Alekhya Mannava, a first-year student in the College of Medicine, contributed the following article to the NEOMED Student Wellness Committee’s peer-support series on the eight dimensions of wellness.
The eight dimensions that this student and staff committee supports are emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social and spiritual wellness. The concept of eight dimensions of wellness comes from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a U.S. government agency.
Most of us are all too familiar with being placed in high-stress environments. Stress can negatively affect our mental health, put a damper on our social lives/relationships, and in some extremes even make us even lose our appetite. However, I believe we all have the capability to live stress-free lives by doing just one thing: finding different outlets for our stress.
In college, I was constantly stressed about school, so coming into medical school, I knew I had to make a drastic change. I wanted to prioritize my studies but still have time to take care of my own health, socialize and do the things I love.
My last semester of college corresponded to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. From then and up until medical school started in July 2020, I was forced to stay at home and find things to occupy myself. As school started, I needed to adjust in additional ways.
Like many others, I have gone through difficult and stressful times during the pandemic. However, I have used that time to find things that relieved my stress: hobbies, talking to friends and spending quality time with my family. I have found that certain activities are especially effective in reducing my stress. For example, I have fallen in love with cooking! Whenever I’m in the kitchen, I forget about everything else. From looking up recipes of various cuisines to experimenting with random ingredients in the kitchen, I do it all. I’m always proud of my creations and make it a point to share them on my food Instagram account.
This might come off as a cliché to some, but I truly believe exercising can reduce stress levels the most. I’ve never been an avid gym-goer and I’m still not. However, I make it a part of my schedule to dedicate at least 30 minutes in the gym a few times a week.
With the pandemic still going on, I take necessary precautions while at the gym to be as safe as possible. For example, I try to keep my mask on, wipe down equipment before and after use, keep my distance from people as much as I can, and consistently sanitize my hands. I feel so energized walking back from Sequoia back to my apartment at The Village and continuing with the rest of my day. In my opinion, some physical activity is better than none at all and I encourage everyone to at least start going to the gym or find another form of physical activity a few days a week.
I am not saying the only outlet for relieving stress is finding a hobby. I believe personal relationships also play a huge role in minimizing stress. Sometimes, students can be so caught up in our studies that we lose sight of the people in their lives. That being said, I try to stop studying at a certain time each night so I have free time to do something fun with my NEOMED friends, video chat with my high school friends, or chat with my parents for a few hours every day.
I hope my personal experiences and stress-relief ideas inspire you to adopt some of your own practices.