I don’t think it’s a big surprise that med school is stressful, but as much as it is stressful, it’s so important to learn how to de-stress and take time for yourself. Like I said in my last post, I quickly learned how valuable free time was once I started med school, but I also learned how important it was to learn good ways of stress relief. I think stress relief works very differently for everyone. For me, it varies between doing nothing but watching Netflix mindlessly in bed vs. going out to explore places and to have a little adventure. Whatever works for you to de-stress, I think it is important to prioritize de-stressing as a necessity in your life. It’s all too easy to tell ourselves that we don’t need to take these little breaks and push ourselves to focus and keep studying/working, but I’m a strong advocate for self-care, which is so important for mental health and to prevent burnout. I know I’ve only barely begun (just one year in!) the long journey of the medical career, but I’ve already read too much about physician burnout, and there are too many sad stories of physicians and medical students who feel that they can’t ask for help. All professions are demanding, but I think particularly with medicine, a profession in which you are largely taking care of others, it is important to take a breath once in awhile and remember to take care of yourself.
I don’t really know how to swim, but I love the water — ironic, I know. I find the water very calming (although I am definitely not calm when I accidentally go to the deep end in a pool and am floundering to stay afloat!), and I try to take all the opportunities I have to go on a boat tour or walk along rivers. When I was in Cape Cod last weekend, I went on a lovely hour-long boat cruise, which was amazing and made me appreciate once again how much I loved being in relative close proximity to these beautiful New England towns. I almost feel like I’m cramming in all the de-stressing activities I can in the two months of summer break because I know once second year starts, it’ll unfortunately be much harder to have these adventures. This summer break between my first and second years of med school will be my last prolonged summer vacation ever, so I’ve really been trying to make the most out of it!
Pro-tip for boat cruises: a scarf is quite versatile and comes in handy when it gets so windy your hair makes you look like an electrocuted cartoon character because you can tie the scarf around your head as a nice little headband!