It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted and I feel like I have so much to share! But, to stay on track, I’m going to focus this post on tips to avoid a burn-out – whether you’re in medical school, undergraduate, a busy professional or high schooler, there’s always a possibility for burn-out but it CAN be avoided!
The week before my Spring Break started I was feeling pretty tired. Although my classes aren’t very hard (just finishing up minors and gen. eds) I’m pretty involved in clubs and organizations on campus and run a few of them. I’m also on Week 6 of Kayla Itsine’s Bikini Body Guide (BBG) and have been using the “Sweat with Kayla” App. I love it! And to be honest, I didn’t think I would. But it’s worked great with my busy schedule this semester. 3 Resistance (essentially body weight & weight HIIT) workouts and then 3-4 LISS sessions (I walk for about 45 min.) and then a couple sessions of Rehabilitation (use a foam roller).
#1 I’ve always loved exercising as a way to avoid a burn-out, but it’s never been progressive – I’d do something every week like running the same routes and doing the same weight-lifting circuits but I plateaued often and became bored. BBG has been great because it schedules time to stretch and relax (something I don’t do enough) and the weight-training workouts get harder each week. So I’m sure you’ve heard exercise is a great way to relieve stress, but here’s some specific tips to make it effective:
- Make it fun – if you’re trying to maximize your effectiveness when studying your workouts need to be geared toward that – not necessarily towards lifting the heaviest weights or being super “shredded.” If your workouts are too intimidating you’ll be more likely to skip them or dread them and that is NOT GOOD. I love going on long fast walks outdoors and using it as a time to also reflect on my goals.
- Break a sweat – Weightlifting is great but shorten the time between reps in order to break a sweat or try some HIIT cardio. An elevated heart rate and sweat will release endorphins which will not only give you energy but make you feel more relaxed.
- Multi-task – If you’re walking, try listening to a podcast or recording of a class or something you’re studying. If you’re on a treadmill or bike bring your notes or iPad and read. Time is very valuable – especially to us busy people – so I keep the workouts that I can’t study while doing relatively short. The BBG Resistance workouts are only 28 minutes (total ~32 min. with stretching). Of course, multi-tasking doesn’t have to mean studying. This could mean you use the time to reflect on your day, goals, pray, or spend time thinking about what you’re grateful for in your life.
- Keep it simple – As a pre-med, medical student, or anyone with a busy schedule, you do not need to add stress to your life by creating your own workouts. Yes, it is possible and many people do it and if this is a fun enjoyable experience for you, do it. Personally, it’s worth it to me to pay a little bit of money to have workouts planned and laid out so I don’t have to worry about whether or not I’m doing enough or should change my workouts. I can’t believe how much stress it saves me!
- Remember your goals – If your goal is to be a bikini model this doesn’t apply to you and that’s 100% okay! If your main goal is to be healthy and succeed in school, then remember that. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in how thin or fit you look – but focus on how you FEEL. Being healthy will help you better execute your goals and allow you to focus on what is number one in your life. Health should always be very important but having the “perfect” body shouldn’t interfere with your ability to compete in school and perform in the professional arena.
- Stretch and enjoy it – I’m going to be very honest – I HATED stretching. I avoided it at all costs and would convince myself I didn’t have time to stretch after Crossfit and I paid for it. BBG focuses a lot on stretching and foam rolling and it has made all the difference! If you’re sore and stiff you’re not going to feel very “stress-free.” So make time to stretch after workouts and remember that yoga counts as a workout too! One of my goals for this semester is to fit in a few hot yoga sessions in every month. Has anyone else tried hot yoga? 🙂
#2 So this week I was feeling very spontaneous so my mom and I took a little 2 day vacation to French Lick Resort in French Lick, Indiana! This is number 2 – Plan rewards for yourself. My trip wasn’t planned weeks in advance but I knew I wanted to do something to relax and to spend time with my mom.
- Plan something fun for EVERY WEEK. Some people can get by for months looking forward to Spring Break or a concert. But I’ve found that only results in a fun splurge at least every 2 weeks if not more – and it’s generally out of desperation or goes overboard. If that works for you – great! Instead, it works better to plan something for every week so you have something to look forward to and it keeps you on track with studying and all your goals. I also give myself one night on the weekend sort-of “free” just in case a friend comes in to town or something big comes up. This could also be your something fun that you’ve planned, but just keep it open. For me, I’ll plan a date night, a movie-night (to avoid watching it on a whim when I should be studying), sometimes a night out downtown with friends, but most usually it’ll be a time out that coincides with a “cheat meal” because I love food. And anytime I can plan a date with a girlfriend that also involves Chipotle and cupcakes is something I can look forward to all week. Probably not the healthiest but oh well…
P.S. Follow me on Instagram – MissDoctorFoodie 🙂 I always follow back!
- Keep it some-what healthy – There’s nothing inherently bad about drinking but binge-drinking every week just leads to day of un-productivity. If you are one of those rare owls who can get away with no hangover or feel great and energized the next day – well then I really want to be you haha. This also goes for eating an entire pint of ice cream or binge-eating. Make sure your reward doesn’t have a dramatically negative impact on your goals – at least not for your weekly reward (perhaps for Spring Break?) 🙂
- Don’t be stingy – Buying a $300 handbag every week probably isn’t going to coincide with your goals, but a new shirt or spending some extra money on a not-so-cheap workout class or movie shouldn’t be over-the-top. As a college student we need to budget, but figure out how much you can spend each week on a treat and use it! Mine’s usually just something I know I don’t necessarily need (expensive gelato) but I used to feel bad for spending money on things I knew I didn’t need. Now I plan it and see it as a necessary step to reaching my goals. Anything that helps you to avoid a burn-out is worth that $5 scoop of ice cream or a $15 yoga class.
#3 My last tip for Part 1 of How to Avoid a Burn-out is Recognizing Your Limits. How fitting since I’m breaking this post up into 2 different posts?! But really – know how much time you have and don’t overspend it. For example, break up writing a paper into separate days and don’t put pressure on yourself to finish it all in one sitting (or a blog post in my case 😉
- Don’t be over-involved. Be involved. But don’t be over-involved. Sounds tricky right? It doesn’t have to be. But if you’re applying to medical school remember what they’re looking for: Good grades, great MCAT score, and involvement. But the involvement shouldn’t come before your grades and MCAT. It shouldn’t be 200 clubs. Or even 15. Pick less than 5 and actually DO something for that club. Start a new program or become President. But keep it orientated towards your goals and interests.
- Start out with only 1 extracurricular activity (exercise doesn’t count but being on a sports team does) and see how you do. Stay committed to this club (or QUIT and pick a new one if you don’t like it) and if you have time add another club or try for a leadership role. But don’t switch around much after your freshman year.
- Realize that it’s okay to say no – You’ve heard it many times I’m sure but it really is okay. And it’s hard to say no as a pre-med or overachiever. But always think about what you want your legacy to be: Do you want to be the person who does everything and is a mess or the person who is a strong leader, committed, and focused? Remember what’s important to you and don’t worry about hurting people’s feelings if you don’t have time. This also applies to you if you find yourself over-involved, it is okay to quit a club, just don’t make a habit of it.
- Remember that doing your best includes failure – Just because you’re not productive 24/7 doesn’t mean you’re not doing your best. Everyone gets lured into a few too many Youtube videos or too much time on social media. The important thing is to recognize that it’s a weakness for you and to always work on getting better. For me that means I put hard limits on how much time I can spend online shopping or browsing Pinterest. Sometimes I forget to watch the time and waste WAY too much time, but I try not to beat myself up about it and remember it for next time. Setting a timer for 15 minutes of social media or online time is a great way to keep yourself accountable. If you miss a workout or drink way too much – don’t feel bad. It happens to everyone and the most successful are those who still make upward progress – no matter how slow. 🙂 Be the cute little wise turtle – not the hare!
That’s all for today! I’m going to take my own advice and save the rest of this post for the next week so I can get some sleep. 🙂 I’ll also have some more info on my time at French Lick and what we did to stay healthy but also have a lot of fun! (Pedicures, hiking, fancy cocktails, and MORE)! :))
Let me know if you use any of these tips already or if they work for you! I’d love to know how you treat yourself or what you do for exercise! Anyone else doing BBG?