Annalise Kress

The road to dental school is demanding. The closer you get to achieving your dream, the more challenging the demands become. As a predental, I know my chances of getting accepted into dental school are 50 percent. However, I suffer from depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), all of which could further decrease my chances. While I could let these disadvantages derail my professional aspirations, I have been able to find balance. I hope the lessons I’m sharing will do the same for you.

Your health is just as critical as good grades and a strong DAT score. While it may seem normal to study seven days per week or pull an all-night study session before a morning exam, these unhealthy practices will exhaust both your mind and your body. You can break the habit by planning ahead. Plan meals and healthy snacks, make time for daily exercise and most importantly, make sure you get eight hours of sleep. Ignoring your health can lead to increased anxiety and depression. Working towards dental school is stressful enough; don’t make it even harder on yourself.

Try not to look at your new routine so much as a change, but a refresh. I found many resources that helped me balance coursework while finding healthy outlets for my stress. These resources include: meditation, yoga and campus counseling programs.

Meditation and yoga are practices of relaxation that can help center the demanding life we have chosen as predentals. A source that I found especially helpful is Live and Dare. Live and Dare helps you master your mind and life through meditation, personal growth and spirituality. If you are new to meditation, there are several easy-to-learn techniques, along with background information. If you are like me and frequently on the go, I find the best meditation resources to be apps that can be downloaded to your phone. These apps are usually free and take only a few minutes of your day. I recommend: Headspace: Guided Mediation & Mindfulness, Simple Habit- Meditation & Guided Mindfulness and Zen – Relax and Meditate.

The resources available on your campus can also be beneficial for managing stress. At Gonzaga University, we have free counseling services, a disability accommodation center, testing center and university ministry. Check with your school on what resources are offered to students to help manage any conditions you may be suffering from. If you don’t know what the issue may be, that’s okay. Reach out to your school counselor for guidance. Don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed; everyone needs help. Unfortunately, not everyone asks for it.

If you’re fortunate enough not to have to manage any mental or physical health conditions, these resources can still serve you well. I wish you all the very best in your journey.

- Annalise Kress, Gonzaga University '19