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3 Ways to Show Your Anxiety Who’s Boss

Do you love going to the dentist? … Do I hear crickets?

Research says that more than 60 percent of people fear going to the dentist. That’s a lot of unnecessary anxiety in the world!

Dr. Cindy and her dentistMany of you know that I like to talk about the power of perception and navigating healthy choices (especially from the stage) so there’s no better way to unpack the mysteries of anxiety than visiting the dentist.

Here’s a video with Dr. B and me while I’m getting my teeth cleaned. I love going to the dentist—mostly because he’s thorough, kind, and doesn’t recommend care that I don’t need.

The challenge with anxiety is that it can be unwarranted if we give in to perceptions that don’t support reality. We know from experience that anxiety is often worse than the actual event we’re anticipating.

In the absence of good intel or an abundance of misinformation, we succumb to our fears and begin to mentally fabricate possible outcomes. Thanks to human nature since the dawn of time, our survival instincts lean into perceived threats so we can prevent them.

The reality is that we’ve moved on from being the hunter or hunted so there’s no need to engage in unnecessary fight or flight response.

If you still doubt the impact your anxiety is having, consider the fact that dentists are among the highest professions for suicide rates—number two, in fact! High stress, burdensome student loans, and the fact that nearly half of their patients admit to “hating” their visits are a few of the reasons. The impact of your fear is very real on many levels—personally and professionally for your dentist.

Here are three exercises you can consider the next time you’re anticipating an event you’re nervous about:

  1. Focus on your senses: Anxiety can feel like you’re losing control. Instead, gather your mindfulness by focusing on your senses. Look for five things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. Repeat the exercise if necessary until your body starts to relax.
  2. Find a healthy distraction: Consider activities like journaling, listening to music, drawing, reading a book, watching a movie, or meditating. Journaling was an incredibly helpful practice for me when I was walking through cancer. It helped me calm myself and look at the page with self-awareness or objectivity rather than succumb to emotions.
  3. My personal favorite – find the funny: Negativity is less likely to take root in your mind if you’re making light of a situation. Laughter is proven to reduce stress hormones while increasing endorphins in your body. Relaxing the body through humor also regulates our breathing without our noticing. Some of my yogi pals also like what they call box breathing: Here’s how; it works!
  4. Bonus: Don’t forget to enlist the support of someone who appears to have more control in a situation than you. In the case of a dentist, ask them what they can do to help reduce your anxiety. Would the situation be helped by them explaining the procedure or making you more physically comfortable in some way? One time, my dentist allowed me to do acupuncture on myself to lower my anxiety! Bottom line, if they don’t do everything in their power to help, find another dentist! (Or, if you’re in the north suburbs of Chicago, call Dr. B!)

The next time you visit your dentist or any other event that gives you anxiety, try one of the exercises I’ve recommended above and make the conscious choice to neutralize your negative perceptions. Make room for your endorphins and give Dr. B and his colleagues a much-deserved break.

Be positively altered,
Dr. Cindy

P.S. Get inspired! If you’ve got an audience who would love to learn how to embrace adversity, empower themselves through decision-making, and win the power of perception, let me know! I’d love to speak at your next event.

P.P.S. On a medical note: Why do we brush our teeth with chemicals? If the toothpaste box recommends calling poison control when we’ve swallowed some paste, shouldn’t we be concerned that we’re absorbing it through our mucous membranes while we brush? Yes! Find a toothpaste with better ingredients that don’t have toxic minerals like fluoride or sodium lauryl sulfate, which can cause skin irritations.

Here are some safe dental care products I recommend to my patients:

  • Silver Biotics Tooth Gel
  • Biocidin Toothpaste and Dental Rinser
  • Now Foods XyliWhite Refreshment Toothpaste Gel

Simply visit my Dr. Cindy Fullscript page to get a discount. (Before you can browse products for a discount, you’ll be invited to set up an account if you don’t have one already.)

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