Last Updated on June 26, 2022 by Laura Turner
As I enter the thick of studying for board exams, I’m reminded even more every day to stay calm, grounded, and keep my head clear. This is the last semester of my pre-clinical education (I can’t believe how time has flown!), and I’m caught in a balance of staying positive about that as well as juggling my hours of studying for board exams. I’ve experienced just about every emotion in the past few weeks, but one of them has always been there lurking underneath the surface: the feeling of being overwhelmed. I’ve touched on this multiple times before, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to stay mentally stable and sane through the medical training process! I have found myself slipping these last few weeks as I try to “do it all”, so I had to reach out.
I heavily rely on my friends and family as sources of support, but try as they might, they sometimes just don’t understand what it’s like to be in medical school. This is understandable, but it sometimes makes it that much harder for them to help me with whatever I’m going through. It definitely helps to discuss medical school challenges with people who understand them a lot better—and who better to turn to than some fellow classmates who happen to be going through the exact same thing? We’ve taken to talking about everything having to do with our lives both in and outside of medical school. I’ve seen a recurring theme emerge: no one ever seems to have any time. No time to read for leisure, no time to catch up with friends, no time to binge the three latest seasons of a favorite show, and the list goes on. I’m not immune to this struggle—I’m lucky these days if I have a few moments to grab a bite in between tasks. I tend to get inside my own mind as well and feel this self-inflicted pressure of having to do x number of tasks every day. I end up with a giant pile of things to do, and keeping in line with the theme here, no time to do them all.
But that’s just it—why do we always feel like we need to rush around? Time is what we make of it. Everyone has the same amount of time every day and how we use it is up to us. I can either spend all of my time driving myself nuts with anxiety and stress, or I can elect to take some time out of my day to do something good for myself. The key here is to prioritize what is important to you—not necessarily what you want to accomplish, but what things must stay in order to stay sane and healthy. For me, that includes having an hour to wind down at the end of the day for leisure reading, watching TV, or just relaxing. Add in another hour for working out, and it’s only 2 hours out of my day. It might seem like a lot of time, but I also have to think about what would happen to me if I didn’t take that time for myself. I would continue to feel stressed and anxious all the time which would inevitably lead to being a less efficient student. I’ve learned to put the human being part of me first and everything else, including the medical student part of me, can be scheduled around that. It’s not necessarily an easy task, but it is definitely worthwhile!