How to deal with stress, when you’re already anxious.

It’s a little ironic that I’m writing this now; it’s the penultimate night before my exams, and I’m desperately seeking something to distract me from my impending assessments. But I felt that, given the relationship I have with exam terms, and the toll they routinely take on my mental health, I’d speak a little bit about what I’ve learnt over time.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s the importance of your support structures. My family, friends, and boyfriend, are all aware of my exam related anxiety, which makes it so much easier for me to reach out to them when I’m stressed. From little things, like popping your favourite treats in the post, to even sitting by on FaceTime, to keep you company, and help you relax as you revise, the impact of my support system is beyond words.

I also think it’s important to be honest with those around you. There’s no shame in admitting that certain situations trigger your anxiety, so long as your clear that you’ll do you’re best to continue to work despite this. Relating to my situation specifically, telling my college that I was suffering during exam term, improved my situation tremendously; they put me in contact with a college counsellor for me to see if things were too difficult, and arranged for me to sit my exams in a smaller room separate to the large exam hall.

Now, the steps above rely little on the people around us, but it’s also important to be proactive yourself in managing your stress. It took me a very long time to realise that my anxiety, and mental health in general, were things I’d have to continuously work on. Particularly when you’re surround by people for whom ‘normal’ stress reactions require absolutely no effort, it can feel odd to take the time out to work on things that come so naturally to others; but this will make all the difference when those stressful times come. Practice mindfulness, see therapist or counsellor, take up jogging or a sport, find SOMETHING that can take you out of those awful panic-filled moments.

I hope these tips were useful, I think I’ll be doing a YouTube video on this in the future, as it is something I get a lot of questions on. Please share in the comments, if you have any tips for managing anxiety, you never know who you may help!

The Importance of Humility

One thing that has become increasingly evident, in my time in medical school, is that I cannot survive this career if I continue to view myself as a self-sufficient island. When I started university, I came from a position of very rarely needing help, as I’m sure many medical students do. We’re often top of our class, used to puzzling out our problems by ourselves, and usually giving advice and help to others. While this success is useful for our confidence, and, of course, our success, it also feeds another, less positive part of our being, our ego. And as my mother always says, ‘Pride comes before a fall’.

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This was lesson I learned he hard way when I started university. From almost my first day at Cambridge, my journey good only be described as one thing; a struggle. Even now, in my final year, six of six, this is the still the most apt way to describe my time here. However, this is not unique. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a medical student who will describe their time at university as ‘easy’. Unfortunately, you may need to press quite hard for this information; despite medical students often struggling with the stress and pressure of their degree, we can often still remain tight lipped about how hard we find things.

However, keeping silent about our struggles can be dangerous, for us and for out patients. I’ve discussed a little before about why it’s so important, for our mental health and well being, to be open when we find things difficult. But it’s almost more important to be honest about when we feel unsure about things relating to our patients. While admitting that you aren’t’ sure about a patient’s diagnosis, or management, may hurt your ego, attempting to save your pride can be fatal. This is why humility, and the ability to ask for help, are some the most important characteristics a doctor can have.

Even now, I still have to fight the desire to smile and nod numbly, when a doctor mentions a disease or drug I’ve never heard of. But getting used to saying ‘Actually, I don’t know’ is good for me, and great for my patients.

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Let me know if this is something you’ve struggled with, or if you have any tips you have for getting over it.

Outfit:

Jacket – Primark (Similar)

Turtle-neck – Zara (Similar)

Check trousers- Mango (Sold Out)

Bag – Chanel

Trainers – Adidas

 

Promises To Myself, For My Final Year Of Medicine


This Monday I start my final year of medicine. My last year of SIX. At the beginning of each year I like to set aside some time to think about my goals for the months ahead, and this is all the more important as I enter the final stage of my education.

Firstly, my focus is going to be on my mental health. Medicine has always, and will always, be stressful, and it’s important that I really learn to deal with that, before I leave the safe space that is Cambridge, and enter the scary reality of the NHS.

I also desperately need to focus on my physical health and fitness. It’s very easy to use my workload and many commitments as an excuse for not getting to the gym, or eating out instead of making a healthy meal, and things will only get worse when my work hours increase. It’s important for me to create a routine where health and fitness are a steady part of my routine, before my foundation year starts.

However, my primary focus is going to be on ensuring that I am the best junior doctor I can be. Quite frankly, the idea of being let loose in a hospital is terrifying. I still don’t feel ready to diagnose and treat patients on my own, and, in reality, I wont be alone; I’ll always be working as part of team. But, I want to make sure that I’m an asset, as opposed to dead weight. I’m going to target most of my energy towards improving my clinical knowledge and reasoning, so I can best serve my patients when I FINALLY get that title.


What are your goals and targets for the upcoming academic year?

Frequently Asked Questions!

Hi Guys, This video is collection of a few of the questions that I get asked regularly, about being a medical student, at the University of Cambridge. I thought it would be more efficient to answer them in one go, instead of sending the same reply individually. Hopefully this is useful, if there are any questions I’ve missed out, post them below!

5 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Medical School | Cambridge University

Hi Guys! This video is about 5 things I wish I’d known before I started University. The fact that I’m at medical school, puts a bit of a unique spin on it. Hopefully this gives those of you thinking about applying to medical school, some idea of what it’s like here!

If you have any questions, please comment below, and I’ll get back to you, as soon as possible!

Coping With Disappointment and Failure | My Experience As A Cambridge Medical Student

Hi Guys,

This video is about how I’ve dealt with failure and disappointment. These are inevitable events in life, especially if you chose to study a competitive subject, like medicine. Learning to bounce back from failure, and continue to progress, is incredibly important, hopefully this video can help you!

Please excuse the lighting, I’m still working on it!

If you have any questions, please comment below, and I’ll get back to you, as soon as possible!

Instagram: Instagram.com/chidera_ota
Twitter: @OtaChidera

How To Manage Stress And Anxiety | My Experience As A Medical Student

Hi guys! In the video below, I discuss some of the ways than I recognise, and manage, stress in my life. As a medical student, stress is a huge part of our degree, however it can really impact our wellbeing, as shown by the huge proportion of mental illnesses amongst medical student.

Hopefully this video can give you some insight into how I deal with this, and maybe you as well! Enjoy!

Be sure to post your tips, along with any questions and comments, below!