Pharmacy Student Health Guide: Finding Balance
It’s no secret that working on a pharmacy degree is hard work and takes a lot of energy, extreme focus, and excellent study skills that ultimately will lead to a successful career. The journey to becoming a pharmacist may have been difficult at times, but the rewards are great. Working in the health care environment and helping people take care of their health issues—and making a difference—are worthy goals for the new pharmacist.
But what about your own health? As a student, did you learn how to take care of yourself as you juggled classes, projects, internships, and the daily stress of being a student? Can you translate your health knowledge and coping skills to your new working environment once you land a position? The health habits you developed as a student can affect your health in the future. And if you didn’t have the best habits, it’s never too late to start on the path to a healthier lifestyle. Here are some health tips to guide you to become all that you want to be as a new pharmacist.
Get Regular Physical Activity
Yes, it’s that dreaded word, “exercise,” but it doesn’t have to be a chore. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 2.5 hours of physical activity a week, including activities that raise your breathing and heart rate and strengthen your muscles. Exercise is good for your overall mental health as well, and can keep you calm during times of stress. Anything will do: walking, jogging, biking, dancing, group sports. Take advantage of what your university offers as far as recreational facilities and programs, and keep up the activity once you are out in the working world.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Easier said than done when you are “on the run” all the time. Students often pass up “real” food for fast food because of the convenience, but university nutrition experts warn that eating habits developed as a student are often hard to shake later. Late-night eating is also a problem borne of studying for exams and a jammed class schedule. Even if your schedule is full, make a point to eat sensibly, consume smaller meals, snack on healthy food items, and drink plenty of water. As a pharmacist, you will be counseling patients on the benefits of a balanced diet to avoid chronic diseases, so it’s important that you can set an example and provide real-life advice.
Learn to Relax
Meditation, exercise, friendships, group activities—your college counselors have preached these solutions and more for the past several years. Now it’s time to take a hold of your mental health and learn to relax. It will help you focus on the job at hand and keep things in perspective. Professional counselors can also advise you, and there are plenty of free sources to learn successful relaxing techniques, both in print and online. So don’t neglect yourself, be sure to schedule time to relax, and slow down at least once a day. If depression or addiction problems surface, seek the advice of a health professional.
Get Enough Sleep
Insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions, and long hours at study or work can lead to serious health issues. How can you get a consistent good night’s sleep? Avoid caffeine at night, which can take up to 8 hours to wear off fully. Also avoid nicotine and alcohol, both of which will rob you of much needed rest. Keep a regular sleep schedule—as hard as this may be to accomplish—and get as much of your work done during daylight hours as possible. Make sure your sleep environment is “sleep friendly,” with soft lights, low noise, and a comfortable bed.
Coping with Stress
Let’s face it. Stress is a part of your world at this time, and it doesn’t look like it is letting up. Anxiety, depression, headaches, and loss of appetite are all serious issues that can derail your success if stress becomes chronic. Get a regular physical check-up, keep up-to-date with vaccinations, and consult with your physician if any of these symptoms appear. Mental health experts recommend that you identify the “stressors” and determine what steps you can take to reduce them— for example, changing your schedule, setting realistic goals, and talking through any problems with a trusted friend or family member. Resolving personal problems goes a long way toward relieving stress.