How I Manage Stress in Dental School – Airy Choi (Tufts ’20, District One Fundraising Chair)

Dental school is stressful to say the very least, and it is vital as dental students to be able to manage our stress levels on a daily basis. ASDA’s wellness initiatives encourage us to make well-being a priority by focusing on these five dimensions of wellness: emotional, physical, intellectual, occupational, and environmental. As a 2nd year dental student, I have figured out what helps me cope with the everyday grind of dental school, and I would like to share them with you all. I also wanted to note that everyone is idiosyncratic, so what may work for me may not work for everyone.

First off, my biggest advice to anyone in dental school is to take time out for yourself. I try to find a few hours out of the week where I have “alone time” and re-center myself. During this time, I usually go take a yoga class (Core Power or Exhale Yoga through ClassPass—both highly recommended) or put a face sheet mask on and watch a movie or show that I’ve been wanting to see.

On top of alone time, I always try to spend some time with my classmates outside of dental school, whether it’s checking out a new restaurant, watching a new movie that just came out, taking a spin class together (Soul Cycle and Fly Wheel are my favorites), or visiting the Museum of Fine Arts in Fenway. My classmates are some of my closest friends, and it’s nice to have friends who can relate to my everyday struggles.

Since moving up to Boston from Louisiana, my dog, Hiro, has been a huge stress reliever for me on a daily basis. My favorite part of the day is when I come home to Hiro; the joy and excitement he shows me makes a long, hard day at school worthwhile. There really is no love like a dog’s love, and I am very thankful that I have Hiro in my life.

Running has become a huge part of who I am since this past year. I never thought that I would be runner in a million years, but somehow Boston has turned me into one. I ran my first 5K for UNE ASDA’s Miles for Smiles in September and my first half marathon in October, and now I am craving to do another run. Training for these runs did not only make me physically stronger, but it has made me mentally stronger. I noticed that I am able to manage my stress more easily after my runs. Also, some of my classmates are runners as well, so I have made a bunch of running buddies along the way.

ASDA is a huge part of me, and I honestly cannot imagine my dental school experience without it. My involvement in my chapter’s ASDA has opened up many doors for me, and it has made me realize how important lifelong involvement in organized dentistry is for the future of our profession. ASDA makes me see that there is so much to school outside of academics, and it constantly makes me strive to be the best future oral healthcare provider within my community. I have also formed some lifelong friends throughout my involvement through ASDA and am beyond grateful for them.

Environmental wellness is one aspect of the five dimensions of wellness that I would like to focus on more for the new year. I currently recycle on a daily basis, carry cloth bags to the grocery store, and turn off lights when I am not using them. I’m usually very tidy and clean up after myself immediately, but I noticed during exam weeks, I am not very consistent in doing so. I noticed that my stress levels are lower when I have less clutter around me, so I will be warier about decluttering the space around me especially when my stress levels are sky high around exam/project times.

Wellness is not just about eating healthy and working out. It is about becoming aware and making choices that move us toward a more successful existence. Hence, it is imperative that we as dental students take care of ourselves whether it’s our emotional, physical, intellectual, occupational, or environmental wellness.

UNE ASDA’s Miles for Smiles 5K in Portland, ME
My sweet Hiro sporting his favorite ASDA fever shirt
My favorite spin class at Soul Cycle
On our Tufts ASDA E-board retreat to Rock Spot Climbing

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