When NCLEX candidates are beginning to focus on studying for the NCLEX, especially on top of everything else they manage, anxieties can be on the rise! You may find it surprising that anxiety can be good in several situations, including when taking the NCLEX. It becomes a problem when you are unable to implement strategies that help in calming your anxiety so it doesn’t take over your mind. This article will list 5 ways that you can transform your anxiety from brain fog to laser-sharp focus!
When test-takers feel the tension of high-stakes situations, such as the NCLEX, it can be overwhelming and cause crippling anxiety and self-doubt. When candidates are not confident in their ability, they are more likely to change their answers, pick answers that sound good – rather than using critical thinking, or they may blank out and waste valuable testing time.
To help you develop strategies for calming your anxiety, let’s take a look at these five tips:
Always focus on test-taking strategy
When you are answering NCLEX style questions, you want to be sure to focus on the guidelines, principles and rules that guide nursing practice! You want to remind yourself that The Nursing Process is a guide for critical thinking. You want to remind yourself of expected outcomes for certain diseases, injuries and patient symptoms. You want to rely on systematic test-taking strategies that will help to quiet the noise in your head, so that you can arrive to the correct answers. You should be asking yourself – “Does this make sense?”
When you don’t use test-taking strategies to help you focus, you are at risk of letting your anxiety cloud your judgement. Too many mistakes on the NCLEX could cause you to be unsuccessful in your attempt. To prevent your anxieties from taking over – Always Focus on Test-Taking Strategy!
A rested mind is a focused mind
Getting enough sleep is essential for your success. It is so important that you refrain from staying up all night studying before a test. Even though it may have worked for you in nursing school – staying up all night to cram before the exam WILL NOT HELP YOU ON THE NCLEX!
Questions on the NCLEX are very difficult and require laser-sharp focus and concentration. Not getting adequate rest will only make your anxieties worse and can inhibit your ability to make safe and sound decisions. In order to make sure your are positioned for NCLEX success – you’ll want to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night for a full week leading up to the exam. Going in rested and fully charged will help you stay focused on answering those questions correctly!
Charge up with adequate hydration
Being hydrated is one of the most important things you can do to keep anxieties at bay. Since many of us love having our coffee to help us get pumped and ready to go – overdoing it can make our central nervous systems go into overdrive! Additionally, many of the foods we eat when we are busy studying, working, caring for family, running errands, and surviving a global pandemic – aren’t always the healthiest options. The sodium, glucose, and other preservatives in these foods can build up in our body and then our brain will start receiving signals that “something is wrong”. To help prevent from happening, you should drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to help dilute the caffeine, preservatives, and toxins so that you can keep your body and mind charged!
Release anxiety with every breath
There will be many times when answering NCLEX questions where you feel your nerves starting to get the best of you. Rather than giving them the power to overwhelm you, acknowledge the anxiety and regain control. The best way to regain control is to close your eyes, and say the following phrase:
“I acknowledge you anxiety. You are a part of who I am. You do not control me. You are not helping me in this moment. Please leave me now and only return when you will serve me well.”
Then take a deep breath, and exhale slowly . Let out all of the doubt, fear and anxiety flow out of you. Feel your shoulders relax. Feel your heart rate slow down. Feel that you are now in control. Be sure to take a moment to be thankful for the ability to regain control and continue on your way towards NCLEX success!
Embrace the challenge
Anxiety tends to flare up when test-takers can’t seem to confidently arrive to a correct answer. Whether it is while practicing NCLEX style questions, or during an actual exam, the desire to get answers correct becomes an obsession that can feed anxiety and make it worse. Dwelling on the fact that you do not know an answer, or that you’ve answered a question incorrectly can cause you to lose focus and fall for NCLEX traps! The best approach to keep your anxiety low is to embrace the challenge of arriving to the correct answer. When you can humbly admit to yourself that you don’t know the answer – AND – remind yourself that you ARE SMART ENOUGH to figure it out, you will find yourself better positioned to use that amazing brain to critically think, pick an answer – and move on.
As you continue towards your NCLEX Success journey, I want you to know that feelings of anxiety, doubt and frustration are normal. Although, if left unchecked, these feelings can become major barriers and prevent you from performing well during NCLEX testing. I hope that these tips will help bring you some relief and enhance your ability to stay focused on getting that nursing license!
Just remember that you are NOT alone in this journey! There are many people – like myself – who are rooting for you! Be sure to take the time to master these anxiety reducing tips, so that you may find a focused mind and celebrate in your NCLEX success!
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