When winter break finally arrives after a week of ramen, unhealthy amounts of coffee, and brutal all nighters, pre-med students finally get some time away from their textbooks and sub-par living conditions to focus on themselves and to give their brains a rest. The next three weeks are important if you want to return to school feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the new material with an unstressed mind.
First things first; focus on your body. Chances are, you’ve been sleep deprived. It’s important that you get plenty of sleep. It can be hard to get back into a routine of a healthy sleep cycle so there are three things I would suggest you do. First, make sure that you fall asleep at a decent time. If you cannot go to sleep, try to read a book not school related. Read something you want to read, such as a current New York Times best seller. Set an alarm to about 8:00 am. Force yourself to wake up and begin your day. This will help in making you tired so you can fall asleep earlier. Drink plenty of water and catch up on your fruits and vegetables. Flush your system of all the caffeine and ramen. Your body will thank you later. In addition to sleeping and eating healthy, it is also important that you try to exercise. Try and go for a run or do any of your favorite exercise routines.Second: give your brain a break. During finals week your brain is being crammed with mechanisms, formulas, terms, and cycles. During the winter break, allow your brain to rest. By rest, I don’t mean to completely shut off your mind. It is still important to think about everyday tasks! What I do mean is to allow your brain to rest and focus on things that you want it to focus on. For example, a good book can go a long way. Reading is both relax- ing and mentally stimulating and thus you aren’t completely wasting your brainpower on mindless activities. Watch movies, catch up on missed television episodes, and play video games. Allow your mind to do what it wants to do.
Lastly: reward yourself for your achievements. Each semester for pre-med students becomes increasingly more difficult with upper level biology and chemistry classes, and if you’ve managed to ace organic chemistry I, you definitely deserve a reward. So what constitutes a reward? Some may consider the break itself to be the reward, but I usually indulge myself in my favorite meals and throw in purchase for myself as well. Being close to the holidays, gifts can also be a form of reward, but be sure to get something for yourself exclusively for all of your hard work. You deserve it!
So remember, wherever you are for your winter break, be sure to relax, catch up on sleep and exercise, and be sure to reward your mind as well as yourself! Don’t even think about picking up that MCAT book until the first of January!␣
About the Author: Alex Yu is a Biology major at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. He enjoys cooking, reading, and writing in his spare time and is currently preparing to apply to medical school.