Finding Balance

Fatima Ahmed
Fatima Ahmed
17 April 2023

Balance. Something we all are trying our best to achieve yet, somehow, always fall short of attaining. To meet the level of commitment and dedication that university requires, you often find yourself neglecting your mental and physical well-being. This definitely was the case for me, at least for the first year. Everything was fast-paced, and work quickly piled up within a matter of days. As a result, I found myself struggling to stay afloat. Studies became the obvious priority, and everything else had to be pushed to the side. After all, this is what I had travelled all the way here for, right?

Fortunately, I did manage to pass all my exams but at a high cost. I felt completely burnt out and apprehensive about whether I would have to go through this for the next 5 years. Moreover, the lockdown and social isolation because of COVID had taken their toll on me. A flight back home was just what I needed, and over the summer, I decided to procure a plan so that I could be more prepared for the next year. After careful contemplation, I realized that I needed to make certain changes to my daily routine to ensure that I was on top of all my studies and did not overlook my mental health. Here I've listed just a few things that have made a strong impact in helping me deal with the everyday stress that accompanies student life. Hopefully, you'll be able to benefit from them too.

1. Exercise - Staying physically active every day boosted my mood and made a remarkable impact on my sleeping patterns. Being outdoors, whether going for a run or just walking around the block a few times, made me feel less claustrophobic and more connected to my surroundings. Even a brief change of scenery can prove to be quite effective in refreshing your mind.


2. Commemorating special occasions - I am, in all honesty, still working on this, as I'm usually having an exam or preparing for one during this time. Celebrating birthdays, festivals, or other happy milestones is life-affirming. Carve out the time to enjoy those special moments. Sometimes I even try to prepare something myself — a recipe I've always wanted to try or my favourite dish.


3. 'Seeing' your loved ones - From virtual hangouts and meetings to Skype and Facetime, there are many ways to incorporate visuals into our communications. Seeing family and friends' faces helped me feel more connected than just hearing their voices on call.


4. Hobbies - Engaging in your favourite past time can be really important in helping you reset. I started painting when I went back home (although I must admit, I'm not as good as I'd like to be, but practice makes perfect!) but, unfortunately, didn't have the time to perfect my skills when I came back to Prague. Instead, I developed a new passion for landscape photography. During the spring and summer, the greenery that engulfs this stunning city just leaves you in awe, and you have no choice but to pick up your device and take several photos. I also love photographing the flora here. That seems to be overflowing with colours.

5. Practicing mindfulness - Sometimes, especially in a field like medicine, feelings of loneliness, anxiety or hopelessness can become overwhelming.  In these situations, especially if you don’t have access to the people or activities that typically enable you to cope, mindfulness can help. I try my best to avoid going down a path of ‘what ifs’. The key is to balance the emotions you are experiencing at the moment rather than going down the potentially fraught spiral of worrying about the future. I try to find something I can do to restore my emotional balance, which can include something as simple as taking deep breaths, going for a quick shower or making myself a fragrant cup of tea.


I hope this article enables you to at least discover the stepping stone to finding a sense of balance amidst all the chaos. Because, at the end of the day, as Jana Kingsford puts it, 'Balance is not something you find but something you create.'