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Tips for Managing Stress in Dental School

Ah, dental school. That time in one’s life when reality sets in and dreams are realized. It is important to learn how to cope with stressful feelings and situations that you will experience while studying in dental school. Effective stress management will enable you to discover the real sources of stress, handle them effectively, and enhance your emotional well being. As you read the following tips, you will discover how to identify and categorize emotional stressors so you can manage them successfully.

Create a Chart

Prepare a simple chart to categorize stressful situations. Take a pen and create a 2 by 2 inch chart that will give you two vertical columns and two horizontal rows – a total of four squares or quadrants. At the top of the first column, write “Important”, and then write “Unimportant” at the top of the second column. Beside the first row write “Can Control” and beside the second row write “Can’t Control”. This chart will make it easy for you to have a quick view of all the situations that can cause emotional stress at any particular time.

List the Emotional Stressors

Write down the issues, circumstances, tasks, or events that could cause you to become worried or overwhelmed. For example, the following list includes some situations that could occur during the semester in dental school:

  • You have 4 examinations and a practical session one after the other next week.
  • This weekend is your sister’s baby shower.
  • Your roommate has refused to clean up his dishes for over two weeks and you are fed up with taking care of this chore for him.
  • The patient you were to examine to fulfill your Perio requirement refused to turn up for the appointment.
  • The Taylor Swift concert you bought tickets for has been cancelled because she needed emergency medical treatment.

Categorize Each Situation

After listing the situations on paper, you should place each one in the appropriate quadrant. In this example, your examination and practical session are important and you can control how you prepare for them, so place them in the top-left quadrant. Similarly, your sister’s baby shower may be considered important so you may place it in the top-left quadrant. However, if you discover that you would not be able to attend because of your forth-coming examination, you could apologize and find a way to make it up later.

Dr Mott

Dr Chris Mott

Another important situation is your Perio requirement. But the fact that the patient did not show up is beyond your control. So you should place it in the bottom-left quadrant and find an alternative way to meet this requirement. Next, move to the relatively unimportant issues like the behavior of your roommate. Since you can control the effects of your roommate’s behavior by taking to him or simply finding a way to clean up at a more convenient time, you should place this in the top-right corner. The only situation that is unimportant and out of your control is the cancelled concert. Hopefully, you could get your tickets refunded.

This method of managing stress in dental school is quite effective and should be used as often as required. When you are surrounded by many stressful situations, you can easily use this technique to separate the important from the trivial issues and your will find it much easier to address each situation one after the other. You will be able to focus more on productive tasks without getting overwhelmed by mundane issues.

If you have any questions or concerns about your future career in the dental field, give Dr. Mott a call. We can schedule a cleaning or checkup for you as well.