Anxiety About Dentists, Doctors and All Things Medical
It’s been a hectic start to the year with things now well and truly back in full swing. I’ve been busy helping people to overcome anxiety, build confidence and to take control over eating habits and it’s been fantastic to see so many positive results. Outside work, I’ve been busy with my exercise and doing a bit of running again, I’ve been continuing to learn guitar (snapping some strings along the way) and spending fun time with the kids (well, maybe 95% of the time with the kids is fun, the rest is nagging them, cajoling them, reminding them to do things and tidying up after them!).
Many of the people I’ve been helping recently have come to see me about anxiety and fear to do with medically related things. For some, all medical things create anxiety, and they avoid the doctor and dentist because of the overwhelming uncomfortable feelings the thought of it evokes. Sometimes even talking about medically related things can be enough to create the fear and panic, even where the actual situations and events purely concern other people. There can be fears about needles, injections and blood tests and again, avoidance will be the main way they have of trying to deal with the fear and uncomfortable sensations.
As with most anxiety and fear, there is a cycle of imagining the worst case (e.g. needing a blood test and passing out), which creates anxious feelings and leads to avoidance and struggling.
Yet, however your fear and anxiety affects you right now, it is possible to take back control over your thoughts and feelings so that, like other people seem to do with ease, you can calmly go and do whatever medical things you may need to do.
This past weekend was a lovely sunny (but cold) day and I had a lovely walk with my daughter down to the riverside here in Ely. We even had a sighting of the famous Fen Tiger (ok it was a cool knitted tiger on a postbox to celebrate the year of the tiger):
Anxiety About Facing The Dentist
I was never a fan of the dentist when I was growing up. Every trip seemed to involve pain and suffering and misery and I would have happily stopped going (if I thought my Mum would have let me get away with it). Even the sticker they gave us as a reward afterwards didn’t make up for it all (but hey, it was better than getting nothing!).
Now, over the years since then, I’ve found dentists who are far more considerate in their treatment methods, and it probably helps that their equipment has advanced too. And, despite not having needed anything apart from twice a year check-ups for well over a decade, just before Christmas I started getting tooth ache. I hoped it would go away (like I really, really hoped it would go away!) but it became more and more persistent until I had no choice but to make an urgent appointment.
Christmas Eve found me, instead of relaxing with a good Christmas movie, lying in the dentist chair while all sorts of prodding, probing and nudging took place. Thankfully whatever my excellent dentist did that day led to massive improvements. But, early in the New Year, I still had to go and get my first crown (like my tooth was becoming a king or something).
Now, despite knowing I was heading towards an hour appointment in the dentist chair, I was fairly relaxed about the whole thing (even when a dog tried to take a bite out of my leg on the walk there). Yet I can confess to a little bit of tension while lying in the chair awaiting my fate. Despite the numbing injections, I still felt myself bracing for the impact as the drill came in. Is it me or couldn’t they make dentist drills sound a bit nicer rather than the high pitched drill noise that is enough to set anyone on edge? I mean, I have a bottle opener that plays an Elvis tune whenever you use it so it can’t be beyond someone to invent a drill that plays a jolly tune while your tooth is being worked upon.
Anyway, to combat the stress of having the crown I called upon two of the most helpful techniques that I share with clients who report any anxiety and fear.
The first is to deliberately extend your out breath, Doing this stimulates your relaxation response and physically calms you down. I noticeably felt the tension in my neck and shoulders drop with every breath. It’s something to practice regularly so that the benefits of calmness become more habitual for you and so that breathing in this way becomes easily accessible in whatever situations you need to call upon your ability to feel calmer.
The second strategy I used to occupy my mind rather than to focus on what the dentist was doing to my tooth, was to count backwards from three hundred in three’s inside my head. This is one of my favourite ways to distract my mind and to stop it running off to unpleasant anxious places I don’t want it to go to. Rather than imagining what the dentist was doing, or anticipating any pain or discomfort, or stressing over just how long this was going to take, I distracted my mind by using straight forward thinking and concentration. To make it work even better, I gave every number a different colour in my head (e.g. three hundred was black, two hundred and ninety seven was green and so on). It’s amazing how the time flies when you are busy trying to count backwards and think of some more colours (turns out I really have to think hard to remember many colours when I have my eyes closed! I even had to run through the old ‘colours of the rainbow’ children’s song to think of more colours I could use!).
And so calming physical feelings and taking control over what my mind was doing meant that what could have been a very long hour passed by relatively smoothly and seemingly quite quickly.
Now, of course, if your fear and anxiety are greater than this then there is work to be done to change that anxiety pattern and to get you feeling generally calm, confident and in control before your medical appointment. My hypnotherapy work with my clients has an excellent track record of helping them to overcome anxiety and fear about dentists, doctors, hospitals, blood tests and all things medical.
Through hypnotherapy sessions and my hypnosis downloads (have a look here: hypnosis downloads), as well as having a few effective strategies and techniques to call upon to manage your thoughts and feelings, you can find yourself much more relaxed about all things medical and much more calm, comfortable and confident in handling things. So that rather than avoiding and stressing about it beforehand, and struggling through it all somehow (or avoiding it altogether even where that is not a good choice), you can learn how to handle, deal and cope with whatever comes your way in a more and more, calm, confident and positive way.
To your health and happiness,
Anxiety Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket
Struggling with anxiety about dentists, stress, worry and fear and need some help? Find out how I can help with a Complimentary Hypnotherapy Strategy Session. Learn more here: Appointments
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