However, if anxiety becomes overwhelming, it can affect many areas of our lives. Signs that anxiety is becoming a problem include:

  • constant worrying
  • feeling fearful about the future
  • irritability and/or tearfulness
  • insomnia

There are plenty of ways to cope with anxiety as you wait for results day. Here are seven effective ways to help you stop freaking out.

1. Practise mindfulness

Mindfulness is a powerful tool to manage stress and anxiety. It involves bringing your attention to the present moment, focusing on your breath and acknowledging your thoughts and feelings without judging them. 

There are lots of resources out there to teach you mindfulness skills. Apps such as Headspace and StopBreatheThink offer simple (and free!) exercises to calm and focus the mind. Other activities that can help include colouring, sudoku or crosswords.

Try this simple mindfulness exercise: whenever you notice yourself caught up in worries about your results, just acknowledge that it's happening and say to yourself, 'come back'. Then take a calming breath and focus on what you are doing right now.

2. Have a plan B

We get it - you've fallen in love with your firm university choice. You've mapped out the next three years. You know the course you'll do, where you'll live and the clubs you'll join.

But have you planned what you'll do if you don't get the marks you need?

If you pin all your hopes and dreams on only one outcome, you're more likely to be freaking out come results day. Having a plan B (and C and D, if necessary) can reassure you that, should things not turn out exactly as you'd hoped, you'll still be OK.

Don't forget about Clearing. Just because you don't get into your first choice of university doesn't mean all is lost.

3. Let it all out

If you're feeling anxious, it doesn't help to keep your feelings bottled up. Talking to someone you trust and feel comfortable with can really help. Your mum or dad could be the best option, but sometimes anxiety comes from a fear of letting our parents down. If that's the case, try talking to a friend's parent, an older sibling or a teacher.

If you feel there's nobody you can turn to, you might consider making an appointment with a counsellor through Relate or accessing web-based counselling through organisation like themix.org.uk.

4. Allow yourself time to worry

Dr Clements says giving yourself time to feel worried is an important strategy in dealing with anxiety. "Trying to repress feelings will only exhaust you in the long run," he says. Instead, accept that your feelings are normal and allow yourself some time to let them rise to the surface.

You might set yourself a time limit, say 20 minutes each day, of 'worry time'. But once that time is up, move on to another activity.

5. Step out into nature

Step away from the Xbox, put down Insta, and get outside! Going for a walk in a park or forest, heading to the beach or taking a bike ride through the countryside can do wonders for anxiety and stress.

Scientifically proven to increase serotonin (the 'feel good hormone') and decrease cortisol (the 'stress hormone'), being amongst nature will boost your mood and calm your nerves while you wait for your results.

6. Get together with friends

Your friends are probably feeling just as anxious as you are about results day (even if some of them don't admit it). So why not get together and support each other while doing something fun? A day trip to the beach, seeing a movie or even a weekend camping might be just what you need to take your mind off getting your results.

7. Focus on the things you can control

Dr Clements says, "It's normal to worry about exam results, but the truth is your exams are finished. Thinking excessively about your results won't change them. It will just make you feel wrung-out. The only thing you can control is how you feel now."

So give yourself a break. Try our tips to stop freaking out and know that no matter what happens on results day, you will have the tools you need to help you cope.

About our sponsor

University of Bedfordshire University of Bedfordshire

Whatever your career aspirations, the University of Bedfordshire can help you through internships, professional networks, field trips, industry speakers, master classes or enriching your global outlook with their Go Global programme.

You’ll have the opportunity to develop and graduate as a professional.

The University of Bedfordshire is now accepting Clearing applications. Call them now on 0300 3300 073.

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