The musings of a fourth year English medical student

Thursday, 29 January 2015

New Year, new you?

Alright, I know January is drawing to close, but I have been reflecting a lot this month and have now managed to find some resolutions!

To be honest, there's only one over-arching resolution I'm making: take better care of myself. I felt a real need to write about this following Hannah's most recent post on her blog. She emphasised how important it is to put yourself first in order to make yourself feel better, and I totally agree with everything she has mentioned in it. She also mentioned in the post previous to that a quote from Budda: Rule your mind or it will rule you.

In so many aspects of my day to day lifestyle I haven't been properly looking after myself, which I suppose is quite natural when you've just been chucked into a new environment such as university. But right now I've been feeling so worn down all the time. I kept blaming the work load, but the fact remains that there was and is a lot more I could do on my part to make life a lot easier.

For example, I'll take you through a 'bad' day and where I'm going wrong. I've had a long day at uni, forgot to do the pre-reading for anatomy or PSM, then gotten home and felt like shit. I'd go to the canteen and stuff my face so that all I could feel was fullness. And then the guilt sets in; I'll remember how stupid I was for forgetting the pre-reading again, how I have eaten too much and have no will power. Then, instead of prepping for the next day or completing any tasks for handing in, I'd slump in bed and watch telly until my eyes can't stay open. This only sets me up for more failure in the long run. The next day, I won't be sprightly and ready for uni, I'll feel like crap so will want to eat more crap, and because I haven't done my next lot of pre-reading or tasks, I'm even more unprepared and more guilt-ridden. (Is it sad that this just reminds me of a biological positive feedback system?! I've definitely been reading too much Tortora.)

Of course we all have days like this. Sometimes you need iPlayer and ice cream, but habitually it just ruins you. 

'Taking better care of myself' will involve:

Exercise
I have a university gym membership, and I can count on one hand the number of times I went there last term. I'm not going to the gym to lose weight or change the way I look, I've finally come to terms with my appearance. I want to go because it's what my body needs. We're not built to be sedentary, and I don't want to be. I love running, the cross trainer (but not the plank or burpees!). When you are stressed or feel cooped up, taking time out of the day to exercise helps so much. Joining a sports team would also be great, giving me an excuse to be more sociable, plus I love playing in any team sport.

Food 
There's nothing wrong with the odd hash brown at brekkie, but mahoosive, stodgy dinners day in day out just make me feel like shit. I want to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and make an effort not to just grab the quick fix or the most carb-laden option, because the short term bliss just isn't worth it to me anymore. I always seem to be leaving the canteen with a food baby and sudden urge to nap. I feel like crap too often. 

University work
Get organised. I've come to realise that the only thing that genuinely stresses me out is knowing I have x amount of tasks yet to complete. I like getting things done promptly and always having a routine and a plan. I'm going to make sure that my weekdays are planned, so I've got the time to work but also the time to properly relax. I also need to start revision plans for my Summer exams, which cover the entire year's studies.

Saying 'yes' to the fun things and learning to say 'no' when it's too much
Even though I have an absolutely wonderful set of friends at uni, both in my halls and on my course, I too often turn down socials which is a real shame, particularly when this is the year when I'll have the most free time. At the same time, sometimes I feel I'm too eager at putting too many academic targets on myself. Today I chatted to my research project mates, and I suggested we postpone our deadline a week so we all have enough time. My professor has kindly allowed this, and I'm so glad that I spoke up and admitted to the group that I was struggling. Turns out we were all having a really hard time writing our systematic reviews, so it was worthwhile. 
In addition, since coming to uni, I really haven't made time for the things I used to love doing. Back home, I was in choirs, orchestras, was in at least one musical a year, read non-fiction and satirical fiction and played piano voraciously. None of those things I've done since I got to Liverpool, and I forgot how immensely happy those hobbies made me feel.

Reflection
Continuing to write this blog and making sure I reflect on each week is really going to help me continue to improve things. So I hope that over time, I'll have a routine nailed down, and medicine will feel less like a roller coaster. 

A picture my mum took near our house

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