How to Survive in Optometry School

One of the biggest challenges optometry students face is finding the time to relax and unwind. Tackling exams every week, attending lectures all day, and squeezing in as much clinic practice as we can leaves little room for much needed R&R.
Just like the developmental stages in life, the first year is the most critical. After starting my first year of optometry school, I quickly realized that there was a huge learning curve between undergrad and a doctorate program. It’s easy to get overwhelmed during the first year—the magnitude of the information you must understand is no joke! The first semester was a challenge for me because I thought I needed to spend every waking hour of my day studying or reviewing notes from the previous class. Finding time to exercise or even take a break to stretch was a seemingly impossible task at the time. Rather than feeling accomplished at the end of a long day of studying, I felt exhausted and burnt out.
Thankfully, with the support and encouragement of a friend, I began giving myself breaks between studying to take short evening walks. After just a quick 30-minute walk, I felt more energized and motivated. Adopting exercise into my daily routine drastically changed my attitude about how to succeed in optometry school. To be able to handle the rigor of an intense graduate program, you need to be able to nourish your body’s needs with exercise and good nutrition. Even replacing your third or fourth cup of coffee with water is a healthy place to start! Making conscious health decisions, no matter how small, can do wonders for your ability to succeed as a student.
Part of our journey as optometry students is learning how to balance our hectic academic lives with healthy lifestyle choices. Even though it seems like 24 hours are not enough to accomplish whatever we need to, making healthy decisions boils down to prioritization and time management. If I take a 30-minute walk before I sit down to study, will I feel better? For me, the answer was a definitive yes. On days when I can afford to break a heavier sweat, I find that I’m even more alert and motivated to work through my endless to-do list of school and non- academic-related tasks. Allowing myself to take breaks and get fresh air has done wonders for my mental health as a student. By making exercise a priority, I am a happier person overall.
Now, the question is: what healthy choices will you make?

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