For readers who are about to embark upon the exciting journey towards becoming a certified public accountant, give yourself a pat on the back! While accounting may seem like an unassuming career, the intricate details surrounding the world of finance acts as the glue that holds our society together. Without accountants balancing the checks and sums in place, the modern world would crumble around us.
With that said, have you begun to notice something odd? Although you’re consuming study materials with newfound vigor and motivation, you’ve slowly developed dread and anxiety about your upcoming examination. Thoughts such as “what if I fail?” and “am I doing enough?” will inevitably creep into your mind as you turn through the pages in your textbook. Not to worry, though! Here are five tips to eliminate stress and help you transition into your promising career as a CPA.
1. Pick Definitive Stop Times
If there’s one thing that creates anxiety, it’s utilizing vague time-blocks surrounding your study habits. Be honest with yourself: are you guilty of studying at sporadic times, and more importantly, do you consume material for random lengths of time? One day you’re committed to cracking open a textbook at 7 a.m. for a few hours, but the next day you wake up and study for 30-minute chunks of time between noon and 9 p.m. If this sounds like you, you may be doing yourself a disservice.
Instead, we encourage you to study at the same time every single day, and, more importantly, keep your sessions the same length. Since your brain knows there’s a “finish line” in the near future, anxiety and stress stay at arm’s reach.
2. Eat the Right Foods
Your brain is much like a car engine in that they both require specific fuel to get from point a to point b. In the same regard, if you’re consuming the wrong type of calories and expecting to ace your exam like the second coming of Nikola Tesla, think again! And before you head off to the kitchen to down a pot of coffee or an energy drink, consult with this list of brain-boosting foods that eliminate stress, improve concentration and erase anxiety:
- Fatty fish
- Organic nuts
- Dark chocolate
- Small dosages of black coffee and tea
- Low-sugar snacks
These foods, when consumed in moderation, help you retain new information and understand the complex paradigms you will stumble across during your studies. For an aspiring CPA, getting high-quality nutrition in your system is an essential element of success.
3. Take a Break
No, seriously, take a break! Although we’ve taught ourselves to push through mental barriers and tackle our fatigue head-on, taking a short break is brilliant for eliminating stress and worry. Moreover, taking active breaks, also known as diffused-mode thinking, allows you to link abstract ideas and understand materials more effectively.
And before you think diffused-mode thinking is an excuse to be lazy, guess again! When scientific researchers and great thinkers perform mundane tasks unrelated to their field of study, they allow themselves to have a “eureka” moment.
While we won’t bore you with the literature surrounding the phenomenon, eureka moments are when your brain is relaxed and passively thinking of novel ideas. When this occurs, anxiety melts into the background while new material gets processed by your brain. In as little as 20 or 30-minutes, you can lower your stress and understand the CPA materials in a meaningful way.
4. I’ll Call You Back
If you’re juggling social media, incoming phone calls, random texts, and videos on YouTube while trying to maintain focus, you’re causing unwanted stress to creep into your life. For serious CPAs who aim to become the top 1% in their field, studying is an exercise in self-discipline and the willingness to eliminate distractions that could derail their efforts. If you’re struggling to identify your triggers, check out our list of anxiety and distraction inducers:
- Cell phones
- Loud music
- Food and beverages
If you can carve out a few hours each day of undistracted time, you’ll be golden when your CPA exam date rolls around!
5. Two Is Better Than One
Lastly, we encourage you to seek out study partners when times get tough. Although you may think another person may cause distractibility and worry to sprout out of nowhere, the opposite is true. An article released by Oxford Learning showcased the benefits of tackling study sessions with a group of like-minded individuals.
According to their claims, studying with other individuals allows you to deepen your understanding of new domains, make novel connections between data, and use an effective form of learning called active recall. For readers who want to crush their exam and feel great in the process, finding a partner may be the solution you’ve been looking for all along!