Tips From Current D.D.S. and Dental Hygiene Students

Happy and Healthy in Dental School: What Does Wellness Mean to You?

Posted by Joan Daniel on December 18, 2019

Dental school comes with a different set of stressors than college or the working world. All at once, you are expected to learn a variety of new, challenging concepts and clinical skills, balance school with family, friends and other responsibilities, all while making it look completely manageable the whole time. As a first-year dental student, you’ll attend class for eight hours a day in addition to time spent studying after school and practicing in the simulation clinic. Free time is rare and it’s easy to feel fatigued by the end of the day. Often students start to feel burned out, and don’t know how to overcome it.

The first step is to start thinking about how to make a little time every day to take care of your mental, physical and emotional wellness. This is important. As students, we strive for perfection, and in the process, forget to take care of ourselves. To be able to strive to do your best, you have to be in a positive state of mind, and therefore being mindful of your wellness allows you to stay refreshed and motivated to take on the challenges that come with attending dental school.

What Does Wellness Look Like?

The best part about wellness is that it’s different for everyone and can be personalized to you and your needs. It includes figuring out how to manage stress and feel healthy in your everyday life. Personally, wellness means taking some time every week to chat with my family, spend time with friends, take a spin class or try a new coffee shop. Some of my classmates prioritize their wellness by making time to exercise, prepare meals, play an intramural sport or go hiking on the weekends. As wellness varies per individual, it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it helps you feel happy, healthy and energized.

Dental school is often structured on routine and therefore incorporating wellness activities into your daily routine is a great way to make it a priority! Set aside a day or two a week to grocery shop and prepare meals. Allow yourself to be physically active, whether that is taking a walk with a friend, doing yoga or going for a run. Prioritize sleep. Take five extra minutes to relax and sip your coffee in the morning, instead of drinking it in a rush. Start studying for an exam or quiz early so you’re not feeling the stress of cramming the night before. Talk to a family member or friend when you’re feeling anxious. Create a playlist with all your favorite songs you can listen to while you’re driving. Listen to a podcast that motivates you. Watch videos that make you laugh. Try that restaurant in town you’ve had your eye on. Start a gratitude journal. Practice meditation. Whatever it may be, allow yourself to slow down for a small period of time every day to help ensure you’re not feeling overwhelmed.

Burn out in dental school is very common, but it can be avoided if you are mindful of your wellness. Make time for you! How will you incorporate wellness practices into your life starting today?

About Joan Daniel:

Joan Daniel

Joan Daniel

Class of 2022

University of New England College of Dental Medicine


Joan Daniel is originally from Massachusetts. She is a third-year dental student at the University of New England College of Dental Medicine (UNE-CDM). Ms. Daniel is currently on the ADEA Council of Students, Residents and Fellows Newsletter Committee, Second Delegate for UNE's American Student Dental Association Chapter, an Admissions Ambassador for predental interview days and she works at the Recreation Center on campus. Outside of dental school, she loves photography, traveling, spending time with her family and friends and trying new coffeeshops!