‘Work-life balance’ is a buzz word often thrown about, but it can be easier said than done when it comes to achieving it – especially when you’re pushing towards a goal like getting into medical school.
Finding that balance early on can help you to avoid burnout, remain physically and mentally healthy and be more productive. All of which makes you happier in the long run.
Here are six tips to help you find (and keep!) a sustainable work-life balance while working towards medical school and beyond.
When you’re busy any semblance of balance in your life can quickly disappear. This is why it’s important to get a handle on the ‘work’ part of things.
Writing out your tasks and their deadlines can help you feel more in control of what it is you need to achieve. Being able to visualise exactly what is coming up can help you to prioritise and ensure no deadlines are missed in the rush to submit assignments and applications.
Plus, the satisfaction that comes from crossing something off your list can encourage even greater overall productivity.
Just as you need to plan time to do your work, it is also helpful to specifically structure time into your day to do something you enjoy. Whether that be for fifteen minutes, three hours or an entire day. It’s all about finding that balance!
Try to work out what it is you like to spend your free time doing and which activities help you feel refreshed. This is likely to be different for everyone and could include activities indoors or outdoors, in groups or solo. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new activities to find what you enjoy doing most.
3. Volunteer and give back to your community
Another idea to break up your working hours and find balance is to make a difference in your local community through volunteering. Helping others can be rewarding for our mental health and well-being, as well as providing opportunities to develop new skills and make new friends.
4. Stay focused
Regardless of whether you’re studying or taking time out for yourself, it’s important to be present and fully focused on the task at hand.
If you’re distracted by looming deadlines when you’re meant to be catching up and having fun with your friends, you won’t be able to enjoy this precious time. You probably won’t feel any less stressed either.
Give yourself intentional and truly restful breaks and you’ll find it easier to stay focused when it’s time to sit down and do work.
Your friends and family are an excellent support network to lean on and don’t be afraid of doing so. Finding a community with similar goals can also be helpful to discuss and debrief with others who understand what you’re going through.
It’s okay to need some extra help. If you are feeling overwhelmed or finding it difficult to cope, it could be the time to seek help and support from a mental health professional.
Working hard to get into medical school is admirable and by no means negative. However, keep your career goals in perspective and don’t them take over your life completely.
There are plenty of paths available to get you where you want to be; the shortest one might not be the right one for you. Take a step back when you need it to make sure you mental and physical well-being always comes first.