Stress is all around in medical school. Everywhere you look there is something to stress about. You can stress about picking a specialty, your next exam, your early morning lecture, your weekly assignment, your loans, your fading youth, your lack of social life or even stress about how you aren’t stressing as much as your classmates. Stressing about stress is something only someone in the medical profession can do because you know what stress can do to your body. Stress can cause you to overeat and gain weight which can lead to coronary artery disease. Stress can also cause you to become immunocompromised and open you up to autoimmune diseases and outside infections. But medical students have been getting stressed for years and this leads to two truths: 1. If everyone else made it through so can YOU and 2. Over the years, there have been ways to conquer stress implemented all around us, you just have to find them.
The all-time best de-stressor in my life is exercise. I have been running since I was in 6th grade and I’ll continue to run until my knees give out. The runner’s high is definitely real and can take the place of any artificial stimulant. Exercise strengthens your heart, increases blood flow, improves memory, wakes you up, prevents diseases and can improve your immune system. You can run for 20 minutes or for 20 miles, the hardest part is just taking that first step out the door. There are plenty of other exercises to choose from. Some of the best forms of exercise are the ones that make you feel like you are not exercising. Team sports and gym classes are a few of my favorites.
Next, we have building a strong community. Be happy and merry with your classmates. You are all young and beautiful. Enjoy life. Take trips together, go try new experiences, this is your time to be carefree once in a while. Don’t lock yourself in your room with your First Aid book every night. Anyone of you can conquer medical school by yourself, but why? Use the resources in your classmates.
Lastly, sleep. I personally recommend at least 7 hours of sleep a night. I know this may sound impossible to some of you, but all those late nights will catch up to you. Try to go to bed a little earlier, your work will still be there when you get up. Nap while you still can because they will be a sweet memory when you enter third year, so I’ve hear.
Stress is just a part of life. It may be impossible to conquer all your stress, but you can find a balance to live in peace and harmony.