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Third-year medical student, Samantha Melo, shares three ways she prioritizes wellness.

Prioritize and pursue your wellness

iphone, running shoes, half a grapefruit, ear buds, weights and workout towel

This article was written by third-year medical student, Samantha Melo.

As we all know, this year has been challenging in ways that we have never experienced before. We have had to get creative with our daily routines and change the way we go about our daily lives. One aspect that tends to get brushed under the rug first is our wellness. I will share some ways that I have found to practice wellness each day in a way that is COVID-friendly but keeps me feeling connected and motivated. Here is a list of my wellness priorities in 2020.

Prioritize your mental health.

This means something different to everyone. Whether it means making time for a phone call with a close friend, meditating, music, exercise, etc., try to take a moment for this each day, even if just for a 5-minute meditation. Taking this time for yourself can help you reset, refocus and remind us what is important. For me, calling someone in my family each day just to check in is very therapeutic and keeps me grounded.

We are all experiencing this pandemic together and social support is an invaluable resource. Another great option is reaching out to a mental health professional at IU—this is an incredible resource available to all students. Do not be afraid to reach out to them; there are no requirements or expectations—they are here to support us.

Also, sometimes we just need a few extra minutes of rest. Take the nap, get in bed early, let yourself rest! It's worth it. 

Be mindful of how your physical health impacts your mental health. 

There are always days when I want to go home, take a nap and have tater tots for dinner—and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I also know that the days when I eat healthier, exercise, and get a full night’s sleep are the days that I feel my absolute best.

Taking time to prep healthy, easy meals for the week can be a real game-changer. Finding a food blog/account, YouTube channel, or recipe book that you enjoy is both therapeutic and makes weekly meals easy to plan. My favorite food blog as of late is called Broccyourbody, but there are so many recipe accounts/channels/blogs out there- have fun with it! Taking a few extra minutes each week to prepare healthy, tasty meals is much better than quickly preparing boring meals that you will dread at lunchtime (speaking from experience!). 

Make time for exercise in any form. 

Daily exercise does not require an intense 2-hour training session- unless you want it to! Exercise can mean a nice walk around the block, a stretching session, some quiet yoga, or whatever gives you headspace. During COVID times, it can be challenging and uncomfortable to exercise in a shared space (aka the gym). The upside of this is that there are so many awesome at-home workout resources now! A quick search on YouTube can offer you thousands of classes from your living room. My favorite at-home workouts lately are OrangeTheory At-Home (free!) and Peloton app classes.

Regardless, there are endless options online or you can take it outdoors for some fresh air. I am also loving making exercise plans with friends lately. For example, going on virtual walks with friends (walking separately + talking on the phone) can be such a fun way to catch up. Another idea is getting a group text together to share weekly workout plans- each person creates a workout so you have something fun and different to look forward to each day. Also, making exercise plans with friends keeps us accountable! I am definitely a group exercise person and this has been the best way for me to stay motivated. 
I hope that you find these tips helpful and continue to prioritize and pursue your wellness this year; we got this!