Medical school is a hard journey, but one that is rewarding. However, there are many obstacles you must face in order to graduate – years of studying, passing exams, and trying to keep your sanity along the way. It’s no wonder why so many medical students have depression or anxiety. In this post, we’ll focus on the anxiety aspect of medical school.
It’s normal to be a little anxious for a big exam, or any other scholastic event. However, if your anxiety is making you unable to work on your projects, or is hurting your well-being, it needs to be treated. Here are some ways to reduce your anxiety.
Exercising can bolster your mental health by quite a bit through the release of endorphins, and if your anxiety is making you energetic, it can also help release some of the stored energy. In medical school (and generally), it’s important to work out regularly. While working out won’t make your anxiety magically disappear, it may help to reduce its severity. Go for a jog before or after your day. Do some crunches in your room. A little can go a long way.
School life – particuarly medical school – has been romanticized as being a sleepless experience. However, you should still try to get as much sleep as possible. This can help reduce feelings of anxiety and make you perform better. One way you can do this is to unwind and unplug after every day. If you have trouble sleeping, close your laptop or turn off your monitor, dim the lights in your sleeping area, limit the amount of ambient noise in your room (or turn on some soothing music), perhaps take a relaxing shower or hot bath, and settle in for a good night’s rest.
When you’re going to medical school, it’s important to make sure you’re eating as well as possible. You don’t need to be eating fruits and vegetables 24/7, but don’t eat takeout and fast food all the time, either. It can be difficult, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Don’t overeat, but don’t undereat either. If needed, talk to a professional to see how you can improve your diet.
Some people think that having a drink or taking an illegal drug can make them feel better when dealing with anxiety. While one drink after a long day is not bad, it shouldn’t become a habit. Alcohol is a depressant, so it may make the problem worse in the long run. Treating your mental health issues with alcohol and/or drugs should be avoided.
If you’re having an anxiety episode, one way you can prevent it in the future is to look for and identify your triggers. There may be certain sights, actions, situations, or thoughts that make your anxiety worse. Write down when the episode happened and try to find a reason based on the circumstances. Sometimes, your anxiety can feel random, but other times, there may be a cause that you didn’t think of. If there is a way to avoid your triggers, then do so. If not, try to figure out a way to reduce your exposure to the triggers, or reduce the severity in some fashion.
When you’re going through medical school, remember that those who work in the medical industry need help too. If you have anxiety, talking to a therapist may be able to work wonders. A therapist can teach you techniques when it comes to managing your anxiety. They can look at your situation and help figure out if there’s any reason for the anxiety, and you can work together to come up with solutions that work for you.
Medical school is hard, but studying and exams should be the challenge, not your anxiety. If you are struggling with anxiety, making lifestyle changes and seeking professional help is the solution you may need. Talk to someone today.
Brought to you in partnership with BetterHelp, an online counseling platform. AMSA has partnered with Betterhelp.com to provide 28 days of unlimited professional online counseling for our members. Find convenient, affordable, private online counseling with a licensed, professional therapist. Anytime, anywhere.