Medical school is a time of great learning, but it’s also stressful and creates anxiety. You are busy, and you have a lot of responsibilities and deadlines to meet. You have to read lots of textbooks, take exams, write papers, and do all kinds of other academic work.
The workload can be overwhelming at times. However, you can deal with it effectively and efficiently with proper time management skills. Here are some ways that you can reduce stress as a medical student.
Get the Sleep You Need
Getting enough sleep is essential for every aspect of your life, both inside and outside the classroom. You’ll have more energy, be able to concentrate better (which will help with learning), and be less likely to get sick or injured. Plus, getting enough sleep can help keep your weight under control.
As a medical student, the pressure to do well in school can start taking its toll on you mentally and physically, but getting enough rest will boost your immune system, so you don’t get sick as often or will help you recover faster. In addition, it also helps regulate your appetite, so it’s easier for you to eat healthy foods while avoiding junk food that’s easy but not good for you (think empty calories from chips).
This may seem like an obvious choice for stress relief, but it’s important to include some form of exercise in your daily routine. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce stress by helping relieve tension and releasing endorphins, the chemicals that make you feel good.
Most people find that they can fit in 30 minutes or more of physical activity daily (such as running, lifting weights at the gym, yoga class, swimming, etc.), which makes a big difference in terms of reducing mental fatigue during stressful times like study sessions or exams. If you’re not already exercising regularly now, it might be helpful to start out with something easier, like taking walks around campus instead of going straight for a run every day.
Learn to Cook (or Find a Hobby)
Cooking is a great way to unwind, spend time with friends and family, save money, and develop new skills. Cooking can be an outlet for creativity. Combining ingredients in novel ways allows you to become more focused on your task at hand.
The act of preparing food can also provide relaxation through sensory input. The smell of spices simmering in the pan, the sound of clinking pans, and even the sight of colored ingredients being added one by one as they cook can all contribute to reducing stress levels by giving your mind something else to focus on besides the test that is coming up.
Make Time for a Social Life
It’s easy to get caught up in the schoolwork grind and forget about the importance of having a support network outside of school. Take a break from studying every now and then so you can hang out with people who care about you instead of relying on being alone all the time. If your roommate is not in the medical field, it may be helpful to find someone else who can relate to what you’re going through. Speak with a mentor, family member, or peer that understands the challenges you are facing.
There are numerous studies that show even 10 minutes of uninterrupted peace while outdoors can significantly impact your stress and anxiety levels. As students studying medicine in a Caribbean medical school, you should take advantage of the beautiful landscape and beaches that islands provide. Enjoying nature recharges our batteries and connects us back to the world in more visceral ways than being in front of a mobile device or focused on a book. Try to hit the beach, take a walk, or sit in the open air for at least a small amount of time every day.
The Power of Habits
Medical school is the perfect time to develop stress-reduction habits. Once you are in a practice or a real-life situation, you will need outlets to handle the many life and death decisions you have to make. The medical field is a highly rewarding career choice, but it does come with pitfalls that you have worked too long and too hard to fall victim to. Take your time and develop solid habits now so you ensure a brighter future tomorrow.