5 Ways to Spend Your Time When You Are Not Studying…

Name: Courtney Backward

Undergrad: Oklahoma Wesleyan University

Hometown: Salina, OK

Fun Fact: I am the world’s most awkward high-five giver/receiver.

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One of my classmates once said “PT school is neither a marathon nor a sprint. It is both at the same time.” That statement resonated with me on a personal level. During my first year of PT school, I found myself drowning in homework and responsibilities. The temptation to ignore almost every other aspect of my life in order to survive school was strong. However, I found that this did not help my stress levels, and it only added to them in a negative way. Instead, I found that taking good care of my life outside of school is the foundation of taking good care of my school work as well. Sometimes taking care of yourself means…NOT STUDYING…yeah, that’s right! So, here are 5 ways to spend your time when you are not studying:

  1. Find a good hang out spot:
    • From coffee shops to book stores to the bar down the street. Find a spot you can unwind and relax. Some favorite local spots include Allegro Coffee Roasters, BookBar (if you are looking for a one-stop shop), Goldspot Brewery, and Local 46. All of these are 3-5 minutes from Regis and are just scratching the surface of the many hangout locations in the Denver area.

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  1. Exercise:
    • Whether you are a yogi, cross-fitter, avid runner, cyclist, power-lifter, or intramural sport phenom, you can find Regis DPT students covering the exercise spectrum. Joining a fitness club is a great way to connect with other people in the community. However, if you are into exercise options that are easy on the bank account, find a friend and exhaust the available free Youtube exercise videos or try out the many trail running paths nearby. If you love organized, competitive sports, Regis offers many different intramural sports. Our classes frequently compete together as a team and have won several championships (not to brag or anything…). Whatever you like to do for exercise, take advantage of opportunities and use it as a stress relieving activity.

 

 

(please enjoy the slo-mo video of Lauren’s epic trick shot)

  1. Get outside:
    • If you don’t take advantage of the outdoor activities in Colorado, you may be missing out on some serious soul medicine. From hiking to park days to outdoor festivals downtown, get out and enjoy the famous Colorado’s 300+ days of sunshine. Some enjoy tackling 14-ers over the weekends, others find beauty and excitement in the lower, half-day hikes. Some of my favorite lower hikes include: Mt. Galbraith Trail Lily Mountain Trailhead and Herman Gulch Trailhead. Our PT class loves to plan park days where we take advantage of the city parks to play volleyball, corn-hole, have a cookout, or just soak up the sun. These activities are very therapeutic and immensely enjoyable!

 

  1. Practice your creativity!
    • I often am so impressed by the creativity and talent that is displayed by many of my classmates. We have dancers, painters, poets, woodworkers, talented chefs, etc. Although my creativity is often derived from Pinterest, it is so much fun to put my creativity to work. Wine and paint nights can be a fun way to relax and unwind with friends. Some individuals enjoy improv dancing to help them to express themselves while others channel their inner “foodie” and put their chef skills to the work (I, personally, am very thankful I have friends with this talent). One thing to keep in mind when practicing creativity is to NOT get caught up in perfection. You are not being graded on this! I know this is a hard concept to understand in PT school. Just have fun with it and let your mind or body be free to run wild!
  1. Don’t think about school!!
    • School is very important. Responsibilities are very important. Becoming a capable physical therapist is very important. However, prioritizing your health and balancing your personal life is imperative. Remember that you are a multi-dimensional person and that is a beautiful thing. Take time to calm your mind. Take time to spend with your friends and family. Take time to treat yourself. We work hard at our school work, so don’t forget to work hard at other aspects of your life as well!

 

Let’s Talk About Mental Health

Name: Amanda Rixey, Class of 2018
Undergrad: University of Kansas, KS
Hometown: Overland Park, KS
Fun Fact: My massive bear dog, Sherlock, has over 7,000 followers on Instagram.

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I think most of my classmates would view me as the hyper, kind-of goofy, and giggly one in the class.  It’s easy for me to hide under that personality— especially after having suffered from generalized anxiety and PTSD.  Both inside and outside of PT school, mental health is my passion.  In 2012, I lost my dad to suicide; ever since, awareness and treatment of mental health has been the biggest thing I’ve ever advocated for.  Mental health and physical therapy go hand-in-hand.  However, mental health issues can sort of creep up on you as a busy physical therapy student when you least expect it.

There are days when I never want to get out of bed.  There are days when I come home from school and all I do is lie in bed.  There are days when I don’t study because I’m too nervous about not knowing all of the material for school.  There are days when all I do is study because I’m nervous I don’t know enough.  Regardless of the day, I have to keep reminding myself I am not crazy.  Graduate school is stressful and it is normal to have these feelings of anxiety.  The biggest key, however, is to seek help and do something about it.


Here is my list of how I “keep calm and carry on” during PT school:

1. Get help when you need it

The longer you wait to seek medical guidance, the harder it will be.  I sought out a counselor and take medications for my anxiety and depression.  Regis is awesome and offers free counseling to students—take advantage of it!

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Sharing hugs and thoracic manipulations during MMII lab

2. Don’t be afraid to take medications if that’s what’s right for you

I take an SSRI every day. I find that there is some sort of stigma regarding medicating for depression and anxiety. Overcoming this stigma allowed me to experience life to the fullest for the first time. Talk to your primary care physician or counselor; they can help.

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Spending Thanksgiving with the Class of 2018 and our puppies

3. Find a network of support

 Be open with classmates, professors, family members, friends, or even your dog about what you’re going through.  Let them know when you feel anxious or down and talk to them about it.  I text my friends when I don’t feel like myself.  They are there to help.

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My sisters and friend at the University of Kansas Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk with AFSP where I served as Chairperson in May 2014

4. Take days off from schoolwork

I know that school can seem overwhelming, but it is acceptable to take one or two days off during the week for yourself.  Do what you love: workout, hike, do some Pilates, lay on the sofa and watch Bridesmaids for the 50th time, walk your dog!

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Enjoying a beautiful day off in Vail with my best buddy, Sherlock and my boyfriend, Joe (not pictured)

5. Get involved in the community  

Through Regis, I was able to get involved with Spoke n Motion, an integrated dance company.  Sharing my experience with dancers of diverse backgrounds helped me feel wanted in a very close community and enjoy dance from a beautiful perspective.

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Dancing with my fellow Spokes during our May 2016 show at the Colorado Ballet. PC: Spoke N Motion

6. Believe in yourself

When I doubt my abilities in school, I notice that I often find myself in a rut.  Accept what you know and what you don’t know.  Cherish the moments your classmates compliment you and when you succeed.  These little moments add up and you will realize that you are a capable student in this profession.

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Enjoying a Friday night with classmates

7. Remember that mental health doesn’t have to take over your life

Taking the proper steps and finding the right help will put you on the pathway to overcoming it. Please feel free to email me with any questions at arixey@regis.edu.


If you or someone you know needs help contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK

Regis Counseling Services: 303-458-3507

 

Injury, surgery and rehab during PT school: Meet James Liaw

Name: James Liaw, Class of 2018

Hometown: San Jose, CA

Undergrad: University of California, Davis

Fun Fact: Climbing! More Climbing, snowboarding…let’s go climb.

 

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Getting injured is always going to be hard to deal with, but you never realize how much it will affect you until you’re experiencing it firsthand. The summer after my senior year of high school, I hurt my left wrist; I did not find out until this semester—six years later!—that I had broken the scaphoid and it had never healed. Deciding to get it fixed in my second semester of PT school was tough, but necessary: as we will be learning many hands-on tests and measures this summer to use for our first fall clinical, I figured now was the best time for the surgery. Since I’ve always been interested in hands, I did a lot of my own research. A vascularized bone graft over my scaphoid would normally be the best option, but, because my fracture was practically ancient, my surgeon and I decided that the best option was to get a four-corner fusion.

After waking up from surgery, though, I learned that there was a complication. The goal had been to fuse the carpels and have my lunate articulate with the radius instead of the scaphoid; when my surgeon began, though, she found that there had already been damage to the surface. She decided that it was best for me to get a proximal row carpetomy (PRC) to preserve as much ROM as she could. So, essentially, the surgeon took out the scaphoid, lunate and triquetrum in order to have my wrist articulate at the capitate.

It was only after undergoing my PRC that I realized how much I utilized both my hands for everyday activity—and, particularly, that I could no longer climb. Losing my main source of both stress relief and fun hit me hard. I tried to find other things to fill the time and to burn off the excess energy that I had from sitting in class all day, but, to be honest, nothing really worked. Not climbing made me restless and unmotivated to study. My life had been built around climbing and school, so losing half of that was devastating. Everyone was extremely supportive and assured me that I would get back to climbing in no time, but this “short” stint of five weeks of immobilization felt like forever—and, almost just as paralyzing as the cast was the constant worry that I would lose the climbing ability I had worked so hard to attain.

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James created his own customized walker to practice in the Class of 2018’s transfer and mobility lab

That time in the cast gave me more insight into what my future patients will be feeling:  I felt helpless as I sat in lecture, hand over my head to reduce swelling, and thinking about my four years of climbing work slipping out from my fingers. This is the kind of thought that we will have to deal with. Patients will come in with an injury and with goals and fears of never reaching them, and I can see more clearly now that it’s going to be my job, as a clinician, to assist with both physical rehabilitation and help motivate them to push past their fears.

Dealing with an injury can be large distraction from school. Luckily (or unluckily), I have other classmates that are going through a similar process with their injuries, and we have formed a support group to talk about our experiences. All the professors have been very supportive, and I’ve also learned a lot about wrist and hand injuries in the last month through obsessive research (it’s reinforcing Regis’ emphasis on evidence-based practice!). I will be starting physical therapy soon and I’m looking forward to getting back on track—and, hopefully, more energized than I have been in the last month. Even though I have a long way to go, I can’t help but be excited about healing up and enjoying the beautiful Colorado climbing!