NPTE Mindset – Meal Planning to Reduce Test Anxiety
Before the NPTE, take the time to plan out your meals now so that you don’t have to worry about what to have later on. When you are meal planning, focus on dishes that are simple and don’t take a lot of time to prep and cook. If you have someone else making the meals, great, just let them know you’ll want foods that keep you full and that avoid unsettling your stomach. The last thing you want to do is introduce new foods that could throw off your system before the big day. Remember that any sort of distractions, no matter how small or minor can take away your focus to perform well on the NPTE.
Being proactive and planning ahead of time what you eat and drink, helps to eliminate another external stress factor as well as to reduce test anxiety. This is something you can control and help our bodies stay in homeostasis. In other words, keep it happy and calm so that you can focus on what needs to be done.
I often hear from candidates, “I was so exhausted or got hungry during the exam that all I wanted to do is finish up.” When our stomach growls, our focus and concentration go away from understanding what the question is asking and picking the right answer. This is where questions are missed and we’ll want to prevent these silly type of points lost by taking control of what we can. So, let’s tackle our meal plans to help us perform well on the NPTE and reduce test anxiety.
2 Weeks Before the NPTE
Nervousness can increase our digestive response and our stomachs can become sensitive to what we eat and drink. As the day gets closer, you’ll want to become more like a creature of habit and stay with what you know rather than get adventurous on what we eat.
- Stick with familiar foods
- Make it a habit to eat around the same time
- Eat foods that can keep you full and as well as be able to focus for a few hours
- Avoid or reduce the amount of caffeine and energy drinks you consume (especially after 3 pm)
- Watch for nervous eating habits as the day approaches and plan ahead
Last Night Meal Before the NPTE
The dinner and snack before going to bed should be an ordinary meal that’s not too heavy or greasy. You’ll want to allow yourself a good night’s sleep (plan of action) and not wake up hungry.
- Choose a meal that keeps you in a good mood
- Keep to a meal that doesn’t cause any unsettled feelings
- Eat early enough so that you can go to be bed at the scheduled time
- Remember to take the time to enjoy and not rush through the meal
- Avoid clenching your teeth and working your masseter muscles too much
Day of the NPTE
You’ll want to start off the day great by giving yourself enough energy to last through the day. Give yourself enough time in the morning to start off not rushed.
- Eat a satisfying and balanced breakfast
- Light balanced lunch / snack (when taking the exam in the morning)
- Balanced lunch when taking the exam in the afternoon
- Pick something that will keep you full for a few hours
- Have a combination of protein with carbohydrates
- Have a couple of options to have before, during and after your exam
- Bring a water bottle to keep you hydrated
After the NPTE
Congratulations, you have taken your important PT exam! Now, reward yourself with something you want to eat and drink. Don’t forget to also do something to help relax and enjoy your accomplishment of taking this exam and a step towards your PT career,
So, take the time now and put down the textbook or study guide to plan out your meals and snacks before the NPTE. This will eliminate last minute grab and go food that may upset your stomach just before the exam. Fuel and energy are important to do well on the exam and you’ll want to assess how well you can maintain your focus by knowing now. It’s hard to pass when hungry or when your stomach begins to turn upside down and gurgle from not being happy. This plan of action over the next few weeks should be able to get you on the right track. It’s not a one time shot, you’ll want to tweak what you can before the actual day. You’ll have plenty of time to eat and drink afterward without having a care in the world. For now, let’s be sure you are in control.
Let me know your thoughts on this plan of action, what your meal schedule and snacks that you’ll eat to help you focus on the exam.