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Sound Body, Sound Mind

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There is a long-standing stigma that dentists are strong-willed, independent, and unwavering healthcare providers. We are even viewed as leaders in some communities. Day in and day out, we provide for others and put their needs before our own. However, we must also acknowledge our own needs and fulfill them accordingly. We must first establish our own mental and physical health before seeing to the health needs of our patients.

            Dental students experience some of the same issues as practicing dentists. Balancing dental school with life’s daily demands is not always an easy task. Extracurricular activities, applying to residency, doctor’s appointments, visits to the mechanic, catching up on lab work, and soon the 8 to 4 schedule turns into a 15-hour day. What previously was a manageable schedule quickly turns into a game of teeter-totter.

            I am a firm believer that if one doesn’t take care of his or her health, then they cannot adequately care for a patient’s health. On that note, it is important to start building positive and healthy routines while we are still beginning the dental profession. The same habits we build now will be the ones that bring balance to our lives and complement our life as clinicians. No matter if your balance comes from physical, mental, or spiritual exercise, find something that brings you sense of peace and incorporate it into your daily routine.

            The other component to taking care of your body and finding balance is fueling your body with the proper nutrients. In the busy life of a dental student, it is all too easy to eat fast food. From personal experience, I can attest that garbage in results in garbage out. I ate fast food for several days of one week this past quarter. When the weekend hit, I had no energy and crashed. Sticking to a strict diet is not necessary, but healthy, balanced meals and limited sugar intake will give your body and mind the energy to last the day. In addition, limiting alcohol consumption on the weekends and maximizing water intake will aid in mental focus.

            If dentists are viewed as strong leaders, it is only fitting that they act the part. In the same fashion, we as students should practice shouldering the roles and responsibilities that will soon beset us. Learning to live a balanced life and taking care of our bodies now will only prepare us for our future. Learn to incorporate whatever fuel your body needs for you to feel balanced and healthy. Practice healthy living now so that you can share that health and wellness with your patients.