Find Post-Summer Motivation in Three Easy Steps

Summer isn’t over until Labor Day says it’s over. But with the end in sight, the upcoming season of kicking your EPPP studying into gear can make you anxious if you’re not ready for it.

Here are three easy steps to swing out of summer and into productivity.

Step One: Strategize

The best strategy for getting back into the swing of studying is to create a routine. An effective routine saves your brain the energy of constant decision making. For example, if you decide to make your bed at the same time every morning, you are free from the decision-making process of when (or if) to make your bed every day. Erasing the decision-making process will help you consistently get out the door on time.

So, before you do anything else, create a manageable study routine. When you look at your calendar, fit in your fixed commitments first; those things that cannot be moved such as work, appointments, etc. Then, consider when and where you are most productive and fill in study sessions from there. For example, if you are morning person it might be wise to get your study session out of the way first thing in the morning. Furthermore, decide ahead of time where you are the most productive such as the library or a coffee shop.

Step Two: Look Back

Sometimes, getting motivated is as easy as remembering your passion and how far you’ve come. Ask yourself why you want to get licensed. Why did you decide to take the EPPP in the first place? Why are you passionate about this field? Remembering why you have a goal of passing the EPPP will help you get motivated to study.

Once you remember why you’re pursuing licensure, look back at how far you have already come. You have accomplished a lot to get to the point of being eligible to take the EPPP. This exam is the last step between you and licensure, so you have already come so far.

Step Three:  Envision Success

When you pass the exam, what will you do to celebrate? Who will be congratulating you? Envisioning what a passing score will feel like can be enough to get you motivated. So, plan something celebratory for after the EPPP as a reward for accomplishing your goal.

Speaking of goals, set small goals for yourself throughout the study process and give yourself rewards for meeting them. A little reward goes a long way when it comes to motivation. Rewarding yourself with restful things such as a walk in the park or time with friends will keep you from burning out.

Further reading

 

EPPP & Test Anxiety

Impact on Test Performance

Think about how stressed you are before an exam.

Now, think about how stressed you might before an exam like the EPPP (read E-triple-p).

Since I’m sure you’re already a little worked up over a past test that was particularly stressful, or one that is coming up that is putting some extra pressure on you, I want to remind you that you’re ok. You’re going to be fine! That’s right—I’m going to go ahead and make that bold presumption. I know it’s stressful and hard to believe that you’re going to survive but take a little faith that you will.

The future clinician in me wants me to remind you that if at any time you feel that your anxiety about testing, something else, or just generally feels as though it is impairing your life—please see a mental health professional. Although it could be typical anxiety, it could be something that breaks the threshold into clinical disfunction.

To give a little face to the beast, it is important to examine test-taking anxiety and the impact that it can have on our overall test scores, especially the EPPP. Test Anxiety (TA) is extremely common among students, one study noting that 20% of respondents endorsed some form of test-taking anxiety, whether non-clinical or clinical [1]. With such a high number, you might think that there would be a wealth of information on how to handle it. Unfortunately, it’s quite the contrary.

Signs and Symptoms of Test Anxiety

Anxiety can manifest in a few different ways, and it is important to note that it will present differently for each person.  Physically, anxiety, including Test Anxiety, can present as a rapid heart rate, profuse sweating [3], psychomotor agitation (think: bouncing your leg or fiddling with a pencil), or other “nervous habits” such as biting nails [4].

Anxiety tends to present in a rather unfortunate way behaviorally. For example, avoidance behaviors are very common in anxiety issues. These behaviors could include procrastination or avoiding test preparation [3].  Think about it this way: have you ever been so nervous about an exam or an assignment that you just avoided doing it altogether rather than face the stress? Even though we intellectually know that putting off the stressful event won’t truly alleviate the stress, it is so much easier to postpone than to address the issue at hand [2]. We will talk more about how to avoid and address these issues in the “ways to cope” section of this blog.

In addition, anxiety can also present behaviorally similarly to aggression [6]. Again, think about your own life. Have you ever been so stressed out or nervous that you just “snap” at someone? Even if you know that whatever set you off wasn’t that big of a deal—it just seemed like it at the time [6]. Research suggests that the thing that sets you off when you’re under a lot of stress is just the straw that broke the camel’s back, and the poor barista that made the mistake got the brunt of your built-up stress and anxiety [6].

Depression is also another major presentation of anxiety [6]. Rather being able to maintain a constant state of stress, the reaction is to retreat within themselves into a state of depression [6]. It is our natural response—there’s some major danger presented to us (in this case, an exam), and the length of time that our “fight-or-flight” response has been activated simply cannot remain activated any longer. In an over-compensation by our body to preserve itself is to move in the complete opposite direction of the heightened state of arousal experienced during periods of high stress [6].

Overview of the EPPP

If you’ve never heard of the EPPP, you’re lucky. The EPPP is the licensure exam faced by most psychology graduate students. Along with the EPPP, you will also need to take another similar exam before licensure based on in which state you will be practicing. Therefore, you will need to be able to generalize these strategies and this infomration to more than just one major standardized exam standing between you and your license.

To better face the monster, let’s get a deeper understanding of the EPPP itself. This exam is geared for doctoral level psychology students is governed by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) [8]. At the time that this blog is being written the EPPP is a one-part exam that is to be taken over 4 ½ hours [7]. However, this will likely be a two-part exam by the year 2020 [8]. This exam includes 225 questions [7], of which only 175 are scored [9]. When the director of the ASPPB was asked about the test, she described it as “essentially everything you learned in graduate school” [10]. Just a little bit intimidating, right?

If you would like to read more on the EPPP, check out our blog post on the EPPP and licensure requirements for professional psychology.

Test Anxiety on Overall Outcomes

I know it already seems stressful enough, but let’s dive into the actual, research-based negative outcomes associated with test-anxiety. One 1990 article written by Zollar and Ben-chain note that in our age our lives seem to be determined by our overall test performance [11]. I.e., if we do poorly on an exam, it reflects directly on us and on our overall self-definition [11]. Not only do they impact our own self-definition, they can impact the way that others’ view us. In such a competitive society, we need some easy way to compartmentalize and rank people [12]. Fortunately or unfortunately, standardized exams seem to be the best solution at this time. Knowing that our exam performance could impact the way that employers or other graduate programs view us, there is an added level of stress.

One study found a significant relationship between a student’s level of test anxiety on major exams and their overall performance [12]. By using Spielberger’s Test Anxiety Inventory, Rana and Mahmood were able to demonstrate that students that experienced high levels of a cognitive factor of test anxiety (worry) did significantly worse on these exams [12]. They were able to use these findings to conclude that many students’ overall low performance or underachieving on certain exams could be attributed to unchecked high levels of Test Anxiety [12].

Of course, there is a good level of stress, sometimes referred to as eustress [13]. However, the stress that this blog is talking about is much more detrimental. Eustress refers to that positive level of stress that motivates you to get things done and to get them done well. For example, you might be a little worried about doing well in a particular class, so you ensure that you do all of the assignments and study a little extra for the exams. The stress that has been shown to be associated with negative outcomes is taking that level of stress to the extreme, distress [13], and in this case, Test Anxiety [1].

Ways to Cope with Test Anxiety

Thankfully, treatment for TA has been shown to be quite effective [3]. Rather than just be doomed to wander the halls of your higher-education institution, there are some treatments offered by professionals and some interventions that you can do by yourself. First, of course, if you feel like you are suffering from TA, please seek professional help. Many college campuses offer free or low-cost mental health care. Feel free to speak with the professional about what you might be going through. They offer a judgement-free space to air your issues, and they may even have resources for your classes that could help you cope better with the test anxiety.

Additionally, there are simple training techniques that you can take to improve your own Test Anxiety symptoms. For example, time management is a major step that you can take to better your anxiety. This isn’t to say that you don’t already have good time management skills, but sometimes our anxiety takes that away from us. When syllabus week rolls around, look at all the major exams that you will need to prepare for. Set yourself a schedule—actually budget specific time that you will be in the library or other study space plugging away at the material. If it might help you, have a gentle accountability buddy. This is someone who will gently remind you that you have some studying to do, or who could gently guilt you into making sure that your work gets done.

Developing some more pronounced study skills can also help. For example, rereading your notes the same day that they are written or even the next day can greatly improve your retention. Also, simply highlighting the information in your book can be helpful as well. By starting your studying early, it can actually help reduce the anxiety around studying! There is a myriad of different study skills that can help you improve your grade, so I don’t want you to limit your scope of study development just to this list. Please do your own research and see what works for you!

We can see that anxiety surrounding your studies can be detrimental to your overall performance. With some professional interventions or accommodations and some personal anxiety relief tactics, anxiety and TA is something that can be managed!

  1. American Test Anxieties Association. (2018). Retrieved from https://amtaa.org/
  2. Connon, H. A., Rash, J. A., Allen Gerwing, A. M., Bramble, B., Landine, J., & Gerwing, T. G. (2016). Post-Secondary Educators’ Perceptions of Students’ Test Anxiety. Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning7(1), 9.
  3. Test Anxiety & Academic Performance (2018). Retrieved from https://www.mheducation.ca/blog/test-anxiety-academic-performance/
  4. Kerr, W. J., Dalton, J. W., & Gliebe, P. A. (1937). Some physical phenomena associated with anxiety states and their relationship to hyperventilation. Annals of Internal Medicine.
  5. Sarason, I. G. (1984). Stress, anxiety, and cognitive interference: Reactions to tests. Journal of personality and social psychology46(4), 929.
  6. Barrett, P. M., Rapee, R. M., Dadds, M. M., & Ryan, S. M. (1996). Family enhancement of cognitive style in anxious and aggressive children. Journal of abnormal child psychology24(2), 187-203.
  7. Zhou, E. (2018). Are You Dreading the EPPP? Here’s How to Prepare for it. Retrieved from http://blog.time2track.com/are-you-dreading-the-eppp-heres-how-to-prepare-for-it
  8. The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.ASPPB.net/
  9. Reasons why you need to stop studying 3 days before your test. (2018). Retrieved from https://blog.taylorstudymethod.com/category/eppp-study-video/
  10. Cynkar, A. (2007). The Path to EPPP Excellence. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2007/09/eppp.aspx
  11. Zoller, U., & Ben-Chain, D. (1990). Gender differences in examination type, test anxiety, and academic achievement in college science: a case study. Science education, 74(6), 597-608.
  12. Rana, R., & Mahmood, N. (2010). The relationship between test anxiety and academic achievement.
  13. Le Fevre, M., Matheny, J., & Kolt, G. S. (2003). Eustress, distress, and interpretation in occupational stress. Journal of managerial psychology18(7), 726-744.

Myths About the EPPP

Maybe you’ve heard things about the EPPP keep you from taking the next step towards licensure. But, are you correct about what you believe about the EPPP?

The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) collected common myths about the EPPP and countered with the truth in an article called “EPPP Myths versus Reality.” We have addressed some of those myths below and included how the Taylor Study Method can help you prepare to pass the exam.

Myth:

I am less likely to pass the EPPP if I receive a hard version of the exam.

Truth:

It is true that versions of the EPPP vary in difficulty. But the difficulty of the exam you receive is considered in how the exam is scored.  What that means is that each version’s passing score is equated to consistently test your level of knowledge. As the ASPPB puts it: “Practically speaking, this means that the “harder” forms require fewer correct answers to pass and “easy” forms require more.”

Myth:

Most people will fail the EPPP.

Truth:

Your chances of passing the EPPP are extremely high if you study with TSM. In fact, we are so confident that our program will make you successful that we bargain your purchase on it.

Myth:

The exam contains trick questions.

Truth:

Some questions might have more than one answer that seems somewhat correct. The point of this type of question is not to trick you, but to see if you understand why the correct answer is, indeed, correct. In addition, the EPPP questions have gone through review workshops to ensure they meet the specific criteria set by the ASPPB.

Whether you once believed these myths to be true or you are uncertain you would be able to pass the EPPP, we believe you can do it. The dream is yours, and the reality can be yours too.

 

Further Reading

 

 

Digital Distractions: Staying focused in an increasingly distracting world

I know I’m guilty. I see my phone light up or hear a buzz, and in an instant, I’m pulled out of whatever I am doing, no matter how deep into the task I may be. Distractions are all around us and avoiding them is next to impossible. After all, that phone buzz might be something trivial like an Instagram notification, or it could be an email from a professor with vital information about an assignment—I might as well check to be sure. And just like that, I’m lost in all the notifications and Buzzfeed quizzes that come my way. Without even knowing it, an entire hour can be wasted.

I know I’m not alone, as has been confirmed by several surveys [1, 2, 3]. One study found as many as 97% of students found themselves distracted by their phones or other forms of technology [2].

Even though there seem to be several detrimental aspects to technology, it is simply not feasible that we entirely do away with technology. We seem to be faced with a double-edged sword. On one hand, our entire culture is entirely enmeshed with technology, with the academic sector seeming to be some of the deepest involved [4]. Because our educational system is so deeply involved with technology to the point of dependence, doing away with technology is simply not a practical goal.  Since we as students and budding professionals are required to be electronically connected, how can we make sure that we are focused on the task at hand, rather than the latest tweet?

The first tip to ensure that you are staying on task is to keep your goals in mind [5]. A good way to do this is to lay out a “to-do” list and prioritize what needs to be done first [6]. This allows for a second, yet integrally intertwined, tip—focus on only a few most important goals, rather than an entire list [5]. This allows you to keep a visual reminder of your task in front of you, as a sort of prompt to stay on topic. Keeping the list close also allows you to write down things you might be worried you will forget if you don’t attend to them right away. You are then able to stay on task better as you won’t need to run off on the occasional rabbit trail until one task is entirely accomplished [5].

By keeping fewer and the most important goals in mind, you are actually allowing yourself better focus [5]. Studies have shown that human working memory, the part of your mind that holds the tasks at hand, can only hold a maximum of about 3-5 items, give or take two items [7]. Because our minds can only hold such a finite number of meaningful trains of thought or tasks, it is important to be judicious about these slots [7]. As mentioned before, this gives you more working memory to devote to the task at hand, rather than the infinite number of other things vying for our attention [7].

Even with meticulously prioritized to-do lists, the temptation of social media still calls out. No matter how intently you intend on focusing, you are still human—breaks are required. This leads into the next tip: set predetermined breaks for yourself [8]. Our friends in behavioral science have helped to demonstrate that when we have a reward set out for us, we are more likely to keep working hard for that reward [9]. Moreover, you might be less tempted by that Facebook notification if you know that you will get to check on it in the next 50 minutes [8].

Another benefit of the pre-planned study break is the ability to return to your work refreshed and ready to go [10].  However, one article notes that only social media or internet-based breaks may not be enough to allow you to return to your studies energized [8]. Instead, the authors suggest more physically engaging activities, such as taking a walk outside (not just a couple laps around the library), organizing the stuff piling up around you, taking a shower, or even just chatting with a friend about something unrelated [8]. All of these options allow you a short reprieve from the studying that lies ahead and allows you to escape the computer screen for a bit [8].

Even with a study break and the most organized list possible, I will find that my mind wanders onto other things. Controlling “internal distractions” is also necessary to make the most of your study time [5]. These internal distractions can be defined as any internal stimuli (like thoughts, memories, or even conflicts) that act as diversions or aberrations from the task at hand [10]. These internal distractions can be taken care of through a variety of ways. The list to leave any pressing thoughts that pop up, sometimes referred to as a “parking lot”, is one way that you may already be employing [11]. Perhaps in order to manage these internal distractions, you need to have something to drown out your own thoughts—like background noise or music (both Spotify and YouTube have excellent playlists of focusing music) [12].  Offering strategies on how to handle these internal stimuli is even more subjective than these other general focus tips. In order to find what will work the best for you in terms of controlling internal distractions [12], you may need to spend some time consciously getting to know yourself and your study habits first.

Sometimes outside of regulating ourselves, we still need an external supervisor. Thankfully, some application developers have us in mind [11]. There have been several (free!) apps and extensions developed to help people like me (and a good proportion of the population) study more effectively by removing the temptations of social media [11]. These applications and extensions typically work in similar ways; by disabling access to whatever websites that you need “taken away” so that you can work [11]. Macintosh users can try the app “SelfControl” [11], and people using Google Chrome can also install the extensions “StayFocusd” or “I-Am-Studying” [11].

The demands on students seem to be greater now than they have been before, simply because we are living in the age of information. The need to be connected is ubiquitous. However, the same method through which we access so much information can also serve as a massive distraction. Implementing these focusing strategies can help you take more advantage of all of the data at your disposal while better blocking out the digital distractions!

Now, that’s enough time perusing a blog—get back to studying!

Motivation vs. Expectation: How to reward yourself for going beyond the minimum?

Kristie Overstreet Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, LPC, CST

How is your self-discipline with work? Do you put off your therapy notes until minutes before they are due? Are you a procrastinator that uses pressure as motivation? Do you get frustrated with yourself because you are doing the minimal to get by?

Regardless of what inspires you or how you stay focused be sure that you are always reaching beyond the minimum of what is expected. There are many benefits to being motivated to accomplish your goals or tasks. Whether it’s the sense of accomplishment, marking off your to-do list, or the potential that your employer will recognize how hard you have worked.

Rewarding yourself for staying motivated and exceeding expectations is a great way to keep the cycle going. Here are a few tips that will help you along the way.

What does it mean to you?

Taking time to ask yourself how you benefit from exceeding expectations is one way to stay motivated. For example, volunteering to take on a new task at work will allow you the opportunity to show others how dedicated you are to your job. You are willing to take on extra work to help the team. Whether it’s planning the next treatment team meeting or organizing a team building activity you can make a difference.

What reward would matter most to you?

Everyone’s idea of a reward is different. One person may buy themselves something small, and others may reward themselves with something that isn’t physical. For example, if you had a goal and exceeded it, you may want to plan to take a day off from work so you can enjoy yourself. Having this to look forward to can help keep you motivated to continue to exceed your expectations of yourself.

What have you been able to accomplish so far?

The quickest way to boost your confidence and motivation is to look back at what you have been able to accomplish up until now. You need extra inspiration to go further. Making a list of what you are proud of accomplishing is a great start. It doesn’t matter how small or trivial it may seem, give yourself credit for it. Use this list as a refresher when your motivation begins to decrease.

You want to exceed your expectation because it will benefit you. It may feel at times like you are doing it only for your job or another person, but you will be the one to reap the benefits. Find what motivates you, especially on tough days and keep at it. Your hard work will pay off.

Reasons why you need to stop studying 3 days before your test

Kristie Overstreet Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, LPC, CST

Are you the person that is walks into the exam reading the study guide? Do you feel that if you don’t look over your note cards one last time that you will fail the test? Many people cram everything they can into the last moment before entering the exam room. If you think you are going to retain the last bit of information, you are mistaken.

What would happen if you stopped studying three days before your exam? If you are gasping in horror, take a moment to consider the following reasons why you need to move your study material to the side a few days before your exam.

 

You have been preparing for months

You didn’t start studying yesterday. Your preparation began months ago, and you followed a study plan. If you wonder, “Did I study enough?” you are normal. This exam has a lot of weight on your career, but remember that you started prepping well in advance.

You have used a proven study program and answered exam questions. If you continue to review until the last few days, you run the risk of feeling overwhelmed and forgetting what you have learned. Let it go and relax. Part of your plan was to practice self-care three days before the exam. This means that you will allow yourself to watch TV, read a book, visit with friends, or get outside.

Focus on sleeping, eating, and deep breathing

The last three days before your exam need to be spent recuperating and resting. This doesn’t mean you can’t review a few note cards. Your body and mind need to relax so that you can retrieve the information.

Try practicing mindfulness techniques to help you relax and focus on the moment, especially when you begin to feel nervous. Practice deep breathing exercises to help relieve any anxiety that you may be experiencing. Make sure that you eat a balanced meal that isn’t full of carbohydrates. Doing this three days before your test will help you function at your best.

You don’t want to create more anxiety

You are feeling anxious enough. If you study until your exam date, you will more than likely increase your stress. You want your hard work to pay off. Be sure to use the last few days to rest and relax so you can recall all of the information you learned.

A few days before the exam you will experience a spike in stress hormones. This is to be expected. This is further proof of why you need to focus on removing stress.

Your exam date is just around the corner. You have planned, studied, and now it’s time to take a deep breath. Since you used a study plan and kept up with your material, you are as prepared as you can be. Remember to use your mindfulness and breathing techniques throughout the exam. You can do this!

 

 

 

 

3 Ways to Stay Focused When Summer Fun is Calling

3 Ways to Stay Focused When Summer Fun is Calling

Summer is in full swing. Between beating the heat poolside, hosting barbecues, and attending weddings, it can be difficult to focus on EPPP exam prep. Where do you find the time to study and fit in the fun?

The key to studying successfully during summertime is balance. It is important to manage your time in a way that allows you to study effectively and not miss out on the fun.

Here are 3 ways to stay focused on exam prep in the midst of summertime.

  1. Set a Schedule

With study sessions, consistency is better than perfection. It is more important to show up and learn regularly than it is to power through miscellaneous hours of undirected study. So, set a schedule and stick to it!

When creating a study schedule, be realistic about what you can accomplish and when. For example, if your friends always go to the downtown market on Saturday mornings, leave that chunk of time open. This way, you won’t risk bailing on important study time and you will have a needed break with friends.

Having a consistent study schedule will allow you to focus on the material you are learning instead of focusing on arranging your time each day. It will also allow you to fully invest in whatever you are doing. For example, during your planned morning at the Saturday market, you can relax instead of worry about whether you should be studying.

  1. Take breaks

It can be easy to justify skipping breaks for the sake of additional study time. However, breaks are vital to memory and retention. Much like how your stomach needs time to digest, break down, and store food, your brain needs time to process what you’re putting into it. So, when creating your study schedule, incorporate consistent breaks.

Depending on how long you spent studying, breaks should be about 10 – 30 minutes long (the longer the stretch of studying, the longer the break). They should be low-tech and, ideally in the summertime, spent outside. Incorporate exercise to get oxygen flowing through your brain. And be sure to take breaks when you have them planned even if you don’t feel like it in the moment so that you maintain endurance throughout your study session.

  1. Have fun

Summer activities do not have to come at the cost of studying and vice versa. When you create your study schedule, think of those barbecues, weddings, and weekend getaways that you absolutely don’t want to miss and plan your study dates around them. Choose the events that are the most important to you and adjust your study sessions accordingly. And then, when you’re at the event, don’t think about studying and allow yourself to enjoy summer.

Of course, EPPP exam prep will come with some sacrifices. There will be a few summer activities that you might have to miss out on. Just remember that exam prep is only a season and will not last forever. When you pass, it will all be worth it!

Further Reading

Seasonal Study Habits: How weather affects our productivity

5 Tips to Survive Wedding Season With EPPP Test Prep 

How to Overcome Temptation and Achieve Discipline for EPPP Success 

The Do’s and Don’ts of the EPPP Study Break 

The power of self-talk in exam prep

Kristie Overstreet Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, LPC, CST

You already know how powerful self-talk is because you encourage your clients to utilize this technique. If you haven’t used self-talk as a technique to help you prepare for your exam, then you are missing out on a great tool. Your ability to use affirmations to increase your confidence in your test-taking ability can be just as powerful as the knowledge you have for the exam. Here are a few tips on harnessing the power of self-talk.

Choose 1-2 affirmations that you can easily remember

Whether it’s your favorite quote or a motivational sentence choose a few that are easy to remember. Make this affirmation a part of your daily life by saying it out load several times a day.

Write down the affirmation as a visual reminder

Your brain is full of important exam material so utilize the power of written word by writing down your favorite affirmation. Place it on your computer screen, mirror, or on the dashboard of your car. Let this affirmation ground you and be a constant reminder that you will make it through your exam.

Schedule alerts in your phone

You have every other part of your life scheduled so why not include a daily reminder of your affirmation. This will help you develop the habit of remembering to practice positive self-talk.

Record your affirmations as an audio reminder

Everyone learns differently either through visual, auditory or hands-on experience. Try using the voice memo on your phone to record your favorite affirmations. This will help when you start to feel anxious, all you have to do is play the recording, and you have an instant reminder. Listening to this recording on your way to the exam will also keep it fresh in your memory.

Studying the relevant material is only half the battle of acing your exam. Don’t let your negative self-talk or lack of confidence keep you from doing your best. If self-talk is powerful for your clients, then it can be just as amazing for you. Remember to keep your head up, identify your affirmations, and start practicing them daily.

Why Everyone Studying for the EPPP Should Practice Anxiety Relief Strategies

Why Everyone Studying for the EPPP Should Practice Anxiety Relief Strategies

While studying for the EPPP, staying healthy is vital to your success on the exam let alone your overall wellbeing. Chronic stress and anxiety can negatively affect your health by “causing symptoms from headaches, high blood pressure, and chest pain to heart palpitations, skin rashes, and loss of sleep” per the Association of Depression and Anxiety of America (ADAA).

Because caffeine is on the rise, sleep quality decreases, and stress increases during EPPP prep, those preparing for the EPPP are more susceptible to anxiety even if they do not already consider themselves anxious.

In short, anxiety is a mental health state which generally causes fear, worry, or tension. It has several triggers, per healthline.com, which are likely familiar to you if you’re studying for the EPPP.

 Anxiety triggers

  • Stress

Stress, per the ADAA, “is a response to a threat in a situation. Anxiety is a reaction to the stress.” This is one anxiety trigger you’re likely experiencing in your EPPP preparation, especially if your test date is approaching.

  • Caffeine

When preparing for an important exam, such as the EPPP, it’s common to drink an extra cup of coffee or two for those early morning and late night study sessions. While caffeine is okay in moderation, it can lead to anxiety.

  • Skipping Meals

When you’re caught up in studying, it can be easy to pack study snacks and forget the meals that keep you energized and healthy. Skipping meals can make you more susceptible to anxiety.

So, how do you know if you’re experiencing anxiety?

Symptoms

 Keep an eye out for these symptoms per healthline.org:

  • Nervousness or tension
  • Feelings of dread or panic
  • Rapid breathing and heart rate
  • Increased sweating
  • Twitching muscles
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty concentration on something other than what you’re worried about
  • Sleeplessness

If you experience any of the above symptoms, there is a way to manage the anxiety you might be experiencing.

How to manage

 Per the ADAA  you can manage anxiety in the following ways:

  • Take a break. Step away from your EPPP studies and allow your brain to rest by practicing relaxation techniques, mediating, taking a bath, or exercising.
  • Stay healthy. The trifecta to maintain good health is eating well-balanced meals, exercising, and sleeping adequately each night.
  • Limit your alcohol and caffeine intake.
  • When you feel panic, take deep breaths. It can even help to count slowly to ten and repeat as needed.
  • Laughter is indeed a great medicine. It releases endorphins and can ease pain.
  • Stay positive. Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones can literally detoxify your brain. 
  • Ask for help. Tell your close friends and family how you’re feeling and let them know how they can help you. If your anxiety is persistent, seek professional help.

Ultimately, preparing for the EPPP can be an anxiety trigger for some. Therefore, it’s important to know how you might be triggered, what the symptoms are, and how to manage.

Further Reading

Caffeine, Alcohol and Insomnia on the Rise During EPPP Exam Prep 

Brain Food: Holiday Treats to Boost Your EPPP Success

The Do’s and Don’ts of the EPPP Study Break

Use Gratitude to Detoxify Your Brain

EPPP Anxiety Part 1: Anxiety and Your Brain

 

 

 

Boost Memory Brain Fitness

Boost Your Ability to Memorize EPPP Material

You’ve probably heard the phrase “the mind is the first to go.” It’s not a false statement, but it isn’t completely true either. Over time, memory and retention can decrease if we do not maintain brain fitness just like our muscle tone will decrease if we do not continue exercising. So, it is true that your ability to memorize can dwindle with age. But it is also true that there is something you can do about it. Brain fitness will help you memorize EPPP material and keep you sharp as you age.

Brain fitness is multifaceted. It consists of maintaining a healthy lifestyle through exercise and healthy eating habits as well as actively exercising your brain. Boost your ability to memorize EPPP material and keep your brain sharp through the years in five practical ways.

  1. Brain work-outs

Check out “10 Real-World Brain Exercises That Actually Work.”  They include testing your retention, learning something new, and stimulating multiple senses at once. These exercises can sharpen your memory and ultimately help you study effectively for the EPPP.

  1. Health

Maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising, sleeping adequately each night, and eating healthy. Exercise increases oxygen flow to the brain and stimulates neuronal connections, therefore increasing your rate of retention. Sleeping enough  each night gives your brain the chance to store new information and be alert the next day. While certain foods are especially good for your brain, maintaining a healthy and balanced diet keeps your body and brain working optimally.

  1. Socialization

We, as human beings, have a need for connection with other people. Per Helpguide.org

“Relationships stimulate our brains—in fact, interacting with others may be the best kind of brain exercise.” So, go hang out with friends or volunteer for an organization that means something to you. Whatever you do, avoid isolation especially in the EPPP study process.

  1. Stress management

Stress is the enemy of brain fitness. Knowing how your body reacts to stress, and what triggers stress for you, will help you manage it. Learn the stress relief strategies that work best for you and practice them often during EPPP prep.

  1. Addressing health concerns

Don’t ignore your body when it is telling you that something is off. Are you overtired even after a long night’s sleep? Are you experiencing a constant pain? Whatever it may be, don’t let it go unsolved. Not only will solving the problem relieve you of the stress it causes, but a healthy body supports a healthy brain.

References:

How to Improve Your Memory: Tips and Exercises to Sharpen Your Mind and Boost Brainpower. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/how-to-improve-your-memory.htm

Melone, L. (2015, April 16). 10 Brain Exercises That Boost Memory. Retrieved from https://www.everydayhealth.com/longevity/mental-fitness/brain-exercises-for-memory.aspx

Further Reading