As with any program, job, hobby – really any aspect of life – a form of balance is necessary. The age old question arises, what does balance truly mean? Whenever I think of balance, I think of the meme (because let’s be honest, when are memes not on the brain?) that says:
“Some days you get up early, go to the gym, eat your serving of vegetables, and some days you eat 20 tacos and drink margaritas all day. It’s called balance.”
Since I spend the majority of time looking at memes, I tried to relate this to what balance means to a veterinary student. Sometimes this means to me, some days you go to the library and study all day, go home feeling like you have accomplished your daily goal’s worth of work, and other days you sit in bed and watch Netflix (for me, The Office) and don’t leave the house (spare running out to get a quick bite of definitely not vegetables). However, lately I have been trying to adapt this definition to be more truly balanced.
For a long time, I struggled with this definition. I always felt guilt for taking these extended breaks, and thus afterwards was constantly struck with worry after my supposed relaxing day. So, I have been brainstorming how to adapt my habits, or even thought process to better encapsulate the definition of balance. Lately, I have been trying to take interspersed breaks in my studying. For instance, going for a walk after finishing a lecture, or reading a chapter of a book after I reach my study goal, or even if I didn’t accomplish exactly what I wanted to get done today, still taking some “me time”. So far, these new practices seem to be working for me, and I feel relaxed after taking these short breaks, but importantly, NOT GUILTY! Yay! Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I still get in the mood to never leave my bed (especially on a rainy Scottish morning), but on those days I try to set smaller goals, like only completing one lecture, and then allowing myself to have that time to refresh and relax. I am hoping that it means that I will be more focused when I return to schoolwork the next day, which is often the case.
This strategy is working for me currently; however, that doesn’t mean it is one that will work for everyone, or even always work for me. I think the important point is that balance is essential, no matter how you define it in your own life. As long as you feel truly balanced, and have time to relax, as to avoid overworking and burn-out, then hurrah! But, this is a tricky concept to handle while in vet school, but also being a practicing veterinarian. Although difficult while trying to study for all of your vet school exams (believe me, exams is a completely different ball game for me), I think gaining extra practice of these skills is necessary for later in life, when it becomes increasingly difficult.
So, whatever your definition of balance is, please enjoy this fat cat meme. Hopefully we can all be a balance master like this chunky cat, an I hope that we all find our own definition of balance.