Having a Productive Winter Break
written by: Lilliana Thomas
The month of December is probably the most exciting time of the year: winter break, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, and my birthday mean a month full of fun celebrations with friends and family. But all of us know that before the celebrations commence, we have to survive the dreaded finals season to complete the fall semester.
Trust me, after I finish my finals, I want to do absolutely nothing. Let me watch netflix in my bed all day, and I’ll be satisfied. I never fail to be completely burned out at the end of the semester, yet the little voice in my head reminds me of all of the things I need to do. “Have you started applying to internships for the summer?” “Where are your rec letters?!” “Are you working on your research tasks?” “When will you be studying for the MCAT?” “Do you have a social life??” It goes on and on, but my burnout and sleep deprivation can still override my motivation to sit down and get anything done.
How can we escape this never ending cycle?
There are a few steps you can take that will begin to change your priorities, your focus, and your perspective on achieving your goals that I am listing in a few simple categories:
- Treat yourself with kindness: This is step one for a reason! Believe it or not, our own selves are the aspect of our lives we tend to neglect the most. Unfortunately, we are not invincible, and this attitude will catch up to us sooner or later. One of the most consequential things I have seen as a result of constant stress is a loss of the passion we once had for our goals. The steps to becoming a doctor, and of course, being an actual doctor, are a test of our time and stress management skills. Thus, taking care of your needs and health NOW will be advantageous for the future and help keep your passions alive. This means you should be prioritizing healthy habits such as sleep and exercise, which are vital to our daily function and long-term health. In terms of winter break, it is perfectly okay to take a few days of the week to relax and do what you enjoy. Spend time with your family members and friends you don’t see that often. Listen to your body – it’s telling you what you need! Also understand that it is okay to not feel ‘good’ all the time. Life is not perfect, but do consult a professional if you are not feeling like your usual self.
- Mind dump: Before I go to sleep my brain likes to do this thing where I think about all of the things I need to do, and I quickly grow anxious and unable to fall asleep. Ever forget about something and your stomach drops the moment you remember? Probably one of the worst feelings. Let’s avoid that from now on by writing down everything you need to do, perhaps in an agenda! Every morning, or night (whatever feels better for you), write down tasks and goals you’d like to complete that day. It will not only help you remember deadlines, but seeing a visual of what you need to complete right in front of you will help you maintain organization and reduce stress. This segways perfectly into my next point, which is…
- Make reasonable goals: med school apps, the MCAT, and rec letters are all frightening things when we look at the big picture. It seems impossible to compile everything you need for the med school app, much less study for such a monumental, arduous exam. Thus, it is imperative that you take one day at a time. We are all different when it comes to our study habits and what works best for us, but you need to learn what works best for you and use that to divide time working on each task. If you delegate a certain portion of each day solely to these tasks, then they will become more doable. Not only that, but it will make it less of a dreadful thing you have to go through to get to medical school. Becoming a doctor is inevitably stressful, but this habit will make it much more of an enjoyable learning experience for you!
Becoming a doctor means you are constantly learning, so prioritizing your health and pacing yourself will keep you on the ball. The path to becoming a doctor will push you to grow like never before, and you want to be ready for that.
However, most importantly, enjoy your winter break with your loved ones! And get excited for a new year with new goals and adventures ahead of you!