Welcome to MBKU! Congratulations on being a step closer to your dream career goals!
Even though there is a long road of lectures, labs, clinic, proficiencies, and assignments ahead, the hard work in the end will all be worth it. While it may seem like you’re bombarded with exams every week, remember to take a step back and take a chance(s) to destress and relax. Graduate school is definitely a time commitment with all those weeks watching lectures, taking notes, making flashcards and study guides. Stress and burnout can easily occur to anyone, so here are some tips to help eliminate exam stress.
The great thing about this tip is that you don’t necessarily need a gym membership! Personally, sitting for long periods of time while studying has made my body feel tense and strained. Usually through the midpoint of my study sessions, I do a 10-60 minute workout. If the day is bright and sunny out, I would go out on a 10-30 min run around the neighborhood. For days I don’t feel like leaving the house, I bust out my exercise mat and choose a workout video on Youtube. There are so many free workout videos out there that target specific regions of the body such as arms, back, abs, glutes, and legs. Some of the fitness Youtube channels I follow are Chloe Ting, MadFit, and Pamela Reif. Occasionally I do yoga to get a good stretch, especially since my posture does get weird after long periods of sitting. If you’re feeling really pressed for time but still want to take a break, you could also do a few crunches, push-ups, or planks. Remember that even a short workout is better than no workout at all.
Phone or Facetime a Friend
Not going to lie, graduate school does take up most of your daily life, and chances are not everyone in your friend group has pursued the exact same career path as you. However, you don’t have to wait until holiday breaks to catch up with your friends! Topics can vary from dating and grocery shopping hauls to checking up on well-being and words of encouragement. I even Facetime some of my classmates even though we know we’re supposed to be studying for an exam coming up. Talking about different topics beyond your field adds variety to daily life. Having someone to talk to always puts me in a good mood to know that I’m not alone, especially coming from a pandemic. Having a support system in graduate school is indispensable. I appreciate having friends and family to celebrate the good times and provide support during the bad times.
Watch a TV show episode, podcast, Youtube videos, or TikToks
This one can be tricky, but definitely doable as long as you put a time limit on this type of study break. Whether watching an ongoing show or a rerun, watching a TV episode is a good way to recharge yourself and allow your mind to sit back from the busy lifestyle of graduate school. Listening to a podcast or watching Youtube videos are great sources to learn something new outside your discipline (or be glad to listen to material you won’t be tested on). Also, as they say, laughter is the best medicine. Thus, tagging your friend in memes on Facebook or watching TikToks are perfectly acceptable study breaks. Also, playing interactive online games or board games with your classmates is a great way to bond and destress. My classmates and I used to play Among Us and Codenames, and we often get competitive.
I loved coloring books as a kid, and I still use coloring books today! A lot of material in graduate school can seem very dense, complex, and daunting. Thus, a simple activity such as coloring books has put my restless mind at ease while also feeling creative and focused. The beauty of this is that there is no required skill level! Other modes of creative relaxation can include painting, puzzles, crocheting, making music playlists, and journaling.
Treat and Reward Yourself With Food
It’s often stated that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I didn’t realize until I took a physiology course in undergrad that breakfast literally means breaking the overnight fasting period. For me personally, eating breakfast does increase my alertness and energy levels as opposed to days where I skip and end up feeling lethargic. Thus on days where exams are in the morning, I usually spend some time making a heartier breakfast than just cereal and milk. Usually, I would indulge in a chocolate muffin, breakfast burritos, or scrambled eggs and avocado toast. In fact, looking forward to a fancy breakfast usually motivates me to wake up early in the morning before exams. Whenever exams were in the afternoon, I would treat myself to milk tea or ice cream afterwards! Making exam days as “treat myself days” is definitely a good way to give yourself encouragement.
Bonus tip: Play with your pets!
This isn’t an exhaustive list. Do what makes you happy. You deserve it. Always remember to put things in perspective. A test isn’t a reflection of your self-worth. The hard work and dedication you invest will shine through to you being a good healthcare provider.