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As I mentioned in the last part of my previous blog post, on any test day you want an excellent performance. To do this, you need to take care of yourself. Here I share with you 10 ways I practiced self-care in medical school:
1. Music-> As a Puerto Rican studying medicine abroad, listening to music while cooking, showering, or doing pretty much anything, was the norm. I love listening to salsa, reggeaton, or Rock n’ Roll with my JBL speaker or while using my beats. Music helps you express yourself in multiple ways. You can sing, dance, or interpret a song and express yourself with it.
2. Working out-> Every once in a while I would take a pair of Earpods and hop on the treadmill or lift some weights. Be sure to wear a workout outfit that makes you feel confident.
3. Yoga-> During my 5th semester I enjoyed doing 5 to 10 minutes of yoga every morning either on my yoga mat or on my bed. Doing this made me feel energized, flexible, relaxed, and ready for the day.
4. Aromatherapy-> Anxiety is real and is predominant in medical students. I get anxious before exams. I always use my diffuser and essential oils to calm myself down. Scented candles also do the trick and bring a sense of peace to the room.
5. Journaling-> Writing is a powerful tool. When you write you express your feelings and put your goals out in the universe. You can write the things you are grateful for daily, visualize your future, and plan your goals. I wrote in my journal every morning before starting my day.
6. Meal prepping-> Every Sunday I would cook two different meals for a couple of hours and put my snacks in Tupperware. Having little free time can make us eat high-sugar snacks, salty frozen or premade meals, and energy drinks. Sometimes it could make us even skip meals. Healthy eating equals a healthy mind and body.
7. Support system-> Without my family, friends, boyfriend, and mentors I would not be where I am today. They never let me forget my dreams and goals. When I need somebody to talk to, I have many options. Value your support system. They will keep you on track and accountable.
8. Wellness-> Schools usually have wellness services. These could include group meetings, yoga, drawing, and meetings with a counselor, among others. If you feel overwhelmed, you could bring a couple of classmates and do some activities together. Pay attention to your mind and body.
9. Spirituality-> Being spiritual helps a person believe in something bigger than them and not feel alone in this world. Some people are Christians and pray and/or frequently go to church. Others prefer meditating, healing crystals, and sage. It doesn’t matter what keeps you going. Just hold on to it if it’s doing you good.
10. Taking breaks-> For me breaks and the one thing that keeps me sane and grounded. Sometimes we isolate ourselves so much that we forget about the outside world. Some of my favorite breaks include going for a walk, watching the sunset, running, and dancing while cooking. Give yourself a break every day and try something new.
These are my mental health practices. These worked for me during my first two years of medical school. If you are having negative thoughts, feel fatigued, or have isolated yourself or stopped doing the things you enjoy, please seek professional support such as an academic counselor, a psychologist, or other mental health professionals.
Here are some resources you could seek:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255 (TALK)
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