With the added stress of everything that’d been going on this year, it’s not a surprise if you’re feeling extra stressed, more anxious than usual, or even a bit overwhelmed. And, as a doctor, it can be tough to think of yourself as a patient who needs care, too. But you do! And you can start by doing small, daily things to reinforce your overall health and wellbeing.
Think of yourself as if you were your own patient. What lifestyle would you prescribe? Dedicate a portion of each day to yourself, and everyone around you—including your patients and your family—will reap the benefits.
Mindfulness helps put some space between yourself and your conditioned responses. When you practice mindfulness it helps improve your concentration, decrease stress levels, and increase your brain’s overall cognitive functions.
Like any new habit, the hardest part of mindfulness is implementing it into your daily routine. Start by committing to 2-3 minutes of mindfulness every day, and increase the time as you get more and more comfortable (or can make more time to dedicate!).
Create time in your schedule for the things in life that bring you joy—this can be gardening, cooking, anything that sets your soul on fire! Just make sure you take the time to do it.
Getting enough sleep is crucial for decreasing stress (and, if you’re studying, sleep helps your brain encode information better!). Make sure you’re getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and that you’re minimizing alcohol before bedtime. Alcohol disrupts normal sleep cycles by decreasing your amount of REM sleep and by decreasing deep sleep (a.k.a. stage 3 sleep, slow-wave sleep, delta wave sleep), which is the restorative part of the sleep cycle.
Food can be used as an easy emotional outlet during high-stress times. A diet high in carbs runs the risk of increased risk of weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease—and the ups and downs in blood sugar interfere with concentration. Focus on eating clean, whole foods—plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein—and drinking plenty of water each day. Need some recipe inspo? Here are a few fall recipes that will take you 45 minutes or less to prepare.
Exercising outside combines endorphins with Vitamin D—a recipe for happiness! Plus, when you're exercising outside, you're more in control of who you come into contact with, so you can maintain social distancing. Maintaining your physical health is a great way to stay motivated throughout your daily life—some experts even say exercise is a treatment for depression.
A key component of motivation is to reward yourself for your achievements, no matter how small. Keep in mind the goal you are working toward—for example, passing the boards or becoming an expert-level physician—and set mini goals along the way. When you hit a mini goal, reward yourself! Your motivation and positive outlook on the project will soar.
Now more than ever, family and friends are the most important relationships you can cultivate. Make sure you’re checking in on your loved ones. Make time for them often, and when you need to reach out, it will feel natural.
If you’re stressing about an upcoming exam, or making sure your knowledge is up-to-date, you’re not alone. We’re here for you! Download StudyWise to discover the best, science-based learning approach that you should take to improve recall.