How To: Deal With Stress and Anxiety in Medical School

I had always heard about the overwhelming stress of medical school. Some people get to the point where their anxiety transforms into physical symptoms, such as ulcers. When I got into medical school I was excited and terrified of the future. Would I do well? Was all this hard work to get into medical school worth it? Is this what I really want?

These were some of the questions I had never asked myself until a few months into medical school. The stress doesn’t sneak up on you necessarily, it greets you at the door with a marching band. It’ll be a huge component of your life from now on and they key to your sanity lies on how well you’re able to manage it.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t do that great of a job managing my anxiety and stress my first year of medical school. I lost about 20 lbs because of anxiety. I was so stressed out that I had lost my apetite. I would basically just eat for fuel. Which was extremely uncharacteristic of me because I LOVE FOOD. Luckily I was still carrying around my freshman/sophomore/junior/senior 15 from college. So, now that I’ve officially finished my first year of med school, I’m here to give you my top 5 tips on how to manage stress and anxiety.

1. Find a dependable support system

Whether it’s your parents, your siblings, your cousins, your neighbor, your significant other, a therapist, or your friends, make sure to you have someone you can talk to after a long day – because believe me you will have plenty of them. Your support system will serve as a safe place for you to vent, but it will also serve as an anchor to the real world. A med student becomes so inundated with the amount of studying and schoolwork that sometimes they forget that there is a whole world outside of their own. And that, despite what it feels like, there are other things going on in the world. Sometimes we need to be reminded of that so we don’t get lost in our own world of med school stress.

2. Create a routine

There are very few guarantees in the medical field. One thing my professors keep telling me is that the word “always” does not exist in medicine, only if used as such: “there are always exceptions”. So having a routine can help you stay grounded throughout unpredictable ups and downs of your med school experience. It could be a study routine with friends, or a few minutes just to yourself with a cup of coffee in the morning.

3. Buy a planner

This might not apply to everyone, but having a planner has saved me from many headaches. I’ve written a detailed post on How To Organize Your Life with a planner. Check it out to get a better explanation on how to use a planner to suit your needs.

4. Don’t be too harsh on yourself

Weren’t able to finish all of the reading you had planned? No sweat, you’ll get to it. Quiz didn’t go that well? You’ll do better next time. Cut yourself some slack once in a while. You’re already under so much pressure from assignments and studying while in med school, don’t add any unnecessary stress to the mix.

5. Treat yourself

This might be one of the most important tips I could give. Med school is going to be a long, strenuous ride. If you don’t take the time to enjoy the little things here and there, you will burn out. Take some time for yourself. I try to give myself some me time after a test or exam, and make sure I rest up so I’ll be fresh to get back to work in the morning. Make sure to take care of your body as well as your mind.

I hope this was helpful! Let me know if these tips work for you, and any suggestions you might have!

○ peace, love, & obnpt ○

. . .


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