We experience stress in different forms in our daily lives. I, being a medical student, always had to deal with a lot of stress. During the first two years of my medical college, I struggled with it and had a lot of breaking points. The competition, workload, responsibility, exams, all of these jumbled up to pressurize my mind. Although it facilitates us in many ways, the modern lifestyle has also been proven to create stressful situations, especially in urban centers. It influences the performance of a person, causes depression and demotivation.
I had also witnessed my medical class-fellows and friends facing stress-related anxiety. The first few years of Medical study can be overwhelming, as we move towards our professional life.
I want to share my experience with stress and want to tell everyone that how I overcame it.
My Medical studies and Stress
As I mentioned earlier, I have had my fair share of distress and suffering. I had no clue about stress management techniques. I was very excited about the perks of being a doctor, the charm of the white coat and the idea of being able to heal others. But things didn’t go as I imagined. When our session started, we were given assignments every week. The workload began to increase with every passing week. We had quizzes, class tests, homework and other tasks, which started to overload my brain with uncontrollable pressure. At first, I tried my best not to give up. But competition is very fierce in a medical college. Everyone is trying to be better than the rest. It creates a very tense environment and my body was in a constant state of stress.
I started having anxiety attacks. Sometimes I would not be able to prepare for my tests due to the fear of failure. My body began to give in as well. I started having palpitations, my hands would shake, and I felt like crying all the time. The future began to look very bleak for me. I used to have thoughts of giving up. I felt like maybe this wasn’t for me. The race of doing good and then better than the other class fellows traumatized me so much. There was no time to take a break or to sit back and relax. I didn’t know what to do.
The competitive environment in the hospital made me nauseous. I felt like a misfit in the medical field. Sometimes, I discussed it with my friends, and they shared similar kinds of experiences.
The last three months just before our final exams was the toughest time of my life. During that period, it’s even hard to find time for oneself.
Stress can create undesirable symptoms such as mental illness, eating disorders, cardiac disease, endocrinal disturbances.We also experienced some of these, especially during the final exams phase. Some students forget to eat or can’t because stress makes them nauseous, which deteriorates their health and makes them weak and fatigued. In comparison, some eat a lot due to stress which leads to obesity and other problems.
In medical college, they make us go through the drill to sharpen us and improve our performance. We have a lot of oral exams and vivas. Some of the students would panic so much that they used to throw up before the exam. That is how bad it gets due to all the stress that we face. Poor stress management leads to poor performance and failure.
With time, I learned to cope with the stress. I learned to manage my studies and my personal life. The stress that was causing me to give up started to motivate it. Yes, a medical college is indeed challenging and demanding. And there are going to be days when it’s worse. It’s a part of college life. However,we can quickly excel and survive these years by mastering the art of stress management, I learned there is always a way to dominate the situation instead of destroying my performance.
My Effective Stress management techniques
If you’re also a student, I encourage you to adapt and try some of my stress management techniques. I am sure you will find a big difference in your life as they are coming from someone who almost gave up. Let’s have a look at some of my most successful methods.
Meditation and Exercise
Taking some time out of your busy day to relax is essential to allow the body to perform well. Try to find some time to close your eyes and breathe. Do some breathing exercises by sitting comfortably in a chair or lying down. Then close your eyes and take deep breaths.
Let go of all the worry during this time. You can also practice yoga or go out for a walk. Exercising your body decreases the levels of stress hormone and relaxes the mind. It boosts the endorphins, which is good for health. When you are relaxed, you can perform better. So don’t belittle the importance of meditation and exercise.
I used to do yoga and breathing exercises, especially before my exams. It helped me beyond my expectations.
Night Sleep and Napping
I realized I wasn’t sleeping properly. My sleep cycle was ruined. I used to stay up so late then feel sleepy and lethargic, which made me more anxious. Sleeping in time gives us a sense of responsibility. When I slept in time, I felt energized and confident the next day. It helped me to decrease my stress levels surprisingly. It improved my performance in my class. I was able to focus during my lectures. I started participating more.
Quick napping during the afternoon can also relax your mind and body. Give yourself a little break, dream a little and wake up feeling fresh and calm. Sleep also regulates the levels of cortisol, which is produced in excess amount under stress.
Another helpful stress management technique is learning to plan your day. Make a planner for the next month, week or day. You can check out the list of tasks from your planner the next day before going to bed.
You often feel stressed when you’re running out of time and don’t know what to do and when to do it. Use a cute planner of your choice and use it to schedule your days.
I have been using a planner for two years now, and it has helped me so much. It alleviates my mood. Accomplishing your tasks and crossing them out on a piece of paper is one of the best feelings, I bet you. You need to try this one out for sure. When I have exams, I make a planner of topics I need to study the next day. Before doing this, I always felt like I was lagging. But now, I can cover all the topics I need to study.
Talk, Share, Don’t Be Shy
Reach out and share your problems with a close friend or family. If something is bothering you, you need to talk it out. I used to keep it all inside at first. I am not much of a sharer. But when I told my friends about how distressed I felt, it genuinely made me feel better. Saying the words, sharing my feelings lifted the heaviness from my mind.
My friends also shared their experiences, and the idea of not being alone made me feel like I was cured. When you reach out to others, you might find someone else going through precisely the same. So do not isolate yourself. Spend time with your favorite people, laugh it out and loosen yourself a bit.
Stress and Food
Consuming too much junk food has so many harmful effects on our bodies. Stress and fast food are interlinked. You need to feed your body with things that will help it perform well instead of filling your stomach with too many snacks and spicy food. Eat meals that have a high content of vitamin B, magnesium, omega fatty acids and protein.
Avocados, spinach, meat, fish, eggs, almonds are some of the best stress-reducing sources. They reduce inflammation and improve immunity. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and high carbs. They can increase your stress levels.
While stress management seems hard, if you stay consistent and mindful, you will be able to conquer it. Incorporate these simple techniques, and you will see a big difference in your life.