Lately, I have been thinking a lot more about self-care in medical school. This is something they used to emphasize to us in the beginning of the first-year, but entering second-year, I notice a lot less people are mindful of self-care or discuss the importance of it. Luckily, this is not an area of wellness I ever neglect.
To me, self-care is removing yourself from stressful or intense situations that cause you to be on edge and not yourself, and engage in practices or leisurely activities that allow you to temporarily let go of such pressure. I have been attending classes at a hot yoga studio downtown since the beginning of summer, and it has been my go-to place to practice self-care ever since. I love the facility, the people, and the classes (a combination of intense fitness classes and calm yoga flow classes). I attend classes at least 4-6 times a week, and it not only keeps me sane, but reminds me of my identity outside of being a medical student. It is a haven where I can be away from anything school-related, and even away from any medical students. It can be easy to surround yourself with only medical students all the time given that you have class together, study together, and probably eat/hang out together when you are not studying. There isn’t anything wrong with that, but it’s also nice to have a community that doesn’t remind you of all the stress in your life (because let’s face it, even when you’re not in class, medical students love talking about school since that is 98% of our lives) and reminds you of how to socialize and be yourself in a non-academic setting. Being with the people at the hot yoga studio is so refreshing because they are all so friendly, and encouraging of your efforts.
At today’s class, which was a pre-finals de-stressing class, the instructor told us to always be in gratitude of our effort to attend class; because when we are stressed, our health and exercise can be some of the first things we let go of. This is extremely true, as I have seen many of my classmates even forget to eat when they are hardcore studying. Something as simple as preparing yourself a nutritious meal, or going to the gym, is something to be applauded and to be proud of during exam week.
No matter how much work you may have or how hard your exams are going to be, take that one hour out of your day to do whatever it is makes you happy, promotes wellness, and will allow you to perform your best in the end.