Megan Fritz, a first-year student in the College of Medicine, contributed the following article as one of the educational initiatives sponsored by the NEOMED’s Student Wellness Committee as part of their peer-support series on the eight dimensions of wellness. The eight dimensions that this student and staff committee supports include 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.
In high school, I was a competitive golfer. My mentor taught me the saying “improvise, adapt and overcome” – a phrase he learned from his father, who was in the Marine Corps. I think I have repeated that phrase every day during my first year of medical school.
As a former athlete, I’ve realized that I need to actively manage all dimensions of my health and wellness. I believe that the skills I’ve learned this first year – to check in with myself mentally, physically, and emotionally – will be crucial for me throughout my career as a physician so that I can perform up to my greatest potential and not burn out.
When I was an undergraduate at the University of Akron, I started to notice my mental and physical health deteriorating as I went from golfing or conditioning most of the day to studying all of the time. I learned I needed to take time to golf or be active to be happier and sustain my rigorous study habits.
Now, as a first-year medicine student, time is my biggest constraint on wellness. I have had to learn how to utilize my time to yield the highest productivity. I tend to be a workaholic, so I have found it helpful to schedule time to be active and to de-stress. For active time, I love playing golf, taking my dog, Buddy, for a walk, or going mountain biking. During Ohio’s winter weather, I seek out indoor golf ranges, utilize Sequoia Wellness Center, and continue to take Buddy on his favorite walks. (It’s also comic relief to watch my dog play in the snow. He loves to dart back and forth, trying to get everyone to join him along the way, or to bury his nose in the snow, then blow it all over his face.) I also like to spend my free time with friends, going to the gun range or fishing with them.
We all have our own favorite ways to be active and spend our free time, but it’s easy for a lot of us to sacrifice it. I would recommend scheduling health and wellness time, so you don’t neglect to take it. Try new things to see what you enjoy most. Make time to watch your dog cover himself in snow or join him if he loves snow wrestling.
We all need those mental breaks to come back refreshed and ready to take on the day.