It’s getting to that point in the year where the weather outside is beautiful…but I’m so far buried in the readings and projects and studying that I forget what the sun looks like sometimes.
I’m currently in an accelerated master’s degree program; all of the other orthotics and prosthetics programs consist of approximately two years of classes, give or take, whereas I will be taking classes for only twelve months. Like I’ve said before, we refer to it as drinking through a fire hose. More often than not, I’ve felt over my head this past year. It’s a hard program, and there’s so much to learn. There has been times where I’ve wanted to give up, wanted to go home, wanted to crawl into bed and not come out for a while. But I’m still here! I’m still putting one foot in front of the other, thanks to the amazing support systems I have in my family, my boyfriend, and my friends.
First, I’d like to share with you this article, which I found extremely informative and useful: How to Spot Burnout before It’s Overtaken Your Life
Next, I’m a huge quote junkie, and I find a lot of inspiration in quotes. I’d love to hear your favorites, if you’d like to share! Here are two of my favorite quotes to keep myself grounded when I get stressed:
“If you aren’t in over your head,
how do you know how tall you are?”
– T.S. Eliot
“Promise me you will not spend so much time
treading water and
trying to keep your head above the waves
that you forget, truly forget,
how much you have always loved to swim”
– Tyler Knott Gregson
So, I’m surviving! I’m not an expert, by any means, but I thought I would share what works for me, especially if it might help someone else. Here are some of the things that help me stay sane, especially when I’m feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and under-slept:
- Exercise – I know it’s kind of the cliche go-to, but it’s not right for every person, every time. I’ve found that even just walking around the park can be a nice break. Get some fresh air, if you can, and grab a friend to go with you. I use the app Sworkit, which provides you with cardio, strength, or stretching workouts in time intervals of 5 minutes to 1 hour. I love the app because the guided videos take the thinking out of working out – the app tells me exactly what to do and when to do it. The 5 minute Core Strength is perfect to do in the living room as a quick study break!
- Mental Time-Out – My brain is working so hard to absorb the sheer volume of information given to me. Sometimes I just can’t think about school anymore. Turn on some mindless, silly television (The Office, Friends, and Gossip Girl are my staples) or pick up a book. Several of my classmates love board games – so there is a class game night at least once a month, which I love! Just remember to allow yourself to take that mental time-out, and be present in that relaxing moment. I often fall into the trap of not being able to relax, because I’m so focused on what I *should* be doing instead. Get rid of the coulds, shoulds, and woulds, and give yourself a break.
- Connecting – We as humans crave connection. Find someone to talk to. Call up a friend or family member. Reach out to see how someone is doing. It’s a simple way to make someone’s day, in addition to your own.
- Dessert – I have such a sweet tooth, and sometimes you just need chocolate. It’s allowed. Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey and I go way, way back.
- Acknowledging accomplishments – I really struggle with this! I often fall into the trap of sweeping my accomplishments under the rug, because I’m so focused on the next problem to solve, or the next project to complete. If you acknowledge how much you’re doing, day in and day out, you can develop pride, confidence, and self-awareness. Taking time to acknowledge accomplishments, both in yourself and in others, is crucial. Be proud of who you are, and what you are currently struggling with. Be proud of the people around you, and tell them that you are. They might not be able to recognize it in themselves.
- Gratitude – As weird as it sounds, I often find that I am grateful for the struggles and the stress. I am lucky to be in the program that I am in. I am lucky to be learning such difficult concepts, because it will prepare me for my future patients. I am lucky that my instructors push me to succeed, because it means that they believe in me. Taking time to write down a few things each day that you are grateful for, will help you reset for the next day.
No matter how you de-stress, or what you do to stay sane, I wish you all the best. Staying healthy and happy is more important than one test grade or one project. I encourage you that if your methods of de-stressing just aren’t cutting it, don’t hesitate to seek other help – whether that’s a psychologist or counselor, or a close friend or a teacher. Know that you aren’t alone, and that it’s okay to ask for help.
Question for my readers: What advice do you have for de-stressing? What helps you stay sane and grounded when things get crazy?
Thanks for reading & God bless!
© Cara Yocum | Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes 2017