Mental Health as a Med Student

The stress of summer ending and school starting can have anyone uneasy: new friends, new teachers and new work. As a new med student, the stress of school and other important assignments was scary for me. It seems like there is never time to relax. When you are done studying for one test, you need to start studying for another. You are up early and go to sleep late. About into my third month of school, I was feeling severely burnt out: physically and mentally.

The toll of school, the pressure, and stress was overwhelming. It was enough for me to want to “shut down.” I didn’t want to learn anymore, I didn’t want to study, I just wanted to be left alone. I didn’t care about my classes, work or even my friends.

I learned a very important lesson my first semester: to take better care of me. Yes, I am a student, but I am also human and so are you! There is more to you than tests and books.

 And even though school is important, so is your mental health! This took me a while to understand and realize that I needed to start taking better care of myself. I stopped going to the gym, taking time to talk to my friends and family and even skipped some meals for the sake of studying. I was missing out on these activities that I loved doing because I did not consider them as important as school. Once I realized I was burnt out, I needed a way to step away from school and regain those activities that I was putting aside.

I needed to understand that it’s okay to take a minute to breathe! It’s okay to take a walk! It’s okay to step away from your work for a while! As a student, we are expected to work or study until there is nothing left to learn. Sometimes our brains just cannot handle that for a long period of time and it’s okay to give your brain a break. Just stepping away from your work for 30 minutes can help you focus and relax. Listen to your favorite music, go to the gym or for a walk, call your friends or family. Do anything that will help remind you what is important and why you are doing what you are doing. Taking a breather for yourself allows your brain to “reset” so you can go back to your work refreshed and focused. And don’t forget school is important but so are you!

Have you ever experienced burnout? What advice do you have when you feel like you’re mentally exhausted but prioritizing school or work over everything else?

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