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M4M Self-care Tips: Treat Your Body with Kindness

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Self-care is one of those things we can see on a daily basis and completely overlook when it comes to applying it to our own lives. It can often be relatable not to take care of ourselves, or seem like too much effort/time consuming when we do. However, in a course that revolves around taking care of others but  doesn’t leave much time for... well, taking care of ourselves, it’s about time we learned.

A pandemic ought to do the trick: in the first lockdown of March 2020, some of us were lucky enough to take care of ourselves far more than we had in the chaos of A-levels. We got to try out new hobbies; get 8 hours of sleep or more; eat well; exercise. For others in different situations this was far harder and lockdown made these things worse. Regardless, I know I’m not alone when I say that having the added burden of the sheer amount of content every day at medical school is a lot to handle. Often I find myself putting aside the things I did over lockdown when there was nothing else to do for work. These were things that made me feel relaxed, fulfilled and happy: yoga, walking for hours and hours, painting and piano. Now when I do these things they fit around work. This isn’t the same for everyone: some are really great at taking care of themselves and work might fall second place. Others can go the opposite way. If there’s one thing I would like to strive for, it’s a balance between the two.

There’s a saying that you can’t take care of others unless you can take care of yourself, and to many extents this is true. I want to share one particular anecdote from just a few days ago: I, like many other people in my year, have felt quite overloaded from the first two weeks of our final module. It got to the point that though I wasn’t relatively doing much compared to the last few weeks of C&B, I felt exhausted. I was yawning more than typing and thought: I’d better lie down. At 5pm on a Tuesday, I lay on my bed and slowly felt myself get less and less: sort of the way your phone charges back up from glitching at 10 percent to feeling more around 60%. I then didn’t go back to making lecture notes - instead, I started drawing and made myself a hot chocolate. It’s a small thing but I felt infinitely better - and after getting an actual decent night’s sleep (unheard of) I now feel less on the point of collapse.

Sometimes we feel like we’re not working hard enough, or aren’t ‘hard’ enough when we feel like this. I tend to think: I’m in first year, I shouldn’t be feeling this tired, I haven’t worked *that* hard. I need to remember that it’s all relative, and we have to listen to our bodies. Treat them with kindness, the way we would say it to anyone else.

The same goes for when you’re sick with any kind of illness, least of all Covid-19. Experiencing this really hit me hard, and if you are suffering with symptoms/have suffered with them during medical school you’re not alone. It can feel absolutely agonising not being able to function or try to keep up with lectures or anything else set when you are physically unable to. It’s when you’re ill that you need to treat yourself with the most kindness, and not reach for unmeetable standards. When you’re sick your brain can get really, really weird (trust me I’ve been there) and we can end up punishing ourselves. It’s more important than ever to rest. Work will always be there and yes, it will build-up. But in the long term, your body will thank you. So please take care, and remember to be kind to yourselves ❤️

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