In Part 1 of this series on studying during the holidays, we explored five tips for staying on track with your EPPP studies during the stressful and busy holiday season. Today we finish off the list with five more tips for keeping the course so you can enjoy the season and keep your study schedule!
Tip 6: Mornings are Best.
All things being equal, it is best for your holiday studying to take place in the morning so you have the entire day ahead of you to enjoy. If you save your EPPP prep for the evening, you may have to pull yourself away from an enjoyable activity with family and friends or risk leaving it until too late once everyone else has gone to bed and you are too tired to study effectively. This is not a hard and fast rule, but it does represent one very good best practice.
The holidays can be a wonderful time to reconnect with family and friends, as well as a time to focus on the things that matter the most to us. But the holidays can also be a time of stress. One of the things that can add to holiday stress is the type of intense study regime familiar to anyone preparing for their EPPP.
Sometimes I hear people ask questions like:
How can I possibly enjoy this holiday season with the licensure exam hanging over my head?
Should I just skip Christmas this year to focus on my EPPP studies instead?
How can I balance my EPPP preparation with the events of the holiday season, including my commitment to friends and family?
If you find yourself resonating with any of these, I have good news for you. Keeping to an EPPP course of study does not need to ruin the holiday season. In fact, if you follow the 10 techniques laid out in Parts 1 and 2, you’ll find that you can have a productive course of EPPP study and still enjoy a relaxing, fun-filled holiday season!
If you tend to feel down when winter rolls around, it can be hard to focus on studying for the EPPP. While the holidays are typically known as a cheerful time of year, they can unfortunately be characterized for some by a feeling of heaviness and of being weighed down. Decreased daylight and increased time indoors can contribute to anxiety and depression that many associate with the winter season.
According to Counseling Today, about 5% of adults in the United States experience what is called seasonal affective disorder or, fittingly so, SAD. It classifies as “major depressive disorder with a seasonal pattern.” The shorter daylight hours throw off the circadian rhythm leading to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Symptoms are like that of depression such as decreased interest in activities you normally enjoy, difficulty getting out of bed, oversleeping, physical aches and pains, and fatigue. What sets SAD apart from depression is the pattern of symptoms in that they typically appear after daylight savings time.
Here are five tips to beat the winter blues, and stay focused on studying for the EPPP.
“Not even the rigors of grad school and internship prepared me for what I face now studying to pass the EPPP.”
“I keep putting off my EPPP test preparation because it overwhelms me. I know I need to start but I don’t know where to begin.”
“My entire career has been put on hold until I pass the EPPP. The problem is that I’ve already failed once.”
“I tried to start preparing for the EPPP once before, going through hundreds and hundreds of practice questions. It only showed me how unprepared I actually was. I know I need to put together a study plan but I don’t know where to start. I feel overwhelmed with the amount of material I need to learn.”
Do any of the above concerns sound familiar? These types of anxieties represent typical feelings among those who are aspiring to become licensed psychologists.
Through almost two decades of working to prepare students to pass the Examination for the Professional Practice of Psychology (EPPP), I’ve listened to anxieties such as those represented above. In the process of my work, I’ve collected the following tips and coping strategies that have proven effective in helping psychology students overcome these types of fears and steer a course toward EPPP success.
Do you have a goal of passing the EPPP before the year ends? Or do you want to create a study schedule by 2018? Whatever your goal may be, finding time to study can be a challenge, especially when we hit the holiday season. It’s important to get into the habit of studying before the holiday season is in full swing. Here are five practical tips to create space in your life for studying. Continue reading
In the world of EPPP test preparation, there’s a familiar story. It goes something like this.
You finished your graduate work, you completed your internship and now you’re all ready to do what you’ve always dreamed of doing—helping people through your work as a psychologist. There’s only one problem: you haven’t passed your licensure exam. Compared to the rigors of grad school and the stress of internship, this final hurdle seems comparatively easy. So you order a box of books and other preparation materials that promise to train you for everything you need to know to successfully pass the EPPP and get licensed. The box of preparation materials arrives. Not wanting to waste a moment and delay your longed-for career, you jump right in and start studying. As you get into the material, it quickly becomes clear that the task is more daunting than you anticipated. You feel overwhelmed, and with good reason: after all, the EPPP is like the bar exam or a medical exam—one of the hardest tests among all the professional disciplines.
If your mind drifts off at some point during EPPP studying, you’re not alone.
Judson Brewer, Psychiatrist and author of The Craving Mind, says in his Ted Talk, A Simple Way to Break Bad Habits, that “about half of us will drift off into a daydream” while trying to pay attention to something.
Brewer explains how bad habits, such as losing focus, are formed and how we can achieve focus with curiosity. He says,
“The paradox here is that mindfulness is just about being really interested in getting close and personal with what’s actually happening in our bodies and minds from moment to moment. This willingness to turn toward our experience rather than trying to make unpleasant cravings go away as quickly as possible. And this willingness to turn toward our experience is supported by curiosity, which is naturally rewarding.”
See Brewer’s full talk below.
Summer weather and activities can be a distraction and a difficult temptation to resist while studying for the EPPP. How do you study for the EPPP when you would rather be soaking up the summer sun?
A rush of dopamine rewards us when we give into temptation. This is how habits are formed. When you do something that is immediately rewarding you are strengthening those neuropathways, eventually making it easier to give into temptation and more difficult to be disciplined the next time you are tempted.
For example, say you have a set EPPP study time for each afternoon and you are constantly faced with the temptation to participate in outdoor summer activities that force you to choose between studying and being in the sunshine. The decision to skip studying becomes easier with each temptation that is given into, therefore making discipline much more difficult to accomplish over time.
The good news, however, is that discipline becomes much easier to accomplish when those neuropathways are strengthened over time. We know that dopamine is a factor in habituation and that the more you choose to study, the easier that decision will become. Incorporating immediate reward into your EPPP studies could therefore help studying become a habit. Continue reading
We’ve told you that you don’t have to be a genius to pass the EPPP. Though the assertion still stands that it takes hard work and dedicated study to pass the EPPP, as opposed to inherent talent, it’s possible to cultivate a bit of genius.
First of all, what is a genius? Continue reading
Prioritizing EPPP studying over vital health habits such as sleep can be too easy. How many nights have you stayed awake studying and, furthermore, went to bed immediately after an EPPP study session?
You might relate to the following scenario.
Joe is preparing for the EPPP. He works long hours at his internship and is often exhausted by the time he gets home. He is committed to passing the EPPP and studies when he can. Joe sometimes attempts to wake up a few hours early to sneak in a study session before going to his internship. Last night Joe studied in bed late into the night and went to sleep right after putting his study materials on the floor next to him. He snoozed his alarm and woke up just in time to be on schedule for his internship.
In this scenario, Joe’s retention of the EPPP material he studied, as well as his quality of sleep, will be negatively affected. He made three common mistakes. Continue reading