As the semester picks up momentum, it’s becoming more difficult to keep all the balls I’m juggling up in the air—occasionally, I have to let a few fall. For instance, as the days get shorter and my afternoons in the anatomy and histology lab add up, I’m faced with fewer hours in which to exercise, eat, study, and relax in the evening. The first to go is the relaxation time… no more episodes of House or extended playtime with my roommate’s cat! And, slowly but surely, my designated blocks for hiking and swimming are encroached by the need to go grocery shopping, or fold laundry, or cook dinner sometime before 8 pm. I suppose most “normal” people would consider just studying less, but honestly, between being interested in the material, wanting to learn enough to become a good clinician, and being terrified of failing my classes after working so hard to get here, it seems that my schoolwork is irrevocably placed above my mental and physical health, for better or worse (probably for the worse).
But at least I’m aware of what’s going on, right? And if I’m aware of the problem, then I can take steps to fix it. For instance, I may not have time to go hiking every weekday—so I make doubly sure to always get outside on the weekends, and to at least do some crunches and a few reps with my weights before bed. And though I often don’t have an extra 40 minutes for a television show, I can relax in other ways, like singing along to the radio on the way to campus (one of my personal favorites), chatting to my parents for 10 minutes, or simply reading a fascinating article from the New York Times or the BBC.
So I can’t say that I’ve found to key to balancing school and life outside veterinary medicine—because as you can clearly tell, I haven’t exactly found a good balance yet. But at least I know where to start!