Three Ways To Stay Healthy For The Year, Even During Exam Week

I begin MCAT preparation in a few short days and have been told overwhelmingly the importance of mental, physical, and social health as this intense period of study begins (along with classes, work, and leadership involvement starting back as well). In an effort to be healthier, I’ve refocused my efforts and considered exactly how I hope to implement a lifestyle of balance throughout this season! While some of these are specific to me, I think they are universal enough to be shared. These are some ways I hope to stay healthy in the new year!

Eat a healthy breakfast

Breakfast has always been important to me! I have never been one to skip breakfast, but sometimes I do find myself running out the door and grabbing a granola bar and banana along with my prized and cherished morning coffee! However, I find it better for my energy throughout the day and overall start to the day whenever I have a healthy, filling breakfast in the mornings. Some examples include whole grain oatmeal with bananas, Greek or French-style yogurt with granola, avocado toast or toast with a low-sugar spread such as almond butter or jam, or cereal with nut milk and fresh fruit. These are some of my favorites that are filling, full of nutrients and most importantly, delicious to eat! I’ve always been a morning person, so waking up a few minutes early to enjoy a breakfast before the crazy day begins always energizes and excites me for what is to come – even if that includes grueling hours of studying and some inevitable stress. Breakfast makes it better!

Move your body

It is exhaustively preached to us – exercise, exercise, exercise! – but is truly so important, uplifting, and mood-altering. I think it is crucial to do what you enjoy though, not what someone else thinks you should do. Personally, I get bored easily with workouts and like to change it up. Some days I will stay home and do a YouTube video (like Fitness Blender, Blogilates, or Yoga with Adrienne), or change it up by creating my own circuit workouts using dumbbells and exercise balls, going for a run or walk, or attending a fitness class at my university! My personal favorite type to workout is a hot, vinyasa-style yoga class, though. I was given a yoga class package for Christmas to Shakti Power Yoga so I plan to take my weekly frustrations and stress out at the yoga studio. This is the way I love to move, but a lot of other people prefer other ways to exercise and get those endorphins flowing!

Do something for you

Remember yourself in this process, and that you deserve to take time for you. Different types of people get fulfilled in different ways. More extroverted or social people may be energized and relaxed through going out, enjoying dinner, or socializing with friends. Introverted or more reserved types may get fulfillment and renewal through reading, journaling, or staying in with a small circle of friends. Either way, do something for you and do it often! School can be grueling and emotionally, mentally, and physically taxing so taking time to relax is imperative. I often thought this “me time” was an unnecessary and unimportant obligation for the longest time, but whenever I began to truly enjoy the time spent with friends, not worrying, or nights staying in to read, I found my work ethic and drive to be refreshed and stronger than when I constantly let it beat me over. So, take time for yourself, and don’t feel bad about it. You deserve it.

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Mary Barber

Mary Barber studies Chemistry and English Literature at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. An average day for her includes running from microbiology lecture to having discussions on the writings of Nabokov to designing experiments in the lab – she says it’s a little crazy but always fun. Her passions (currently) include studying cardiovascular disease caused by cancer therapies, writing, and monthly dates baking cupcakes with cancer patients. One day when she grow up Mary hopes to be a physician researcher, treat patients with heart problems, write books, and do yoga every day.