Do we med students have a pulse? We often have a pressure to be all about medicine. Indeed, it is really life-consuming and it takes lots of time and work if you want to be a good Doctor. While this career is all great and mighty, we often go the extra mile to commit to other duties outside of medical school. Making the most out of our downtime therefore becomes extremely important.

When you think of relaxing, what comes to your mind? Sleeping in and lying in bed, scrolling through silly TikTok videos all day (no offence to you fellow TikTokers out there, but I’m a YouTuber)? Sadly, given my 40 hour/week commitment to hospital placements, I don’t have the luxury to do that. Plus, in my opinion, they usually provide little to no value to our lives – more like active procrastination to me.

The art of procrastination.

Active relaxing is a form of relaxation that involves movement rather than the conventional ones like reading, watching tv or meditating. It combines leisure and productivity, engaging your body while relaxing your mind and reducing stress at the same time. As a quintessential medical student, active relaxation is my go-to.

Martial arts – my favourite active relaxation. Yeah, quite an intense one, I agree. I think of it as meditation, but with your focus being on the bag/pads/your opponent. This allows you to be immersed in the present moment, entering a state of flow without feeling like you’re doing ‘work’ mentally. Gives you a hell of a workout physically as well.

If you want to relax BOTH your mind and body, I recommend lighter forms of active relaxation such as deep breathing exercises, yoga or even creative activities. A few examples:

  1. Deep breathing: Take slow, deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Focus on breathing in relaxation and breathing out tension. Repeat for several minutes.
  2. Yoga or stretching: Engage in gentle yoga or stretching exercises that help to release tension and promote relaxation. Focus on your breath and the movement of your body as you stretch.
  3. Creative activities: Participate in creative activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as painting, drawing, filming, or writing (like this blog!). This can help to focus your mind on that activity and promote a sense of calm.

Personally, I prefer martial arts because it combines physical exercise, deep breathing, and stress relief. Not to mention, they help build physical strength, flexibility, and balance. This can promote our self-esteem and self-accountability, which is not something we get to do in our ordinary university life. But all in all, I think active relaxation is an excellent way to make the most out of our downtime and everyone should practise it. It helps promote our physical and mental health, productivity, and provides us a break from the constant stimulation of technology and social media.

“Like a cobra, your strike should be felt before it is seen.”

Now go, actively relax. And I will see you in the Boxing ring (and in the hospital after 😉😈).