A recent study revealed that almost 50% of medical students want to drop out owing to poor physical and mental health. In the past few years, there has been a significant increase in awareness about mental health. Traditionally, wellbeing meant sound physical health. However, a good mental state of mind is also vital to lead a healthy and productive life. Mental health becomes extremely important for students as they spend long hours studying and preparing for crucial exams.
Medical students spend almost 8-12 hours studying during exams. Regular days are no less of a grind. Ask any medical student, and they will tell you 4-5 hours of daily self-study is minimum. No wonder medical students are under incredible stress. While a small amount of stress and anxiety is good to remain focused, too much of it can lead to poor mental health and depression. As a result, students may find it tough to manage their day-to-day life. Students should always be on the lookout for any signs of anxiety and depression and take corrective actions.
Why Shouldn’t Students Neglect Their Mental Health?
College life is crucial for our careers and life. Courses such as MBBS demand a lot from the students. Hence, cases of poor mental health, anxiety, and depression while studying are abundant. These issues can cascade quickly and negatively impact your studies and daily life.
- Lack of focus and concentration
Students facing mental health issues find it very difficult to focus and concentrate during their classes. Hence, they may take longer than usual to understand the concepts. Lack of concentration may soon result in performance issues and further increase stress. Non-performance puts students into a vicious cycle. Their friends, teachers, and family may not understand the real reason and assume that they are distracted by external factors.
- Impact socializing
College life is about making new relationships and connecting with like-minded people. Socializing is a crucial aspect of doing well in your studies. You share your ideas and knowledge while working on projects. Meeting and interacting with your friends and attending different forums also gives your mind a much-needed break from the monotony of the daily grind. When experiencing mental health issues, the first thing you do is start distancing yourself from others. Loneliness further increases anxiety and depression, posing more problems for you.
- Lack of enthusiasm and engagement
Students facing mental health issues have low energy levels. They start avoiding participation and engagement in study and non-study-related activities. They skip their lectures, prevent study group sessions, and isolate themselves in their hostel rooms. The lack of enthusiasm is even more dangerous for students in the early stages while preparing for entrance exams or in the first year of college. They may not realize it, but their will to do well and pursue further studies may fade if the anxiety troubles are left unaddressed.
- Unable to follow long-term goals
Unlike other programs, MBBS courses demand long-term commitment and dedication. In regular courses, students complete their degrees in three-four years and move back to everyday life and start earning. Medical students have to cover a long journey from entrance prep to an undergraduate program, most likely leading to specialized PG programs—spanning almost a decade, if not less. Students with mental health issues cannot think about their long-term goals. They spend time thinking about day-to-day struggles and eventually drop out.
- Poor physical health
We don’t realize that our physical and mental health are interrelated. If you are anxious and feel stressed for a long time, it impacts your physical health, increasing the chances of getting sick and vice versa. Frequent illness can be another sign of poor mental health and anxiety. If you are not physically fit, your productivity decreases, and it can severely impact your studies and personal life.
Knowing the impact of anxiety and stress on studies makes it easier to identify the signs of poor mental health and seek help.
How to Take Care of Your Mental Wellbeing
The life of medical students is challenging and can be overwhelming at times. However, if you make a conscious effort to take care of your mental wellness, your academic journey can become enjoyable. Below are a few dos and don’ts that should help you effectively tackle any issues related to poor mental health, anxiety, and depression while studying.
- Get enough sleep
Being a medical student, you must understand the importance of uninterrupted sound sleep. Your body and mind need a recharge every day to perform at their best. Try to catch 7-8 hours of sleep and notice the difference.
- Plan your time better
Anxiety and stress are due to the feeling of not being good enough or not doing justice to your talent. You must have set some goals for your studies. However, you may quickly lose track and feel exhausted if those goals are not time-bound. Use technology; there are plenty of online planner and organizer tools that you can use to organize and automate things.
- Practice mindfulness
As humans, we are used to overthinking. We think about the past and future, often forgetting the most important “now.” Mindfulness is a great way to relax, focus on your breath and the present moment. Make a mental map of what’s in your control and what’s not. You will often realize that there is no need to take unnecessary stress.
- Stay active
Take out time for some physical activity. You don’t need to hit the gym. It can be a 30-minute morning walk to unwind and plan the day. Always remember that physical fitness and mental wellbeing go hand in hand.
- Seek help
If nothing works and you have been pushing too hard for too long and notice the signs of anxiety and depression, don’t hesitate to seek help. Therapy and counseling aren’t bad. Don’t let the stigma attached to mental health therapy come in the way of your studies and life.
Student life is the most crucial time of your life. It can be challenging, whether it’s the never-ending syllabus, tough exams, peer competition, or family expectations. You are bound to experience stress and anxieties at some point in time. However, you can easily manage by finding the right balance between your studies and personal time. You can only perform when you feel happy and energetic. Never get bogged down by studies. Seek help and give your mental health the topmost priority.