how i managed stress & anxiety in pharmacy school – a memoir
Whether we want to believe it or not, we all get stressed in school. There were definitely some times that I was stressed in college and even in Pharmacy School. The hardest year was the first one because of the transition, adjustment, and wanting to stay competitive. It gets easier, for sure.
I want to start out by saying this… don’t let school stress you out that much. You already got into the program, you were accepted on your merits, and you’ve well-earned your seat in this school.
- Figure out your learning style
You may find yourself struggling to use the same technique you used in college. The best thing is to figure out you best learn so whether that’s listening to lectures over again, taking handwritten notes, re-writing your notes over and over again, making pretty charts, or just simply looking over the powerpoint or notes provided. For me, I realized I needed to listen to lectures over again once more after the actual lecture and I only liked writing my notes by hand. I felt like I was the only one who wasn’t making immaculate charts on my laptop, but that’s okay. So whether you learn visually or audibly, it doesn’t matter as long as it works for you.
2. Do what works for you
Not everyone learns or works the same like we know. Some of your friends will study 24/7 while others will procrastinate or worse, you’ll have friends who seem naturally brilliant and don’t ever study. Do NOT get caught up in that. I thought I didn’t study enough and I’d force myself to study more like my friends but that actually hurt me. I found that I had to have a busy schedule with school and work so then I’d focus on the hours left to study and study well. Don’t start to compare yourself. We all learn at a different pace. The sooner you realize this, the easier it’ll be for you.How I liked to spend my days off: visiting coffee shops
3. Take one day off a week
I feel like some of you might like this advice but this is something that worked well for me. I chose Friday as the day that I would not look at my books, notes, or anything school related after my classes were done. I liked to keep up with my notes and schoolwork every day after class to reinforce what I learned but also, we had an exam every week. I think it helped to have a day to look forward to where I didn’t have to look at schoolwork after a day at school. I worked quite often in school so on this day off, I’d either work and then hang out with friends or volunteer. It’s also the perfect opportunity to practice self-care and make yourself a yummy meal.Nothing a paint night couldn’t fix
4. Incorporate some form of physical activity every day
While I might’ve not done this everyday, it was pretty close. Some days my form of exercise was running from class to work and then to my other job, but that’s okay. Usually, I tried to go to the gym in my dorm or apartment building for at least 30-45 minutes. I actually signed up for Zumba classes my last 2 years of school for credit so I was forced to show up. I totally recommend adding those extra classes because I’m all about taking advantage of the opportunities given to me. I wish I did this throughout undergrad and signed up for more, to be honest. If we’re talking about what else I wish I did in school, I wish I found Spanish or other language classes to join and applied to more scholarships. Anyways, on weekends I found myself going on hikes to get fresh air instead of being cooped up inside.Probably the best job ever & way to relieve stress
5. Do something fun on the weekends
I hate to break it to you but like school is not your life and it really shouldn’t be! Pharmacy school was actually SO fun for me because I had the opportunity to do so many things. Make sure to hang with your friends, attend football games, go to your pharmacy gala, go to that party, go celebrate passing (or failing) an exam, have that happy hour drink, go on that hike, or head to the farmers market. Since you all know me, I definitely went on several road trips and other trips while in school.
6. Know when to say no
You can’t do it all and that is absolutely fine. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Prioritize what’s most important to you and learn how to kindly tell your boss that you can’t pick up that extra shift or let your friend know that you have to skip out on boozy brunch this weekend to prepare for your exam. Balance is key and sometimes you have to compromise.
7. Keep up with school so you don’t have to cram
I say do a little bit every day instead of procrastinating at the end. Sometimes, it happens but I found that if I sat down for an hour or two after class to go over what I learned then I’d retain more but also felt less stressed moving forward.
8. Get enough sleep
I never pulled an all-nighter for school, ever. There’s no way I’d ever do that and I just know that wouldn’t work for me. We all know how important sleep is and we should take care of our health. Admittedly, I even napped on some days.
9. Get help if you need it
We all have our own personal battles and school can sometimes add to whatever else is going on in our life. Don’t be afraid to seek help because our mental health is just as important as our physical help. There are great resources available at your university and now, mental health apps are easily available. I’ve used Talkspace during the pandemic though I am out of undergrad and thought it was super helpful. Another app I’ve heard of is Betterhelp but I haven’t checked that one out. I recently got into Headspace to be honest.
10. Recognize stress and react with intent
We all know there will be stressful times. The best thing to do is to acknowledge your stress and how you’re feeling and do what you need to do to compose yourself. Cook a healthy meal for yourself. Take a walk. Go take a coffee break. Call a friend. Study with a friend instead. Take a nap. Dance it out (my favorite). Call your mom. Get some comfort food. Whatever helps you decompress.I lied… this is how I really handled stress in school.
Just know you’re not alone and stress is inevitable. You have to take care of yourself so make sure to eat well, sleep well, and live your life. I also suggest finding a mentor or an accountability partner. Again these are some of the tips that kept me afloat. I hope these tips help you!