You’re almost there! It’s close to the end of the semester and another calendar year. You’re in the midst of the holiday season, yet you continue to carry the mental load of a dental hygiene student, and it sure is a lot to manage. According to the Mayo Clinic, preparation is key, and “With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find peace and joy during the holidays.”1 Maintaining a routine and setting yourself up for success during your spring semester will hopefully ease the transition back to class in January.
Here are five ways to use your winter break to prepare to launch into a successful 2022. May it be the best year yet!
Take a breather and focus on you
As a dental hygiene student, you are constantly running from one thing to the next, managing school, family, patients, and attempting to maintain yourself in the process. With this short break from classes or a lighter course load, take time to decompress and fully participate in activities that allow you to recharge. This may mean spending quality time with family and friends, traveling to your favorite place, or even taking a day to lay on the couch. It could be a spa day or yoga class, but it should be your version of peace and calm.
Consider a technology detox to truly be present in the moment. As high achieving dental hygiene students, we often struggle with this. Not sure where to begin to relax? You’re not alone. Make a list of things that make you happy. They can be big or small, such as a cup of coffee or a beach vacation, but simply list all the things that bring you joy, then choose a few to focus on during your break.
Once you’ve taken time to recharge, focus on what’s next. Common goals for dental hygiene students may include completing courses and board exams successfully to earn a dental hygiene license. These are huge goals, by the way! What else can you focus on, and how can you get there? Will challenges come up for you along the way, and if so, how will you overcome them?
Take time to write down clear goals or revisit the goals you set when you started out on your dental hygiene journey. Take this time to reflect and remember your “why,” stick to it, remind yourself often, tell others, and keep your eye on the prize. You got this! Having clear goals and a plan to get there are important to your success and future planning.
Prepare for your next semester
Do you know what’s next for you? Take time to review your course schedule and materials and be sure you have all the textbooks and supplies you need to be successful. Your stress may increase if you feel unprepared. Consider reviewing your fall semester content or any past course materials. If you’re guilty of cramming for exams, you may not have retained important course content, therefore, you may not be able to recall the information during spring semester, the next academic year, or your board exam. Take time to study and reread textbook chapters you may have skimmed over.
Through the pandemic, it’s been easy to participate in the days without “getting ready” for the days. At times, you may have rolled out of bed, or even just rolled over, for a lecture or meeting. Maybe you’re like many who dress from the waist up for Zoom calls. This may have taken some pressure off and allowed you a few more minutes of sleep. If so, use this quote from Georges St-Pierre to reframe your mindset about your absent morning routine: “If you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you do good.”2 Looking good and feeling good can help boost your confidence and ultimately your attitude and ability to succeed. Consider a change if you’ve found yourself in a recent slump.
Prepare for boards
Though it’s important to recharge and take a break, checking out and losing touch with all the knowledge you’ve gained up to this point during your dental hygiene education is not advisable! While studying and reviewing on your own is effective, consider a board review of some type.
Pro tip: Invest in a board prep program in a format that is the right fit for you and do your research before signing up. There are many great resources out there for students. Check out Dental Hygiene Seminars (DHS) for a face-to-face board review session that rotates around the country. DHS also serves as a networking opportunity, class bonding trip, and a chance to meet vendors on site. Student RDH has online tools and unique methods for review at your convenience. Sanders Board Prep has options for either live or virtual events. Act fast as some of these are coming up soon and registration is open now. It’s never too early to start studying!
In addition to formal board reviews, check out resources from hygiene groups such as Hygiene Edge and Dental Hygiene Spark. Follow them on Instagram for interactive stories and other fun activities like giveaways and opportunities for engagement.
Practice a growth mindset
Finally, you cannot expect to grow or succeed without the proper mindset, so maintain a growth mindset. According to psychologist Carol S. Dewek PhD, “When a growth mindset is maintained, intelligence can be developed, and it leads to a desire to learn and therefore a tendency to embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see effort as a patient to mastery, learn from criticism, and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others. As a result, you will reach higher levels of achievement and a greater sense of free will.”3
Do you practice gratitude? Science shows that journaling daily about things you are grateful for can increase your life satisfaction and well-being.4 When you’re bombarded with negativity it’s hard to see the good. By being mindful of the parts of your life you’re grateful for and creating a practice to reflect on these moments, you set yourself up for an abundant lifestyle. Try it!
- Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping. Mayo Clinic. December 11, 2020. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20047544
- Quote fancy. https://quotefancy.com/quote/1653050/Georges-St-Pierre-If-you-look-good-you-feel-good-and-if-you-feel-good-you-do-good
- Blog: A Summary of Two Mindsets. 2021. https://fs.blog/carol-dweck-mindset/
- Carpenter D. The science behind gratitude and how you can change your life. Happify. https://www.happify.com/hd/the-science-behind-gratitude/