Maintain your bicycle wheel to achieve balance

Shivers practicing yoga to stay balanced
Shivers practicing yoga to stay balanced

As I come to my mat, I inhale my thoughts: “The eye orbit consists of which bones?” “I have three assignments due by midnight.” “I work at 5 on Thursday.” Then I exhale, bringing myself to my practice and letting go of the stress.

I picked up yoga and a few other activities last year after speaking with a co-worker, Dr. Michelle Pearson (North Carolina ‘03). She saw me become restless and drained at work as the months passed, and she shared with me the importance of taking time for yourself. She told me of her love for ultimate frisbee, water polo and volleyball. They helped balance out her 10-hour work days. I recently reminded her of this conversation we shared, and she explained the origin of her lifestyle change.

After a professor noticed that Dr. Pearson seemed drained, he shared with her the concept of the bicycle wheel. He explained that there are many spokes on a bicycle wheel. These spokes represent each part of your life: family, friends, extracurriculars, work, school, etc. Some people have many spokes. If one breaks or gets neglected, you still have many others to support you and your bike can keep rolling. On the other hand, if you have one spoke and it breaks, you’re stuck!

The best way to maintain your passion for dentistry is to learn in advance how to balance the things in your life that keep you pedaling forward. Here are a few ways I found what worked for me:

  1. Find out what makes you happy. Everyone reading this has a passion for dentistry, but what else are you passionate about? Is it volunteer work? running? puzzles? Explore until you find two or three things that really encourage those natural endorphins!
  2. Find a friend. Connect with a friend or two who share some of your hobbies. For example, I attend a small group through my church that is a collective of about 10 young women. We discuss topics going on in church, go to the movies and we’ve even traveled together. Being in an environment where you can share openly and let your hair down always helps. Plus, we all have other things going on so we have a set schedule for our meetups. It lets us have fun and be responsible.
  3. Keep a schedule. I do a lot of activities! To stay on top of assignments and important dates, I always keep a planner handy. I am a proud believer that if you write it down, you’re more likely to remember it, but I will also type a quick message in my phone to review at the end of the day. If you don’t have a plan, the stress-breakers will become the stress-makers!
  4. Take advantage of breaks. Although time off during fall, spring and the holidays seems short, this is the best time to recharge. Take advantage of these breaks to get a full eight hours of rest, cater to yourself and reconnect with family, friends and activities to help get you through that next quarter or semester. I try to visit my hometown to see loved ones because if nothing else can get me out of the dumps, family can. Family members have their way of making you feel like the best thing since sliced bread even if that last failed exam has you down!
  5. Pay attention to breath. Breathing is one of the best ways to calm your body. It naturally settles your heartbeat and helps you focus. If it is hard for you to take a break from your rigid schedule, simply doing a short mindfulness exercise can get you to a better place. When I can’t make it to a yoga class and feel like I can’t spare a moment of time, I revert to Headspace, a guided exercise that only takes about 10 minutes. It is great because it eases you into practicing mindfulness by starting with short increments of meditative time and engaging visualizations. After the first collective guided practice, you gain the ability to cater the exercise to your desired settings and, most importantly, time.

These tips have made my life more manageable and stress free. You will come to a point where your spokes get rusty, but revisit these tips and keep pedaling. The ride will always be worth it. Happy riding!

~ Kayla Shivers, predental

Kayla Shivers

Kayla Gwyneth Ann Shivers, 27, is a North Carolina native who strives to make a difference within her community. Kayla works as a dental assistant with Smile Programs of North Carolina and maintains several activities within her church, yoga community, and local non-profits. In the future, Kayla plans to use her career in dentistry as a platform to inspire and assist young minorities within rural North Carolina to pursue their dreams and aspirations.

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1 Comment

  1. Chelsea Rajagopalan says:

    Such great advice, Kayla! Thanks for the very helpful reminders in this season that sometimes tends to let stress override the joy.

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