I had an opportunity to design and conduct a stress management workshop for the Year 3 dental students as part of the Wellness module. Earlier, I used to run a series of slides and have a discussion. I wanted to do a bit of hands-on this time but was at a loss. My research on other workshops was met with only lectures and lots of advice. My coaching instincts – who better than to conduct than the participants who have experienced and managed stress.

Few themes emerged and aligned to what I researched online and in other workshop blogs.

What is stress? Stress and anxiety are overlapped. We defined stress as something that raises our adrenaline and usually is bad. There is Eustress, the good one, but we did not know about it as we did not experience it. We promised to look for eustress.

What is your level of stress now? 85%. 12 out of 10, exams are right around the corner.

How I know I am stressed? “I clench my teeth too hard. I realise it only after I have pain in my jaws. But it is a bit too late. It was for a patient whose demands I could not comprehend even”. “I blank out. I don’t hear what the other party is talking”. “I develop gastritis, especially during the start of exams. I am anxious as exams are a week away”. (Shouldn’t you be studying than attending this workshop – I wanted to know what stress management is). “I am lethargic. Will sleep like a log”.

Stress at 20%. Can you recognize stress when it is less? There were long pauses here. Most of us have not realized that stress build up could be linear. I had read that if you recognize early, you can stop what is stressing you.

Stressors, what are they? This is particularly interesting. Patients demands, expectations of others and mine, poor time management. Meeting expectations was a common thread. In clinics, the patients expected more from the students. To say no is one of the difficult tasks because of the unpleasantness in both parties. “How can I say no but still make my patient happy?” “I know exams are always there and I can prepare early. But there is no motivation to start early. Stress a week before exams is a common occurrence”. Yeah, all assessments come at end of a term/semester.

Managing stress: This was the last topic we harped on. “I just excuse myself from a tense situation”. :I switch off my phone, don’t check whatsapp at all” . “Check the stressful persons’ messages quite late. Most of problems will be taken care by itself”. “Breathe deep, force to breathe”.

Feedback: “Yes, was good, I am better aware what my stress is all about”. “I am not alone, all of us are experiencing stress. Nice I listened to my friends”. “It was engaging. Our experiences itself are a great learning experience” .

How can a stress management workshop be conducted? Tell your comments and experiences.

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