Why I'm Stressed Out
College truly has its ups and down, its such an amazing time for students to figure out who they are, gain independence, and make lifelong friends....but it's also the most stressful time. Whatever your major or career path we've all dealt with this stress, today I'm gonna be talking about what's been stressing me out as a pre-med STEM student in college.
I feel like I never have enough time in the day
I have some days that start at 8 am and end at 9 pm and between all my classes and meetings I'm still trying to squeeze in time for assignments. The days and weeks fly by, it seems like that exam that is two weeks away is staring in front of you with the blink of an eye. Some days as I go to bed I literally can't believe that the day has already ended and I feel as though I didn't accomplish enough. This feels worse especially as classes get harder because they require more and more hours of your time to master the topics.
Let's take today for example, I only have two 50 minute courses and the rest of the day was free! I was so excited that I had all these hours in the day to work, after spending a total of 6 hours in ESJ then 4 hours in my room working, I got my french assignments done, notes and quiz done for biology, and some practice problem in organic chemistry done. Was it productive...yes but I still have a long to-do list and still need to memorize my pKa values. Each class takes several hours and those were only three of mine, so you can see how easy it is to feel overwhelmed.
My to-do list never ends
This one really effects me, in college there is ALWAYS something you can be doing. Even after all your assignments are done there is always more studying and practicing you can be doing.
How this effects me is that when I take free time to do fun things, I often later in the week start to regret it because I had so many other things I could be doing. It can be very stressful because I know that I not only deserve but need those hours of rest however there is the freaked out college student side of me that challenges this ideal. Even the time I'm taking to blog can be time that I could be studying!
Every decision I make affects my future
This is where the stress of being a pre-medical student really comes to play. I am spending these four years trying to make myself the best candidate for the highly competitive selection process for medical school. I've heard the speech from medical school admissions again and again, 3.7 GPA or higher, hundreds of hours in volunteering, getting shadowing opportunities, do research, do well in your STEM courses. While other students can focus on simply passing a class and working towards their degree, I'm literally thriving for all the As I can get and for perfection in courses that sometimes simply can't be reached.
This is why my mistakes affect me so much, earlier last week I switched the times that my labs started around and ended up arriving to my Biology lab late resulting in me getting a zero on two assignments that we did that day. Words can't express how pissed at myself I was and you know what's the first thing I pictured? It was me in a medical school interview explaining why I got a B in an introductory biology class.
I know-so dramatic and something that wouldn't happen, but that just shows you were my mind goes to.
This kind of mindset can get unhealthy very quickly, after all we are humans and make mistakes. Although part of being a doctor means that our mistakes could be detrimental to our patients and so I try to learn from my mistakes now so I don't make them again in the future.
The stress that we face as college students, and especially pre-medical students, can be truly overwhelming. I'm here today to say I feel it. I know the feelings oh too well, however I also have some tips to cope with everything I just mentioned.
Our mental health and sanity is more important than our GPA. Read that again and make sure you know it's true. For this reason BALANCE is so important in order to be a healthy and functioning college student.
"It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it."
Organizing my Time
The first thing that I do when I'm feeling overwhelmed is to organize my time. I do this by using my planner and my calendar, I find that writing everything down really helps me to see the things that I need to do and to use my time more effectively. I like to make to-do lists on the weekends and write thing in the order of most importance. This really helps me to organize my thoughts!
"You can't control the wind but you can adjust the sails"
Make Time for Yourself
When you're stressed out and overwhelmed sometimes the last thing you want to do is to take a break, but sometimes this is truly what you need to do. Even though I have that side of myself thats telling me to keep working as I said earlier, I really try to ignore that voice! If I hear about something fun happening on campus I add it to my schedule right away! I found that by doing this I find ways to reorganize my time and still get the things I need to done.
Have a weekly routine in which you do something for yourself each week. It can be going to the gym each Sunday, which is something I do. It can be sleeping in on either Saturdays or Sundays. It can be going out on Friday nights if that's what you're into.
One thing that I recently heard from a doctor was that he would always read for an hour each day, no matter what he schedules in that hour of reading time. Find an activity that relaxes you and give it one hour of your time each day.
I can't stress the power of positive thinking. When I missed my lab I instantly started panicking repeating how I couldn't believe this was happening to me, the tears started and so did all the negative thoughts. However, for the past few weeks I've been reading a book on positive psychology and I truly believe it helped me turn this situation around. I switched my mindset into how I could improve the situation and ended up staying for the entirety of the lab with a smile on my face as I helped my peers through the activity even though I was not going to gain any points.
I realized that this is what life is all about, bad things are continuously going to happen. (After all the universe is always increasing in disorder according to the second law of thermodynamics). My point is that reworking your brain to pick out the positives in even the shittiest situations can make a big difference in your mindset and work ethnic.
Didn't do too well on your last exam? Focus on improving instead of focusing on the fact that you failed. Validate yourself for the questions you did get right and work from there!
I really suggest this novel, I'll probably dedicate a whole blog to it once I finish it.
Also if you're on the UMD campus there is a great event coming up and I recommend to you all, Michelle Gielan, an executive producer of the book I just mentioned, will be speaking about the psychology of happiness. I'll be there and hope to see you all there too!
"Stop focusing on how stressed you are and remember how blessed you are."
Focus on the Future
When I'm feeling stressed out one thing that I do is focus on the future. I have these big goals ahead of me and so all the stress that I'm dealing with is just to get my to that big dream. I also know that things will only get harder and harder, and so when I'm feeling overwhelmed I just focus on the fact that I can do this, because if I truly felt that I couldn't handle undergraduate then I wouldn't be able to handle medical school and residency.
I also think of all the people who have went through all this before me and accomplished the same goals I have, I love hearing doctors talk and give the stories of what they went through. Do you know what they often suggest? For us pre-meds to not lock ourselves in the library and study 24/7 but to focus on becoming well-rounded individuals who are enjoying life!
My goals and dreams mean so much to be and so I know that I will do whatever it takes to accomplish them. The passion that I feel for becoming a doctor one day is the thing that takes me from being stressed, down, and overwhelmed to feeling confident and ready to work!
I suggest pre-meds to join a society/organization where they can be motivated and supported by other people going through the same process. I am secretary of Charles R Drew Pre-Health Society which focuses on supporting minorities in medicine and I suggest it to any minority pre-health on this campus.
I really try to keep it real with you all so I felt it was important to share my experience on the topic of stress. We all deal with it so let's talk about it and how we can best deal with it. Send me messages or leave a comment if you related to anything I said or if you're going to try some of the tips I mentioned.
Thanks for reading,