How the Shine App Taught a Med School Student to Prioritize Herself
At the end of 2020, Maya knew something had to change.
The 28-year-old rising fourth-year medical school student hit a wall that she couldn’t seem to get past.
“I was going through a pretty challenging patch with school and not feeling fulfilled in a lot of my relationships,” she tells Shine. “It was the first time I was acknowledging that I was depressed.”
She started the search for a mental health professional to help her cope, but in the meantime: A friend recommended she start using the Shine app to meditate and prioritize herself.
“She told me a lot of it was geared towards women of color, so I downloaded it, and I remember one of the first meditations I did said ‘It’s OK to check in with yourself,’” she says. “It was something so simple yet so profound that it had me in tears. I was pretty hooked from that point.”
It was the beginning of a new chapter in caring for mental and emotional health, a shift that Maya says happened thanks in large part to Shine.
Here, three of the self-care tools and truths Maya’s learned from her Shine Premium membership so far:
1. I’m Worth Making Time For
Before Maya started using Shine: Prioritizing time to check in with herself was the last thing on her list.
“Medicine is a very brutal field,” Maya says. “We spend so much time checking in on our patients that we don’t spend time just to acknowledge how difficult some of the stuff we see is and how rigorous of a training process it is.”
Now, she takes time almost daily to log her mood in the Shine app and use the interactive journal feature to free write or listen to a recommended meditation that aligns with how she’s feeling.
“I was going, going, going, and I thought it wasn’t important to acknowledge how I was feeling,” she says. “The app helps me make time to do that. I’ve learned that my feelings and emotions are just that: my feelings and emotions. I don’t have to justify them, I can just feel them.”
2. Breathe Through It
Throughout her day, Maya now notices herself taking time to stop, breathe, and simply be—especially in moments when she feels anxious or overwhelmed. Even a simple notification from the Shine app will help remind her to do that.
“Breathing can really change your day and increase your focus,” she says. “If I see a notification from Shine, it means to stop and breathe through it. It helps me center and slow down.”
“Recently, I was very nervous before starting a big rotation, so I just practiced lotus breathing in my car,” she says. “Shine’s taught me tools that I can utilize on the go. Elisha has a lot of good visualization-based meditations that I like a lot.”
3. End the Day With Reflection & Rest
A new rotation in med school meant recently switching her Shine ritual from the morning to the evening. The perks of this: It now helps her reflect at the end of the day and transition into a restful evening.
“It forces me to slow down and gives me time to reflect on what happened in my day and what I’m going to work on for tomorrow,” she says.
She likes to listen to meditations while she stretches in the evening, and then turn on an ambient sleep sound to help her quiet her mind before bed. “I found this year that I like sleeping with music that’s not too stimulating, and (the Shine ambient music) provides a more calming environment.”
Today: Maya says she’s in a healthier space mentally and emotionally, with her Shine Premium membership as one of the regular tools she now uses to cope.
“One thing that you do won’t create your wellness, but there are a bunch of little things you can do—and Shine is part of one of these little things,” she says.
As she takes on a new year of research in Boston and pursues a residency in dermatology, she’s carrying with her one of the biggest lessons she’s learned from Shine: “It’s important to prioritize just stopping to talk to myself,” she says. “I’m worth making time for.”
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