Congratulations, you did it. You conquered the beast. After an intense few weeks of what probably felt like non-stop exams with intense preparation, you can breathe a sigh of relief. The IB is now behind you. It is now time to destress after the exams.
Some of you might have noticed something strange, though. Even though your body can now relax, and you should be over the moon, something feels off.
You might just be experiencing post-exam blues! You may not have been able to calm down after the exams yet, and, therefore, your body still feels tired. It might also be weird to not study for hours on end – what should you do with all this free time? Don’t worry, it is entirely normal.
Exam Stress and How it Works
Before we start dismantling it, let’s first look at how stress works – and why we even feel it.
Sciencing outlines how stress is a natural response. Essentially cortisol, the hormone responsible for most of your stress-related agony, and its lesser-known cousin vasopressin are the culprits. They spike your blood pressure and sugar in tandem and make you hyper-alert and hyper-tense.
Now exams are over. Your body no longer feels threatened, and it halts the hormone over-production. You will feel worn out and tired after having been tense for so long, and it may feel like the stress has just been a bad thing.
Stress is a word loaded with negative connotations. However, as described in this article by Psychology Today, there are some positives to stress. Recognising that it might have been helpful to some extent can really help handle it in the future. Try to see your exhaustion now as somewhat analogous to the soreness you feel after working out!
You can now try filling that cortisol void with happier chemical messengers!
Relaxing the “Correct” Way
Finding a way to destress productively after exams can be challenging. Netflix and TikTok are tempting to fall into and are acceptable in limited amounts. However, once you find yourself familiar with all of Netflix’s catalogues and start voicing alone to friends on your fifth rewatch, it might be time to find something else to do.
Going out with your friends might be the best thing you can do for yourself after exams. Fortunately, most schools already have strong traditions for this. Do yourself a favour and soak it all in. Celebrate with the people that have been there along the ride with you. They know better than anyone how good it feels to finish the IB. Plan trips with them, maybe even some longer ones if you are up for that – like H.C. Andersen said: “To travel is to live”.
Clear your laptop and room of notes. It is one of the most satisfying things you can do. Seeing that desktop rid of shortcuts to websites you used as sources for your EE and your desk clear of bio flashcards does wonders.
Pick up a social sport or hobby. It can be hard to meet with people regularly now that school is over. Maybe it is time to find something else, like rock climbing, board games, or just convincing some friends to go to the gym!
Don’t stress about exams that went poorly. In the end, you have done your best and can be more than satisfied with that.
Most importantly, be proud. We certainly are proud of every IB graduate! You have all done extremely well in times that have been uncertain and difficult to navigate. Now, you can celebrate it being over. Well done!
If you’re reading this as a first-year student yearning for a smooth exam session next year, we recommend that you scroll through our other blog posts here or get in touch with our expert tutors, who can guide you through it here.