What if there was a scientifically proven stress reducer that was free, didn’t take a lot of time, and could help you become more focused when you read exam questions?
There is: A technique called MINDFULNESS
Before you roll your eyes or worry that you have to commit to an intense program, know that the essence of mindfulness while studying is simple. It’s all about embracing what you are reading or studying and being mindful about what it is that you are learning. Being mindful while studying is about paying attention to what your are currently looking at and not becoming distracted by what’s going on outside. The more focused, mindful, and clear your brain feels, the more present you will be in the actual exam You’ll feel calmer, and you will be more cable of passing the exam.
These 7 simple strategies can be woven into your studying every day and can be used to help train your brain to focus on one question at a time. You’ll feel a sense of confidence and calm, even when you come across a difficult question.
For so many of us, doing more than one thing at a time feels like the only way to get through everything that’s on our plates. Multitasking however, often backfires because our brain doesn’t know where to focus it’s mental energy. Dorsey Standish, Chief Mindfulness Officer of Mastermind, states that if you look at multiple resources while you are studying, you lose valuable energy (switching from doing one thing to another), which means you lose efficiency.
To help yourself focus on one topic at a time, from Pass the OT’s web course, a useful tool is to set an alarm for 60 minutes and challenge yourself to stay focused for that 60 minutes, and not to switch to checking your email or social media. You may be pleasantly surprised and find yourself in a state of flow in which you have become absorbed in what you are studying and you’re having a better and more productive study session.
Count on Nature
After you have taken a Pass the OT quiz or read a Pass the OT worksheet, go outside and take a walk as a stress reliever. You can turn the walk into a practice in relaxation by consciously connecting to your senses. Simply count five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can touch, two things you can smell. This is all about the process of observing and taking notice. After you have cleared your mind, take the opportunity of having the capacity to really listen to a Pass the OT audio, on the topic you are studying.
Focus on the Here and Now
Whether you are a first-time test taker, or you have taken the test multiple times, it is important to try lower your test taking anxiety and to remain calm. If you find yourself obsessing, PAUSE, and take a few deep breaths, tuning in to all your senses. Listen to the Pass the OT mindfulness audio. Pay attention to how your chair feels against your back, how your feet feel on the floor, and the smell of the coffee you are drinking.
Savor the first few questions on a practice test. Taking a full 200 question test definitely has benefits but if you find yourself only paying attention to the first 50 questions, it is a good starting point. You may want to try reading the first few questions out loud so you can really pay attention to what the question is asking you.
What you are good at list
Take a few minutes to jot down what you’re good at. Make a list of the topics that you feel confident that you know or something about your studying you are thankful for, such as a really informative Pass the OT tutoring session you’ve recently had. When you are feeling low or discouraged you can read this list to give you a pick-me-up. The process of writing or typing helps to reinforce this positivity. Emailing the list to yourself also works well.
Practicing deep breathing before you sit down to study, will help you feel calmer overall and give you a default technique to use when you need to cope with a difficult question. Deep belly breathing indirectly stimulates the vagus nerve which responds by lowering your heart rate. Try exhaling longer than each inhale: breathe in for a count of three and out for a count of six.
Turn the entire test into a meditation
Technically, you can be mindful during the entire test. It just means training yourself to focus your full attention and thoughts on every question you are looking at. If you are studying a specific topic such as splints for example, focus on where the patient is in the OT process, what the diagnosis is, and what the question is really asking. Start by taking the 100 and 200 timed and untimed practice tests at Pass the OT to help you prepare for the actual OT exam.
Take a Time Out
Whenever you feel yourself spiraling into panic mode or anxiety, remember the acronym STOP
S: Stop what you are doing
T: Take a few deep breaths
O: Observe what you’re feeling and thinking without judgement
P: Proceed with your studying in a way that supports you.
You may need to take a break to eat, exercise, or work with a Pass the OT tutor.