Dental school is stressful, and that’s why ASDA started our wellness initiative. ASDA has made a conscious choice to incorporate wellness into national meetings, publications and social media postings. But wellness can be achieved with big or small commitments. Read on for 7 ways to incorporate wellness into your daily routine.
- Sleep. We’ve all had days when a venti coffee still wasn’t enough. But sleep is so important. Sleep is imperative for healthy brain function (read: scoring higher on an exam) as well as emotional well-being. According to the National Institutes of Health, sleep deficiencies have been linked to depression, suicide and risk-taking behavior. The physical consequences of sleep deprivation include an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.If you do need to catch up on sleep during the day, make sure you nap the right way. Read this ASDA News article for tips on napping effectively.
- Be more active. I’ve spoken to so many dental students who say their health has deteriorated since starting dental school. You don’t have as much time, so you start skipping workouts or buy fast food instead of cooking a healthy meal. It happens. But you can change that by adding just a little physical activity to your weekly routine. Choose at least 2-3 days a week to go to the gym, go for a run or even a long walk. On the other days, try to work in some other type of quick physical activity. This may be 10 minutes of yoga when you wake up or a light weight routine between study sessions. Try to make your breaks between class, lab and study sessions more active and less Netflix.
- Schedule wellness breaks. What’s your outlet? Whatever relaxes you–reading for pleasure, seeing your family, taking a hike–try to do more of it. I know you don’t have time, but schedule time each week for a significant wellness break. Maybe you block off 2-4 hours every Saturday morning and you don’t think about dental school until after noon. Or maybe Friday nights are your time to see friends and let the week’s stress slip away. This time away from dental school will leave you recharged and ready for what’s next.
- Drink water. It’s so good for you and has zero calories! Seriously, being well-hydrated will keep you alert, can curb cravings and helps flush toxins from your stressed-out body.
- Challenge yourself. Consider joining an ASDA wellness challenge to mix up your routine this month. You can find all the challenges here. April’s challenge is to reconnect with a forgotten friend. You can also look through the archives and participate in past challenges like a week of homemade meals, going tech-free for 24 hours and more. Participate with a few friends to keep yourself accountable.
- Read a [self-help] book. I have a soft spot for self-help books. When you’re a kid, adults spend hours every single day telling you exactly what you need to do and how to do it. Suddenly you’re all grown up and it’s much harder to find answers to life’s challenges. How do I invest my money? Read a book! How can I be happier in my everyday life? Read a book! How can I live to be 100? Read a book! Lucky for you, ASDA reviews nonfiction books each month in ASDA News (links above are to some of my favorites). Make sure you read each issue for monthly book suggestions.
- Talk it out. You may be stressed, unsure of yourself as a future practitioner or you may have something else going on that’s complicating dental school. Whatever your problem is, a professional counselor can help you talk through it. You study dentistry so that you can help people with their oral health. Psychologists study stress, grief, marriage, addiction and more so that they can help people with their emotional health. Most universities with dental schools have a health center that offers counseling services. Some of these services are steeply discounted or even free. ASDA has compiled counseling services, fees and contact information for each dental school. Find your university and see what help is available to you now.
There are more ways to be healthy each day — eat better, smile more, say thank you. I hope the list above gives you some ideas for making changes towards a healthier you. If you change just one thing and stick with it, you could make a huge difference in how you feel each day.
Find more wellness resources from ASDA and keep an eye out for upcoming wellness webinars.
What are your tricks for achieving balance while in dental school? Let us know in the comments below!
~Kim Kelly, senior manager, publications