Managing Stress

As a dental student, I know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed and stressed.  I have come to realize that this stress will never end, because life…is stressful.  Although it may be impossible to completely eliminate this stress from our lives, especially living in this fast-paced generation, I have incorporated different strategies and thought processes into my life that have helped to eliminate some of these stressors. And because sharing is caring, I’ve decided to pass them on.

Write it Down

Sometimes when we are so overwhelmed with our ever-expanding to-do lists it sometimes is impossible to focus on the task at hand. Therefore, I have found that writing out to-do lists helps me free up some of my brain space so that I can actually be productive.

Tips:

  1. Write down small things (and things you’ve already completed) so that you feel accomplished!
  2. Prioritize items: putting high priority (or even quick tasks) at the top of your list can help you direct your focus.
  3. Write down important reminders before bed so that you can get a more sound sleep.

Stop. Drop. And Breathe.

We often get so caught up with what we need to do that we forget to slow down and remember to breathe. Its simple, its effective, and it’ll remind you that everything will be okay.

Tips:

1. I like to put on my favorite song, close my eyes, and just sit still for a few minutes.

Take Care of Yourself

Make your list (see #1), stop what you’re doing, and treat yourself.

I try to practice yoga every day, because it makes me happy and helps me stay healthy!  Even if I have an exam and feel like I need every last minute to study, I remind myself my health, happiness, and mental state are infinitely more important than a grade.

Tips:

1. Set a time to workout, take a walk, or meditate ahead of time.  I find that this helps me to focus on my tasks because I know that eventually I will get a break!

And if working out or meditating just doesn’t cut it, feed your soul by surrounding yourself with friends and family.  

2. Since we all need to eat, I like to grab lunch or dinner with friends on the days I have to study so that I can socialize, have a good time, and then be able to get back to work.

Get Rest

I’ve never been one to stay up studying/doing work, and have found that I’m way more concentrated in the morning. So instead of fighting against my body’s cues to go to sleep, I listen to them and remind myself that staying up late will: 1) Not be productive for me and 2) Make me exhausted the next day. And if you like to stay up later, sleep in (if you can) to make sure your body is getting enough rest.

Forgive yourself…

If you get overwhelmed, if your to-do list doesn’t get finished, if you forget to breathe, if you haven’t moved your body in a week, if you’ve stayed up to late, if you have a meltdown, if you doubt yourself, and if you genuinely can’t seem to shake the stress.

Because these are all aspects of being human and being mad at ourselves doesn’t accomplish anything positive.

Jade Cook