The last few weeks have given me many opportunities to practice stress management. Calm, centered, collected Sharon does get stressed. There was a lot of suffering going on (in my head) as I wrestled with some decisions that involved a steep learning curve, lots of players, and new territory for me. The upside is that the past month has been a perfect laboratory for me to make many observations about stress, what triggers it for me, where I hold it, and how I deal with it. As much as I work with clients who have a lot of stress-inducing situations in their lives, it was still amazing to me how hard it can be to work through stressful situations with mind, body and spirit intact.
The issue was seemingly straight-forward: I was told that I have to get braces to prevent gum recession issues down the road. However, as I made the rounds to consult with my dentist, the periodontist, the oral surgeon, and two orthodontists, my anxiety increased. Aside from the time away from my office all this took, I also invested hours in researching the various procedures that were in my future. (Note to self: refrain from digging too deep into medical procedures; knowing all of the gory details just causes more fear.) So, some of my stress was anticipatory stress, as I worried about what lay ahead. But I realized that the biggest source of stress was when there were communication breakdowns. I’m pretty dogged when it comes to gathering information. I just need honest answers in a timely manner.
Once I realized what I needed in order to make well-informed, wise decisions, I was able to articulate that to my team of dental professionals. I asked for what I needed in a polite yet firm manner. I did not hesitate to ask additional questions if something wasn’t clear to me. The beauty is that every single doctor responded graciously and seemed to appreciate that I was trying to be an informed consumer. My feelings shifted from doubt to confidence that this was the right path for my situation.
In the nadir of this whole process, my stress level was such that I had trouble thinking of anything else. My head hurt, my shoulders ached from the tension I held in my body. My mind was months down the road, playing out all that could go wrong. Meditation was a huge help in getting me back into the present moment. Stopping to take deep, long breaths throughout the day was helpful. I stepped up my exercise and got more rest. I even laughed at some of my own drama. And, I reminded myself of the fact that I had done all my homework, gathered a great team, and was blessed to have access to treatments that will ensure my oral health for years to come. I replaced fear with gratitude and love.
So, in the months to come, you may notice my Invisalign© braces when I smile, or a slight lisp as I get used to them. For me, when I see them I’ll be reminded of the inner work I did so that I could fully embrace the process. I learned a lot about myself that I can use in other life and work situations in the future. What challenges create stress for you? How does that show up in your mind and body? What are ways that you overcome stress? If I can support you in exploring any of these questions, please ask.
Sharon Keys Seal