As with most things in life, success in vet school is all about balance. At the beginning of the year, we were advised to make a list of at least five “practical and realistic self-care activities” that we plan to include in our weekly routine throughout vet school. I created my list and posted it on my refrigerator where I see it every day. With final exams just around the corner, I figured it would be a good time to reflect on the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the semester. I remember sitting down at my desk to write this list, anticipating the stress that was to come. It feels like that day was so much longer ago than just three short months. My life is so different than it was in August. At that time, I had just moved from Wisconsin to California. I wasn’t sure how to navigate the crazy world of vet school and make friends with my classmates, how to balance school and social life, or how to transition from my undergraduate coursework to that of professional school. Everything was new.
Despite the differences, I can now identify between who I was then and who I am now…this little list tacked to my refrigerator has been a constant way to keep me grounded:
1. Eat your fruits and veggies, and work out often. You feel better when you do, no matter how much you grumble. Take a few minutes–walk, bike, meditate…just breathe.
2. Call your family and tell them how much you love them. Stress is temporary, family is forever.
3. Dance like no one’s watching. Bring on the Mamma Mia soundtrack!
4. Make time for the once-in-a-lifetime people in your life. That’s right, Skype your bestie.
5. Read, paint, write…for fun.
It reminds me to take time for myself and to spend time with friends. It’s so easy to feel guilty for taking these “breaks” when you think you should be studying. But it’s also SO important. When you feel good–mentally, emotionally, and physically–everything improves. Often we’re so concerned about our grades and treating animal health, that we forget to focus on our own. I encourage you to make your own “self-care” list and place it somewhere you will see it every day, because we can all use a little reminder that we can best help others when we also help ourselves.