Studying to become a naturopathic doctor (ND) is a rigorous, time-consuming process that can lead to stress and burnout if you do not prioritize self-care. Of course, prioritizing your wellbeing is easier said than done when you have a host of other responsibilities to contend with. Here are some simple ways to integrate self-care practice into your busy schedule as an ND student.
While it may seem counterintuitive, doing regular physical activity actually helps reduce fatigue and gives you more energy. 1 Try to find a physical activity that is fun for you so that you can think of your exercise time as a pleasant break from other tasks. Try a few different activities such as swimming, dancing, tennis, or walking in nature, until you find something that feels good on your body and mind. Schedule time to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every week. 2
Learn to Stop Procrastinating
One of the most valuable self-care skills you can learn as a student is how to manage your time well. Procrastination is a common problem that ends up taking time, and causing more stress and exhaustion than simply tackling a task in a timely manner. Try these easy tips to stop procrastinating:
Make a schedule for each week, blocking out time to work on assignments with realistic deadlines. Don’t forget to schedule breaks, rest, and fun activities!
When working on a task, try setting a timer for 25 minutes and doing focused work with no distractions. At the end of the 25 minutes, set your timer for 10 minutes and take a break. Repeat as needed.
Break large tasks into small steps. Procrastination is often the result of feeling overwhelmed, so if you can approach a project in small, easily manageable chunks, it is much easier to get started and follow through.
Eat a Nutritious Diet
As a person training to become a naturopathic doctor, it is important for your own health to practice what you preach and eat a diet full of healthy, whole foods. When you are busy and stressed with school, it is easy to start making unhealthy eating choices because you are drawn to comfort foods or fast-food items that you do not need to spend time preparing. While highly processed foods with little nutritional value may seem convenient and make you feel good at the moment, these foods can actually increase stress levels. 3 Instead, choose a balance of whole foods as much as possible. Check out our guide to eating healthy on a budget for student-friendly healthy eating tips!
Cut Back on Screen Time
When you are a busy ND student, it can be easy to get in the habit of reaching for your phone and looking at social media whenever you want to give your brain a break. However, excessive screen time can lead to overwhelm and contribute to anxiety and depression. 4 5 Try limiting your screen time and using your breaks to do some mindful activity, stretch your body, or simply rest.
Make Time for Yourself
Last, but not least: prioritize making time to rest and do the things you enjoy most. Set boundaries when it comes to protecting your me-time, and stick to them. Try scheduling time for yourself in your calendar and treat it the same way you treat time dedicated to an assignment or important meeting.
For more tips and information on studying to become a naturopathic doctor, watch the recording of our student panel on Navigating ND School. Hear from real ND students about their experiences, ask questions, and find out if an ND program is right for you!