In December I learned that we would have a personal change project for the Spring Semester. I thought a lot about it. I thought about finishing my pilot's license (a goal I fear that I will never accomplish), but then I found out that it had to be health related - so that was out. I thought about a lot of things that I could change or do differently to improve my overall health, and believe me, the list is long. So I thought about the thing I think about most often - exercise, after all, my B.S. degree is in Physical Education. My exercise habits have had incredible peaks and troughs. My senior year in college I ran cross country and ran anywhere from 3 to 10 miles a day. I was in the best shape of my life. I then went on a 2 year stint in which I exercised rarely if at all. I then found myself in training for a leg of a triathlon and got back to running around 4 miles a day; I was in fairly good shape at the time. Then I went on another 2 year stint in which I have exercised rarely if at all.
So I have to have a personal change project that positively impacts my health. So I focused on running. I've been reading books to improve motivation and running techniques. I've thought about other habits that discourage my desire to exercise and rearranged my schedule or pattern of routines in order to align myself with a more positive outcome and decrease the prevalence of my barriers.
I had to submit my proposal this week for my change project. The change project has to be measurable, so then I have to think what health factor do I want to measure - heart rate, blood pressure, weight? So I decided on stress. I found a great rubric to measure my stress and I am going to cross reference it with my exercise habits and evaluate the effectiveness of exercise on my stress level.
Looking at things from the perspective of stress has rearranged my thinking a lot about the whole project. I had initially been solely thinking about exercise and all that encompasses, but focusing on stress makes so much more sense now. I am doing other things in conjunction with the project to evaluate my stress level. It has truly been interesting and I look forward to the end results.I've been running for three weeks now. It is getting some easier, but I'm still really out of shape. It hasn't helped that the temp's been in the 30's or that it was spitting sleet while I was running today. But I do feel better, my rubric is already indicating the positive effect that exericse is having on my stress level.
Learning to control my stress will become an incredibly important tool in the following months. I had a meeting with my advisor yesterday and we talked about a great deal of stuff. I have a lot of concerns regarding the 2nd year of the program and I needed some perspective. There are ~15 different specialties. I have chose acute care, which, incidently, is the most intense program. I asked about the course of the 2nd year and all that it involves. I asked how the intensity of the 2nd year compared to the intensity of the current 1st year and she replied that there was no comparison. She said that the fall semester will require dedicated studying at least 6 out of 7 nights a week and that I should basically plan on not having any type of social life (which fortunately will not upset my current state of affairs). As ironic as it may sound, my discussion with my advisor provided me with some clarity and decreased the extreame amount of worry and fear I have over next year (not that I don't still have an extreme amount of worry and fear).
Tomorrow begins my 3rd week of pediatric clinicals.