Among many things, I am a medical student, but if asked to describe myself, without skipping a beat, I would define myself as a runner. When we began school last July, I signed up for a marathon at the end of our spring break as sort of a “last hurrah” before I really had to start buckling down to study for Step 1 and to give myself a long term goal that wasn’t school related. Despite the busyness of school, I was proud of myself for following my training plan and running over 60 miles a week most weeks. I’m happy to share that I met my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon in 2017!
Since returning to school, I’ve backed off on my running to allow my body to recover and to really focus on studying for the Boards. And while I thought the extra time would help me stay on top of my work better, I actually found the opposite: when I don’t have a rigid time schedule I need to adhere to in order to fit in everything that I need to do, I tend to be less efficient! In addition, my mood plummeted.
It might not work for everyone, but I’ve learned that exercise is my favorite stress reliever as well as my favorite time of day. I have some friends who listen to lecture while running on the treadmill at the gym, but for me, there’s something really awesome about taking my mind off of school for an hour, getting some fresh air, and reconnecting with the outside world. As I approach Board studying, I know to be my happiest and most focused self, I need to incorporate exercise into my daily schedule and perhaps even register for a race after my exam to get me excited about each day, almost as a reward for weeks of hard studying.
Self care is so important for us all to be our best selves, and while it may mean different things for each of us, through trial and error, I’m learning more and more about what that means for me.