I sympathise with parents and their children who are anxious about imminent exam results. Not getting the results you hoped for can seem devastating for teenagers, and parents naturally want to protect their children from disappointment.

But the old adage “every cloud has a silver lining” holds truth, and it seems that our brains are programmed to find it. We have a “psychological immune system” which helps us overcome a bad event – it helps us make sense of it, assign meaning to it, and find some positives for the future.

Of course, when something bad happens, this doesn’t kick in immediately and teenagers may feel very strong negative emotions, including shame and guilt. It’s ok to be upset and we need to acknowledge those feelings.

Then your psychological immune system will start to work to help you get the disappointment into perspective. Negative events never seem so bad after you have had a bit of time to process them. and your brain starts to think about “what’s next?”

You can help this process of sense-making and finding positives for the future by looking after your body, mind and spirit – your physical, mental, and emotional energy, which are your resources for dealing with stressful events.

Physical energy

Get some fresh air and exercise – do something active.
Eat regular healthy meals, drink water.
Get into a regular sleep pattern.

Mental energy

Take an action to deal with the problem rather than dwelling on your disappointment.
Write down three small positive things that have happened at the end of the day.
Reframe the disappointment as an opportunity to do something different.

Emotional energy

Do something that cheers you up – listen to music, go for a walk, play a game.
Talk to someone about it, confide in friends.
Spend time with other people.

You can find more tips to build your psychological immune system in this article. Take a look at the energy management plan on this page to find out other ways to build your resilience.

And whether your results were what you wanted or not, take a day or two out to do something completely different – that will help you recharge your energy too!