Decreasing Stress, Increasing Production: How I Found Time in Med School to Make My Health a Priority
Sometimes I feel like a robot; going through the motions, forgetting about people and just focusing on the medicine.
I had a workout schedule that I stuck to, but I found myself spending my gym time stressing about getting home to study. I couldn’t seem to focus on anything else. “If only I had more time!” I thought, frustrated as I watched the minutes tick by. In reality, I didn’t need more time.
What I needed was a break.
After lots of trial and error, I figured out that the constant regimen of studying as many hours as possible was ineffective. It took some time, but eventually I found a way to work some breaks into my hectic schedule.
By setting my health as a priority, I immediately I felt my stress levels plummet, and watched both my productivity and my grades go up.
Here’s how I did it:
While you don’t need to schedule a specific time, you need to get a routine.
Our class schedule is not consistent, so general schedules work better and are easier to stick to. I’ve found that by doing workouts I enjoy, I succeed in distracting your mind from my ever-growing to do list.
Every Tuesday and Thursday after class I go on a run and do a quick H.I.I.T (high intensity interval training) workout.
10 burpees, 20 squats, 30 lung jumps, 40 mountain climbers, 50 crunches
Repeat (x 3)
On Monday, Wednesday and Sunday I lift, sometimes at lunch.
I don’t have a lot of time, so the high-intensity, perspiration-inspiring workout is perfect.
Your workouts shouldn’t be the only thing you’re preparing for. By also preparing the food you’re going to eat, you can not only save time, but also eliminate the urge to turn to unhealthy options.
Each Sunday night I sit down and plan my meals for the week. I even schedule takeout on days I know I will need some comfort food! Once I have a menu put together, I can start making some of those meals immediately, putting them in the fridge for an easy pick-up later.
By planning for a “cheat meal” (or two) I also force myself to consider the pros and cons of eating something that may not be healthy, knowing that I’ll have to counter those splurges by working out harder and eating healthier leading up to the splurge.
Easy meal prep ideas:
Granola (great with milk and fruit for the mornings)
Overnight oats (get all the dried stuff ready so all you have to do is add milk)
Frozen smoothies (just cut fruit and freeze in a mason jar, chia seeds are amazing)
Veggie enchiladas (frozen meals can be healthy!)
Boiled eggs (great for an on-the-go snack)
Salad prep (Tupperware helps, and makes portioning much easier)
Cut veggies for snacks and salad packs (if your fruits and veggies are cut and ready to go, it is much easier to incorporate them in everything)
At the end of the day, do what works for you.
It is not always about being on the most current diet or doing what everyone else is doing. Do what you’re capable of. Everyone has to start somewhere.
For a few summers I have taught group training sessions. Typically, there are about five people in the training groups. From former college athletes to people recovering from knee surgery, everyone works alongside one another, sweating and burning their way toward a better version of themselves.
Were all at a different set point, but even small changes are progress. So make the change. Commit to your own health. It’s never too late to start, and there’s no better time than now.
Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later.
Osteopathic Medical Student - 2nd year (OMS II)
Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences