Medical school has never been an easy endeavor and can bring out many students’ stressors. With the demanding academics required in med school, burnout can manifest in even the most bright and resilient students.
Burnout is often described as a physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion brought on by repeated stress. Burnout can manifest itself in a variety of symptoms that you should look out for:
- Physical symptoms such as headaches or stomach issues
- Emotional exhaustion or feeling drained, unable to cope, and overtired.
- Reduced performance or creativity that prevents tasks from being completed
- Alienating yourself from activities and feelings of negativity towards the curriculum, teachers, and students
- Incapable of meeting deadlines
- Lashing out at others due to increased irritability
- Feelings of anxiety or depression
- Reduced sense of personal accomplishment
Medical students experience burnout in alarming numbers. Many studies indicate as many as 50% of students suffer from this affliction. With depression and suicide rates rising in medical students, it’s essential to take burnout seriously and do what you can to alleviate some of the pressures of medical school. If you start to experience symptoms of burnout, 9 tips to help prevent medical student burnout.
Get Enough Sleep – Sometimes, it’s challenging to pull away from work you need to do, but you are doing more damage by not getting enough sleep. Sleep is essential to avoid burnout and keep your mind sharp. Sleep allows your mind to process everything you’ve learned through the day and refreshes your body and mind. With enough sleep, you will be ready to take on the challenges of the next day.
Seek Social Support – When you’re feeling overwhelmed and feel burnout coming on, you should seek social support. Talk to your friends, family, and fellow medical students. They can be a great source to talk out issues and work together through problems you are facing. They can also be a great source of distraction and help you take a step away and focus on something positive, like spending time with people you care about.
Optimize Your Time – Time management for medical students is essential. When overwhelmed, important things tend to slip through the cracks, including caring for yourself. A great way to combat this is to ensure your time is managed and make time for those seemingly insignificant things like eating. Schedule your breakfast, study time, fun activities, whatever you need to focus on throughout the day on a calendar to ensure you get all your tasks completed. Ensure your priorities are tasked out, and try and make sure you leave a little room for the unexpected.
Practice Self Care – It’s easy to get caught up in med student life and allow it to consume you. When you don’t take time to do the things you enjoy, depression can set in and take over. Self-care looks different for everyone. It can be reading a book, taking a 30-minute walk through the park, taking a relaxing bath, working out at the gym, or writing in a journal. Make sure you take a least one break throughout your studies to take care of yourself. It will be difficult, and at first, you may feel guilt, but once you see the positive effects it can take on your mind and body, it’s easier to keep going, and burnout will happen less often.
Seek Help Through Tutoring – Medical school can be mentally overwhelming, and when you are stuck or struggling with some of the academics, you may feel burnt out. Hiring a tutor can help take on the task of working through complex concepts and help you alleviate the stress that comes with studying. Working with a tutor can help you prevent and treat burnout. Getting help gives you more time back to study without getting stuck in challenging subjects.
Learn to Be Okay with Saying No – It’s hard to let people down, but when you have a high workload, you have to prioritize important work when people ask for help. You have to be comfortable saying no to help with extra tasks for fellow students or your boss when they ask you to work extra shifts.
Get Plenty of Physical Activity – Exercise is a great stress reliever and is one of the most effective ways to fight depression. Exercise can be anything from walking outside to hitting the gym and lifting weights. It’s a great break from the overwhelming task of always studying, and it can improve your body and mind’s overall health.
Set Realistic Goals – In medical school, there are many things you may want to accomplish, but it’s not always possible to get everything you want to get done. There are only 24 hours in a day, and you want to avoid cramming too much in, which can set you up for failure and lead to disappointment and feelings of burnout. Be sure to plan and know your limits.
Remember Why You are Here – When you are overwhelmed, it’s easy to lose sight of the many accomplishments that got you to where you are today. Take a moment to reflect and look at the big picture. Remind yourself of your goals and that they are attainable. When you reflect, you can remind yourself that the hard work you have been doing is not for nothing.
Medical school burnout is real and continues to be a problem throughout the medical student community. The key is to make sure you get ahead of the problem and make essential changes in how you approach your schedule and study time to make it more manageable. Take as many breaks as you need and even schedule a time to go on a vacation. Finally, don’t be afraid to get help when you need it, and know you can make it through med school without losing who you are.
If you are a medical student that needs help with medical school, we can help you increase your comprehension and tackle complex concepts. Find out more about how we can help you at Man of Heal www.manofheal.com.
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