Are You Afraid Of The Dentist?

Today’s the day you’re visiting the dentist for your annual check-up and teeth cleaning.  Let me guess, you’re starting to come down with a fever?  Your mind is telling you to reschedule for another day so you can re-arrange your sock drawer.  Your palms are sweaty and you hear the sound of the drill in your ears even though you’re only going for a check-up.

These are exactly the types of tricks of the mind that replay not only when visiting the dentist.  Anything we fear can have such a tight grip over us physically, mentally and emotionally that it’s amazing the extremes we will go to in our minds in anticipation of what “might” happen.  I know, I know, your mind told you it’s “going” to happen but I ask you, how often have the fears in your mind actually come true?

In some of the contemplative philosophies, we call this the “monkey mind”.  It has a tendency to run wild and wreak havoc.  Not only does it wreak havoc with our thoughts and emotions, our body bears the burden of all these unsettling thoughts and emotions.  This my friends, is what we call stress.

Please let me explain. Stress is understanding we live in the feeling of our thinking. The emotional response of our thinking (perception) drives our behaviors or lifestyle choices. It’s these choices that are getting us into trouble. When we become willing to mindfully peel back the layers and examine the nature of how we’re translating daily events, interactions and beliefs to ourselves and those around us, we can begin to make modifications to our thought patterns which will in turn change our emotional and behavioral response to them.  Isn’t that great news.  We can fix your fear of the dentist!

“Breathe, Perceive, Receive”

The stress response system is also known as the “fight or flight” system. We process thoughts in a hyper-vigilant state of being in the amygdala and they get stuck in “distress” thinking patterns. We “perceive” threat in this system and are designed to take action against this perceived.  Our body and mind believe they’re in danger and operate biochemically and physiologically in this fashion.

Now, since I’m sure your dentist is a very nice person and you’re not actually in any danger, here’s some basic physiology we’re going to work with first to calm our body/mind and shift from “threat” into calmer states of awareness that are experienced from the relaxation response of our autonomic nervous system.

I like to begin with 5 easy tips to begin simplifying stress. They all focus on creating homeostasis in the body/mind by bringing the autonomic nervous system into balance. To move from threat to thrive, we begin with our breath.  How we’re breathing is influencing our biochemistry, biomechanics, physiology & psychology.  And when stressed, it’s the first thing we lose sight of.  We move into mouth breathing or a shallow nasal breath that signals the brain to operate in the “fight or flight” mode.  

An optimal state of health is taking 12 breaths or less per minute.  Specifically, nasal diaphragmatic breathing which allows us to engage our diaphragm muscle and reach the relaxation nerve endings in the lower lobes of our lungs. To breathe at a pace of 12 breaths or less, we consciously pay attention to the length, depth and pace of our inhale and exhale.

Incorporating breathing techniques is something you can easily do in preparation for your appointment and during your appointment.  While in the dentist chair, breathe and re-pattern your thoughts into thoughts that are reflective of the positive experience that’s actually happening in that moment.  As you change the story from a calmer place in the body/mind, the change becomes permanent.  

Discover your “life with breath” for optimal health and well-being.

This is a guest post by Ed Harrold

Ed HarroldEd Harrold is an author, inspirational leader, public speaker, coach and educator. Ed’s mastery in the science of mindful breathing has guided him to apply conscious breathing practices in corporate performance coaching, fitness & athletic training, healthcare trainings, stress reduction and overall health and well-being.  

Today, Ed blends the fields of neuroscience and the wisdom of contemplative traditions into effective strategies to improve well-being in Corporate America, Healthcare, athletic performance and individual health. Ed’s fluency in mindfulness-based strategies combined with the belief in the human potential gives him the depth and understanding to meet individuals and group needs across industries and platforms.

Ed is the Author of “Life With Breath IQ + EQ = NEW YOU”.  He is a contributing health & wellness editor for Huffingtpost, Thrive Global, MindBodyGreen, PTOnTheNet, & Corporate Wellness Magazine.  Experience Ed’s MindBodyAthlete™, Executive Coaching, Simplicity of Stress & professional CME trainings nationally & internationally.  Learn more about Ed at www.edharrold.com