Being a dentist seems glamorous, fun and exciting. There is always a new challenge around the corner with every patient. However, the process of becoming a dentist is not always glamorous and fun. A significant number of hours are spent behind a laptop studying for exams and quizzes. What’s more, there are assignments, simlab requirements, patients to treat and board materials to study. The rigors of dental school can cause you to sleep less and abandon socializing, ultimately increasing mental fatigue and stress.
It is becoming increasing clear that the health of your mind is just as important as your physical health. Many times we prioritize our bodies over our mind. Finding time to care for both is important to ensure a healthy mind and body.
Over the past couple months I have prioritized destressing and working out my mind. After hearing that some of the most successful people in society engage in mindfulness techniques, I decided to give it a try. Tony Robbins, Arianna Huffington and even Kobe Bryant, take time out of their days to destress their minds. A healthy and relaxed mind allows them to tackle their problems.
I have always loved reading and learning new things. I believe that investing in yourself, through education, is a great use of time. Reading a little bit everyday will also allow for relaxation and stress relief. Life is more than dental school and reading something non-dentistry related allows me to reaffirm that.
For me, it is also important to socialize because humans built for community. We are wired to socialize and sometimes dental school causes us to put that on hold. Lack of socializing can increase our stress levels without our knowledge. When socializing and sharing stories, we tend to forget about the stress associated with school. Although socializing is a great way to destress, I found meditating is also effective for me.
The most important thing I do to destress is practice mindfulness. What I mean by this is meditation. Tim Ferriss’ book Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers, reveals that meditation is practiced by successful individuals. After reading this book, I decided to give it a try. In the beginning it was tough. It was just like returning to the gym after a hiatus. However, after a week in, I started to notice the changes that accompanied my ten minutes of meditation a day. I felt like I was hitting the reset button in the middle of the day. After those ten minutes I was completely recharged. It allowed me to control my thoughts and limit distractions while focusing on my daily goals. It has been a life changer and I highly recommend it. Guided meditation is great for anyone trying to start out.
With the challenges of dental school, it can be easy to neglect mental relaxation. However, to maintain a balance in your life, it is important to do so. My best advice is to do what you love to relax. Whether it is reading, writing, working out or drawing, schedule time each day. Think about it, you sleep seven hours per day, which leaves you with seventeen hours. Eight of those seventeen hours are spent at school, leaving you nine hours. Nine hours provides plenty of time to study and complete other tasks. Just make sure to use some of that time to relax your mind.
~Patrick Anghel, Detroit Mercy ’19, Social Media Chair