Is the vicious cycle of feeling anxious and stressed affecting your MBLEx preparation? Stress affects how you study and how you process information. Because stress ultimately can affect your exam performance and outcome, you need to have tools that can that help you manage stress during this time.
There are many tools available to manage stress (massage, yoga, meditation), but today let’s focus on mindfulness.
What does mindfulness really mean?
Mindfulness is the psychological process of purposely bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment without judgment. According one of the people responsible for the growth of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness should revolve around the “here and now.”
You have likely heard the term “mindfulness” thrown around in recent years. Mindfulness made its modern debut in the early 1990s. However, it has been practiced in Buddhism for ages. If you are unfamiliar with what it means and what it can do for you as you prepare for your massage exam preparation, let’s talk more about that now.
How can mindfulness help me as I study or take my exam?
Practicing and incorporating mindfulness in our daily lives, especially when studying, can provide many benefits. Whether it be a simple breathing exercise or a peaceful meditative walk, mindfulness can help you regain focus, improve productivity levels during studying, and lower anxiety.
Through mindfulness, you can determine personal stressors (like the Kinesiology section), learn to accept those emotions, and eventually let go of the weight and pressure they bring into your life.
Meditation tips to help you practice mindfulness
I am sure your instructors talked about the importance of being present in the massage room. During a massage, your mind should not wander off to what you plan to have for supper tonight or back to a show you watched on Netflix that morning. You are to be here, now, and in this moment. The same goes for studying.
When you are present, you are not in the:
- Future: “I am going to fail my exam!”
- Past: “I failed my MBLEx!”
- Past and future: “I failed my MBLEx and I am going to fail again!”
“I always live in the present. The future I can’t know. The past I no longer have.”
Do you negatively judge yourself as you study? If you catch yourself constantly feeling like you are not studying enough or “doing good enough”, it is possible that you just need to change your perspective. Remind yourself that the only thing you can control is this moment.
“I can only control this moment, and in this moment I will give my best effort to study for this exam.”
Patience, in the context of mindfulness, means living in the present moment with wisdom and acceptance. Low practice exam scores and not understanding kinesiology enough can leave students feeling anxious about whether their scores will ever improve or if they will ever grasp a subject they struggle with comprehending. Have patience, believe growth is possible, and know that you may not always recognize our growth at the moment.
Fixed mindset: “I will never understand origins and insertions.”
Growth mindset: “I don’t understand this just yet, but I am trying my best to improve and can learn hard things.”
“You have to apply yourself each day to becoming a little better. By becoming a little better each and every day, over a period of time, you will become a lot better.”
– John Wooden
Similar to breathing, there are times you need to inhale and take in moments, feelings, or truths. And there will be times that you will need to exhale and bring out and let go of expectations, perfectionism, and doubt. Practice accepting yourself as you are right now and let go of the rest. As with anything else, practice always makes a difference.
Breathe out that last exam attempt that didn’t go the way you wanted. Or let go of that thought you have been out of school too long or are too old to be starting over. Accept where you are right now.
“Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose upsides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.”
– Tony Schwartz
Now, how can you apply mindfulness when studying?
Examine and Evaluate
Before thinking of various solutions and replayed scenarios, ask yourself the following questions first:
- What am I feeling right now?
- Am I happy, upset, or tired?
- What are the things that are bothering me at this moment?
- Are there feelings I need to accept?
- Do I have physical pains or other sensations in my body?
These are some questions you may ask yourself at the present time. You might have deeper or more exact questions in mind. Whatever you may be thinking of or feeling at the moment, know that these things whether good, bad or neutral, should be determined and acknowledged.
Mindfulness comes with the awareness of what is here and now, and your emotions and physical sensations are not exempted from that. Learning what has been bothering you or keeping you from being productive is the first big step towards practicing mindfulness. When you’ve accepted these unpleasant things, you may now learn to let go of these and will not be caught up with their negative energy.
Have you ever noticed that when you are anxious or nervous, you have a faster heart rate? Although your heart and lungs are not connected directly to your emotions, your breathing can heavily be influenced by your mental state.
Ready for a breathing exercise?
Inhale through your nose, pause for a short while, and then exhale through your mouth. Your exhalation should be longer than your inhalation.
Repeat the above five additional times to help you calm yourself down and center yourself in this moment.
Whether you are in the middle of a session, about to study, or sitting down in front of your MBLEx test screen, remember to take several breaths to prepare yourself mentally and physically.
Do you have odd pains or are you prone to sickness when you are stressed, depressed, or anxious? You are not alone. Your body may display physical issues when you’re mentally fatigued or stressed. Stress is hard on the mind and body.
Now, spend a few quality minutes reconnecting your mind and body. Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and feel the air touching on your skin.
Take a few deep breaths and calm yourself. Next, slowly move your right leg to the right. Feel the movement, feel your foot touching the ground and feel your whole leg moving towards one side. Use this quiet moment to focus on your body parts and how all those tensions are slowly drifting away.
Also, doing yoga as a meditative activity will greatly help you relax and learn to reconnect your mind and body.
You can meditate and practice mindfulness when walking. When you are starting to lose focus when studying, take a short 15 to 30-minute walk outside of your house.
Start by feeling yourself and each of your body parts walking down the road. Observe and focus on the trees and their leaves swaying or the sounds of the birds chirping around you. Pay attention to the tiniest details and most colorful things on your surroundings.
Next, vacate your mind from any stressors, emotional and physical problems, and indulge yourself in your present surroundings. As Jon Kabat-Zinn has stated, being in a moment without having any agendas is restorative for the mind and body. Take this meditative walk to live in the moment without thinking about anything and anyone.
When you’re feeling burnt out and tired, take a break! Would you rather do minutes of unproductive work or take a short 10 to 15-minute break and return to work or study with your full attention and 100% focus? Try the Pomodoro technique, a scientifically-proven way to improve your focus and productivity by allowing you to take multiple short breaks during your study periods.
Moving Forward With Minfulness
When you find yourself caught up in a stressful moment while studying or during an exam, remove yourself from that vortex. Take a few deep calming breaths and recenter yourself. Mindfulness requires consistency, so practice.
When you know what your mind and body need in order to feel and perform its best, you will feel less stressed and have more confidence in your abilities and capabilities.
Pure awareness transcends thinking. It allows you to step outside the chattering negative self-talk and your reactive impulses and emotions. It allows you to look at the world once again with open eyes. And when you do so, a sense of wonder and quiet contentment begins to reappear in your life.
If you are not a member of Massage Exam Academy, part of the “Plan to Pass” we use here includes practicing self-care and a mind-body approach. If you are looking for an online MBLEx study guide that includes thousands of practice questions and advice on how to prepare mentally and physically, you can learn more here.