HELP! I'm Drowning!

Is it only me, or can anyone else relate to the feeling of panic and anxiety when you played Pac-Man? The stress that was related to trying to eat as many fruits (wait! were they fruits?) before being devoured, always made me reconsider the urge I got to play the game.

As a second year medical student, I constantly find myself warding off stress, trying to find another way to effectively manage the maze of school work and reading that just seems to pile up overnight.

What I've come to learn is this, the feeling of drowning and being overwhelmed is natural and rather than neglect the body's signals to take a break, it is best to take time every now and again to just relax.

Mental rejuvenation is something I have come to value and treasure. It gives me time to just "breathe" and to forget about my 'to-do' list and to reconnect with myself and my purpose rather than remaining in a fog of anxiety. The following are a few things I've found that helps me relax and to rejuvenate.

1. Music

There are so many free apps available where you can either download music or simply listen to created playlists and the genres range from rock to classical. For me since I'm outside of the U.S. and Pandora is unaccessible, 8tracks has allowed me to listen to playlists based on my study mood. 

2. Hiking

Being in Trinidad and Tobago I've managed to hike three different parts of the country and I've found it to be mentally stimulating and physically challenging based on the hike. The view at the end is so worthwhile. After a few hours (preferably early morning) it's as if an internal clock has been reset and I'm able to tackle material with a new mindset and clearer understanding. I try to relate what I'm learning to my level of physical activity, so now that I'm studying respiration, hiking at even a slight incline I try to visualize the changes my body is experiencing as a way of understanding the theory presented in lecture. 

3. Cooking

I love cooking. Give me a clean kitchen with nice working appliances and I would be as happy as a kid in a candy store. I'm more of an experimental cook. Mixing of herbs and various ingredients and being able to experience the smells and tastes and the overall end product plated gives me a certain amount of satisfaction as well as relaxation that my friends cannot understand. Try out a new recipe and see if it's relaxing. 

4. Going on an adventure

Even though medical school is an adventure in and of itself, I try and schedule various adventures which allows me to experience Trinidad and Tobago from the view of a local rather than a tourist and it gives me a new insight into the culture. Almost religiously in my first year here I found myself enjoying decadent desserts and trying out new flavors of teas and coffees at a little coffee shop near campus called Tablespoon Coffee House & Dessert Shop. I even dubbed Thursday's as Tablespoon Thursdays. I did find myself answering objective questions while I was there but the atmosphere was very relaxing and I was able to people watch at the same time, which I found to eliminate the stress of studying. This year, my goal is to have different adventures, finding the best doubles place, or the best place for roti near campus. We'll see what happens though. 

5. Pinterest

I've found myself wasting so much time  on Pinterest since I've joined mainly because it's so easy to get carried away pinning any and everything. So I decided to set time aside at least once a week to allow myself to get carried away in my imaginary world creating new boards and pinning things that caught my eye. 

I hope these few things gets you thinking about setting time aside to relax and to rejuvenate your mind in order to make the most of your studies. It's easy to ignore the body's signals, but it's just as easy to listen to them and to just take a break. Let me know what you do to relax in between classes. I'd love to hear from you!

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