To say optometry school can be stressful is an understatement. First year, you can have up to three exams a week, plus practicals, quizzes, etc. Second year, you add clinic to the mix and third year, you begin to prepare for NBEO part 1. Fourth year, you have externships, the other two NBEO tests, possibly OEBC… and you begin preparing for real life (a.k.a. finding a job.)
This past week, we were looking for an apartment in Chicago for our last externship. I started thinking about the best ways I’ve found to relax over these last four years on a student income.
1) Nap– It’s free, and sometimes we just need some sleep.
2) Netflix– After a long day of taking to patients, studying, etc., all our brain may need is some good old trash TV where we can just veg out on the couch.
3) Food– I love trying new places to eat, and traveling around every 3 months allowed me to try a bunch of different foods. When I’m stressed, I don’t want to think about cooking and cleaning the dishes afterwards. However, meal prepping on Sunday for the next week is also a good way to prevent stress and make sure you’re eating healthy.
4) Workout– Everyone knows this is a great stress reliever, but it is difficult to make time when you should be studying. Make time! Even on externships, there are plenty of cheap gyms out there. You will not regret it.
5) Acupressure mat– For some, massages are a great way to relax, but they take time and money. I got an acupressure mat for Christmas. It’s great. I will warn you, it isn’t for everyone (especially if you have low pain tolerance.) Imagine a yoga mat covered in pointy plastic needles. There are different benefits of using it, but I find that laying on it helps me fall asleep faster, and in a weird way, I do feel more relaxed.
6) Essential oils/diffuser– My boyfriend got this as a birthday present last year. While the smell of essential oils doesn’t make me less stressed, the diffuser does. It may be the rhythm of the diffuser, but something about it also helps me fall asleep faster.
7) Date night– This is more of a miscellaneous category because you don’t actually need a date for these activities. Just get out and explore. Go to a movie or bowling. If you are in Florida for externship, go to Disney or Universal. Over fourth year, I’ve been to 5-6 state/national parks!
Even though school comes first, you need to remember your sanity. You need other things in your life. 1-3 hours is not going to make or break you. Plus, keeping that stress down will be more beneficial for when you do study!