This article was written by Yoony Na, a third-year IU School of Medicine student.
This holiday season likely looked different for many of us. In a season of family, friends and gathering, we had to be creative in order to stay connected as well as make sacrifices for the health of ourselves and others. It has been a difficult year. As such, we all must stay vigilant in taking care of our wellness.
Shortened days and cold weather makes winter a particularly difficult time to stay motivated and engaged. Therefore, it is especially important to be mindful of our habits. I find that having a morning and night routine keeps me more present.
When I am rushed in the mornings, I often find myself frazzled throughout the day. When I crash at night, I never feel quite rested when I wake. This ultimately leads to a cycle of bad habits including way too much caffeine. Feeling fatigued and in a funk, I become less diligent in taking care of my physical and mental health. To combat this cycle, I try to stick to a routine.
Although it is particularly difficult to get out of a warm bed when it is cold outside, I try to wake up a bit earlier to give myself some leisurely time in the morning. I will turn on a podcast, drink my coffee, eat my breakfast and then start my day. I find slowing things down in the morning gives me the energy to start the day off right.
At night, I think giving yourself 30 minutes to an hour to wind down and sticking to a designated bedtime can really help provide a more restful sleep. Things to try during this “wind down” time would be some gentle yoga or stretching.
YouTube has lots of yoga channels that are worth a try! My favorites have been Nicole Wild and Cat Meffan. They have great 20-30 min videos for beginners to advanced practitioners. There is also a practice called Yoga Nidra that is a form of guided meditation that allows for deep relaxation. If you’ve ever done a yoga class, just imagine a long Shavasana.
I have found several soundscapes and sleepcasts on the Headspace app to help me sleep. These are helpful to calm your mind on days where you just cannot relax. The Headspace app is free for all Indy students and has lots of guided meditations as well as workouts!
This is also a great time to pick up a new indoor hobby! I find baking to be a relaxing and fulfilling activity. Here are some recipes I have loved, and I hope you guys will try too:
I hope some of these tips are helpful for you guys! This has been a challenging year for us all and we often feel the need to push through our struggles. However, do not ever feel that you are alone. It is okay to reach out to others for help and support. Many of us share the same struggles without knowing and have much to learn from each other.
There are also ample resources available through IU School of Medicine Mental Health Services. Appointments can be done through Zoom with personal counseling or psychiatry. You do not need a specific talking point to reach out. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and simply want to talk, there are professionals available to listen without judgement. These appointments are confidential and free of charge for all medical trainees.