Med students relax INTENSELY

Question: How do medical students at OHSU stay balanced? What do they do for fun?

Medical students stay balanced by relaxing INTENSELY. The logic goes as follows: If one studies and trains intensely, then to stay truly balanced – that is, to counter the academic intensity – one must also take intense vacations and enjoy intense hobbies. On a recent three-day weekend, for instance, my classmates planned to relax by hiking to the summit of Mount St. Helens and skiing back down.

But carrying ski gear to the summit of Mount St. Helens is nothing new; lots of people summit mountains for fun to add balance to their busy lives. I would guess that far fewer people have hobbies as intensely quirky as some of my medical school friends. Here are a few of my very favorite examples:

Dan BASE jumps off buildings, antennae, bridges and cliffs using a giant multicolored parachute that he repairs himself with an industrial-sized sewing machine. No need to fear – he’s an FAA-certified Senior parachute rigger.

Isaac brews beer using fallen fruit from his backyard. Very Portland.

Belinda is a talented seamstress who sews her own anime costumes and wears them when she attends conventions for her favorite Japanese animations.

Eunice practices poi, a performance art involving ropes with LED lights attached to the ends that she swings in beautifully complex movements. She once attended Wild Fire, a weekend camp including lessons for fire play, circus arts and Swedish massage, where she aspired to trade in her LED lights for balls of fire.

You don’t have to have a quirky pastime to be a medical student; you can also maintain balance by spending time with loved ones, playing a sport or instrument, practicing yoga – whatever activity helps you de-stress. As long as you de-stress intensely.