Being in med school means an often-hectic schedule. It’s no secret that medical students spend countless hours studying for exams, reviewing lecture material, and attending intense residency programs.
As a doctor, you can best care for your patients if you first care for yourself. Maintaining a healthy school-life balance helps you avoid burnout.
With these tips to balance med school and create balance, you can enjoy a more relaxed state of mind and improved mental and emotional health as you pursue your medical degree here at SJSM.
Improve Your Time Management
Proper time management is essential for completing your coursework and having time for your personal life. This skill helps you hone in on the critical tasks, so you know what to prioritize.
Tips for time management:
- Create a weekly list of things to do
- Create smaller tasks out of the larger to-do items
- Create actionable deadlines and goals
- Take stock of how much time you spend on other activities
Rely on Your Classmates and Residents
Remember that your classmates and interns are going through the same thing as you, and you’re not alone.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, especially if you’re enrolled in a dual program, like internal medicine and pediatrics, take a step back and identify what areas or skills you need help with. Check in with upper-level residents and ask for help on what you’re struggling with.
These third- and fourth-year students have been through it before, so they can offer resources and advice on specific techniques.
Take a Break After Med School Before Residency
Residency may feel like your end goal, but it’s a step in the process of building your skills as a doctor with hands-on training. One of the best ways to decompress and reduce stress while finishing med school is to make time for the things you enjoy doing before diving into your residency. Take a break, schedule a trip, spend time with family, and make time for your hobbies.
Create a Study Cut-Off Time
In a medical school, studies can quickly take over every waking hour of our time, affecting the balance in your personal and work life. This is why it’s best to create a study cut-off time for each day. Spend time reading, studying, and practicing hands-on skills like suturing, but when time’s up, switch focus to your hobbies, family, or self-care.
Take Steps to Reduce Stress
Reducing stress is essential to your health. Some steps you can take to improve your stress levels include:
- Relaxation techniques like meditation, somatic breathing, and massage
- Talking to friends and family
- Maintaining a positive outlook
- Taking a walk in nature
- Exercising, yoga, or a restorative movement practice
Many med school students hold themselves to an impossible standard and try to achieve an unreachable ideal.
Although having goals and working towards them is of utmost importance, it is also helpful to put those goals into perspective. We are all human and won’t be able to complete our goals 100% of the time. You may feel “imposter syndrome” and doubt your abilities, but remember that everyone in med school is in the same boat.
Having a realistic and balanced outlook for getting perfect grades is a healthier and more balanced approach.
Create Time for Your Social Life
Even though you are in medical school, you can still have a personal life that is rich, rewarding, and full of opportunities for socialization. Having a healthy social life is one of the main ways to improve your feelings of well-being and positivity.
Making time to socialize can include going to local events, having dinner with a friend, and even joining clubs in your school or local community. With a well-rounded social life, it’s easier to feel happier and to have an improved state of mental health.
Make Healthy Habits the Norm
As you go through the rigorous requirements as a med school student, it’s all too easy to lose sight of the big picture and neglect your personal health. Planning out your weekly meals and completing meal prep ahead of time will help you to stay on track with your health goals.
As physicians, we know that exercising is one of the healthy habits that will always bring major rewards for both mind and body, so practice what you preach to patients and put a focus on your nutrition and physical health.
By going to bed at a set time and getting eight to ten hours of sleep a night, you are setting yourself up for success in all areas of your life.
Set Yourself Up for Success with School-Life Balance
Putting these healthy practices into place will help you to achieve a healthy work-life balance in med school. With these habits, you can transition from a student at Saint James School of Medicine to a proud graduate.