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September, Remember Wellness

By Jenna Hang, ASDOH Class of 2021

September is deemed Wellness Month by National ASDA, and this year ASDOH is participating in ways we’ve never done before. We kicked off the month with a wellness week, asking our members to highlight their personal well-being by having a relaxing week. The suggested activities focused on different aspects of wellness: nutrition, fitness, spirituality, etc. The week was followed by two consecutive wellness-themed Lunch and Learns — one by the students of the physical therapy program on campus focusing on how to strengthen and stretch our necks, backs and shoulders, and one by Art Davalos-Matthews, our mental health counselor on campus.

Being health & wellness chair has in turn allowed me to focus on my own wellness this year. We all know that dental school is no easy task — from studying constantly during D1 year, to juggling all the classes and sim in D2 year, to finally treating patients in D3 year, we are subject to very distinct types of stress during each phase of dental school.

Yoga is a large part of my life; I’ve practiced now for 5 years, and I think it is the perfect marriage of strength and softness. It gives you something to work toward and simultaneously reminds us to slow down and be mindful. The time on my mat allows me to reflect and recognize that even through discomfort or pain, I can use my breath to get through things. It sounds like a bunch of froufrou, maybe, if you are not a yogi, but the idea of the yoga practice is to bring whatever you learn on the mat to your life off of it. Here is what I’ve learned:

We can surprise ourselves with what we are actually capable of doing. Sometimes when we are in a pose and I want nothing more than to drop out and the teacher cruelly says we are here for three more breaths, I want nothing more than to give up. But then I count to three, and suddenly I have stayed in the pose for another three breaths and we are moving on to the next. Sometimes in school the thing we are working on seems to be the most frustrating or more difficult thing we have experienced thus far, and we want to stop — but stick with it, and see how far we have come (and how far we can go).Be compassionate to ourselves! Sometimes when we attempt a harder pose, or to balance, we fall out. On the mat, it is so easy to laugh at ourselves and try again. It is good to remember to extend the same compassion to ourselves when we fall in life, too. When our prep is not perfect, or we do not do as well on an exam, it is important to also laugh it off and try again.Our breath is our lifeline, and it will always be there for us. Dental school is not only strenuous, but it can also be quite lonely. In yoga, we lengthen with each inhale and we release with each exhale. As we stay in a pose, breathing, we can notice the sound of breath around us, and it is clear — we are not alone in this experience. So breathe, friends. If anything, we need to get rid of all that carbon dioxide and bring in that good ol’ oxygen. Our bodies love us for it.

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