If you get anxiety while visiting the doctor or dentist, you know it can be crippling and cause you to slack on your health. The association of anxious feelings with sitting in the waiting room can start your mind racing at just the thought of making an appointment. It’s important not to avoid the dentist because of anxiety. Luckily, meditation is a great combatant against anxiety, and can be performed anywhere. Here’s some techniques to try next time you need to calm yourself down at the doctor.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This technique involves feeling out each part of your body and becoming more aware of how they feel tense and relaxed, helping you to be more in tune with your body and the onset of your anxiety. Start by taking a moment to slow and deepen your breathing, then shift your focus to your right foot. At first, just be aware of how it feels. Then, tense the muscles as tightly as you can. Count to ten, then relax. Pay attention to the feeling of the tension leaving your muscles and how it feels afterward as it becomes loose. Repeat this for your left foot, then your right calf, left calf, right thigh, left thigh, and so on, until you move up all the way through your body. Make sure to focus on how each muscle group feels both tensed and relaxed, so you can better judge when your body is fully relaxed and when your anxiety is spiking and tension is setting in. This can help you to nip anxiety in the bud in future situations.
Mindfulness is a way to bring your focus back to the present and block out any anxious thoughts plaguing your nervous mind. To practice mindfulness, choose an aspect of your breathing to focus on, such as the rise and fall of your chest, or the feeling of air flowing in and out of your lungs. Try not to think about anything but your chosen feeling. When you manage to narrow your concentration to just your breathing, start to open your focus to sounds, sights, smells. Try to allow your mind to accept these sensations without judgment. If your mind begins to race, narrow your focus back to your breathing. Mindfulness exercises are a great way to stop anxiety in its tracks because it forces you to find presence of mind, though it can take some practice.
This is a technique many people are familiar with, often referred to as “going to your happy place.” Visualization can be extremely calming if you can master it. First, pick a setting where you feel completely at peace. Then, try to imagine that setting as vividly as possible. The more sensory details you can incorporate, the more effective the visualization; this means if you prefer to imagine yourself lounging on a beach, you should try to see the sun glistening on the water, hear the waves crashing on the sand, feel the warm, gentle breeze on your skin, smell the suntan lotion, and taste the salty sea air. The more you can visualize, the more real it’ll feel, and the better the effect will be on your psyche.
Perhaps the easiest and most effective technique, deep breathing has been shown to calm the fight or flight response that tends to be the trigger for most anxiety. It can also be combined with many other meditation techniques to enhance their effectiveness. To practice deep breathing, start by putting one hand on your stomach and one on your chest. Take a deep breath through your nose into your stomach; that hand should rise, while the hand on your chest should barely move. Exhale through your mouth, using your abdominal muscles to expel as much air as possible. Repeat this exercise as long as necessary.
Many times what triggers our anxiety is negative thoughts, so getting in front of that is a good way to alleviate some stress. Positive affirmations do just that. To perform this technique, you simply find positive thoughts you can focus on until you’re incapable of giving attention to negative thoughts. This can be things like:
"I'm having a good day."
"I believe in myself."
"I love my life."
Though any positive suggestion will work. This will stop your mind focusing on the negative, thereby manifesting those thoughts, instead switching your attention to positive feelings and allowing those to become reality.
Visiting the doctor or dentist is stressful at best for most of us, but for those of us with anxiety, it can be a true ordeal. However, not keeping up with your physical health is not an option, so finding a technique that works to calm you down is of utmost importance. Hopefully one of these five will get you through your next appointment!
Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband. Dixie recommends getting dental cleanings in Nutley NJ.