EDGE Hosts Sint Maarten Leaders in a Discussion about Self-Care
As a medical school, we are focused on teaching students how to care for their future patients. But equally important is helping our students and our community learn how to care for their own health, both physical and emotional.
Self-care is paramount to wellbeing but is often under-prioritized and overlooked, especially in high-stress environments like medical school and the workplace. As anxieties mount to do well on an exam or hit a major project milestone, self-care gets thrown out the window. Research shows, however, that those who engage in self-care activities like exercise, sleep, stress management, and interpersonal relationships, report less stress and a higher quality of life.
The AUC chapter of EDGE (an initiative of Adtalem Global Education dedicated to accelerating the advancement of women) recently tackled the importance of balance and self-care during a guest panel on campus. Female leaders from government, academia, healthcare and our own university shared their own self-care habits and discussed how our students and colleagues can strike balance in their lives. Here are some of their key tips:
7 Tips to Prioritize Self-Care & Balance
1) Schedule “you” time
Carve out time for yourself each and every day. Use that time to do something you enjoy—exercising, cooking, socializing, meditating, whatever it may be—and hold yourself accountable to that time. If you don’t prioritize it, it won’t happen.
“The amount of time and energy I put into my studies is the same amount of time and energy that I should direct to self-care. As a medical student, I find balance by using the wellness center, working out, eating healthy, and talking with my friends and family who keep me grounded. My greatest source of courage is prayer and being thankful in life.”
– Nicole Shaw, 5th semester AUC student
2) Prioritize tasks
If it’s urgent and important, do it. If it’s important but not urgent, schedule it. It’s urgent but not important, delegate it. And if it’s neither urgent nor important, don’t take it on.
3) Avoid overcommitting yourself
This requires saying “no.” Find the power to say no and don’t let yourself feel guilty about it. We can’t do it all; focus on doing a few things really well instead of doing everything at a hurried or sloppy pace.
4) Leverage your peaks and valleys
Find out when you are at your best and make use of that time. If you’re a morning person, get started on your tasks early and try to finish them before you hit your less productive hours.
5) Limit distractions
Where is your smartphone right now? If it’s not in your hand it is likely close by, begging for your attention, calling for you to read your email, look at Instagram, or check the latest sports scores every 5 minutes. Smartphones are great but when it comes to productivity, they can actually be a detriment. Take time to disconnect from your smartphone and really focus on what’s in front of you.
“For me, the balance between self-care and passion is often achieved by disconnecting from technology. It’s also done by reinforcing my boundaries around my time. In doing so, I am able to relax, reflect and come up with new ideas while feeling refreshed.”
– Rolinda Carter, PhD, Dean of Academics at the University of Sint Maarten
6) Reduce the number of decisions you have to make
Multi-tasking can actually weaken our decision making. Focus your energy on bigger picture decisions and try to offload any smaller decisions that you can.
7) Rest, rest, rest!
Sleep is important for mental and physical health and lack of sleep can affect your ability to function at your highest level. Setting good sleep habits—7-9 hours each night of uninterrupted, quality snoozing—can make it easier to focus and retain information.