Although Annual Session in St. Louis feels like an eternity ago, it’s been just about six months. Back then, we had no idea that our lives were about to change, and our ASDA family would be the last people we’d have interaction with for a while. It was almost suddenly after we went home that everything changed.
Being district 2 trustee during these uncertain times has posed a unique set of challenges but to quote ASDA Vice President Aditi Desai (Roseman ’21), “A good leader is resilient when dealing with uncertainty.” Keeping this in mind, I have held brainstorming sessions with other leaders in my district on sustaining and increasing membership engagement during this time. A main focus of our efforts has been in wellness.
I developed a wellness committee, comprised of several dedicated people who have been instrumental in planning programming that continues to keep morale high. We are excited to share how we have been facilitating membership engagement through wellness.
ASDA District 2 Wellness Committee Chair Alyson Bogart, Columbia ’22, says: “Wellness has been an important aspect of my life for the past five years. When I arrived at dental school, everyone would give me the advice, ‘You are your own first patient, and you must always take care of that patient.’ That phrase resonated with me because through college, I wasn’t taking care of ‘that patient’ and it showed. During the summer between college and dental school, I made a promise to myself that I would put myself first, and that I am a human first and dental student second. I began to exercise more, doing different classes such as Orange Theory and hot yoga. In addition, I changed my diet and started to see changes in my mental and physical health.
“I’ve always struggled with anxiety and depression, so for me, wellness is crucial, and I knew I wanted to get involved in helping advance wellness throughout the dental community. I was excited when I was appointed wellness chair and was even more excited when I learned of my amazing team. Together, we have created different activities through social media. On Facebook, we created a wellness page for our members, devoted to different recipes, books, TV shows, exercise classes or anything wellness related. In addition, during a retreat, our very own Amanda Segel led a 10-minute meditation, allowing our members to take a step back, breathe and reflect. In the future, we plan to challenge our members to show us what wellness means to them. Keeping our members engaged in wellness, however they see fit, is important because of the rigorous academics and constant pressure in dental school. Wellness is vital during this time. The road ahead seems bumpy, but I’m looking forward to working with my incredible group to create different ways to ease that road.”
Generations to come will talk about COVID-19 — the pandemic that brought our fast-paced lives to a screeching halt. But have our lives really been put on hold? I believe the answer lies in our perception. Our mental and physical well-being is influenced by the lens we use every day to perceive the world around us.
”There are many precious moments being missed right now, says Karishma Mitter, Buffalo ’23, wellness associate. “What has helped me is changing the way I think about situations. For instance, perhaps your wedding was postponed. But what if that allowed you to save up for that house that was out of budget? For those graduations that were cancelled — now you have a story to tell your residency programs or future patients. It is important to think positively because there is light at the end of the tunnel. Bring wellness and positivity in your life by knowing that we are in this together.
“Until then, find a hobby and find a second definition of you. Learn French to order those dreamy chocolate croissants in Paris, choreograph a dance and have a dance party at home, enter a new world through a book. Whatever your niche, find it and thrive. Appreciate this pause from the hustle and bustle of our world and keep yourself and the people around you well.”
Wellness associate Amanda Segel, Columbia ’23, says: “When I teach yoga classes, I remind students that being the strongest or most flexible is not the goal. It’s about being present, sharing your energy and giving yourself the opportunity to find peace of mind.
“To me, wellness is balance. During this strange time especially, it is easy to fall into extremes. As we continue to work toward achieving our academic and professional goals, it is important to recognize what brings you back to homeostasis — to a balance of serenity and strength. Everyone has their own version of self-care. I take study breaks that incorporate meditation, yoga and exercise. Meditation can take many forms — going for a walk, driving, cooking, drawing or even simply sitting with your dog on the couch. Now, more than ever, it is important to practice kindness, not only to those around us but to ourselves.
“As dental students, we seek to promote wellness among our patients. As ASDA members, we seek to promote wellness within our community and among our peers. The District 2 Wellness Committee aims to create a network of support for our constituent ASDA members during these unprecedented times. By creating opportunities for communication and collaboration, we hope to encourage health, well-being, interpersonal connection and connection with ourselves.”
Wellness associate Alex Besmer, Columbia ’22, says: “Being well is a state. To me, wellness may be screaming at weights in the gym, while for someone else, it could be silent. We can share wellness with each other and open each other’s eyes to new forms of it. We are under immense pressure to perform, and like any good pressure cooker, we will explode if we don’t have a release valve. Wellness is a way to further our careers as professionals. Passion comes in many forms, and it ranges from working with our handpiece to working on our meditation. Wellness has no boundaries and no rules. What I value most about it is that I can share it with other like-minded people. Community in wellness helps me further my passions inside and outside of dentistry. It’s a medium for me to connect with my peers in unimaginable ways to keep my personal pressure cooker from leaking.”
Wellness associate Sonia Bhutra, Stony Brook ’22, echoes these thoughts. “Wellness is taking care of myself without feeling guilty for slowing down. It is making choices that will lead to a happier and more fulfilling life. Whether you like to experiment with new recipes, play board games with your family or go on a three-mile run, it is important to recognize what helps you clear your mind and to practice that.
“As dental students, we are constantly under high levels of stress, which, if left unmanaged, reflects in our relationships, school work and patient care. Practicing wellness will not only make us happier but will ultimately make us better dentists.”
This Wellness Month, take a pause in your life and do something that makes you happy, no matter what it is. Now and always, #BeWellASDA.
~ASDA District 2