We’ve all been there. You’ve just set up your books and laptop, perhaps you have a nice cup of tea or a glass of cold water next to you. You feel ready to conquer the next couple of hours of work ahead. The NBCOT® Exam is yours! You have this and you’re going to do great!
Then, “WHAM!”, without a warning, a tornado of thoughts hits your brain.You start thinking about your plans for later; what you’ll eat for dinner tonight, tomorrow, next week? Who said you’ll even be home for dinner next week? What about what you’ll feed the cat? Do you even have a cat? If you did, what’s its name? Charlie? Gideon? Bob? What are you doing this weekend? Why didn’t “so and so” text you back? Did they forget about you because you’ve been studying so much?
Except, you really haven’t. At least today. Before you know it, you’ve spent an hour staring at material, attempting to calm your mind and slow down. You don’t remember any of the content you just looked at because your brain was elsewhere. You’re annoyed with yourself. Now you have to put another hour of work in, instead of actually feeding the cat, buying a cat or hanging out with whoever you think forgot to text you back.
You may be frustrated beyond words, but what you just experienced is normal and you aren’t alone. Here are some ways to make your mind go from running a million miles an hour, to cruising in the slow lane, to passing the NBCOT® Exam.
1: Download Headspace, or the meditation app of your choice.
Now here’s the real challenge, actually using it. If you’ve made it this far in OT school, chances are you’ve already heard of all the great benefits of meditation for your mind, so you think there’s no need for me to go over it. However, from my experience and it’s also scientifically proven, medication is a brilliant tool to calm and focus your mind, and help you cope with stress and anxiety. So, make time for meditation, even a 3 minute session as part of your daily routine, even if it’s while you’re laying in bed waiting for your 5th snooze alarm to go off.
2: Apps aren’t your thing? Here are some Youtube videos that’ll also do the trick.
3: Another strategy is to listen to music or other calming noises while you review your work, preferably something that helps the mind slow down a bit. You know yourself way better than some random person on the internet, so I won’t tell you what exactly will do the trick. But try it.
4: Do some yoga poses, on your own or to a video, whatever works best for you. Who doesn’t need and enjoy a quick stretch before sitting down for a couple of hours, or even midway through. It’s practically the reason why rest stops were invented on highways.
Quick yoga video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nnd5Slo02us
5: Read this blurb below if you’re a more visual person:
Quiet your mind while studying.
Slowing your breathing rhythm can be a calm way to ease test anxiety and quiet your mind. You can then be freer to have more mindful and focused thoughts so that you can pick the right answer when you are down to two answer choices.
Inhale to the count of four (one thousand one, one thousand two, etc.) and then exhale to the same count of four. Feel your rib cage and belly gently expand as you inhale and soften as you exhale.
Repeat four times.
Now let go of counting and allow yourself to breathe in the pace that feels good to you in this moment. As you are breathing, you might try saying to yourself: “My breath is free, my mind is free, now i can focus on this work. Notice the pace in which you move into the next moment and the rest of your day while studying.