Top Hobbies for Relieving Stress as a Pre-Med Student

April 5, 2017

penBy Danielle Wirsansky

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College is already stressful but when you have a major as demanding as pre-med, the stress just keeps going and going. The stress is just going to increase as you graduate from undergrad and begin your graduate school career, then residencies, and then become an actual doctor!

It is a lot of long nights, a lot of tough studying, and a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. In order to salvage your sanity, it is really important to find ways to decompress and de-stress. It is especially important to establish these stress reducing hobbies as an undergraduate student so that these good habits stay with you down the road as your responsibilities become ever more stressful.

Read on to learn some top hobbies for relieving stress as a pre-med student!


Coloring is currently making a resurgence as a great way to relieve stress for adults. It is no longer simply an activity to keep children busy; adults can use it to get their minds off of things and to be creative. Apparently coloring as a practice to help reduce stress stretches all the way back to Carl Jung! It’s become a global phenomena and not a technique limited to the United States.

Psychologist Gloria Martínez Ayala described the positive effects of coloring, saying the following.

“The action involves both logic, by which we color forms, and creativity, when mixing and matching colors. This incorporates the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in vision and fine motor skills [coordination necessary to make small, precise movements]. The relaxation that it provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress.”

Coloring can be a way to be creative and let your mind be free while remaining an inexpensive hobby that allows you to escape the medical world for a little while. However, if you are not interested in having a hobby that takes you away from your medical studies and instead would like to integrate your stress reducing coloring with ways to keep your mind engaged with science, you can! There are many anatomy coloring books you can use to help you learn the locations of different parts of the body as well as the names of those parts.

A free source for this kind of coloring material is the Dr. Mario Anatomy Coloring Book which shows everyone’s favorite Nintendo character, Mario, and uses him as the basis for the coloring book. You can color in Mario while still learning about science! Created by a medical student, Ambrosia Burbank, for an anatomy class, the pages are available online for free and can be found here.

Word Search Puzzle

Another great way to de-stress but keep your mind sharp is to do a word search! Many people can find them frustrating if they are too difficult, but the stress relief from doing a word search puzzle actually comes about not from the act of searching for the words but finishing the puzzle in its entirety.

By giving you a sense of relief and accomplishment, completing a word search puzzle can definitely help a pre-med student decompress. There are so many ways to access word search puzzles, whether through buying books or downloading sheets online for free. It can be an easy hobby to cultivate while on a pre-med student’s budget.

And if you are interested in combining the stress relief hobby with the medical world, it is possible to do so! There are now medical word search books that can help keep you on track with your studies even as you take a break from them. There is even a free PDF of a word search book that you can access online.

Creator J. C. Kunz  Jr. said the following about the puzzle book.

“This puzzle book is your chance to have a little fun with the serious words of the healthcare world. Here I have assembled many medical specialties, and topics of interest to all healthcare practitioners and students, into one book and tried to have fun with them. Each puzzle contains phrases, terms of art, and common words, that are essential to each topic. Some of the words are common to the healthcare profession in general, and some are very specific to the healthcare specialty represented in each puzzle. Some contain phrases that have been condensed down to their familiar letters, such as ‘cardio-pulmonary resuscitation,’ which is commonly referred to as ‘CPR.’ Also, I like to use a felt-tip highlighter-pen when doing this type of puzzle. This keeps the puzzle neat, clean, and easy to read.”

With his final sentences, Kunz displays the lighthearted attitude that pre-med students should adopt when attempting these medical word search puzzles. A frazzled doctor is not an effective doctor, so pre-med students need to take care of themselves and de-stress!

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