In the last several years of being a naturopathic medicine student, I have been presented with various types of challenges. Oftentimes, the high depth and volume of the content I was learning made me feel like I was drinking water through a fire hose. I completed various types of assignments and studied for quizzes, written exams, and practical exams on a rolling basis. I was also learning new skills and perspectives, had to remain focused from trimester to trimester, and had to balance out various aspects of my life.
I would like to dedicate this blog post to discussing some of the self-care strategies and things that I personally prioritized when making my day-to-day schedule. Prioritizing these strategies helped me remain both balanced and focused on my goals, which allowed me to accept the challenges directly and view them as opportunities for growth.
1) Prioritizing sleep.
Not only did I select a sleep schedule that I know works well for me, but I also never sacrificed my sleep schedule or negotiated it in any way during the program. This means that, even if I had a specific quiz or test coming up, I would always respect my need for sleep.
2) Prioritizing healthy eating.
I function best when I eat whole foods that I prepare myself. Therefore, I created a food schedule that prioritized grocery shopping, food preparation, cooking, and packing up meals into containers. This is something that I was not willing to negotiate or slip on, because I know how important it is for me to eat in a way that makes me feel my best.
3) Prioritizing nature time.
I deeply value time that I spend in nature. I enjoy camping, hiking, foraging, gardening, hanging out with my chickens, and experiencing the absolute beauty of forests, wild animals, and open spaces. I knew that moving to Illinois for school would be a bit different in the nature department than what I am typically used to in Wisconsin. I prioritized daily outdoor walks, as it allowed me to connect with nature, other people, and life. This was often my most essential promoter of positive mental health and well-being during the program.
4) Prioritizing physical activity.
In addition to my daily outside walks, I also prioritized time for daily jumping on my rebounder trampoline. I also put together a schedule to allow for lifting kettlebells, doing floor exercises, and stretching depending on the day of the week.
5) Prioritizing my role as a student.
Before I started the naturopathic medicine program, I spoke with an alumnus who gave me wonderful advice. He told me to remember that it is my job while in school to simply be a student and to embrace a lifestyle dedicated to learning. This piece of advice has stuck with me throughout the program. It helped me accept my role as a student. It also helped me focus my actions and set necessary boundaries.