Learn how finding balance within your mind and body is crucial to your success on test day. Today, we talk about wellness habits and how to maintain a healthy body and mind during your prep – because that’s a huge part of your score!
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
Surround Yourself with Positivity
- Studying for the MCAT can take a toll on both mental and physical well-being, regardless of where you are in life. The intensity of the exam requires immense focus and dedication, often leading to moments of exhaustion and self-doubt. It’s crucial to prioritize surrounding oneself with positivity during this challenging period. Avoiding toxic environments and comparison traps can help maintain a healthy mindset.
- When studying for the MCAT, it’s crucial to create a positive environment around you. Avoid exposure to ideas or opinions on how you should study or what your progress should look like. Instead, surround yourself with positive affirmations and individuals who uplift and support you.
- Seek out people from various fields, not just those in the medical field, as their perspectives can be refreshing and inspiring. Steer clear of platforms like SDN and Reddit, as they can be filled with performative and unverified information that may only worsen your anxiety and mental well-being.
Prioritize Healthy Habits
Don’t underestimate the value of sleep.
- Setting good habits is essential throughout your MCAT journey. One of the most important habits to prioritize is getting enough sleep. Compromising sleep can negatively impact both your mental well-being and the effectiveness of your study sessions. Countless studies emphasize the importance of restful sleep for our overall well-being, both mentally and physically.
- “Sleep is so important to our wellbeing in every single way – whether it’s mental or physical.”
- Catching up on studying by sacrificing sleep is counterproductive, as retaining information becomes challenging. Make sleep a non-negotiable healthy habit, even if you feel behind on your studying.
Embrace movement and physical activity.
- Physical activity plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy mindset during MCAT preparation. Whether it’s playing a sport, going to the gym, or taking walks, find ways to incorporate movement into your routine. Physical activity stimulates endorphins, which boost mood and overall well-being. Fresh air and a change of scenery can also do wonders for your mental state.
- “There is no best way to work out or to play a sport or to get physical activity – just do what feels right to you.”
- There is no one-size-fits-all approach to exercise, so find activities that you enjoy and make you feel good. Even a 30-minute dance party in your room can be beneficial. Prioritize movement as part of your self-care routine.
Nourish your body.
- While everyone comes from different backgrounds, it’s important to prioritize nourishing foods during your MCAT journey. Aim to eat foods that provide nourishment and support your well-being. This doesn’t mean you have to shop at specialty stores or follow specific diets. Simply focus on consuming a variety of nutritious foods that make you feel good physically and mentally.
- Taking care of your body through nourishing food choices can positively impact your overall well-being.
- Nourishing your body is essential during your MCAT studies, but don’t forget to indulge in the occasional treat as well. Treat yourself to a donut or your favorite ice cream donuts as a reward for your hard work. However, make sure that the majority of your meals consist of nourishing foods like breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- Maintaining a healthy diet and eating habits can actually enhance your studying. Avoid going for hours without a food break and try to incorporate nutritious options into your snacks and lunches. Protein-rich foods provide sustained energy, while staying hydrated is also crucial. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep yourself refreshed and focused.
Prioritizing Quality over Quantity in MCAT Studying
- When it comes to preparing for the MCAT, it’s crucial to prioritize quality over quantity. Many people tend to obsess over the number of hours they study, but what truly matters is how effectively those hours are utilized.
- Are you studying with focus and actively learning, or are you half-asleep and easily distracted for a significant portion of your study sessions? Reflecting on the quality of your study time can help you make better use of your hours.
- While studying for the MCAT, it’s important to consider the value of rest and working during your peak energy times. Quantity alone won’t guarantee the best score or performance. There are individuals who have achieved great results without logging an excessive number of study hours.
- It’s about being efficient and effective in the time you dedicate to studying. Identify when your energy levels are highest and schedule your study sessions accordingly. Some may thrive in the evening, while others may be more alert in the morning. Embrace your natural tendencies and optimize your studying based on your personal energy patterns.
Analyzing Trends for Physical and Mental Well-being
- Just as you analyze your MCAT performance trends, it’s equally important to analyze trends related to your physical and mental well-being. Pay attention to what works and what doesn’t work for you in terms of maintaining optimal health. If something isn’t working out, take the time to identify potential improvements and adjustments.
- Prioritize self-care practices that support your well-being throughout your MCAT journey. This self-reflection can greatly contribute to your overall success and ensure you’re in the best state to tackle the challenges ahead.
Prioritize Sleep Above All
- If there’s only one thing to focus on when it comes to wellness, Noor says it would be sleep. It is the foundation upon which everything else rests. When you compromise on sleep, the repercussions extend far beyond just your MCAT studying. It casts a dark cloud over your entire day, impacting various aspects of your life and exacerbating stress and anxiety.
- Quality sleep is vital for optimal cognitive function and academic success.
- As someone who has personally experienced the consequences of poor sleep habits during their academic journey, Noor says she cannot stress its importance enough. While this applies to all stages of education, including undergraduate and graduate school, it holds true for MCAT preparation as well. Lack of sufficient sleep hampers your ability to retain information, concentrate effectively, and perform at your best academically.