Is Studying for the EPPP Affecting Your Mental Health?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Studying for the EPPP can be a stressful and overwhelming undertaking. Stress can be a normal part of the EPPP preparation process, therefore we must learn to manage it. But, what happens when it becomes more than stress and studying begins to affect your mental health?

In order to address the effect of studying on your mental health, you must first know the warning signs. Here are three signs that your mental health is being affected by studying.

  1. Panic Attack

A panic attack is characterized by any number of the following symptoms: shortness of breath, racing heart, dizziness, the sense that you’ve lost control, feeling faint, or a sense of terror.

If you do experience a panic attack, don’t try to fight it off. Instead, breathe deeply, engage yourself in your surroundings and allow the panic to subside.

  1. Forgetfulness

A surprising symptom of anxiety is forgetfulness. Because anxiety is overwhelming and consuming, it can cause you to forget things such as what you highlighted in last night’s study session. Furthermore, a hormone called cortisol is released when we experience stress. Cortisol is known for preventing the formation of memories.

  1. Depression

Symptoms of depression include feelings of sadness, disinterest in activities you once enjoyed, lack of energy, and anxiety. Experiencing depression during EPPP preparation can affect your motivation to study as well as your ability to maintain a healthy balance between studying and time with family and friends.

If you experience any, or a combination, of the above, then the stress of taking the EPPP is affecting your mental health. This means it is time to take a step back and get help. Talk to a trusted friend and seek professional help. A counselor can advise you on how to move forward through depression and anxiety.

If you don’t identify with the above symptoms, maintaining good mental health is key. Here are 3 ways to stay mentally healthy during EPPP prep.

  1. Know the warning signs of stress and burnout

Everyone reacts to stress differently, but here are a few possible warning signs of stress per The American Psychological Association (APA): Headaches, muscle tension, neck or back pain; Upset stomach; Dry mouth; Chest pains and rapid heartbeat; Difficulty falling or staying asleep; Fatigue.

Furthermore, if you feel like you have nothing left to give, you may be experiencing burnout.

Look at stress relief strategies here.

  1. Schedule breaks

When you create your study schedule, be sure to include breaks. During periods of rest, our brains store and organize the material we have learned. So, not only are breaks giving you rest to combat anxiety, but they are helping your memory and retention.

Your breaks should include small 5-10 minute breaks as well as longer 30 minute ones. Be sure to incorporate a good night’s sleep as well.

  1. Gratitude

Thinking thankful thoughts can literally detox your brain.  Thinking negatively creates toxins in your brain that can be combatted by shifting your thinking to positivity. By cultivating a positive, gratuitous attitude, you can starve your inclination to think negatively.

Not only will gratitude detox your brain and make you happier in general, but it will reduce stress and anxiety, ultimately making you mentally healthier.

References

Dunn, Carrie. “Mind over Matter: The Effects of Studying on Mental Health.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 6 Dec. 2008, www.theguardian.com/education/

2008/dec/06/mental-health-university-students.

“How Anxiety Can Cause Forgetfulness.” 7 Strategies for Dealing With Work Anxiety, www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/symptoms/forgetfulness.

“Listening to the Warning Signs of Stress .” Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association, www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-signs.aspx.

Further Reading:

3 Ways to Rediscover the Joy on Your Path to Licensure

Many EPPP candidates admit that joy is hard to find during the study process. They experience a mental fatigue that can affect their attitude towards their career path as well as success on exam day. Although studying is likely the dominant factor in their mental fatigue, other circumstances can be blamed such as family trouble or stress at work.

Plenty of research on happiness has pointed to the fact that joy is created from the inside out as opposed to resulting from life circumstances. Therefore, to overcome mental fatigue and find joy, you must get outside of your own head.

Here are three ways to get out of your head and rediscover joy.

 

1. Be Healthy

Exercise is often the first item on the list that we sacrifice for additional study hours. Skipping out on the gym, however, can impact our experience of joy. Exercise releases endorphins, increases energy levels and oxygen flow to the brain, and ultimately increases memory and retention abilities. Consider exercise as part of your study routine.

Eating right is the second half of the healthy equation. Certain foods can increase your energy levels and help you focus. Eating leafy greens, for example, can make your brain function like it did when it was younger – sharper and more energized.2. Be Mindful

In short, mindfulness is purposefully paying attention to the moment. Because of our prefrontal cortex, we can observe our thinking and censor our own thoughts instead of falling victim to negative and passive thinking. Practice mindfulness by exercising moment-by-moment awareness of what is going on in your brain and body. Notice when you feel overwhelmed by EPPP study. On the flip side, notice when you are relaxed and experiencing happiness.

Mindfulness will come more easily with practice. Eventually, you may be able to tune into your emotions more quickly by recognizing how they alert your body. For example, perhaps you notice constant headaches and fatigue despite getting sufficient sleep. These are indicators that you are stressed. Through practicing mindfulness, you may be able to understand your body’s emotion indicators before you become overly stressed and eventually burnt out.

3. Be Grateful

Practicing gratitude can literally detoxify your brain. On average, we experience thousands of thoughts daily. Most of them flow into our mind quickly without us choosing to think them. Even if only a small percentage of our thoughts are negative, they can still number in the hundreds and affect our joy.

To cast out the negative thoughts, start by noticing them. Then, when you notice a negative thought, think about something or someone you are truly grateful for. Picture your beloved pet, your spouse, your child, or your career aspirations and achievements. Bringing yourself to a genuine feeling of gratitude will make the negativity vanish.

 

Further Reading

Exercise and Passing the EPPP: Why you Should Include Exercise in your EPPP Study Schedule

Brain Food: Holiday Treats to Boost Your EPPP Success

How Peace of Mind is a Skill That Can Be Developed With Practice 

The Three B’s of Mindfulness: Breath, Body and Brain

Use Gratitude to Detoxify Your Brain

What to Do When the Internship Is Over   

So, you’ve completed, or are about to complete, your internship. What’s next?

Unlike graduate school, or the internship itself, there is no guided process of how to proceed after the internship. Lucky for you, we have provided 10 steps to take after your internship with advice from the American Psychological Association (APA).

  1. Know the requirements.

What does your state require for licensure? Typically, you would earn your degree, complete supervised internships and postdoc hours, and pass the EPPP. From there, you would take your state’s jurisprudence or ethics exam and, if your state has one, an oral exam.

Some states allow you to sit for the EPPP directly following internship hours. Other states, however, have different requirements. At Taylor Study Method, we can provide you with your state’s specific requirements so you do not have to guess. Email us at memberssupport@taylorstudymethod.com or call us at 877-510-5445.

  1. Make a study plan.

Decide when you want to take the exam and form a study schedule around that. It typically takes about 3 to 4 months to study for the EPPP. At TSM, we can help you formulate a study schedule that suits your time frame.

See our expert tips on creating a study schedule here.

  1. Know where you want to practice.

Do you live close to the border of another state? Or have you always dreamed of living across the country someday? Learn the licensing requirements of where you might want to practice psychology someday.

Once again, TSM can provide you with state-specific requirements.

  1. Talk with the licensing board.

Although TSM can provide you with state-specific requirements, the APA suggests visiting the licensing board websites of the states you are interested in. Ask them questions until you fully understand the steps toward licensure and stay up to date on any state regulations.

  1. Plan your postdoc, if applicable.

Ask us at TSM to see if a postdoc experience is right for you because some states do not require it. If you do pursue postdoc, look for an experience that meets your state’s licensing requirements and one that will, per the APA, “enhance your knowledge and facilitate long-term career goals.” You can either continue at your internship site or find a new site that peaks your interest.

Before you begin your postdoc, the APA advises creating a contract that outlines your state’s licensing requirements and how the site, supervisor, and you will meet those requirements.

  1. Apply with the state board.

Once your prerequisites are met, request an application from the State Board of Psychology (SBP), fill out the application, and return it. TSM can assist you in this process. Once the SBP approves your application, you are ready to book your EPPP spot.

  1. Apply with Pearson VUE.

Upon SBP approval, submit your application to Pearson VUE, which is the company that administers the EPPP.

Before you take this step, however, consider this: Once your fees are paid to Pearson, you must take the EPPP within 90 days. Therefore, you should be close to finishing studying and confident in your exam prep when you apply.

  1. Take the EPPP.

If you use TSM to prepare for the EPPP, you will be able to sit for the exam with confidence. We will assure you of your readiness based on your practice test scores, which are a regular feature of our study model.

All the work will be worth it when you pass the EPPP. And when you do pass, submit your results to the SBP.

  1. Sit for jurisprudence.

Once you pass the EPPP and submit your results, it is time to sit your state’s Jurisprudence Exam (if applicable), which covers state-specific regulations and mental health laws. Upon passing this exam, you are ready to be a licensed psychologist.

  1. Keep a record.

After all that hard work, the APA suggests storing your credentials into a credentials bank. For a small fee, you can locate your data in one place, such as the National Register or ASPPB Credentials Bank. You can store documents such as transcripts, your EPPP and jurisprudence scores, recommendation letters, proof of internship and postdoc hours, as well as state licensure forms.

We invite you to see how the Taylor Study Method can support you as you prepare to pass the EPPP. Become a member for free at www.taylorstudymethod.com/free-account. For more information, call us at 877-510-5445.

Further Reading

Time Management on EPPP Test Day

When exam day comes, you will succeed by having thorough content knowledge and by being a strategic test taker. Come test day, all you should have to worry about is choosing the correct answers in the allotted time frame.

To be sure time doesn’t run out before you answer all the questions, we have some strategic tips on managing your time on EPPP test day.

Time management on test day starts 2 days before your EPPP when you’re getting your most important night’s sleep. The night before the exam you might be restless so it is important to sleep well two nights before your exam.

The night before your exam, prepare by packing necessities such as a snack and mandatory items for your exam, like your identification and PES information. Lay out your clothing the night before and be sure to choose layered clothing as you won’t know whether the testing center will be cold or hot.

You will need to arrive to the testing center a half an hour before your scheduled test time, so give yourself plenty of time the morning of to eat, get dressed, and drive there in a leisurely way as to avoid anxiety. Allow time for traffic and potential unintended travel mishaps.

When you get to the testing center, avoid test anxiety by minimizing conversation with other test takers and silently reminding yourself that you are going to do well. Tell yourself “Today is the day I will pass the EPPP!”

When it comes to time management on the actual exam, here’s the strategy we recommend at TSM.

You will have approximately 68 seconds per question within the allotted 4 hours and 15 minutes of exam time consisting of 225 questions total (175 scored and 50 pretest questions that are unscored). In the first 10-15 minutes of your exam, do what we call an “Information Dump.” Write out everything you’ve kept in your memory. This will give you the freedom to focus during your test because you can return to these notes when related questions come up. Although testing centers may not allow scratch paper, they can provide a white board upon request.

As you move through your exam, do not forget to take breaks. Dr. Graham Taylor goes over specific break strategies towards the end of his broadcast here.  Do not simply work until you feel tired and take a break then. Instead, plan breaks and take them to stay fresh and focused. There are two types of breaks you should decide ahead of time to take: mini breaks (3-5 minute) and full breaks (10 minutes).

If you decide to take mini breaks, choose one of two strategies. Either decide on a certain number of questions to complete before a break is taken (e.g., 25 questions), or decide on a period of time spent working (e.g., 25 minutes) before a break is taken. During these breaks, stand up, stretch, move, and breathe.

If you decide to take full breaks, take them after an hour and a half of work.  During these breaks, grab some fuel and food, use the restroom if you need to, stretch, and breathe.

Regardless of what you decide, take the breaks even if you feel like you don’t need to in the moment. Taking planned breaks will allow you to work from rest and stay fresh and focused as opposed to working hard for rest.

Lastly, take a deep breath before each question. Breathe in slowly through your nose, hold for a count of two, and then slowly exhale out of your mouth. While breathing, remind yourself that you can do this!

Time management on test day is all about coming in with a strategy. Develop your strategy and get accustomed to time management during practice tests then prepare as much as you can in the days leading up to your exam.

 

Further Reading:

6 Things to Know Before You Begin Studying for the EPPP

6 Tips Before You Begin Studying TSM

If you’re thinking about taking the EPPP, you’ve already come a long way in your journey to licensure. The EPPP is the last step toward the prize that is almost yours.

Before you being studying for the EPPP, there are 6 things you should do, especially if you want to pass on the first attempt.

1. Fully Commit.

Dr. Graham Taylor says that if you’re going to commit, do it fully. Plan to pass on the first attempt and set a goal for a specific passing score, not just to pass in general.

To commit fully will involve making lifestyle modifications to create room for dedicated EPPP study. Don’t start studying until you’re ready to make it a priority.

2. Set a Date.

When you’re ready to make the EPPP a priority, set a date for your exam. Creating a deadline will give you a tangible goal and an accurate timeline for studying. From there, you can create a realistic study schedule and truly dedicate your time to achieving your goal.

3. Tell Your Family and Friends.

Tell the people closest to you that you are preparing to take the EPPP. Invite them to gently hold you accountable to your goal and be specific with ways they can help you. Inviting those you care about along this journey will provide you with a support system and help you combat isolation as you dedicate much of your time to studying. Your close friends and family can act as motivators when you’re struggling or in need a day off.

4. Gather Materials.

When you use Taylor Study Method, you will take an initial assessment exam. Based on your strengths and weaknesses, TSM will tailor your exam process. Then, you can utilize the tools that work best for you. TSM’s tools are designed to suit your learning style and content strengths and weaknesses. We will point you to what materials you need based on those factors.

5. Develop a Study Schedule.

You determine how many hours a week you want to study and when your exam date is. Then, TSM will help you design a study schedule around that. Dr. Taylor has great advice on creating your study schedule as well as 7 general principles to guide you.

6. Go For It!

It’s time to begin! Check out more of TSM’s unique features here!

 

Further Reading