Had a Bad Exam? | 10 Ways to De-stress and Move On

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With life, there are undoubtably going to be events that just don’t go to plan. With something as big as exam season, it’s inevitable that students will face hardships and situations that quickly spiral out of control. It may be something as mundane as oversleeping, or as nerve wracking as revising the wrong thing. There is one thing that’s for certain – there will be students who have a bad exam day. So, how can you get rid of the stress from an exam that’s gone wrong?

The first (and most important) step is to detach yourself from the exam – it’s over, and you can’t go back in time. Post-exam stress can break even the most prepared student, so it’s important to take your mind off what you wrote. This can be through a hobby, or just talking to family or friends.

While this may have given you a brief overview of what you can do after a bad exam, read on to find out more ways to destress.

1. Take a break from social media

Are you planning on nervously checking your phone to find out what everyone else put? While this may help others unwind, it can also bring about greater levels of stress – which is ultimately very unhelpful.

You may want to message your friends and question them on what they put, but this can make both you and others feel self-conscious (and is also counterproductive since you can’t change your answers anymore).

Instead, why not unplug from social media and your feed? By constantly checking your phone, it’s just an unrelenting reminder of the exam. Switch it off, take a break, and take your mind off what you wrote! Or, if you are going on social media as a distraction, don’t be tempted to search up the exam and keep your peace.

The most important thing is to preserve the balance between rest and stress – it’s ultimately up to you whether or not you want to put your phone down! Just keep in mind that scrolling through a feed for hours may not necessarily make you feel better.

In fact, staying on social media for prolonged amounts of time can increase stress, anxiety and poor sleep! In exam season, this can be particularly harmful to both a student’s well-being and grades.

To read more about the benefits of taking a break from social media, check out this article from Medical News Today!

2. Make your favourite meal

Stress can be expedited by low energy and overall exhaustion. What better way to raise your energy levels a bit by eating your favourite meal, or just some comfort food? On an empty stomach, it can be a lot easier to become stressed and irritated – and this can prolong feeling worse after an exam went poorly.

A good, filling meal can be a great way to make yourself feel better and destress from an exam! If you enjoy cooking as a hobby, this can also be a good way to take your mind off the exam and do something you can enjoy. Plus, your body will thank you for the meal and the nutrients.

Even if you don’t like cooking, maybe now is the time to spend a bit of snack money! After such a stressful day, a sweet treat or a snack can definitely brighten your mood a bit.

To read more about the links between food and happiness, check out this article from the BBC and to check out their recipes for comfort food, click here for a list of recipes.

3. Watch your favourite movie

Some people do great at winding down with an audible and visual distraction! For a lot of people, watching their favourite movie is a great way to destress. Even if you don’t like movies specifically, a new show or podcast, or even an audiobook could be a great way to take your mind off a bad exam.

Movies are a great way to immerse yourself in somebody else’s life. From chef to adventurer, and rat to lion – a good film can help you switch off your brain for a bit and forget about your stress!

Want to elevate your experience? Make your favourite snacks, light a candle or two, change into your favourite pyjamas, and dim the lights. Wrap yourself in a blanket, and you’ve got a perfect cozy ambiance to unwind and destress!

If you would like to see some suggestions on what to watch, check out these 52 comfort movies in this article from The Guardian.

4. Take a walk

A great way to remove yourself from the stuffy indoors is by going on a walk. It can help you stamp out the stress, and you can easily get a breath of fresh air and some vitamin D as a bonus!

If you like listening to music or podcasts on walks, you can do just that. Since walking is a form of exercise, you’re also coaxing your brain into releasing endorphins! This can help improve your mood, as well as help you sleep better.

Take advantage of any parks that are nearby to soak up nature. Even just walking around town can help alleviate stress and get rid of that exam-hall feeling!

To read more about how walking can benefit your mood, check out this article from Very Well Fit!

5. Exercise

What better way to raise your endorphins and get some better sleep than some exercise? If you have a pool nearby, why not go for a swim to cool off? If you’re still frustrated over your answers, why not try a workout to alleviate the tension?

You don’t have to have a gym membership to release some endorphins and pent-up stress. There are plenty of beginner to expert workouts available online to follow along with. Personally, calisthenics is a great way to completely focus on something else and feel the burn.

For a lot of people, their sports are a way to escape the routine of life – take advantage of any clubs you’re a part of and cool off with a game or two!

6. List your dreams in life that don’t involve exams

A good way to change your mindset after a particularly bad exam is reminding yourself that there are certain aspects in life that don’t involve grades. Make a list recognising the things you want in life that you don’t need that grade for!

It may be tough to focus on something else, but try to think of the events you can look forward to in the future (even if it is just the end of exams). By verbalising these ideas, you take some of the pressure off from the rest of exams and force your brain to acknowledge that these exams cannot determine your whole future.

This is a healthy way of distracting your conscious brain while still changing up your subconscious brain as well. Make plans for yourself and set yourself something to look forward to, even if it’s just a trip to the museum or to the cinema with a friend.

7. Spend time with family and friends

With exam season pressuring students to study and focus solely on papers, students can often isolate themselves from people who care about them. If you performed poorly in an exam, don’t bottle up that burden – share your worries with those you’re close with.

Not only does it alleviate some stress, but spending time with people can help students feel less alone during this trying time!

8. Go to sleep

Your brain and body have been working non-stop to recall all that you’ve learnt for exams. No doubt, you’re pretty exhausted. By repaying your sleep debt, your body and mind both have time to rest to make sure that you feel a lot better afterwards.

Additionally, your mind has time to process the stress and make the feeling less intense, since stress can also be expedited by exhaustion. Sleep also is a pause in your hectic schedule, and allows your mind to prepare for any other exams you might have.

9. Do some self-care

This can be as simple as simply washing your face, or as indulgent as a full spa day. Regardless of how you do self-care, it is a great way to destress and feel more relaxed.

Through treating yourself with compassion instead of anger, and showing yourself that, it can help you destress significantly. To read more about the connection between self-care and mental health, check out this article from Psychology Today.

10. Try a change in your routine

Another great way to move on from a bad exam is to switch something up in your routine. The same, monotone day can put a serious damper on your mind, so try out something new to brighten it up!

Something as simple as rearranging your room, or catching up on a show you’ve missed is a great way to recharge and feel rejuvenated. For more tips on improving your mood, check out this article from BBC Bitesize.

If it wasn’t you but instead a friend or a family member who had a bad exam and you’re not sure what to say to them, check out this article from Think Student to get some tips.

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