You are now a graduate student on your way to becoming a health professional. I’m sure you feel overjoyed and excited to start the journey you’ve worked and studied so hard for. As orientation approaches, you are probably starting to feel anxious about this new chapter in your life. At this point last year, I was in your shoes. As the reality of starting PA school approached, I felt more and more excited …. yet nervous. Time will fly by when you're busy, and it's important to have the adequate tools in place to not only succeed in school, but to prioritize your mental health as well. The following are practices I have found that work for me. I hope they guide you on how to set time aside for your well-being and mental health. Here are 5 tips I wish I knew before I started school:
- Start your day by stretching!
To prepare your body and mind for the many tasks of the day, allow yourself 3 minutes to stretch when you get out of bed. Those 3 minutes can help stabilize your cortisol levels and help you not start your day in a panic.
- Set time aside for hobbies
Grad school can be overwhelming. It can feel impossible at times to take time for yourself during a module or before a test. However, taking time to do the activities you enjoy allows you to decompress and reset. Allowing yourself 20-30 min in the day for yourself can make the difference between burnout and endurance.
- Take short walks
There’s a lot of greenery surrounding our campus. The way I see it, if I’m paying thousands for tuition, might as well maximize it. Therefore, during lunch or breaks, take short walks with your friends. My walks are usually around 5 minutes long, but they help me get my steps in and create some distance from the classroom when needed. Never underestimate the power of nature.
- Call or facetime a loved one once a week
Trust me, I get it. Finding time for your own hobbies seems impossible at times, let alone calling a loved one. However, you need your support system! I make sure to facetime or call a loved one once a week to catch up on each other's life. Grad school is a big change, but it's important to keep in touch with the people that keep you grounded. Calls can be short, I’m sure both you and your loved one will appreciate them, nonetheless. Maybe take the time to walk and call?
- Prep your meals
When school first started, I was so focused on studying that I wasn’t taking time to eat. I was skipping meals entirely. Then, I would stress about what I would eat that week. Now, I meal prep twice a week. During that time, I listen to podcasts or music and decompress. Meal prepping can help you save time, money, and decrease stress.
Hope these tips were helpful. Best of luck and remember to prioritize your mental health.