Breathe, Reset, Remind, Continue, Repeat

University is hard.

Sometimes you feel confident and prepared going into an exam, and then it goes horribly.

Sometimes you even feel great coming out of an exam, and then you flunk it.

Sometimes you temporarily lose sight of yur goals, and you forget why you are doing it to begin with.

Sometimes you cry.

Sometimes you scream and yell.

Sometimes you want to give up.

Sometimes you do give in, temporarily.

 

Most times "you" is me. University has been a struggle for me academically, personally, mentally and physically. My career path is long and takes years of education and determination, and often I find myself comparing myself to those around me and feeling envious. I'm jealous of my partner who has alread completed his education. I'm envious of my friends who are pursuing a career as a teacher, because they only have 4 years of school. I wish I was interested in something that does not that 8+ years to accomplish. I am upset with myself for not succeeding in my early Univeristy career, causing me to extend my journey to medical school. I spend so much time comparing myself to others and being fustrtaed with my past, valuable time that I could be spending studying or enjoying my life. But in the end, I know that my path is right for me, and that comparison is the thief of joy. All of my feelings are valid, and it is okay to be overwhelmed, but dwelling in it gets you nowhere.

 

On those days (or weeks) that aren't going my way, I have started using a "Breathe, Reset, Remind, Continue, Repeat" process to get myself back on track, and to take care of myself. I hope that this method can help you when it feels like everything in your life is spiralling out of your control. 

 

Breathe

When I get overwhelmed I often tend to forget to breathe. I hold my breath, and the air in my lungs fgrows stagnant like my thoughts. I have began using mindful breathing to calm myself, to regain perspective, and to exhale the negativity I had been holding in. Realize that everything is only as permanent as the breath that passes in and out of you. You are not defined by a poor test grade or a bad day, and on your next inhale you can make the decision to leave the past behind and move forward. You cannot control or change the past, but you can reset and conquer the future.

 

Reset

After a tough week at work or school, the last things I want to think about are work and school. Giving myself time to do something I enjoy allows me to find joy and purpose. When I give myself an evening off for self-care I often find my mind drifting towards the interesting concepts that I am learning, my concrete goals for the future, and I am able to see with clear eyes that I am working hard to move towards the life I want to live. Resetting might also mean getting back in touch with your health, friends, eating habits, self care, hygiene, or routines that fell to the backburner while your focus was elsewhere. Take some time to look at all the amazing things in your life that you are grateful for, and that you might neglect when you allow yourself to compare your life to someone else's. Resetting the important areas of your life allows you to be reminded of what truly matters.

 

Remind

Although in breathing and resetting, you might have begun reminding yourself of your purpose, now is the time to get real about why you are putting yourself through this diffcult times. For me this might mean researching medical schools, watching vlogs of nurses and medical students to see what I am working toward, or thinking through how to come back from that poor exam result. For you, this might mean realizing that you are on the wrong path for you, or that you want to take a different route. Remind yourself of your goals, and the journey to get there, so that you can continue moving forward.

 

Continue

You've calmed down and reset from your period of overwhelm. You've reminded yourself of your "Why," and confirmed that you want to continue on this path. Now you need to make a plan of action to get you started back in the right direction. Make a list of the next three action items you will take to set yourself in the right direction. Make small and frequent goals to see progress. Make time for self care to help prevent burnout and overwhelm. You have all the tools to succeed, now you just have to do it.

 

Repeat

The next time you begin to feel doubt, comparison, or overwhelm creeping in, repeat the process to re-centre yourself and continue striving toward your goals.

 

Again, University is hard, and this process does not make it easier, it is just a simple way to remind yourself that you can take back control at any time. Your goals are big, you are strong, and you are capable. The sooner you re-centre and move forward, the less time and energy you will spend looking back.