Optometry school is no joke! And beginning your first year in the midst of a global pandemic presents a whole new level of challenges. From moving to a new city and starting grad school to dealing with isolation, you must have a few tricks up your sleeve to stay healthy, motivated and sane–here is what I have implemented in my life to help juggle the stress that accompanies not only optometry school, but also “pandemic life.”
Tip #1: Establish a routine. Following a routine can help bring a sense of “normalcy” and structure to your life. A good way to start your day is to have a morning routine–make your bed, go to the gym, make breakfast and have your coffee—anything that will get your day started off on the right foot. Additionally, using a planner can help you structure your day and divide up your precious time between school, work and leisure.
Tip #2: Set attainable goals. Small goals that are achievable and realistic can help to ease anxiety and stress and reach a feeling of accomplishment. As opposed to large goals, small goals can help you visualize the end product and are the stepping stones to help you accomplish that larger task. For example, I try to study consistently as the material from classes is presented (small goal), which helps with night-before-the-exam anxiety (and reduces cramming)!
Tip #3: Find a good support system. Surround yourself with people that can empathize with you, listen, give advice (when needed) and bring you up! Hopefully you can be this person to someone else as well! I know that without friends and family, my first year of optometry school would have been MUCH more difficult.
Tip #4: Be sure to take care of yourself–both physically and mentally. I’ve learned that mental health is one of the most important aspects of surviving grad school, especially grad school in the middle of a pandemic. Physical health can help keep you mentally healthy too, as can eating healthy, resting and doing the things that bring you joy.
It is important to know that you are not alone. Many of your classmates are feeling the exact same way. Reach out to them for help and explore the many resources that your school has available to you!