If you keep up with Mouthing Off, then you’ve read several posts about stress relief and mental health. And if you are like me, you read them, but you don’t change any habits because of the notion that “there’s not enough time” to do so. Despite their stress-relieving benefits, I was continually telling myself that I didn’t have the time to do yoga or meditate. Over the past couple months, though, I noticed that with graduation looming, I was not sleeping well. I believed my lack of sleep was due to increased stress, so, while awake in the middle of the night, I searched for ways to relieve stress.
When a computer becomes overrun with more information than its processor can handle, it crashes. The human brain responds much the same. Take me, for example. I recently wrapped up an ordinary day in the life of a third-year dental student. I had lectures in the morning and treated patients in the afternoon. On the ride home, something felt off. Everything I needed to get done was passing through my mind. I needed to study, finish lab work and prepare a treatment plan for tomorrow’s patient. Aside from school responsibilities, my wife needed me to get groceries. I got home, dropped my bag and knelt on the floor. All at once, those thoughts flooded my brain and I could not move. I just sat there, emotional and frozen.
We all want to feel accepted, included and a part of something bigger. For most of us, becoming a dentist was once just a dream. Now we have the opportunity to learn, grow and develop skills to achieve our dream. Dentistry is a social, collaborative and interactive profession that requires empathy, compassion and respect. We work hard so that, one day, we can take care of our patients. However, the environment of dental school can exacerbate existing insecurities. As a consequence, we sometimes forget how to take care of ourselves and our peers.
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.
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…