Managing Mental Health in Medical School

In medical school, it is not unusual to suffer burnout and worsening mental health given the harsh conditions of our studies. Student depression and poor mental health remain an unresolved issue as more students break down year after year unable to cope with the demands of medical school.

For you, this may look like not being able to eat proper meals and feeling like time is running out. At this point, you may feel like you can’t afford to take a break and you must continue to study as much as you can. There is no time to slack or fall ill. You must carry the heavy workload until you can’t keep up anymore.

Medical student feeling burned out

Of course, this lifestyle isn’t the best because after a few weeks, you will lose focus, won’t have any motivation or energy to study and it will feel as though your body and mind have finally given up. At this point of burnout, you are emotionally drained; you don’t want to complete your work because you simply don’t care anymore.

This burnout isn’t the same as stress. With stress, there is over-engagement and over-reactive emotions, hyperactivity and urgency. However, when your mental health is worsening as a result of burnout, there is disengagement, blunted emotions and lack of productivity.

Developing depression from burnout

So what can you do to stay sane in medical school? How do you acknowledge the issue, find help, prioritise your wellbeing, and challenge the stigma associated with mental health?

1. Talk to someone: For many people this can be tricky because when we go through these troubling emotions, we often would like to keep them to ourselves. Nevertheless, it is important to share what we are facing with counselors that work with complete confidentiality.

This way, you’ll be able to receive professional advice and begin to take steps back to a healthy mind that can work properly.

Talking to someone about your feelings

2. Have mini-breaks: Set out a day in the week when you don’t have to study anything at all. You can also create a specific time in the day when you stop studying every day. This will be your time to relax and mentally disengage.

You’ll be able to look forward to these times as you hope to regain your sense of purpose and happiness.

3. Be open to friendships: Medical school can be really isolating and difficult especially if you don’t have a good support system. If you don’t talk much with those around you, you can always make time to face time the people that are far away.

Spend time with friends

Their support will help you get through the bad times and find comfort and fresh joy in your relationships, school work and social life.

4. Get into a regular routine of exercise: This is useful in getting your hormones and endorphins going. It has in fact been proven that physical activity increases your self-esteem and can help reduce stress and anxiety.

It can be as simple as taking a long walk in the sun, following a YouTube workout session or maybe even going to the gym with a friend.

A regular routine of exercise helps your mental health

5. Do something you really love: You could spend more time on a side-job, business or even a hobby that takes your mind off of the stress of medicine. Sometimes you just need to relax and focus on other things to escape reality for a little while.

So, watch stand-up comedies and captivating movies. Read a thrilling fiction book. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks.

6. Stay Organised: Buy a small planner and get in the habit of writing everything down. Plan ahead what you need to do every day, week and month and get rid of that mental clutter. This will help you remain focused so you don’t procrastinate or feel overwhelmed by the task ahead.

A planner for your med school organisation

Check out my blog post: TOP 7 TIPS TO STAY ORGANISED EVERYDAY to find out other ways you can stay on top of your game as a student.

It’s absolutely okay to feel frustrated, tired and burnt out. It’s okay to fail and cry and need a break. It’s okay to not feel resilient and strong. But you must remember to be kind to yourself and allow yourself some mercy when the roads get rough. And always remember: It’s okay to ask for help.

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5 Responses

  1. Adesola Ajayi says:

    Thanks girl, all your points a valid! 😇😇

  2. Yinka says:

    Wholesome content Vivace. Thank you

  3. Ur fav african says:

    Good job baby girl !! Appreciate it !!🤗❤,keep giving us advices

  4. Moyinoluwa Adebiyi says:

    This is really good

  1. 5 October 2021

    […] way, you’ll give yourself more grace and avoid burnout and that familiar feeling of being overwhelmed. Being busy and being productive are not necessarily […]

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