As NPLEX I draws near (the first of two licensing board exams Naturopathic medical students have to write) I am beginning to see just how quickly this summer has past. Today officially marks three weeks until we write…. that’s only 21 days… that’s almost nothing when I look back to May thinking I had three months to prepare. Que freak out.
Instead of focusing on the negative emotions I have surrounding this exam, I’ve been making a valiant effort in approaching it positively. A “whatever happens, happens” attitude. Giving myself a lot of positive reassurance while also allowing my brain to have those moments of holy shit and then letting it pass. 16 months of straight medical school has really taught me a lot about how I coped with stress in the past and how I need to cope with stress now and in my future in order to thrive. I thought I’d share some of my de-stress tips I’ve acquired through my time at CCNM.
1. Don’t judge. Stress is a normal part of life and without it we may live in a very lazy society. I’ve always needed a little bit of stress to light a fire under me and get me motivated to work. Instead of wallowing in your stress, complaining about it and letting it take over your life – accept it. YOU ARE STRESSED. Take a moment to think about why you’re feeling a stress reaction, welcome it in, and then move on.
2. Exercise. It’s really hard to get wrapped up in what you’re doing and think there just isn’t enough time in the day to exercise anymore. I was an avid gym go-er when I came to CCNM and barely stepped foot in one my entire first year – because I thought I was too busy. Exercise can be a very powerful de-stresser weither it’s 10 minutes, 30 minutes or 2 hours. A little bit can go a long way. The endorphin’s released during exercise will help improve your overall mood. Regular exercise is also known to improve sleep – which can become a problem in a high-stress lifestyle. (1)
3. Meditation/Yoga. No time again? Not true. Taking 20 minutes out of your day to step away from what you’re working on and focus on yourself is something you will make time for once you try. Let the thoughts flow in and freely flow out as you take some calming deep breaths and just be you for a while. No distractions.
4. Nutritious meals. We all have our cravings when we are feeling the pressure. Mine typically changes, and last semester finals it was 2 sour cream glazed timbits (haha!). When I know I’m going to be writing exams or super busy, I take some time on the weekend to do some meal prep so there’s lots of healthy and nutritious food in the house that’s easy to grab and go in a rush. Fueling your brain for success will help you cope, keep your energy high and also help with any physical stress reactions you might have like canker sores or acne (two of my key indicators I’m feeling stressed).
It’s easy to let the pressure take over our lives. The most important tool to overcome stress is to remember to breathe. Trust yourself, take care of your body, and visualize the light at the end of the tunnel.
Back to the books!
In love & health,