While preparing for the application cycle for medicine and dentistry, it can be difficult to look after yourself when there are so many things to do. However, it’s important to prioritise your wellbeing to prevent burnout and keep yourself going through the lengthy application process. Your preparation may have begun as early as July for UCAT and end as late as March the following year with interviews; it’s important you pace yourself through this! Here we give you some tips on keeping a good balance…
· Remember to plan ahead – planning ahead will help you not only keep on top of your work as the deadlines come rolling in, but also to make sure you’ve scheduled in some rest time! You don’t have to have a super strict hour-by-hour schedule, but an idea of what you want to get done in the day or week, when there are important dates and times you have to block out, and putting in scheduled breaks will help you keep some form of routine.
· Break down big tasks – facing a large or long project can be quite daunting. To ensure you’ve nailed every part of it and get an idea of how to approach the task, break it down into smaller chunks that you can cross off the checklist as you go.
· Set yourself goals and reward yourself – the list of work to do may seem never ending in the application phase. When you’re done writing your personal statement, you may be faced with a test at school, once that’s done you might have to start preparing for interviews… It can feel like you can never catch a break! Remember to set yourself checkpoints and reward yourself when you reach them. If you’ve finally submitted your UCAS application, take the evening off and go to the cinema! If you’ve completed that test at school, go put your feet up and enjoy with your friends! Keep reminding yourself of how far you’ve come along your journey to university.
· Exercise! – exercise not only keeps you physically healthy but improves your stress levels and mental health too! The WHO recommends 150mins moderate intensity exercise like walking or 75mins vigorous exercise like running per week; try to meet these targets.
· If you’re struggling, reach out – a lot of people struggle with stress and their mental health in this time period; this is common, but the fear of stigmatism and judgement stops people reaching out for support when they feel their worst. If you are stressed, talk to your friends and family, speak to your teachers; everyone can appreciate the stress and anxiety at a time like this. Your teachers will often try to support you in this period and cut you some slack if you let them know you’re struggling to keep up with the work. Your family and friends will support you emotionally. It is ok to reach out!
The application period is probably the most stressful time you will have faced so far. It’s really important that you stay connected with your family and friends, let them look after you when you need it and keep doing what you love. At the end of the day, you are a person outside of medicine and dentistry too; you have to look after your personal life and maintain a good work-life balance! You’ve worked really hard to get where you are now, give yourself space to look after yourself too 😊