How do you spend your time when you’re not studying or working? What you do during your time off may be just as important as what you do while you’re studying. Be careful how you treat your brain!
Just as an Olympic athlete will take care of his body even during off season when he is not training or competing, those preparing for the EPPP (or any major exam) should take care of their minds even during those times of the day when you’re not actually studying.
Neuroscientists have done experiments on habitual actions and have noticed that they can literally alter the physiological structure of the brain. Something as simple as responding immediately to a text message, mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or Twitter, or checking your email with every notification can be enough to train your brain to find attentiveness difficult, to find quiet contemplation awkward, and to find sustained concentration and patience to be a chore.
In other words, our neoplastic brains adapt to the situations we put them in, and this adaptation is not always for the better. When you pass your EPPP and become a licensed psychologist, you will need qualities like attentiveness, concentration, patience, and contemplation. What you do now – minute to minute – is creating the neuropathways in your brain that make these qualities easier or more difficult.
Of course, no one can live completely free of distractions. And it’s important you have time to relax doing something enjoyable. There’s nothing wrong with spending time on social media or texting someone back quickly. The key, however, is to confine such activity to your off hours and to give your full attention and focus to your studies when you sit down to study. Best of all, if you create the habit of applying full focus during study time, you’ll find it easier to apply that focus in other study sessions and for the marathon that is exam day.