a young pakistani doctor blogs...
Thursday, July 21, 2005
  Feeling scared.

I have’nt worked for 4 days now. I feel scared. I’ve got 35 days till the papers start and I’ve got a lot of work to do. All this analyzing, all the intellectualizing I’ve been doing, in the end it comes down to a simple thing really: I’m a lazy person. I don’t want to be in the difficult situation that I’m in. I’d rather be up in the skies as a writer, or want to develop ‘ridiculously enthusiastic’ philosophies of life.

Once a friend of mine approached two respected seniors whom I happened to be sitting with at the time. This friend was some 2 weeks away from the Step 1 exam he had been studying for over a year and a half for. He sat down with us and told the two seniors that he was not giving the exam. He said he was having severe anxiety attacks and he didn’t think he was ready to give the exam. He was going to pull out and give it next year (this chap was giving the Step 1 while in final year and he told us he now wanted to give it after the final year exam). The two seniors spent some three hours talking to him, trying to boost his morale, encourage him, to tell him he’s just panicking unnecessarily etc.. etc… In the end, he changed his mind (although he changed it back, and then back again – he finally gave the exam 2 months later than originally intended and got a 92). One of the seniors, tired from the effort of talking so much said with a grin that they should have used Pakistani psychological techniques from the very beginning: get a big stick and beat him till he came to his senses. I laughed a lot.

But he’s right in a way. In this difficult field that I’m in, there is no easy way out. There is no way one can breeze through these difficult exams feeling wonderful and peaceful and safe all the time. These big exams bleed you. They take away your self-confidence, inject cold fear into you, making you doubt yourselve, and make you think you’ll fail.

There’s no easy way out of this. I’ve got to plow through the rest of the time I have and just work screw the psychology, screw the efforts at maintaining my sanity. I’ve got to bleed. I think I had it right a few posts ago. I have to bleed for my bread.

Maybe I’m feeling so messed up and so pessimistic because I haven’t worked for a number of days. The main reason for that is my insomnia (at least that's the excuse I keep using). I would wake up two hours after going to bed, unable to sleep, and while in the beginning, the “ridiculous enthusiasm” saw me through and got me through the day, eventually the lack of sleep caught up to me and I spent the whole day extremely sleepy despite drinking dangerously large quantities of coffee. To counter this, last night I went to bed early, determined to get my full 8 hours this time, so as not to have excuses. I woke up two hours after going to bed, unable to go back to sleep. Rather than ‘mistake’ this for enthusiasm (which I definitely wasn’t feeling) I decided to get up and have a bite to eat; that might get me sleepy. Sure enough, an hour later I fell asleep again and I went on to sleep another 5 hours. Seven hours total. That should be enough to ward off any sleepiness for the day. I’ve got to learn to respect my mind and body. If it needs sleep, I’ve got to give put it to bed. Otherwise I’ll just waste the following day very drowsy. I need to adopt a more sober approach to studies. This isn't magic, afterall.

Let’s hope the morale picks up by the end of the day.

 
Comments:
It’s 11:00 in the morning and your energy is waning. Minutes seem to tick by like hours and your mind feels foggy. You’ve still got six more hours to look alert and act productive and get over anxiety panic, so how do you cope with the afternoon blahs? Follow these six tips!

1. If you have a job that involves sitting at a desk all day or staring at a computer screen, take five minutes to stand up or lean back, close your eyes and stretch, especially in your shoulder and leg areas. Being seated all the time can make your whole body feel stiff and sleepy. A good stretch session helps limber up your body and gets the blood flowing again.

2. Avoid the tempting lure of caffeine or sugar-laden foods such as coffee, tea or chocolate. Caffeine may perk up your energy levels temporarily, but it also has a bad habit of leaving you sluggish after the effect has worn off. Instead, choose whole grain foods, fruits and vegetables to give your body the fuel it really wants! Eating healthier will boost your mood, elevate your alertness, change anxiety panic and make you feel better all day long.

3. Along with healthier foods, take a quick 10-15 minute walk during your lunch break. Just a few minutes will give you a burst of energy that refreshes you and makes you feel more alert – while burning off your lunch calories in the process!

4. Sometimes, afternoon slumps can be your body’s way of telling you that it needs something. You may be feeling tired if your blood sugar is low (which happens especially after the effect of those caffeine and high sugar foods has worn off!). Packing a low calorie snack like graham crackers, granola, fruit or vegetable slices can give your body a boost and keep you from feeling hungry in the late afternoon and caving in to the urge to devour the entire contents of the vending machine after work!

5. Drowsiness is often a sign that you’re not getting enough water. Drinking more water throughout the day not only helps keep you awake, but also keeps you from feeling those hunger pangs that inevitably creep up in mid-morning. Taking a large sports bottle that you can drink from throughout the day is a great way to get your recommended eight glasses a day as well!

6. If afternoon fatigue is a recurring problem, it may be a side effect of medications you are taking. Allergy pills are well known culprits, as are some blood pressure and anxiety/depression medicines. Don’t try to circumvent these effects with caffeine, otherwise you’ll overload your body with stimulants while it’s already trying to deal with drowsiness, and you’ll feel mentally and physically exhausted. Instead, try a short 15-20 minute catnap. You’ll be surprised how refresh you’ll feel when you wake up! (Don’t try this at work though – I know it’s tempting!)

If you follow these tips on a regular basis, you’ll not only make it through the afternoon blahs, but you’ll also feel better physically and mentally, sleep better at night, and wake up rejuvenated and re-energized the next morning. Make it a GREAT day! anxiety panic
 
Thanks for your post Blogger. A wise man once said that every complex problem always has a simple answer, and it's always wrong. (a word of wisdom from the team at http://www.study-techniques.com).
 
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Recent med school graduate from Peshawar, Pakistan. Started blogging when in throes of final year exams. Currently studying for USMLE Step 1. Aiming for the 2008 Match. I blog about my studies, my worries, and my thoughts on life. I live in Islamabad.

BLOGS I READ
Aya's Randomness
I, Zak
Crow's Nest
Rai
Kevin MD
Sometime's Sobia

Watan Dost
Fingers and tubes
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