Listening Friends is our peer support service. This peer support service offers you the choice of speaking in confidence and anonymously to one of our trained volunteer pharmacists.
Waiting for results from your university exams can be a stressful time for pharmacy students. The suspense can be overwhelming, particularly if you’re not feeling confident about your performance. This feeling of suspense can have a tendency to grow and become uncontrollable, turning into anxiety.
You may find yourself ruminating over your answers or worrying about what a negative result may mean for you. Dealing with the unknown can be particularly stressful, but there are things that you can do to enhance your wellbeing, even during this challenging time. On this page, we will go through some strategies that can help you whilst you’re waiting for your university results.
Acknowledging that it’s in the past
Having some feelings of anxiety around your exam results is completely valid. You care about your academic achievement and what it means for your future in pharmacy. But if you find yourself constantly going over your answers and thinking “I should have said this” or “That wasn’t the right answer”, then it’s probably worth trying to accept that it’s in the untouchable past. Remember that you did what you could with the knowledge, resources and time that you had. Right now, you don’t know what the outcome will be, even if you are catastrophising. However, remind yourself that, no matter the outcome, you have what it takes to get back up and try again.
When we are faced with the unknown, it can be easy to be drawn into catastrophic thinking. This is when your mind begins to focus on what the absolute worst outcome could be, however unlikely it is. There are ways to help yourself with the tendency to catastrophise, and the first step is to notice that this is what you are doing. You may say to yourself, “Oh, I am thinking catastrophically right now.” Sometimes simply labelling what you are doing can help. A next step is to think of other outcomes. If you are worried about failing your exams, it can help to imagine passing them instead, and how that will affect your life. Catastrophic thinking can be very unrealistic, so helping yourself to see a positive outcome, or even a slightly better outcome, can be helpful.
Another way to deal with catastrophic thinking is to remind yourself that you can deal with whatever comes your way. List your strengths and internal resources (like having great research skills), as well as external resources (such as your university’s careers guidance centre) and other people who can help you. When catastrophic thinking takes over, we can sometimes feel overwhelmed and uncertain about our ability to cope. Reminding yourself of times that you have coped in the past, what sources of help and information you can draw upon and who can help you can be very beneficial.
Mindfulness is all about being fully present in the current moment. In this moment, look around your environment. What do you see? What do you hear? Smell? Feel? Allowing yourself to be fully immersed in the moment can give you some relief from worry, as you realise that in this moment you are ok.
Being in the moment means not being worried about what could happen in the future or consumed by what has happened in the past. It can be easy to go over and over in your head how you answered a question in your exam, and it is important that if you find yourself doing so to remind yourself that it is over now. Right now, you are in your room, or on a walk, or doing whatever you are doing. It is human nature to think and to worry, so don’t beat yourself up about it.
If you do find yourself being carried off by thoughts about the future or the past, gently bring yourself back to the present moment. It is a useful practice to make habit because it can help you manage feelings of stress, anxiety and pressure. There are lots of great apps that can help you to begin a mindfulness practice, and some are even free. You can find some more information and guidance about mindfulness on our website.
Getting adequate sleep may be the last thing on your mind whilst waiting for results. However, a good night’s sleep will put you in a good frame of mind to face what lies ahead. You can find more guidance on sleeping well on our website.
Sharing the worry
Talking to someone you trust, like a family member, friend or university tutor, can be a huge help whenever you’re feeling anxious. Often, simply expressing our feelings out loud can help unburden our minds, even if we’re not looking for an ‘answer’ to our worries. You may find that the person you are talking to has advice or ideas which can support you through this period of waiting too.
If your feelings of worry around your exam results are becoming too overwhelming and you would like someone to talk to in confidence, you may find that speaking to one of our trained Listening Friends may help.
If your worries are causing significant problems in your life you may wish to seek counselling or some other form of talking therapy. There are many places you can find talking therapy services, including Pharmacist Support.