Being in dental school can feel crazy busy. Between classes and school work, extracurricular activities, research, it can be hard to find time to take care of yourself if it’s not a priority. I’ve found that if I wait for the next exam to be over or the wave of events to pass in order to prioritize my well-being, the whole quarter can pass by without me taking enough breaks or finding time to relax! So it’s important that I incorporate small practices in everyday life to help find balance and take care of myself. Self care can look like staying active, spending time outdoors, making time for friends and family, taking a nap, eating healthy foods, or even doing laundry. But self care also comes in the little things. For today’s wellness recipe, I’d like to share a few small things I do every morning to start my day right. I’ve found that good morning habits build momentum that set me up for a better day. When I do these things every morning, I’m more present and mindful overall! Here’s my recipe for a perfect morning routine:
- An alarm clock
- A notebook and a writing utensil
- Headspace app
- Your favorite mug
- Coffee or tea
1. Using an actual alarm clock
Ever since I started setting my alarms on an actual alarm clock (instead of my phone), I’ve found that I’ve had an easier time waking up in the morning. On an actual alarm clock, I don’t have the option of setting three, four, five or more alarms every two minutes so when my alarm goes off in the morning and I hit the snooze button, I know I have only a few more minutes to wake up without the safety net of a dozen more alarms set up. When I used to set my alarms on my phone, I would turn off my alarm and immediately start scrolling through my notifications, Facebook news feed, etc. Having a physical alarm clock separate from my phone delays my screen time in the first few moments of the day.
2. 3 things I’m thankful for
For the past month or so I’ve been using The Five Minute Journal (learn more about it here!). The Five Minute Journal was developed with leading positive psychologists at UCSD to help focus more on the good, be more aware of blessings in your life, and be happier each day. My favorite thing about this journal is the prompt that asks me to list three things that I’m thankful for each day. It’s very open-ended and really can be anything from “the sun is out today” to “having a supportive roommate who listens to me talk about my day.” Usually one of the three things I’m thankful for is something warm, like my electric blanket or hot tea (I’m always cold in the mornings). I’ve found that regularly starting my day thinking about what I’m thankful for and why cultivates a heart posture of gratitude that helps me focus on what really matters. And I’ve noticed that having an attitude of gratitude makes me quick to notice the things I’m thankful for all throughout my day.
During orientation week before classes started, the D1 class all participated in a mindfulness and meditation exercise hosted by the Student Health and Counseling Services. I enjoyed the mindfulness exercise so much that I immediately downloaded the Headspace app to continue practicing mindfulness on my own. Some days when I wake up I already feel like my brain is running around in a hundred directions. Spending just five minutes going through the exercise with the Headspace app helps me to slow down. You can get a one-week free trial for the Headspace app to see if you like it. Plus, Headspace has a great deal for students–a year long subscription for $9.99 (instead of the full priced $95.88, what a steal).
And of course, my morning isn’t complete without some sort of caffeine in the morning. I’ve actually found that it’s the practice of making a cup of coffee or tea for myself that helps me feel awake and ready for the day. The caffeine itself certainly does wonders (hello tachycardia), but making my own pour over is quite a peaceful and calming process–watching the coffee grounds seep, smelling the roast, hearing the drip, and focusing on the task at hand. Ideally I get to sit and drink my cup of coffee before I rush out for the day, but if I happen to be running late, I quickly pour it into my thermos and I’m out the door.
Of course, everyone’s ideal morning looks different, but I hope that you feel encouraged to find ways to incorporate small things that promote wellness in your life everyday!
UCSF School of Dentistry, Class of 2022