How to prioritise your mental health

We all struggle with our mental health, but Amana Qayum explains how she tries to prioritise peace as a medical student.

A lot of us fall under the misunderstanding that we must be 'strong' at all times, that we must be 'thankful'. How we look after our skin, teeth, body and hair - this is how we should look after our mental health too.

Go easy on yourself and be calm and compassionate about all the pressures you may be facing. Our main concern should be how we reflect on ourselves, not how others see us.

Your brain is the pinnacle of your body, so take all the time you need. Don't rush and abuse your mental space.

Here are a few things that help me focus on my mental health.

Prioritise your mental and physical health

Life can get the best of us, and especially for anyone working in the healthcare profession, we must first help ourselves before we help others. Our mind and body should work in balance to make it possible for us to help patients.

One of the ways I clear my mind away from studies and work is through art and sketching - it's always been in my life, and I make sure to put time aside for it.

Be proud of your achievements

As a medical student, your first priority is to ensure your mental health is in a good place. If you struggle to hold yourself together, you will struggle to hold others around you. Strive to do the best you can and be proud of your achievements so far, instead of comparing yourselves to others.

Spend time with others

One of the many things that helps me feel at peace is to sit down and do what I love to do best: whether that's sketching or hiking. It's a form of medicine; it slowly helps me ease and fall in love with myself, my hobbies and my surroundings again.

I'd also suggest talking to people around you, spend a little time with others to open yourself up and find peace of mind and purpose again, so you're not pressured by your own thoughts and feelings. We're social creatures - you'd be surprised how a lot of people can heal you without even trying.

Create your happy space

Once you start to be more of your friend to yourself than an enemy, you start to see the world for what it is. Even if you feel you're deep in a tunnel, there's always light at the end of it - you just have to keep walking, keep carrying yourself, and this time shall pass.

You can find sources of support for students here.

This page was correct at publication on 09/02/2023. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

Amana Qayum new

by Amana Qayum

Amana Qayum is a fifth-year medical student from Manchester, currently studying at the Medical University of Sofia (MUS). Amana is aiming to pursue a career in surgery, as this specialty has always interested her the most.

Amana is co-founder of her MUS clinical skills society, and when she is not studying or documenting her medical journey on Instagram or her blog, she enjoys sketching, painting, calligraphy, badminton and tennis, and can be found spending time with her family.