When you sign on to become a healthcare provider, you agree to commit to years of medical school. Much of your life will be spent behind desks, listening to lectures, and studying what you’re assigned to pass exams.
Between clinicals, studying, taking courses, and sleep, you might feel like you need more than 24 hours in your day. However, if you don’t add a buffer to include your health and social life, you’ll find yourself on a quick path to burnout.
Right now, you might be questioning how in the world you could possibly add more to your schedule. We get it. But the reality is that when your mental and physical health are taken care of, studying and learning information takes less time. Instead of staring at your textbook for hours, hoping the info jumps into your brain through osmosis, you actually understand what you’re reading.
How is it possible to add more time to your day? Here are some of the top tips to balance medical school with a social life and overall wellness to get you started.
1. Eliminate the Non-Essentials
First, let’s stress the reminder that med school is not forever. It might seem like it, but it’s only a temporary season in your life. With that said, consider taking a break from anything that isn’t absolutely essential. This will help you manage your time more effectively.
For example, if you feel like social media is a vital part of your life, that could be a sign that you need to cut it off or at least control the time you spend there.
You could deactivate your account until the semester is over, but that’s hard for a lot of us. At a minimum, instead of allowing yourself free reign to get on your social media accounts any time, use an app-blocking program to limit how much time you do spend scrolling and chatting with friends.
Figure Out Your Habits and Cut the Distractions
Review your day and get an honest feel for what non-essentials are distracting you from your goals. Those are time-suckers, and you’ll never get back the minutes and hours they leach from your life. Common time-suckers include:
- Social media scrolling
- Online distractions
- Social networking during study time
- Texts/phone calls
How you handle these distractions is crucial because there will always be new things trying to wiggle their way into your attention. Keep your phone off and in the other room when you’re studying. Set app blocks to limit how long you’re permitted to be on anything that becomes a rabbit hole of distraction. Use an alarm to get on a regular schedule.
And no matter how tempted you are to fall back into old habits, remember, this is temporary. You can always have your non-necessity back at the end of the semester.
2. Include a Social Life in Your Calendar
As you’re figuring out what things are essential and non-essential, pay attention to the people you’re giving time to, as well.
Your social life is an integral part of your overall wellness. However, you have limited time to spare, so be sure you’re giving those minutes to the people who are important to you.
Schedule time in your calendar to call your family and close friends. Make time for lunch or dinner one or two days a week with your favorites. Having a social life with people you enjoy being around can make the stress of medical school easier to shoulder.
3. Focus on Your Health and Wellness
Taking care of your health today will make you a better medical provider in the future. Your education teaches you that what you eat and drink, how you manage stress, and how you care for your wellness matters.
It’s easy to fall into the habit of eating unhealthy fast food or grabbing a snack on the run, and skipping your workouts. But if you want to avoid using that personal or employer-covered disability policy, you must start now. (Check out this article by Physicians Thrive for more info on the cost of disability insurance and why you need it.)
It might sound counterintuitive, but if you take two hours once a week to plan and shop for healthy meals, you’ll come out ahead on health and time-savings.
Rather than scrambling to find something to eat at the last second and settling for something unhealthy, you’ll have the ingredients prepared and ready to throw together. No more waiting in line at stores, at the cafeteria, or in restaurants throughout the week!
The nutritional meals you plan will give you more energy to get through the day and help you sleep better. When your sleep is restful, you don’t need as many hours to feel refreshed, and you can wake up earlier to get a jumpstart on your day.
Your education is your priority right now, and it’s easy to let other things slip to the side. However, medical school, your social life, and your wellness are all interrelated. When one falls out of balance, the rest do, too.
Follow these three tips to keep a firm grip on all of these areas of your life, and you’ll realize you really do have enough time in the day for everything!