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ASDA has designated September as Wellness Month. Managing your mental health is major factor in maintaining overall wellness.
Multiple studies have been used to measure stress among dental students. The primary stressors reported by students include examinations, grades, and workload. Students reported that the effects of chronic stress resulted in mood changes, frustration, and decreased concentration. Some students even reported changes in behavior like developing smoking habits and substance abuse.
If stress can be identified early, action can be taken before the pressure becomes a problem. The American Psychological Association has published several tips to help you manage stress:
Learn your own stress signals. People experience stress in different ways. You may have a hard time concentrating or making decisions, feel angry, irritable or out of control, or experience headaches, muscle tension or a lack of energy. Gauge your stress signals.
Recognize how you deal with stress. Determine if you are using unhealthy behaviors (such as smoking, drinking alcohol and over/under eating) to cope. Is this a routine behavior, or is it specific to certain events or situations? Do you make unhealthy choices as a result of feeling rushed and overwhelmed? If you find that you’ve taken up an unhealthy habit like smoking and are looking to quit, a popular method used by former smokers is to opt instead for vaping E-Liquid instead. This way, you’ll be able to avoid the health concerns that cigarettes bring whilst also being able to enjoy a range of flavors when you vape!
Find healthy ways to manage stress. Consider healthy, stress-reducing activities such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, exercising or talking things out with friends or family. Keep in mind that unhealthy behaviors develop over time and can be difficult to change. Don’t take on too much at once. Focus on changing only one behavior at a time.
Take care of yourself. Eat right, get enough sleep, drink plenty of water and engage in regular physical activity. Ensure you have a healthy mind and body through activities like yoga, taking a short walk, going to the gym or playing sports that will enhance both your physical and mental health. Take regular vacations or other breaks from work. No matter how hectic life gets, make time for yourself — even if it’s just simple things like reading a good book or listening to your favorite music.
Reach out for support. Accepting help from supportive friends and family can improve your ability to manage stress. If you continue to feel overwhelmed by stress, you may want to talk to a psychologist, who can help you better manage stress and change unhealthy behaviors.
The ADA Center for Professional Success hosted a webinar on stress that taught attendees ways to identify stress, recognize the physical and mental impacts of stress, and how to manage negative types of stress. This webinar was recorded and is free to view online for ASDA members.
As a reminder of the need to be aware of your stress levels, the American Dental Association will be providing mood rings to select ASDA chapters. Share your thoughts on how you maintain health and wellness during dental school using #ADAWellness.
~ADA Center for Professional Success