The CPA exam is one of the most important hurdles in an accountant's career. After the intense preparation and the exhausting test, the sudden drop-off in activity can exacerbate post-test anxiety. If you're struggling to manage stress while waiting for your results, try these tips to stay centered.
Feel the Stress
Before you try to shake off stress after the CPA exam, take time to feel it. Give yourself a specific period of time that fits into your schedule, and indulge all of your worries. Think back over the exam, over-analyze your performance, and work through specific questions. Call a fellow exam-taker and obsess together about how you did. By allowing yourself time to process the emotions, you can prevent them from exploding later when it's inconvenient.
Work Up a Sweat
Post-test anxiety can build slowly after the CPA exam, leaving you feeling tightly wound and on edge. A tough exercise session can release muscle tension and help you forget about your worries, even if it's only for a short period of time. Choose something that pushes you to your physical limits: a fast run, a tough weight-lifting session or a game of tennis with the best player you know. High-impact activities are best — they require you to focus on the moment rather than the exam.
After you work off the physical stress of the CPA exam, tackle the mental aspect with meditation. Download a guided meditation podcast that's designed to reduce anxiety, sit in a comfortable position in a dark room and hit play. Focus on breathing deeply and following the speaker's voice. If necessary, repeat the process until you feel relief. If you need to keep moving, try a yoga class. The flowing movements, relaxing environment and focus on staying present can provide many of the same benefits as meditation.
Take Care of Yourself
When you're dealing with anxiety after the CPA exam, it's easy to neglect personal care. No matter how appealing it sounds to eat junk food and talk about your worries with other accountants, make an intentional effort to take care of yourself. Eat healthy meals, and try to get at least eight hours of sleep each night to stave off more serious effects — research shows that sleep deprivation and depression may be linked. Do some of the things you neglected during the test-prep period: Get a new haircut, schedule a massage or have dinner with friends. Although these things won't make you forget the stress, they can improve your mood and prevent illness.
The waiting game after the CPA exam can feel more stressful than the test itself. With the right anxiety-management techniques, you can survive the wait and receive your scores in a healthy, peaceful frame of mind.
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