Wellness & Mindfulness as an Aspiring Physician

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  • June 11, 2020

Wellness & Mindfulness as an Aspiring Physician

written by: Anahita Akhavan

How satisfied are you with your lifestyle, life choices, and your life in general?

Well, this is a question I ask myself every day, and ever since I have started practicing mindfulness, I am more aware of how I can improve a situation and make better choices. 

COVID-19 can be viewed as a lesson to us all to live a more purposeful life. We sometimes need to see the end in order to truly begin our lives. The world that we have entered has illustrated what the worst-case scenario would be like in the medical field. This fact should not intimidate us at all. The well-known quote “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is today’s motto, and it should encourage us to discover meaning in our careers and everyday lives. This quarantine period has demonstrated how technology can be wearying if there is no limitation and how harsh situations can lead us to the land of despair,  if we are not incorporating healthy habits into our daily lives.

It is the essence of life to realize our fullest potential and to achieve our goals. However, this fulfillment lies within mindfulness. One might ask what “mindfulness” is. Well, the definition of this word is not always so apparent — similar to the word “love.” Thousands of books and research studies can attempt to define the word, but its definition seems to remain unclear. Remember that you are not a one-dimensional being, and there is always much to be discovered about oneself. Upon this self-discovery journey, you can achieve mindfulness, and you will understand why you are passionate about becoming a physician.  This self-reflection might also lead you to ponder the following question.

How well are you aware of how satisfied today’s physicians are with their career and lifestyle?

A report by Medscape on physicians’ happiness and lifestyle in 2019 demonstrated that 25% are somewhat happy, 40% are very happy, and 12% are extremely happy. From this data, we can conclude that 52% are truly satisfied. Additionally, according to a post by Stanford Medicine website, 44% of physicians suffered from at least one symptom of burnout in a survey study conducted between October 2017 and March 2018, which had a lower number compared to 54% reported in 2014. As a future medical student, I am curious to see the results this year, because challenging moments can truly test a physicians’ performance under pressure. Survey studies may not be as reliable as other types of research studies, but they do offer us some perspective about a career in medicine. Understanding the potential pressures and stress of becoming a physician should inspire you to take care of your wellness.  If you are not mindful of your well-being, you will not be able to care for your patients to your fullest ability.

What are some ways to improve your well-being?

I have always wondered why schools (high schools and colleges) did not add more wellness classes for students to improve their mental health. We should urge the education system to take initiative toward emphasizing the importance of the well-being of students, especially medical students. The following section includes some suggestive steps toward well-being.

  1. Find the best exercises for your body and mind:
    1. Exercise not just for your physical health, but also for your mental health.
    2. Be kind and gentle to your body, especially when you exercise. 
    3. Find meditation techniques. These techniques should relax you, not excite you. 
  1. Incorporate a healthy, daily routine:
    1. Exercise regularly. 
    2. Sleep adequately. 
    3. Practice gratitude.
    4. Try to eat more homemade food and less fast food. 
    5. Stay connected to your family, friends, and your community.
  1. Find positivity within everything.
  2. Be curious about yourself:
    1. You should not limit yourself to achieve only one of your dreams.
    2. Know your strengths and weaknesses.
    3. Accept but also challenge yourself.
    4. Most importantly, love yourself.
  1. Write down your own steps toward well-being and prosperity:
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I hope you find this post beneficial as you continue on your pre-medical journey.

Anna Vardapetyan

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