Since I started dental school, the biggest habit I picked up is being a chronic maximizer. As a first year, I was presented with so many new opportunities that I found myself overwhelmed with a desire to take on everything. But, when you’re trying to balance a personal life, academic obligations, extracurriculars and taking care of yourself, time becomes your most precious commodity. Efficiency became the name of the game and before I knew it, every little pocket of time was spent trying to tick off yet another item on my to-do list. Waiting in line at the supermarket? Perfect time to send out an email or two. Got out of class early? Time to call up those vendors for that event we’re planning next month.
According to the American Psychological Association the average person our age spends 6.5 hours each day with mass media and views approximately 3,000 advertisements. Often these images depict men and women as unnaturally flawless and have led to a beauty standard that is both unrealistic and unobtainable. What’s worse is that studies have proven that constant exposure to these beauty “ideals” cause internalization of damaging standards that could lead to eating disorders, anxiety and depression.
We all know that dental school is stressful. There is a constant barrage of exams, quizzes, lab practicals and deadlines, and it is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind. When we lose sight of what is most important, our health and mental well-being, it can be easy to forget to give our body the things it craves – healthy food, exercise, sleep and relaxation. It is so easy to skip a workout to study a little more, or grab a quick greasy meal to save time, or even put our emotions on the back burner all in order to get the grade. Our mission for ASDA’s Wellness Committee here at the University of Minnesota is simple: we want to help students maintain balance in their lives so that even during stressful times, they can remain grounded and physically and mentally healthy.
Thinking about my average weekday, my phone is never far from reach. My phone wakes me up in the morning, tells me when my bus will arrive and even pays for my morning coffee. I read the news on my phone on the way to work and I usually use it to check Facebook or Instagram during my lunch break. On the bus ride home, I listen to my NPR app to minimize screen time. I feel overstimulated.
I want to break the cycle. I want to see the ride to work instead of the Instagram feed on my phone. I want to talk to my husband instead of email him. And I want to feel like my experiences are still valid even if I don’t share them on social media.
Do you want these things too? Read on for details on ASDA’s very first Wellness Challenge!
In 2010 I ran the Chicago Marathon. It was my second marathon and I shaved nearly 20 minutes off my previous time. I ran for the charity World Vision, which was a blast, and I was on top of the world. About a week after I finished, my runner’s high started to wear off and the hip pain started to settle in. Soon the pain was waking me up in the middle of the night. At the time, I had no idea that this was just the beginning of a very long road. Turns out, I had torn the labrum in my left hip but wouldn’t be properly diagnosed for nearly a year. The injury was devastating and even after several rounds of physical therapy, I find that my left side is weaker than my right. I haven’t run distance since. Here’s what I’ve learned from my injury and the years I spent recovering.
Stress: a word that may be all too familiar in dental school. It can be our worst enemy and sometimes very hard to cope with. With the pressure of exams, competencies, deadlines and the constant game of playing catch-up, feeling stressed is often too well known to a dental student. It is important for us to maintain solid mental health to tackle all of the challenges of dental school and make clear, focused clinical choices. One way to do so is to be active and maintain strong physical health. Exercise can be anything, as long as it gets your blood pumping. Here are a few suggestions…
In the wake of the tragic loss of ASDA Past President Jiwon Lee in 2014, an association-wide wellness initiative was launched. ASDA has identified and/or created several resources to help its members maintain physical and emotional health, and mental well-being. Here are a few you should check out and share with classmates.