50 Things to Help Deal with Pre-med Stress

Originally posted March 17th, 2014

Or really anyone who has stress with school interviews or just in life.

If you’re any kind of pre-health hopeful, you know the ever mounting stress that comes along with all the classes, extracurricular activities and the pressure you put on yourself. Learning how to deal with stress in healthy ways in the best thing you can do for yourself, as well as learn way how to prevent stress all together.

These are just things that I’ve found to have worked for me, but you might be totally different! These are just my thoughts about it. You can build your own experiences and learn how to deal with stress in your own way, in your own time. Just have a few quips of mine.

What is stress?

  • Stress is the non-specific response by the body when change occurs.
  • To most pre-meds, this means change that could that could mess up our grades, our lives and our futures which make us act completely crazed.
  • Stress comes in many different forms, ranging from just barely there to anxiety attack inducing.
  • Everyone feels stress differently, and so everyone copes differently.
  • Stress can help us preform and reach limits beyond our own expectations.

Prevent a disaster  

  • At the beginning of the semester, go through all of your syllabuses, meetings and deadlines and write down every important date on a calendar, in a planner or make reminders on your phone.
  • Don’t tell yourself you are going to study X hours every day at the start of the semester. Learn to plan as you go otherwise you will be like “I couldn’t keep a promise to myself for studying. I’m a terrible person.” This is bad.
  • But continue being proactive in your scheduling and don’t let things fall behind.
  • Quickly identify if you feel like you will struggle in a subject or task. Find help immediately. Waiting until after you fail a test is too little, too late and causes much stress.
  • Figure out which friends bring out the best in you and have good, positive vibes.
  • Set your alarm and (non-phone) clocks a few minutes early.
  • Join a non-science related club, preferably one where you move a lot.
  • Find a way to work out. “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t.”
  • Do preemptive research to know what you’re getting into. Walk in to class or an interview ready for action.
  • Learn the difference between being stressed out and panicking.
  • And learn how to not let stress turn into a panic.
  • Make time to have fun. All work and no play makes you the weird smelling, recluse roommate.

In the midst

  • Learn breathing exercises. I ended up in the emergency room because I lost control of my breathing, which, btw, is the fastest way to get into the ER.
  • Put your head down on your desk. Darkness can help you calm down.
  • Consistently tell yourself you will be okay. Repeat it until your believe it.
  • Don’t allow yourself to blank out during a test. I honestly really dislike this excuse for a poor grade; because that just means you let your nerves get the better of you. If you can bring yourself out of that panicked place you will be alright.
  • This also counts for interviews and interactions with higher ups.
  • Take breathers. Walk around if you get the chance to.
  • DO NOT let yourself get overly emotional during the situation. Keep as level-headed a possible.
  • Play the “what do I look like” game. Do you look like your about to cry? Do you look like you’re anal clenching? Reassess and address.
  • Having trouble with something? Don’t sit there stressing yourself out. If you can come back to it later, do it. Do what you’re good at first to gain momentum.
  • Fake it ‘til you make it honey.


  • Cry when you need to cry. I’m the queen of being tough, so I know this rule fo sho.
  • HIT SOMETHING. Not someone, don’t do that. But gong to the gym and beating the shit out of the heavy bag until you’re completely exhausted is really amazing.
  • But if you’re not cool with that, working out, running or dancing will get the job done just as well.
  • Have someone you trust and talk to them (in person or over the phone). Venting about it will help, but make sure you can reciprocate for them when they need it.
  • Do a favorite something and let your mind focus on that instead of your stressful times.
  • If you chose to partake in substances (you know what I mean) don’t let that become your coping mechanism.
  • Figure out what made you stressed out. Did you not study enough? Or are you someone who natural stresses out?
  • Know when to stop. If you just finished a test, but have another one in 2 days, take a few hours to chill and then jump right back on the gravy train. If not, take a day or so to wind down and completely de-stress.
  • De-stress with friends too! Even the most introverted of us have people we like to see.

General guidelines

  • Figure out what you can and cannot control. Take it from there.
  • Stay organized. And I don’t just mean schedule organized. Keep your study space and living space somewhat clean. Clear space, clear mind.
  • Learn to laugh at yourself.
  • Learn from your mistakes. Be a better you because of it for next time.
  • Put things into perspective. Is that one C really worth crying for 2 days? Probably not.
  • Find your happy food. Moderate said happy food.
  • Stay healthy! It’s truly awful being ready for that big interview and then becoming a booger monster.
  • Give into the glory of sleep.
  • Update your mp3 player or playlists frequently.
  • Change negative thoughts into positive ones. Turn “I doing hate this.” Into “I’ve done this before and I can get through it.”
  • Don’t get sucked into other people’s dilemmas. You can be helpful and supportive, but don’t become a player if you don’t need to be. You already have enough stress.
  • Learn to apologize. Most of us get pretty big heads every once in a while. But don’t let your ego cause you guilt and subsequently, stress.
  • Be able to handle confrontation. Someone will always have a problem with you somewhere for whatever reason. Learn to control the stress that envelops you in these situations.
  • Don’t allow yourself to wallow in a failure. Always thinking back to that time you did this and that won’t let you move on and become great.

It never gets easier, only better.

5 thoughts on “50 Things to Help Deal with Pre-med Stress

Add yours

  1. Howdy ! Learning to deal with stress is an essential virtue in order to keep striding despite many setbacks.
    Great post really enjoyed reading 🙂 I am a med student too. What year are you in ?


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