As we can feel the ‘Exam results‘ time during these days, Students are waiting for their results. Months of hard work and sustained focus coupled with the pressure of having to make crucial decisions about the immediate and long-term future can leave students feeling overwhelmed.
Waiting for exam results is a nerve racking experience – especially when you are expecting important results from exams such as the Board Exam Results [10th,12th]. The exams are over and worrying about them will not help you. You might feel nervous and stressed leading up to results day, however this is a normal experience and a little bit of stress can actually help you get motivated for dealing with problems and pressure. It’s suffering from too much stress that causes problems that can harm your motivation.
As we know from elders that selecting the right career path, the right university, the right course, deciding whether to have a gap year and how to finance it, devising a realistic Plan B and worrying about what one’s friends will be doing can all play a part in the build-up of stress.
Stress is a natural and essential survival response that can enhance performance at optimal levels. However, if the perceived or actual demands exceed available resource, the stress can have a negative impact on health and well-being. Although the effects of long-term stress on the mind and body vary for each individual, common features include muscle tension, palpitations, pain, fatigue, low mood, attentional difficulties, and poor concentration and decision-making.
It is always difficult to cope with negative emotions and perceptions, but it is even harder to cope with them at such a pivotal point when efficient cognitive processing, psychological resilience and flexibility will be required to make effective decisions quickly. Psychologists acknowledge how important it is both to process emotions and to be aware of how emotions can distort our perceptions, thereby validating the feelings that are naturally associated with disappointment and the sense of social judgement.
1) Keep yourself busy. Taking action or doing something will help you overcome anxiety.
2) Your feeling of stress also has a center, focus your attention on that point. If you feel the tension in your neck, focus your attention on your neck completely. Doing this for a couple of minutes will help reduce the anxiety, if not completely eliminate it.
3) Talk to someone about your anxiety, for example about your not doing well in the exams. You will always get a unique perspective and also the burden would be reduced significantly.
4) Walking, yoga or some other kind of light exercise helps reduce stress.
5) Be grateful of what you already have. Write down five best things that you are glad happened to you. Examination results are not the end of the road.
One of the most effective stress management techniques that my research focuses on is the understanding of the biological and psychological mechanisms that contribute to stress, including the impact of negative thoughts on our bodily sensations, feelings and the way we respond. Common cycles may originate from thoughts of not being good enough, which in turn can lead to tightening in the chest or stomach, a sense of fear and a strong desire to avoid similar situations. Noticing these automatic negative thoughts and the effects that they can have on emotions and bodily sensations is key to interrupting these cycles and managing the stress. Taking deep breaths to calm the sensations in the body and acknowledging that these are natural stress responses that will soon pass can be a powerful way of coping with the physical discomfort.
Research has shown that regular mindfulness practice can reduce stress and increase cortical connections in the brain regions that are involved in emotion regulation, self-awareness and psychological flexibility. Our ability to engage in “mental time travel” – looking at the past, present and future – largely underlies our natural tendency to worry about future events and ruminate about the past. Adopting a mindful approach to the mental time travel between the past and the future can help with staying focused on the present moment and accepting that thoughts are mental events that can change over time rather than long-standing, unchangeable facts.
Understandably, there will need to be a time for students to pause and reflect on what may have gone wrong with their results and to consider what can be put in place for the future. Perhaps anxiety was a key factor that influenced exam performance, perhaps revision strategies were poorly constructed, perhaps time or effort was an issue, or perhaps unexpected life events were contributory factors? Personal reflection and discussions with a compassionate and objective listener can be incredibly helpful, as talking about your feelings and realizing that you are not alone are key steps in building confidence and developing coping strategies for life’s unexpected setbacks. Honest appraisals of past events and examining what is important in terms of personal goals and personal values can also provide us with an exciting opportunity to re-evaluate and re frame our situation and to create a new life course and a new narrative based on personal strengths, resilience and passion.
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