Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dealing with stress and studying before exams for medical students

"I am overwhelmed with exams. I have an anatomy exam coming up. I am slowly beginning to lose hope. Advice would be very much appreciated, thank you!" -Asked on Tumblr

Medicine does get overwhelming. Mostly because no matter how much you study, you will always feel under prepared. It's normal to feel this way.

But don't let it get to you. This part is important because if you feel hopeless, you won't work as much as you should and the guilt will feedback. You need to break the cycle and focus on what's in front of you. There is always hope.

Take a deep breath. Say this aloud - "I've got this. I can do this."

Exercise. Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people kill exams!
(Do 20 jumps right now and then read further :D )

Laugh. It's a mature defense mechanism. You'll learn it in psychology. (Another reason for you to survive anatomy right now - so you can read new things next year!)
Acknowledge that you're stressed, laugh about it and be okay with it. Or pretend to be. Fake it till you make it. (PS: If you fake laughter, you'll end up laughing for real.)

Smile. Look at this smiley (:
It's smiling at you, please smile back!
Laughing and smiling alone is a HUGE stress buster.
Sing songs you like. Maybe, "Let it go" from Frozen. Let go of anxiety and fear. My first year stress buster song was, "Tonight tonight" by Hot Chelle Rae.

Listen to music. I used to listen to "Bad situation" by Toshiro Masuda. It's a soundtrack from Naruto and I would imagine myself being a total bad-ass during the paper.

Imagine. Picture yourself reading the questions, knowing things are writing with lightning speed. It fires your neuronal pathways. And you attract it! ^__^

Look at the bigger picture. When I am in a state of anxiety, I step back and analyze. I try to look beyond my current situation. We are made up of stardust, in a huge unexplored universe. We have infinite potential within us. There are interesting and vital questions beyond the reach of test tubes and equations. There is so much wonder. You are not just studying - You're exploring amazing facts about the human body. It's a beautiful adventure. Enjoy it (:
"Oh exams? Yeah, they happen now and then. I just need to show what I've learnt to the examiners so they can let me learn more things."

Feeling better?

Alright, anatomy to go! B)

Start revising things you are comfortable with, things you have studied before, the super important questions. The more you finish revising, the better you feel!

Try recollecting whatever you can about the topic before you start reading. This helps you know what you don't know and you can focus on that. Skip what you know. But if the inability to recall freaks you out, abandon this. Breathe. Simply read.

You can also try looking for short term mnemonics. Remember for a day and forget after exams.

If you're too tired reading, draw rough diagrams. Call this as your break time. You are not supposed to hard core study - just draw. Relax. Pretend you are Leonardo da vinci.

Drink lots of water. When your brain is functioning on a full reserve of water, you will be able to think faster, be more focused, and experience greater clarity and creativity. You'll also have to go to the loo at lot of times and it gives you guilt free mini breaks :D

All the very best for your exam. You'll rock this. I believe in you. Trust yourself and go give the exam! You will do great.

Let us know how it goes!

Don't forget to stay awesome.

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