Managing Stress and Burnout: Mental Health Tips for Medical Students

As a medical student, you probably already know that the workload is staggering. But what you may not realize is how stressful medical school can be. 

Medical students are constantly under pressure to do well in their classes, get good grades on rotations, and prepare for the future by networking with other doctors—all while trying to maintain some semblance of a social life. 

However, it’s important to remember that most students find ways to balance these responsibilities and remain sane throughout their time at medical school (and beyond). 

In this article, we’ll discuss ways you can manage stress and prevent burnout as a medical student.

Know that burnout is not failure.

You are not alone. Burnout is a normal part of being a medical student, and knowing that you are not failing if you experience burnout is important. 

As a medical student, you are under extreme amounts of stress and pressure. Stress can lead to burnout if not managed properly. Burnout is not failure; it’s an emotional exhaustion that results from being overworked or exposed to too many difficult situations for too long.

Burnout is a sign that you are human and need help, but it is also an opportunity for growth.

Talk to a trusted friend or mentor.

It can be difficult to open up about the stress you’re experiencing, but it’s important to speak with someone about your feelings. 

Talking about what you’re going through can help put things into perspective and make finding solutions easier. 

Your mentor may be able to offer suggestions on how best to manage your time, cope with the workload or improve your sleep habits.

If you feel more comfortable talking to a friend or family member, do that. What’s important is that you feel like you aren’t alone in your problems. You can share them with someone and take some of the load off. 

Take breaks when you need them.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, it is important to take breaks. This will help your brain recover and recharge.

Some ways to take a break include:

  • Go for a walk or hike in nature
  • Take time to do something you enjoy (exercise, art)
  • Meditate or practice yoga

When on a break, try not to think about work as much as possible. Instead, focus on something else that relaxes you so that when it’s time to return to work, you’ll feel rested and refreshed.

Exercise to combat stress and burnout.

Exercise is one of the best ways to combat stress and burnout. It can help you sleep better, eat better, and socialize better. 

Exercise also makes you more productive because it releases endorphins that make you feel happier, as well as helping with creativity.

Even if exercise doesn’t sound like much fun at first glance, try doing something active every day for at least 30 minutes, like walking around campus or dancing with friends, to see how much better it makes your mind and body feel.

Take care of your physical health.

Taking care of your physical health is also important for maintaining your mental health. 

It’s easy to forget about eating right and getting enough sleep when you’re busy studying or working hard in the hospital, but these things are essential to staying healthy. 

If you are worried about time management, set aside specific times each day when you will eat and get some rest (such as during breakfast). Take breaks throughout the day as needed–even five minutes can help refresh both mind and body!

Getting outside is also beneficial; go for walks around town or take advantage of free outdoor activities such as hiking trails.

Learn Time Management

Medical students must learn how to manage their time effectively so they can balance their studies with other activities, such as exercise and spending time with friends and family. 

Learning techniques for managing stress will help improve your mental health overall as well as minimize any negative impacts on your health from this type of situation (e.g., high blood pressure).

This can even save you hundreds of dollars in the future through disability insurance costs. Physicians Thrive can help you understand the cost of these insurance premiums. 


Medical students are under extreme amounts of stress, but they can learn techniques to manage it. 

Medical school is difficult and requires constant focus, so it’s not surprising that many students experience burnout at some point during their education. 

But if you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress or exhaustion from overwork, try to implement some of the tips in this article to help find some relief.

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