Coming into vet school from a competitive undergraduate university and a Master’s degree under my belt, I thought there would be no surprises for me beginning the rigorous curriculum. While I was prepared for the material taught in class, the sheer amount of material was more than I was ready for. My first semester, I felt like I was constantly studying. While I was keeping up, by November I was absolutely burnt out. I remember going home for Christmas break, and while I still loved my job at a vet clinic and was so excited to be a doctor one day, the thought of 3.5 more years of school was sickening at the time. I knew I would need to make changes for my well being.
To deal with this, this spring I decided to set some boundaries with myself. It definitely took some discipline with myself, but I was happier and healthier. For one, every night I set a 10 pm “curfew” for my studies. No matter where I was, no matter if I finished my “checklist” for my studies for that day, the books get put away at 10. This is great because it gives me a hard deadline- I find myself wasting less time scrolling through social media on my phone because I can always “push” to focus until my study curfew. Before vet school, running and yoga were extremely important activities for me to practice mindfulness. During my fall semester, when big test weeks were underway, the first thing that got cut from my schedule was exercise, followed by making healthy meals. It seems intuitive on reflection, but this, in turn, affected my focus, my energy, and my overall demeanor. I love to cook, so on Sundays this spring I spent my mornings meal prepping for the week. The amount of time this saved me during my weeks (as well as the money saved not buying Jimmy Johns for all my meals) relieved a lot of my stress.
While these are things that worked for me and I hope can help someone who felt the way I did in December, I am well aware there is no “one size fits all” rule to academic success in veterinary school. I know this because I quite literally asked everyone what they did to keep sane and what works for one may not work for you. The best advice I can give is to be kind to yourself and to take what you need. If some nights all your brain can handle is a quick review of the day’s lectures and an extra night of sleep, it will be more conducive to do exactly that than to overexert your brain for three more hours!