One of the reasons I love the television show Criminal Minds is because of its characters’ attempts to identify and rationalize the motivators of human behavior. (Of course, copious action sequences, hilariously clichéd dialogue, and attractive actors also add to the appeal.) One aspect of human behavior that I find interesting is stress, along with the causes, manifestations, and coping mechanisms associated with it.
Any goal that is time-and-effort intensive and has high stakes will inevitably increase the pressure felt by those endeavoring to reach it, and this is no different for us vet students. And every time we learn something new in the barns or discover some fascinating technology, we fall a little bit more in love with our field and care just a little bit more about our academic success—because if we don’t pass, we won’t get to spend the rest of our lives doing the thing we love. (That’s the way it feels, anyway.)
Some of us cope by surrounding ourselves with friends, organizing study groups and weekly potlucks, or hitting up the Boston clubs with some of our lab members. Some of us study every day, never quite getting a day off but (so far) never having to pull all-nighters in the library or head into the anatomy lab at 4 am for some last-minute cramming. Some of us cope by stress eating or binge-watching Netflix more than usual. And I’m sure most of us reach out to lean on our family and non-vet friends for the unconditional support and the reminder that life DOES exist outside the vet school bubble.
There’s really no right or wrong way to cope with stress, because every method can help and every method can hurt, in some way. As is the key with everything, balance is the trick.