Looking after your own wellbeing
Applying to medical school will undoubtedly be one of the most stressful times of your life. The pressure that you feel internally from yourself and externally from friends, family and teachers to get and achieve your offers can sometimes feel overwhelming.
It is important to take time to look out for yourself during this period. After all, you are so much more than your achievements.
The Aspiring Medics, using our own personal experiences, are here to help you navigate through the application period.
The Oxford Dictionary defines wellbeing as:
“the state of being comfortable, happy or healthy”.
Wellbeing is personal and subjective and refers to what is intrinsically valuable relative to someone.
The mental health charity Mind states that:
“Good mental wellbeing doesn't mean you're always happy or unaffected by your experiences. But poor mental wellbeing can make it more difficult to cope with daily life.”
Why is it important to take care of your wellbeing?
We owe it to ourselves to live life to its fullest while we can. Feeling good about ourselves means that we have the motivation to go and achieve what we want to in our lives.
Good wellbeing is linked to healthy life choices and even increased life expectancy
Happiness spreads through social networks, so improving your wellbeing can influence the wellbeing of those close to you.
In the workplace developing a proactive and preventative approach to wellbeing has shown to benefit staff commitment and productivity, as well as reduce sick leave and increase retention rates.
Mental Health difficulties in Medical Students
Compared to other students undertaking university degrees, medical students have higher rates of mental and emotional difficulties (MacLean, Booza, Balon, 2015). This is likely multifactorial.
Studying Medicine is an intense experience, there is a lot of content to cover and students are regularly examined throughout their degree.
Students may also find it difficult adjusting to being ‘average’, forgetting that they are in a cohort of extremely bright individuals.
The course also typically attracts certain personality traits, such as perfectionism, meaning that students typically expect a lot of themselves.
Exposure to sick patients is also unique to medicine and can be an overwhelming experience for young people.
What do I do if I need help?
There is no shame in asking for help. The British Medical Association found that “50% of doctors have sought support for a psychological condition affecting their work”. As a medical student and doctor you have a responsibility to offer and provide the best care to your patients. This means that you should be fit to practice both physically and mentally.
Dial 999 (it is a common misconception that you cannot call the emergency services if you are feeling suicidal. Suicidal thoughts are an emergency)
Samaritans - 116 123
Non-emergencies; Visit your GP