Studying, stress and self-care20 April 2021
Confession & Commitment!As for lot of people these days, life has been so busy lately. Some highs and lows, and in the midst of this, I find that the one thing I push away the most when I am stressed is blogging/ journalling my thoughts. I’ve realised that because I see it as another “task”, I tend not to write frequently and get complacent in sharing my previous blogs to ‘prospective students, which have the planned out ‘core content’ they need.
This time round, in the midst of delivering my planned content, I want to challenge myself to write weekly/fortnightly short reflections spending no longer than 90 minutes, straight from the heart to the page, no prior planning – the only editing commitment being creating the header to suit the title and adding images as I see suit! I’ll be sure to update how I’m finding the benefits of it later down the line!
So here goes…
It’s a week before my final exam of Year 3 and it’s astonishing to see how quickly time has flown by, particularly during what feels to me like a time warp during COVID-19. How am I feeling for it? Excited as it’s getting closer to summer break and being in Year 4; but nervous as I plan to apply to intercalate so wanting to keep up the grades for rankings and also importantly passing it! A range of emotions which builds up in me becoming the “s” word that we all strive to avoid…
And actually, that’s perfectly okay. It’s completely normal to feel a bit of pressure and have a bit of worry, but I think channelling it in a way to support wellbeing, both physical, mental and spiritual for me is so important!
I’ve yet to write a blog about my approach to studying (I’ll add to the list of ideas now though!), but one thing I tend to use often, like many other medical students, is Passmedicine. It’s a question bank which covers all the specialties and has useful notes and quickfire fact practice (known as Knowledge Tutor). Everytime I go to open it for a study session, I get a reminder of how long to go to the next exam, anything above >30 days makes me feel calm, thinking there is plenty of time; but then, all of a sudden, I panick realising time is running out and this was the case for me this morning:
However, I relaxed quickly because I had taken the time out on Sunday to give myself a rough plan of the topics that I wanted to recap everyday, with mini-targets to keep me motivated. It reminds me of the phrase my Mum regularly reminds me of: “prior planning prevents poor performance!”, and she’s exactly right (well she’s ALWAYS right!), it makes such a difference!
*Having study goals before starting work helps me reduce stress!*
To quickly add to that, I personally think it’s down to personal choice, how much planning and structured sessions should be “scheduled” into everyday, because on the converse, the reason I gave up with strict revision timetables a long time ago was everytime I would overestimate how much work I wanted to do everyday and get even more stressed out not completing my plans!
So I’ve spoken about the studying and stress, so what about the self-care? Well actually, this morning before sitting down to blog, I had come back from an outdoor exercise plan- I’ve challenged myself to complete the Couch to 5k app to ease myself back into physical activity before the gyms eventually open in Wales.
It’s made such a difference to my mood, starting my day with exercise and also helping me to shape back up, like many others something I’ve struggled with is putting on “lockdown weight” and it’s great to actually do something about it, alongside more intentional healthy eating to lose it gradually!
There’s so many other aspects to self-care which I try to make a conscious effort in my day-to-day activities such as taking breaks (including screen-time!), sleep hygiene, catching up with housemates and friends, and my spiritual rhythms as a Christian including prayer, Bible reading and worship.
*Making a Conscious Effort to incorporate self-CARE *
And by no means is that list extensive, that only scratches the surface! I really like this graphic which I found on Reddit which summarises these aspects and helped me reflect on my practices:
Ultimately, intertwining self-care time with studying as well as pursuing my other interests and activities, for me has helped me with the buzzword we love to use:
… which is often one of the most common things I get asked about medicine, is there time outside of studying? Absolutely, if there isn’t, personally I think a self-evaluation is required as to what is essential to your time. It’s okay to say no to look after yourself and it’s something I remind myself often as someone who is always eager to get involved with societies, projects and volunteering.
Thanks for reading! Tune in again next week to follow the new format of my reflective journey!
Note for prospective students: if you are looking for more structured content on medicine applications/ medicine at Cardiff or anything else, please head to my homepage to find the links to all of my previous blogs and a link to message me on Unibuddy where I am available all year round to assist your queries!