Being a medical student is a challenging feat. With the never-ending lectures, exams, and the need to have an actual social life, it’s crucial to find ways to make med school a little less overwhelming.
As someone who was once a healthcare student, I know that, fortunately, there are medical school life hacks that rely on the fundamentals that we need to live a balanced life.
You needn’t spend five years in Tibet for a calm life. Now let’s explore some study hacks and tips for maintaining mental health, focusing on both your academic and personal needs during your medical education journey.
1. Prioritize Your Mental Health
Busyness comes with the territory as a med student; however, prioritizing self-care during medical school is not a luxury or a nice-to-have; it’s a survival necessity.
At the top of your daily routine, you should put activities that help you unwind and melt stress away from your body. Whether through meditation, painting while watching Bob Ross, or practicing Karate, taking care of yourself mentally will lead to better focus and motivation in your studies.
Remember, the best study hack or study tip won’t work unless your body is working correctly, and guess what? Your mind is part of your body.
2. Create a Solid Study Strategy
Developing a study strategy is one of the most commonly overlooked life hacks for med students. We tend to study in stressful sprints, trying to keep up with the lousy study habits we carry from high school.
Become curious about different study methods and try a few of them. Order and routine may seem like a bore but when you settle on a way that works best for you, you will discover how relaxed you are, as you know what to do next, and this relief from mental burdens.
Explore flashcards and other visual aids, and join study groups encouraging discussion about the lecture material. Seek out, and you will find a fit that matches your style.
Setting aside designated study time each day seems like a simplistic solution, but simplicity works, as routines keep us organized and, most importantly, diminish our cognitive loads.
3. Stay Organized with Assignments and Deadlines
I’m guilty of underestimating the value of being an organized person. Forget a moralistic point of view; organization plays an essential role in reducing stress levels during medical school.
Systems to keep track of assignments, tests, and deadlines –make your mind feel better as it doesn’t have to keep track of dozens of opened mental tabs.
The choice is entirely personal. Whether it’s using Google Calendar, a planner, or an app designed for busy students, seek external help to organize your life. Keep track of everything, from professor’s office hours to random medical advice you get from someone.
The more you save and keep organized, the less stress you will feel.
4. Learn to Manage Distractions
In the constant scroll and instant gratification world, distractions directly affect med students’ ability to balance their studies and personal life.
Again, forget about nagging advice or dull discourses. Distraction makes you a mental mess. Why? Because it forces your mind to work extra, trying to keep up with exciting stimuli.
Make an effort to identify the things that derail your focus. We all fall for something. Develop strategies to manage them. The best tip is to remove temptation. For instance, if your social media platform of choice is Instagram, put its icon on the third page of your phone and turn off notifications. This way, you will be less tempted to look at pictures of beautiful people.
Keep your study area clean. A clutter-free environment, just ask Marie Kondo, promotes focus and reduces the time spent searching for books, notes, or other materials during a study session.
5. The Sweet Balance Between Study and Social Activities
Medical school is demanding, so neglecting your personal life is particularly easy. Studying takes up a great deal of your time. I’ve been there. However, make room for social activities and hobbies that you enjoy.
Take regular breaks and schedule leisure activities. Take your personal life and relationship seriously, as they will either boost or hinder your progress.
A healthy lifestyle balance can help prevent burnout, boost motivation, and improve mental health.
A Happy and Busy Student
The medical field demands a lot from each person who wants to contribute to helping people remain healthy. Ironically, many medical students neglect their own health in trying to deal with their multiple responsibilities.
Don’t fall for this trap. If you follow my tips, it will be much easier to maintain connections outside of school and be the best version of yourself so that you can cope with challenging moments in your medical education journey.
Is it possible to have a life in medical school?
Yes, you can have a life in medical school by finding the right balance between your studies and healthy personal routines. Self-care, predictable and effective study strategies, managing distractions, and making time for social activities are foundational to having the energy to build a life outside medical school.
How can you become the best medical student?
Becoming the best medical student involves:
- Staying organized with deadlines.
- Managing distractions effectively.
- Maintaining relationships with professors through office hours and networking. Developing a solid study strategy tailored to your learning style.
Don’t focus exclusively on academics. The social component is critical. If you’re not great with soft skills like communication, work hard to develop them. They make a difference in your success.
Do medical students have a social life?
Medical students have limited free time, but it’s still possible to maintain a social life. The most significant shift is to treat assigned time for your social life while you learn about medicine. Schedule your free time for healthy social activities. Even if you have 30 minutes, use them to connect with people. Self care is non-negotiable.